Episode 6 - Statement of Principles on Homosexuality and Orthodox Judaism

Today's podcast covers each point in the new "Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our (i.e. Orthodox) Community", why I signed on and why it's necessary. As always, comments welcome below.

Episode 6 - Statement of Principles on Homosexuality and Orthodox Judaism

Links Referenced in the Podcast

Posted in Jewish Culture, Jewish Law / Halakha, Podcasts. Tagged with , , , .
  • http://lamrot-hakol.blogspot.com Lisa

    I found your podcast interesting. I'm not 100% sure about your comments about the meaning of the Sifra on maasei eretz Mitzrayim. The document at http://www.starways.net/odfaq/ seems to imply that "nasa" as used in that Sifra doesn't actually mean "marry".

    As an illustration of the question of children, by the way, my partner and I live in Chicago with our daughter. When she was of an age to start kindergarten, we tried applying to both of the Orthodox day schools in our general area, and she was rejected. We are not demonstrative, btw, but we did have to tell the schools about our situation, because they would have found out eventually any way.

    At our shul (where people are very nice to us, incidentally), our daughter became good friends with another girl there, but the girl's parents refused to allow them to have playdates, neither at our home or theirs.

  • Josh

    I read the link and I'm not convinced - seems like a forced reading for a desired conclusion. In rabbinic Judaism "נשא" means marry and I don't know any source which contradicts that (esp in light of B. Hullin 92a-b).

    I can't really comment on the children issue, mostly because I don't have my own to raise. On one hand, it seems unfair to isolate a child because of the parents (whatever the reasons), but I can also understand if a parent is selective about what they wish to expose to their child. I'm fine leaving it up to parents to make those decisions for themselves.

  • bim

    Rabbi Yuter,

    I know I'm late, but let me say: thank you for signing this letter.

    I do want to correct something in it though, and opine on other parts. Like you, I find little objections to it, and I believe that the Torah is MiSinai.

    Nevertheless, it should be stressed that being gay in and of itself has not been proven to cause mental illness, as item six on the statement of principles seems to posit. Current research affirms that a disparity between lesbian or gay individuals and straight individuals exists; however, the research does not conclude the cause of this disparity. In fact, in an article by Tori DeAngelis for the American Psychological Association, Susan Cochran bluntly states about a new study that "the data simply don't prove either pro- or anti-gay arguments on the subject, whether it's that the inherent biology of homosexuality causes mental illness or that social stigma provokes mental illness in LGB [lesbian, gay, and bisexual] people..." (http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb02/newdata.aspx)

    I would like to note that although the research does not prove it, one should still refrain from speaking ona'at devarim about gay people. For example, saying that gay men are flaky, shallow, or any other stereotype is hurtful because when LGB people realize they are LGB, they must reconcile who they really are (a reliable, thoughtful gay men, for example) with what they hear about gay men. As always, the Torah's wisdom is spot on, but we as humans struggle to see how we hurt others, and I'm sure if people knew such words hurt others, they wouldn't say them.

    Second, I also take issue with the phrase "practicing homosexual." It's pretty vague, and furthermore, it is simply no one's business what people do in the privacy of their homes. I also balk at the phrase "open violators of halakhah." Make no mistake, I affirm 100% that same-sex sexual activity and same-sex relationships are not halakhic. However, as the statement of principles notes, Judaism is not all or nothing. Really, is anyone proud when they violate halakhah? If they care about halakhah, they are upset! I would also posit that no Jew is perfect. I know you did not write this and may or may not have chosen those words yourself, but I wanted to just throw that out as my opinion.

    All that being said, I recognize that some communities may be especially hostile towards the idea of a gay or lesbian couple living in their neighborhoods, but then again, I doubt that gay people who also want to live in an Orthodox community would live in a community like that. I only hope that the Jewish people can recognise that we're one family, and we should not make any Jew feel like he or she should not be Jewish simply because he or she is gay or lesbian. A Jewish soul is a gift from the Almighty.