AJN Letters: Rabbi Shimon Cowen draws on Robert Spitzer – May 25 2012

25 May 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

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Rabbi Glick’s view of homosexuality

IN last week’s AJN (18/05), the editor commented that Rabbi Avrohom Glick’s statement that homosexuality “can be cured … in most situations” is “an affront … to all those who believe in equality irrespective of sexual orientation”.  I am sure that Rabbi Glick acknowledges that the commandment of loving a fellow Jew extends equally to homosexuals.

The editor also commented that Rabbi Glick’s remarks raise questions about his role as director of student welfare.  Rabbi Glick serves in a school under the aegis of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe himself published an essay on homosexuality, in which he wrote that the point of education in general is to modify “inborn dispositions”, including homosexual dispositions, which pose challenges for the ethical requirements of Torah.

He wrote that “for some it is easier and for others it is harder”, but with the exercise of free will and the help of educators, therapists and counsellors, individuals can overcome these drives.  In his position at a Jewish, Orthodox, and particularly, a Lubavitcher school, it is a simple matter of religious freedom and charter that Rabbi Glick should be able to express this view.

Rabbi Glick’s statement that practical homosexual orientation could be experienced as abnormal and be altered was in fact demonstrated in a psychological research paper published by Dr Robert Spitzer in 2003.  This appeared as a revision of Spitzer’s position when, 30 years earlier, he was integral in having homosexuality removed as an illness from the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders.  Spitzer was at once assailed by the APA and various lobbies for his new research, and over time a number of recantations were elicited from him.

The primary objection which was used to disqualify Spitzer’s new work was that his sample of interviewees was drawn from highly religiously motivated individuals who sought to change their homosexual orientations – a sample, it was argued, that did not represent average homosexuals.  And yet this is precisely the point: because these individuals had a conscious spiritual identity, a higher self, resonating with the Creator’s moral template, which negates homosexual conduct, they were often able to engage with and transform “another”, contrary physical self, as Spitzer found.  Without any concept of an autonomous spiritual self, capable of struggle with psychophysical impulse, the politically ascendant psychology of the APA necessarily rejects freedom, choice and cure in homosexuality.

Balaclava, Vic