Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Torah Declaration on Homosexuality

Love is not allowed in religion.

According to Jayson Littman, writing at the Huffington Post, some Orthodox rabbis have been asked to sign a declaration of the Jewish response to homosexuality, by which is specifically meant "homosexual Jews." Littman writes:
So this Declaration currently making rounds will serve as their official response in regards to guiding individuals with same-sex attractions. The endorser, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, urges all rabbis and mental health professionals to sign this Declaration, which offers modification and healing through reparative therapy as the sole option.
I abhor the secrecy element of this. Aren't we Jews always being targeted as having secret, sinister meetings?

Littman provides the text of the declaration. It's infuriating stuff. Here's the opening:
Over the past few years homosexual activists have infiltrated every aspect of the secular world and have achieved acceptance in the media and most of the general culture. They have been fighting fiercely on issues pertaining to the legitimacy of the homosexual lifestyle in all aspects of society, including homosexual marriage, in order to gain full acceptance. The last line of resistance against acceptance of the homosexual agenda has been mostly from the religious communities.
Although the writer of the declaration wants to demonize "the homosexual agenda," his writing is a bit too clear. As mentioned, the homosexual agenda is for civil equality and social acceptance. These are noble, not demonic ends. These are the good objectives other groups in America have valiantly sought and struggled for. To stand up as one who resists equality and tolerance is to identify as a douchebag. But if the writer really wants to rouse hatred and suspicion against the homosexual agenda, he should have been less specific.

The declaration gets nastier, however, as when it refuses to acknowledge homosexuality as "a genuine identity":
The Torah makes a clear statement that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity by severely prohibiting its conduct. Furthermore, the Torah, ever prescient about negative secular influences, warns us in Vayikra (Leviticus) 20:23 “Do not follow the traditions of the nations that I expel from before you…” Particularly the Torah writes this in regards to homosexuality and other forbidden sexual liaisons.
Yes, folks you read the above correctly: the implication is that homosexuality derives from the gentiles. It's a goy thing, not a human thing. Here, our fine Jewish leaders sound no less bigoted and naive than Iranian President and psychopath Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who famously declared that Iran had no homosexuals.

The position of the declaration is that homosexuality should be suppressed and re-directed:
From a Torah perspective, the question (sic) whether homosexual inclinations and behaviors are changeable is extremely relevant. The concept that G-d created a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable. G-d is loving and merciful. Struggles, and yes, difficult struggles, along with healing and personal growth are part and parcel of this world. Impossible, life long, Torah prohibited situations with no achievable solutions are not.

We emphatically reject the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome his or her inclination and desire. Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid
something which is impossible to avoid. Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness and despair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel. Such an attitude also violates the biblical prohibition in Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:14 “and you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind.”
Homosexuality, the declaration says, is all and only about behavior, no different from an excessive love of Hostess Cup Cakes. Nevertheless, the declaration makes it clear that one should be ashamed of homosexual "inclination and desire." One should fight one's homosexuality.

My shame is to ever have thought highly of rabbis or their office.

The declaration closes with a focus on "love":
It requires tremendous bravery and fortitude for a person to confront and deal with same-sex attraction. For example a sixteen-year-old who is struggling with this issue may be confused and afraid and not know whom to speak to or what steps to take. We must create an atmosphere where this teenager (or anyone) can speak freely to a parent, rabbi, or mentor and be treated with love and compassion. Authority figures can then guide same-sex strugglers towards a path of healing and overcoming their inclinations.

The key point to remember is that these individuals are primarily innocent victims of childhood emotional wounds. They deserve our full love, support and encouragement in their striving towards healing. Struggling individuals who seek health and wellness should not be confused with the homosexual movement and their agenda. This distinction
is crucial. It reflects the difference between what G-d asks from all of us and what He unambiguously prohibits.
The declaration shows a remarkable lack of awareness of what love and compassion are. How can a person live a "full and healthy life" without being able to express romantic love freely? How can a person be happy and joyous in a community that rejects him or her?

I cry that Jewish rabbis do not see they espouse the same bigotry and ignorance that others have used against Jews in the Christian and Muslim worlds.

If what Shmuel Kamenetsky endorses is Jewish, then I am not Jewish. I will not be Jewish. I do not and will not accept either his authority on what the Torah says. His traditions are meaningless. They hold no weight either in interpreting what the Torah says or in what I should think or feel about subjects.

But this is not a Jewish problem, per se. It's a religious problem. It's a problem of using old books and religious tradition as over-riding authorities for opinions and decisions. Even the relatively benign "Statement of Principles" is unacceptable.

At some point, we have to admit that Halakhah can be wrong and immoral. The Torah can be wrong and immoral. The Talmud can be wrong and immoral. Jesus could be wrong and immoral. The New testament can be wrong an immoral. Mohammed, the Koran. Buddha, Confucius, Bruce Lee, George Clooney, Ronald Reagan, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa--all of them can be factually wrong and immoral.

When will we grow up? Maybe we won't.

The introduction to the declaration says that questions can be emailed to TorahDec@Gmail.com. I plan to email not a question but a polite condemnation of the declaration.

1 comment:

  1. "If what Shmuel Kamenetsky endorses is Jewish, then I am not Jewish. I will not be Jewish." Hear hear. We owe so many of our rights and freedoms to the secularism that Kametsky villifies. One day - unless the Taliban get their way - people will look back at homophobia with the same kind of shame with which we now look back at slavery. When people base their values on outdated and irrational sources, what more can we expect but outdated and irrational conclusions?

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