Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Message For A Gay Orthodox Jew

Chana writes about a gay Orthodox YU student with a blog.

Here is my message for him and anyone else in a similar position:
Just read about you on Chana's blog. My heart goes out to people like you who suffer unnecessarily. I grew up Orthodox and it is my honest belief that it is 100% untrue. There is no God and he did not write or dictate or inspire the Torah. The words of Leviticus were written by mere mortals a couple thousand years ago and should no more keep you from finding and experiencing love (and/or sex) than the Book of Mormon should.

I've been around Orthodoxy and Orthodox Jews long enough to know I'm never going to convince someone who doesn't want to be convinced (unless they're unusually intellectually honest AND curious) but I really, truly believe that the case is a slam dunk if you are willing to consider it.

There's just no good reason for you to live a life of suffering and deprivation. I hope you realize that sooner rather than later.

Feel free to email me, and good luck.

8 comments:

Makarios said...

"There's just no good reason for you to live a life of suffering and deprivation"

That's an interesting point. I agree absolutely that no one should be discriminated against except perhaps for lack of ability when it comes to the workplace.

However, if my wife, through accident or disease (or if applicable “you”) became incapable of physical intimacy, would your spouse and I be released of any former promises re: fidelity and be allowed to find sexual release / enjoyment with someone else? After all you wouldn't want your spouse to be deprived, would you?

We're now paying a horrific price for our ignorant demand that we should all be free to have sex with strangers where ever and when ever we please. As well as our demand for easy divorce that has thrown millions and millions of children into lives of utter chaos. What if, again through ignorance, we are also sowing the wind regarding homosexual intimacy?

Are we to deny ourselves nothing at all for the greater good?

Abandoning Eden said...

to say that if your wife got sick and you couldn't have sex with her anymore you wouldn't cheat on her is entirely different then saying someone can never have a possibility of sex or a relationship with someone they love because of religious doctrine. When you marry someone you agree to be faithful through the good and the bad (ok I know jews don't say that, but most people do), knowing there is a possibility that there will be bad. It's your choice to enter that marriage. That is different then saying that someone can never have sex or love because it is 'morally wrong' (according to something someone wrote a few thousand years ago).

Personally if I was never able to have sex again I would probably eventually have a conversation with my husband about having a more open relationship. IMO you are not 'released' from former promises automatically, but they are always up for renegotiation if the situation changes, as long as both parties agree.

And no one said anything about sex with strangers- just becuase someone is gay doesn't mean they have sex with random people. But meanwhile, I don't get this idea of denying things to yourself for the "greater good". What greater good is served by denying yourself things that you want? If those things hurt other people, then yes, denying them serves the greater good. But if they don't (which consensual sex between two adults generally does not) then I don't see what greater good denying that will serve.

Jewish Atheist said...

Makarios:

I didn't say that nobody should ever be deprived of anything. Sometimes there are good reasons people should deprive themselves. For example, pedophiles should deprive themselves because not depriving themselves would harm children.

What if, again through ignorance, we are also sowing the wind regarding homosexual intimacy?

Two points:

1) We have to be reasonable. Simply fearing unforeseen consequences without reason would prevent us from doing anything. What if we'd feared the unforeseen consequences of ending the laws and taboos against interracial marriage?

2) Even if there are negative consequences of X, that's not necessarily an argument against it. For example, even if there are negative consequences of easy divorce, that doesn't imply that people shouldn't be allowed to divorce easily. We have to weigh people's freedoms against the consequences.

Makarios said...

Eden: “knowing there is a possibility that there will be bad.”

Ya, but who really believes that will happen or thinks about that when saying these things? When I think of what I promised 36 years ago it makes me shudder and then giggle. I was soooo naive.
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“It's your choice to enter that marriage. That is different . . .”

I know that. I was trying to turn the example to be seen from the perspective of “I”. I will deny myself because . . .
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“according to something someone wrote a few thousand years ago”

I know what you’re saying, but if something is right, it’s right regardless of times. Eg. “Love your neighbour as yourself,” is, I believe timeless.
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“Personally if I was never able to have sex again I would probably eventually have a conversation with my husband about having a more open relationship.”

I would too, but I would hope that she wouldn’t want to :-)
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“IMO you are not 'released' from former promises automatically . . . as long as both parties agree."

How often does adultery take place under those conditions? “Sure honey, you go find a prostitute. I’m cool with that.” What happens instead is, “You aren’t giving me what I want so I’ll release myself from my former promises.”
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“. . .just becuase someone is gay doesn't mean they have sex with random people.”

Could we just deal with reality for a bit? The scourge of STD’s does not arise from faithful monogamous relationships. Of course being a homosexual does not “automatically” mean random sex, although that is by far and away the norm. Regardless of how sexually disoriented we are, straight or gay, the more disoriented we are, the more likely that random / casual sex becomes the reality. You and I both know that to be the truth.
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“But meanwhile, I don't get this idea of denying things to yourself for the "greater good".

Yes, well, that’s my whole point. I might not want to get vaccinated but for the greater good I will. I might want to have sex with the next person who offers herself for whatever reason but for the greater good I’ll decline. There must be thousands of possible examples. Eating too much, drinking to much and on and on.

Maturity is when we no longer have to do something just because we want to do it.
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JA: “Simply fearing unforeseen consequences without reason would prevent us from doing anything.”

As a Christian, I think that we could have avoided tragedy by simply listening to and obeying our Creator / Manufacturer. I grew up in the sixties and my generation (me included) actually believed, we really believed that drug induced love was real love. We actually believed that casual sex came without negative consequence. We actually believed that children were not harmed by divorce. Listening to our Creator would have avoided the 100's of millions of casualties of those errors.
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“What if we'd feared the unforeseen consequences of ending the laws and taboos against interracial marriage?”

I’m not talking about taboos. Of course taboos should be challenged and analysed.
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“We have to weigh people's freedoms against the consequences.”

Agreed

Bruce said...

I know what you’re saying, but if something is right, it’s right regardless of times. Eg. “Love your neighbour as yourself,” is, I believe timeless.

I think this is where Conservative and Reform Judaism shine.

Yes, Leviticus was written by people. But they were trying to do their best to bring God and Godliness and Goodness into the world. Some ideas in Leviticus (love your neighbor) are pretty much timeless. Others might vary depending on the culture, like animal sacrifices and (I would claim) like gay relations. And others might seem to vary, but really be timeless. And of course we learn more about all sorts of things as we move forward.

The trick is to balance between tradition, modern knowledge, and contemporary sensibilities. Orthodoxy may be too ossified, but that does not require throwing out Judaism. Both Conservative and Reform (in some similar ways and in some very different ways) try to allow this tradition to unfold and to strike this balance.

Anonymous said...

I will preface my comment by saying that I am also an atheist (formerly Jewish)and I do agree with the core message you expressed in your letter. I felt like writing an identical response myself. However I refrained from doing so because I don’t think it would help the individual in question at the present time.


Consider the fact that it’s very unlikely this individual will be converted to you’re point of view and your message (however well meaning) may actually be counter productive in terms of making him or her abandon needless self infliction.


A more positive approach would be to harp not on the fact that his individual is depriving him or her self of emotional/physical fulfillment but rather appreciate the great strides the author of the blog has taken. He or she has decided to acknowledge thier orientation and share this information with others. As small as that may to those of us who are %100 out and proud it is a HUGE step in a positive direction. Many frum people who try to lead celibate lives never “ come out”, they simply hide in the closet and pull a Ted Haggard.

From my observation individuals such as this frum YU student are actually much better off than you’d expect them to be. A number of gay individuals that I know personally who are in a similar situation belong to social support groups that are gay affirmative. The fact that these individuals elect to belong to a cercal of friends who are openly lgbt is quite something. By being in an environment which is supportive of all personal lifestyle decisions they are given the room to grow at their own pace and there is hope that they may eventually approach inner peace some day.

jewish philosopher said...

One thing I recently checked out, and correct me if I'm mistaken, however the New York Times never mentions the existence of a homosexual in New York City until the 1944 murder of David Kammerer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucien_Carr

If homosexuality is normal and natural, how did it go entirely unnoticed in New York City until 65 years ago? It wasn't merely condemned, hidden and punished, it seems to have been simply unknown.

Mark said...

"I know that. I was trying to turn the example to be seen from the perspective of “I”. I will deny myself because . . . "

If you truly wanted to turn the example to be seen from your perspective, you would have said, "I will deny myself the opportunity to ever have a fulfilling relationship with a woman." But you don't say that, and in your omission lies the weakness of your argument: you are caricaturing homosexuality by reducing it to sex. Yes, sex is a part of homosexuality, just as it is a part of heterosexuality. But just as you would be offended by someone who reduced your relationship with your wife to a merely sexual one, so am I offended by your reduction of my relationships with men to merely sexual.

As for the prevalence of STDs, yes they are higher among gay men. What does that prove, or even suggest, except that men are, in general, more promiscuous than women (which we are) and that when you have a community of men operating outside the mitigating influence of women, their behavior tends toward the extreme? You could point to a great many scenarios where all-male groups behave in socially extreme ways (i.e. college fraternities, sports teams, etc...) that have negative social consequences, but you would never suggest that we prevent college-aged men from joining frats or sports teams because of rowdy frat parties, public drunkeness, soccer hooliganism, etc... because those frats and sports teams serve a legitimate function. Gay relationships also serve a legitimate function. Who are you, who enjoy your relationship with your wife, to deny us the opportunity to enter into a similar relationship? Think about it.

I get the feeling reading your post that you regret the actions of the members of your generation, yourself included, and the social harms those actions caused. That's fine, but the appropriate response to your personal regret is not to demand that I and people like me refrain from entering loving relationships. Gays did not institutionalize no-fault divorce and the mass abandonment of children. Heterosexuals did. Take some responsibility for that, instead of projecting your guilty conscience onto some vulnerable minority.