Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Statement of Principles

Jewish Blogesphere has been ubuzz with talk on the Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community.

Firstly, let me say that I fully support the statement and agree with the intent and details of the endeavour.

I don’t believe that there is anything controversial about this statement, and the fact that it has to be written out and signed and isn’t self-evident is a huge failing of the Orthodox community.This failing is compounded by the fact that there are several Rabbis who have refused to sign.

In a nutshell the Statement says that certain Homosexual acts are forbidden by Halacha, but we should not use this as an excuse to shun Jews who are struggling to deal with Homosexual tendencies.

I like the fact that the Statement points out that it doesn’t matter whether Homosexual tendencies are “Nature” or “Nurture”, certain acts are still forbidden. The Statement also does not endorse “Correction Therapy”.

It also points out that we should be particularly sensitive to members of our community who are unable to achieve sexual fulfilment within the confines of Halacha.

What the statement doesn’t mention, is that there are many people beyond those with Same-Sex attractions who are also unable to achieve sexual fulfilment within Halacha.

This would include people with other types of sexual attractions, for example people who are attracted to young children, animals, multiple partners, etc.

There are also people with regular sexual attractions who are restricted by Halacha, for example someone who’s spouse is missing or physically (or emotionally) unable to be intimate. There are also many older single people who have been unable to find their Beshert and have no permissible outlet for their sexuality; this issue is especially problematic for older Cohanim (especially Ba’alei Tshuva), who are very limited in who they are able to marry.

To be in one of the situations listed above is truly tragic, and we as a Torah Observant community should be sensitive and supportive of these people, especially those for whom there is no Halachic solution.

We should not encourage people to openly flaunt Halacha, for example by openly living in a forbidden relationship (which includes all sexual relationships outside of marriage, whether homo or hetero-sexual), however it is also important to keep out of other peoples private lives. If 2 people are living together, we shouldn’t automatically assume that they are engaging in forbidden activities.

As a believer in an All-Compassionate G-d, it pains me to think of people who are denied an important part of human existence as a result of their commitment to G-d’s Law, and it is beyond human understanding why an All-Compassionate G-d would create a universe in this manner, but as they say in the Mama Loshen פוהן אַ קאַשיאַ שטאַרבט מען נישט (You don’t die from a question), although tragically with the high suicide rate amongst people with Same-Sex attractions, there are some questions that people do die over.

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