24 Feb 2012
The Australian Jewish News Sydney edition
Rabbi Moshe Gutnick believes there is no place for homophobia in authentic Judaism.
THERE is no doubt that the Torah forbids male homosexual acts. The prohibition exists whether or not homosexuality is considered by society normal or abnormal, or whether or not scientifically it is considered a matter of genetic predisposition or a learned behaviour. The Torah, in its divine wisdom, forbids such behaviour regardless of the answer to the above questions, and while it may even be that a person has no choice as to their sexual orientation, they always have a choice whether or not to engage in a prohibited act.
Indeed, one of the most difficult challenges facing the rabbinate is how to authentically convey that message while retaining the dignity of the individual and without harming their self-esteem. Indeed the challenge is greatest for the individual himself, who may have a homosexual orientation but wishes to be observant of, if not all the commandments, as many as he is able – and at the very least accepted by his fellow Jew. We must never underestimate the enormity of that challenge.
Whether or not an individual is able to deal with that challenge, they must always be made to feel welcome and they must never be made to feel that they lose their Jewish identity or ability to worship as a Jew. There is no place for “homophobia” in authentic Judaism; there is no place for being judgmental. Indeed every command of the Torah must be observed, but that includes the command that we love as ourselves, even one who transgresses. There is “no one righteous on Earth, that does only good and never sins”.
However, the prohibition remains. Therefore, no Jew believing in Torah or the seven Noahide laws for all mankind (loosely termed the JudaeoChristian ethic) can be asked to accept a program that “celebrates” homosexuality. While bullying in any form is abhorrent, including the bullying of someone because of their sexual orientation, the solution is not to “celebrate” an orientation that is against Torah teaching. In the absurd, would one expect of an Orthodox school, where perhaps someone was being bullied for not observing the laws of kashrut, to combat that bullying by “celebrating” the eating of non-kosher food? Indeed, to take such an approach would imply that if a particular behaviour could not be “celebrated” or if it was legitimately inappropriate, bullying of a person