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Voices of Faith
I am an orthodox Rabbi, and I freely acknowledge that the Bible clearly labels homosexuality a sin. However, it is not a moral sin but rather akin to the prohibition of lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread on Passover. It may violate the divine will, but there is nothing immoral about it....
Judaism, I feel, has a very healthy approach to homosexuality. It’s this simple. There are 613 commandments in the Torah. One is a prohibition on homosexual relations. Another is an obligation to have children. I tell gay couples all the time. “You have 611 commandments left to you. That should keep you busy. Now, go give charity, honor the Sabbath, put a mezuzah on your door, keep a kosher home, and pray to God three times a day for you are his beloved children and He seeks you out.”
Faith-based opposition to homosexuality as a religious sin is understandable, just as religious opposition to eating on Yom Kippur is understandable. But all this other stuff—it is immoral, doesn’t lead to procreation, is part of a promiscuous lifestyle—seems more relevant to the revolting and growing culture of drunken hookups, particularly on the American campus, where women are treated by men as little more than fleshy masturbatory material. Yet we almost never hear religious leaders decrying the promiscuity of the heterosexual club culture with anything near the intensity with which they attack gays. Indeed, the strangest thing about traditional people attacking gay marriage is that the only men left in America who seem eager to marry are gay. While homosexuals petition the U.S. Supreme Court for the right to marry, straight guys are living with their girlfriends for half a millennium and still struggle to commit.
As an orthodox Rabbi, I am not pro-gay marriage. I feel the best solution to the same-sex marriage debate is simple: marriage for none, civil unions for all. Let our government withdraw fully from the marriage business, opting instead to grant civil unions to the couples who seek them, be they straight or gay. This is simply a question of equal rights for government matters like tax and inheritance benefits and end-of-life decisions. But marriage, a religious institution, should be consecrated by priests and clergymen as dictated by their conscience.
By ending the gay marriage debate once and for all, we might even address the real values corrosion in America, such as the 50 percent divorce rate, the lack of a national year of service and the death of family dinners. But obsessing over gays guarantees that we’ll forever duck America’s problems. Just because it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck and quacks like a duck doesn’t always mean it’s a duck. And just because religious people blame gays for the moral decline of marriage doesn’t mean that we straight people haven’t done a mighty fine job of ruining the family ourselves.