Orthodox Jewish vision on homosexuality and heterosexuality
- There are no homosexuals and heterosexuals
- The essence of the person
- Neither heterosexual nor homosexual
- Not cruel
- Discussions about homosexuality
- Viewpoints of different Jewish movements with regard to homosexuality
- Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality
- Social development with regard to homosexuality
- The Torah vision on homosexuality
- Homosexuality can be cured
- Healing process
- The duty to love and compassion
- Response from the Jewish Community of Amsterdam
- Chief Rabbi Ralbag discusses the matter with the Jewish Municipality of Amsterdam
There are no homosexuals and heterosexuals"G'd not play a game with his creatures" (Talmud, Avoda Zara 3a)
Is there any relevance today for the Torah's view that homosexual action is an "abomination" (Leviticus 18:22)? How can Judaism speak to our generation with its unequivocal answer? As far as orthodox Judaism is concerned, there are no homosexuals in this world and there have never been one. There are also no heterosexuals.
The essence of the personPeople have obligations
From the Jewish perspective, identifying a homosexual or heterosexual is irrelevant. The words may describe a person's behavior, but can hardly contain the essence of the person. The Torah looks at people's obligations to G'd. The Cohen, Levi and Yisraeel each have a different role in serving G'd. The adults must comply with the obligations, while the young have no obligations yet. In distinguishing these responsibilities, Gd apparently did not care about human preferences, sexual or otherwise. He also did not ask the Jewish people if they would like to follow His Law.
The profane world is talking about rights, while the Torah hardly discusses rights. It is more focused on responsibilities. Within the constructed framework, people can develop their different talents and interests. Their most important task is to be a partner with Gd in perfecting the creation of the world.
Don't label people
When you 'label' people (sexually) you limit their development. You must be able to change. For example, if you label a child as a bad student, he will continue to feel bad, while he may well have the potential to be good. When someone labels themselves as homosexual, it may well be that he or she is attracted to the opposite sex. Sexual feelings are pliable.
Neither heterosexual nor homosexualSexually pliable
According to Masters and Johnson sexual behavioral experts, babies are born neither heterosexual nor gay. They are sexually pliable and can change throughout their lives. Whether sexuality is determined by birth or environment - or both - is a question that requires clear empirical evidence. In any case, sexual attraction is almost always influenced to some extent by external influences. Human preferences are complex and changeable. If an ice cream tastes good today, it may taste less good tomorrow. People are inclined towards variation. That does not mean that they are free to act according to their impulses. The Torah reports that unrestrained pursuit of personal pleasure can mean a terrible price for society and the family.
What if people are really attracted to the same gender? That does not make them homosexual, even when they experience homosexual feelings. These feelings can go away or stay, but the Torah states that people are better off with a heterosexual relationship. There have always been people who are attracted to the same sex, or even to small children and relatives. But Gd does not allow these fantasies to be propagated because it is contrary to His vision of holiness.
Marriage is intended to teach people to reach beyond their selfish needs to give to a partner who is psychologically and physiologically different. Getting married is a challenge for both partners. Judaism has always appreciated the gap between the sexes. The Torah sanctifies it. Jews were one of the first to make divorce difficult by letting a man pay a large sum. The constructive tension in marriage helps both partners grow.
Not cruelGd is not cruel. He does not ask people to do anything beyond their capacities. He asks to keep their desire under control at set times. Without social and ethical limitations, most people would steal, live exuberantly, lie, cheat and sometimes kill. The biggest struggle in life, according to the Torah, is to discipline basic instincts.
With Gd's schedule, career, cosmos, and sexuality are all parts of life. The key is to accept the Torah parameters. Through discipline and holiness, the Torah teaches us how to value spiritual gifts.
Discussions about homosexualityThere is often fierce discussion between proponents and opponents of homosexuality. The proponents blame the opponents of discrimination. However, the religious opponents say they only want to listen to Gd. According to Gd, He has determined that homosexuality is forbidden. So if proponents have trouble with this commandment, they should actually start a discussion with Gd and not with the opponents. The latter cannot, after all, change Gd's law. Gd has said that the Torah is unchanging. Incidentally, it is good to report that according to the Torah Gd created all people and He wants the best for them. His laws are not meant to discriminate against certain people. Gd does everything for the good. Only Gd knows why He rejects homosexuality. Gd will have His reasons for that and only do it because He loves all people.
Viewpoints of different Jewish movements with regard to homosexualityIn modern times, liberal and conservative Jews accept homosexual relationships. There is less acceptance of Jewish orthodoxy. Homosexual people are active within Jewish orthodoxy, but gay relationships are not accepted. Although virtually no orthodox rabbi explicitly punishes gay relationships, there is some variety of opinions about how the orthodox community should respond to gay Jews. In 2016, the Israeli modern Orthodox rabbinic group Beit Hillel issued a statement insisting that gays be allowed to "serve in some common capacity." In 2011, ultra-orthodox rabbis issued a statement stating that gay desires should be accepted, but it rejected the notion that homosexuality is an essentially unchanging orientation as a theological impossibility and insisted that "healing" gay desires is the only religiously acceptable approach . "The Declaration On The Torah Approach to Homosexuality." States: "The concept that Gd created a person who cannot find happiness in a loving relationship unless he breaks a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable," the statement says . "G'd is loving and merciful. Struggle, and yes, difficult struggle, along with healing and personal growth, are an essential part of this world. Impossible, lifelong, Torah-forbidden situations without feasible solutions are not."
Declaration On The Torah Approach To HomosexualityMid January 2012, the Netherlands is startled by news about Chief Rabbi Ralbag of the Jewish Municipality of Amsterdam. In most media, there is a report that the Chief Rabbi has called homosexuality a disease. The messages often have the title 'anti-gay Rabbi'. This report comes in reference to a statement that Ralbag has signed. But it says nothing but homosexuality is a disease. What exactly did Chief Rabbi Ralbag sign? Below is a summary of the statement (Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality).
Social development with regard to homosexualityIn the last decades a major campaign has been underway to legitimize homosexuality. The ultimate goal is to legalize same-sex marriage. When people do not accept the legalization of homosexuality, they are quickly pushed into the words "hateful" or "homophobic." The Jewish Torah community is also affected by this.
The Torah vision on homosexualityThe Torah rejects homosexual behavior. And in Leviticus 20:23, it is warned not to take over the habits of the people who expel G'd for the Jews. This mainly relates to all kinds of unauthorized sexual acts (including homosexuality).
Homosexuality can be curedMan tends to sin. Man has certain sexual tendencies that can be changed. This is a difficult fight but it is possible. That man has sinful tendencies is to grow as a person. Homosexual people can overcome their sinful tendencies and thus grow spiritually. Behavior can be changed. Leviticus 19:14 states that no obstacle may be placed at the feet of a blind man. So it is extremely cruel not to help people who are stuck with their homosexual feelings.
Healing processThe healing process consists of therapy and repentance. Therapy helps heal emotional wounds. Repentance is the renunciation of sin and the return to G'd. That way a person can grow spiritually.
The duty to love and compassionThe gay person must be approached with love in order to heal. They have become innocent victims of their emotional wounds they have sustained in childhood.
Response from the Jewish Community of AmsterdamOn January 17, 2012, the Jewish Community of Amsterdam published a press release in which it regretted that the Chief Rabbi had signed the statement and that she explicitly renounced it. She apologizes to anyone who feels hurt by the statement. The Chief Rabbi is (temporarily) relieved of his duties until the matter is discussed.
Chief Rabbi Ralbag discusses the matter with the Jewish Municipality of AmsterdamOn January 26, 2012, Chief Rabbi Ralbag and his wife will speak for 5 hours with the chairman of the Church Council of the Jewish Municipality of Amsterdam (NIHS), Mr. Chanan Hertzberger and the chairman of the executive board, Ronnie Eisenmann. The Chief Rabbi acknowledges that he should not have signed the statement with his Amsterdam title because it does not apply to the Amsterdam situation and relationships, and he also acknowledges that his view of the subject is not properly reflected in the statement signed by him. He regrets that this has caused a fuss because he wants to make a constructive contribution. He emphasizes that he does not want to exclude anyone and that homosexuality is not a disease. The only thing that matters is that people can get help to reconcile with a Torah-based lifestyle.
The Church Council is satisfied and has called on the board to come to a solution with the Upper Rabbi. On February 1, 2012, the Executive Board decided that the Upper Rabbi may stay on.