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Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality

Dr. Norman Lamm is the former President of Yeshiva University. He originally published the following article in 1974.

Popular wisdom has it that our society is wildly hedonistic, with the breakdown of family life, rampant immorality, and the world, led by the United States, in the throes of a sexual revolution. The impetus of this latest revolution is such that new ground is constantly being broken, while bold deviations barely noticed one year are glaringly more evident the year following and become the norm for the "younger generation" the year after that.

Some sex researchers accept this portrait of a steady deterioration in sex inhibitions and of increasing permissiveness. Opposed to them are the "debunkers" who hold that this view is mere fantasy and that, while there may have been a significant leap in verbal sophistication, there has probably been only a short hop in actual behavior. They point to statistics which confirm that now, as in Kinsey's day, there has been no reported increase in sexual frequencies along with alleged de-inhibition to rhetoric and dress. The "sexual revolution" is, for them, largely a myth. Yet others maintain that there is in Western society a permanent revolution against moral standards, but that the form and style of the revolt keeps changing.

The determination of which view is correct will have to be left to the sociologists and statisticians -or, better, to historians of the future who will have the benefit of hindsight. But certain facts are quite clear. First, the complaint that moral restraints are crumbling has a two or three thousand year history in Jewish tradition and in continuous history of Western civilization. Second, there has been a decided increase at least in the area of sexual attitudes, speech, and expectations, if not in practice. Third, such social and psychological phenomena must sooner or later beget changes in mores and conduct. And finally, it is indisputable that most current attitudes are profoundly at variance with traditional Jewish views on sex and sex morality.

Of all the current sexual fashions, the one most notable for its militancy, and which most conspicuously requires illumination from the sources of Jewish tradition, is that of sexual deviancy. This refers primarily to homosexuality, male or female, along with a host of other phenomena such as transvestism and transexualism. They all form part of the newly approved theory of idiosyncratic character of sexuality. Homosexuals have demanded acceptance in society, and this demand has taken various forms -from a plea that they should not be liable to criminal prosecution, to a demand that they should not be subjected to social sanctions, and then to a strident assertion that they represent an "alternative life-style" no less legitimate that "straight heterosexuality. The various forms of homosexual apologetics appear largely in contemporary literature and theater, as well as in the daily press. In the United States, "gay" activists have become increasingly and progressively more vocal and militant.
Legal Position

Homosexuals have, indeed, been suppressed by the law. For instance, the Emperor Valentinian, in 390 C.E., decreed that pederasty be punished by burning at the stake. The sixth-century Code of Justinian ordained that homosexuals be tortured, mutilated, paraded in public, and executed. A thousand years later, Gibbon said of the penalty the Code decreed that "pederasty became the crime of those to whom no crime could be imputed". In more modern times, however, the Napoleonic Code declared consensual homosexuality legal in France. A century ago, anti-homosexual laws were repealed in Belgium and Holland. In this century, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland followed suit and, more recently, Czechoslovakia and England. The most severe laws in the West are found in the United States, where they come under the jurisdiction of the various states and are known by a variety of names, usually as "sodomy laws". Punishment may range from light fines to five or more years in prison (in some cases even life imprisonment), indeterminate detention to a mental hospital, and even to compulsory sterilization. Moreover, homosexuals are, in various states, barred from licensed professions, from many professional societies, from teaching, and from the civil service -to mention only a few of the sanctions encountered by the known homosexual.

More recently, a new tendency has been developing in the United States and elsewhere with regard to homosexuals. Thus, in 1969, the National Institute of Mental Health issued a majority report advocating that adult consensual homosexuality be declared legal. The American Civil Liberties Union concurred. Earlier, Illinois had done so in 1962, and in 1971 the state of Connecticut revised its laws accordingly. Yet despite the increasing legal and social tolerance of deviance, basic feelings toward homosexuals have not really changed. The most obvious example is France, where although legal restraints were abandoned over 150 years ago, the homosexual of today continues to live in shame and secrecy.
Statistics

Statistically, the proportion the proportion of homosexuals in society does not seem to have changed much since Professor Kinsey's day (his book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, was published in 1948, and his volume on the human female in 1953). Kinsey's studies revealed that hard-core male homosexuals constituted about 4-6% of the population: 10% experienced "problem" behavior during a part of their lives. One man out of three indulges in some form of homosexual behavior from puberty until his early twenties. The dimensions of the problem become quite overwhelming when it is realized that, according to these figures, of 200 million people in the United States some ten million will become or are predominant or exclusive homosexuals, and over 25 million will have at least a few years of significant homosexual experience.
The New Permissiveness

The most dramatic change in our attitudes to homosexuality has taken place in the new mass adolescent subculture - the first such in history - where it is part of the whole new outlook on sexual restraints in general. It is here that the fashionable Sexual Left has had its greatest success on a wide scale, appealing especially to the rejection of Western traditions of sex roles and sex typing. A number of different streams feed into this ideological reservoir from which the new sympathy for homosexuality flows. Freud and his disciples began the modern protest against traditional restraints, and blamed the guilt that follows transgression for the neuroses that plague man. Many psychoanalysts began to overemphasize the importance of sexuality in human life, and this ultimately gave birth to a kind of sexual messianism. Thus, in our own day Wilhelm Reich identifies sexual energy as "vital energy per se" and, in conformity with his Marxist ideology, seeks to harmonize Marx and Freud. For Reich and his followers, the sexual revolution is a machina ultima for the whole Leninist liberation in all spheres of life and society. Rebellion against restrictive moral codes has become, for them, not merely a way to hedonism but a form of sexual mysticism: orgasm is seem not only as the pleasurable climatic release of internal sexual pressure, but as a means to individual creativity and insight as well as to the reconstruction and liberation of society. Finally, the emphasis on freedom and sexual autonomy derives from the Sartrean version of Kant's view of human autonomy.

It is in this atmosphere that pro-deviationist sentiments have proliferated, reaching into many strata of society. Significantly, religious groups have joined the sociologists and ideologists of deviance to affirm what has been called "man's birthright of unbounded ambisexuality." A number of Protestant churches in America, and an occasional Catholic clergyman, have plead for more sympathetic attitudes toward homosexuals. Following the new Christian permissiveness espoused in Sex and Morality (1966), the report of a working party of the British Council of Churches, a group of American Episcopalian clergymen in November 1967 concluded that homosexual acts ought not to be considered wrong, per se. A homosexual relationship is, they implied, no different from a heterosexual marriage: but must be judged by one criterion -"whether it is intended to foster a permanent relation of love." Jewish apologists for deviationism have been prominent in the Gay Liberation movement and have not hesitated to advocate their position in American journals and in the press. Christian groups began to emerge which catered to a homosexual clientele, and Jews were not too far behind. This latest Jewish exemplification of the principle of wie es sich christelt, so juedelt es sich will be discussed at the end of this essay.

Homosexual militants are satisfied neither with a "mental health" approach nor with demanding civil rights. They are clear in insisting on society's recognition of sexual deviance as an "alternative lifestyle," morally legitimate and socially acceptable.

Such are the basic facts and theories of the current advocacy of sexual deviance. What is the classical Jewish attitude to sodomy, and what suggestions may be made to develop a Jewish approach to the complex problem of the homosexual in contemporary society?
Biblical View

The Bible prohibits homosexual intercourse and labels it an abomination: "Thou shalt not lie with a man as one lies with a woman: it is an abomination" (Lev. 18:22). Capital punishment is ordained for both transgressors in Lev. 20:13. In the first passage, sodomy is linked with buggery, and in the second with incest and buggery. (There is considerable terminological confusion with regard to these words. We shall here use "sodomy" as a synonym for homosexuality and "buggery" for sexual relations with animals.)

The city of Sodom had the questionable honor of lending its name to homosexuality because of the notorious attempt at homosexual rape, when the entire population -"both young and old, all the people from every quarter"- surrounded the home of Lot, the nephew of Abraham, and demanded that he surrender his guests to them "that we may know them" (Gen. 19:5). The decimation of the tribe of Benjamin resulted from the notorious incident, recorded in Judges 19, of a group of Benjamites in Gibeah who sought to commit homosexual rape.

Scholars have identified the kadesh proscribed by the Torah (Deut. 23:18) as a ritual male homosexual prostitute. This form of healthen cult penetrated Judea from the Canaanite surroundings in the period of the early monarchy. So Rehoboam, probably under the influence of his Ammonite mother, tolerated this cultic sodomy during his reign (I Kings 14:24). His grandson Asa tried to cleanse the Temple in Jerusalem of the practice (I Kings 15:12), as did his great-grandson Jehoshaphat. But it was not until the days of Josiah and the vigorous reforms he introduced that the kadesh was finally removed from the Temple and the land (II Kings 23:7). The Talmund too (Sanhedrin, 24b) holds that the kadesh was a homosexual functionary. (However, it is possible that the term also alludes to a heterosexual male prostitute. Thus, in II Kings 23:7, women are described as weaving garments for the idols in the batei ha-kedeshim (houses of the kadesh): the presence of women may imply that the kadesh was not necessarily homosexual. The Talmudic opinion identifying the kadesh as a homosexual prostitute may be only an asmakhta. Moreover, there are other opinions in Talmudic literature as to the meaning of the verse: see Onkelos, Lev. 23:18, and Nachmanides and Torah Temimah, ad loc.)
Talmudic Approach

Rabbinic exegesis of the Bible finds several other homosexual references in the scriptural narratives. The generation of Noah was condemned to eradication by the Flood because they had sunk so low morally that, according to Midrashic teaching, they wrote out formal marriage contracts for sodomy and buggery - a possible cryptic reference to such practices in the Rome of Nero and Hadrian (Lev. R. 18:13).

Of Ham, the son of Noah, we are told that "he saw the nakedness of his father" and told his two brothers (Gen. 9:22). Why should this act have warranted the harsh imprecation hurled at Ham by his father? The Rabbis offer two answers: one, that the text implied that Ham castrated Noah: second, that the Biblical expression is an idiom for homosexual intercourse (see Rashi, ad loc.). On the scriptural story of Potiphar's purchase of Joseph as a slave (Gen. 39:1), the Talmud comments that he acquired him for homosexual purposes, but that a miracle occurred and God sent the angel Gabriel to castrate Potiphar (Sotah 13b).

Post-Biblical literature records remarkably few incidents of homosexuality. Herod's son Alexander, according to Josephus (Wars, I, 24:7), had homosexual contact with a young eunuch. Very few reports of homosexuality have come to us from the Talmudic era (TJ Sanhedrin 6:6, 23c: Jos. Ant., 15:25-30).

The incidence of sodomy among Jews is interestingly reflected in the Halakhah on mishkav zakhur (the Talmudic term for homosexuality: the Bible uses various terms- thus the same term in Num. 31:17 and 35 refers to heterosexual intercourse by a woman, whereas the expression for male homosexual intercourse in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 is mishkevei ishah). The Mishnah teaches that R. Judah forbade two bachelors from sleeping under the same blanket, for fear that this would lead to homosexual temptation (Kiddushin 4:14). However, the Sages permitted it (ibid.) because homosexuality was so rare among Jews that such preventive legislation was considered unnecessary (Kiddushin 82a). This latter view is codified as Halakhah by Malmonides (Yad, Issurei Bi'ah 22:2). Some 400 years later R. Joseph Caro, who did not codify the law against sodomy proper, nevertheless cautioned against being alone with another male because of the lewdness prevalent "in our times" (Even ha-Ezer 24). About a hundred years later, R. Joel Sirkes reverted to the original ruling, and suspended the prohibition because such obscene acts were unheard of amongst Polish Jewry (Bayit Hadash to Tur, Even ha-Ezer 24). Indeed, a distinguished contemporary of R. Joseph Caro, R. Solomon Luria, went even further and declared homosexuality so very rare that, if one refrains from sharing a blanket with another male as a special act of piety, one is guilty of self-righteous pride or religious snobbism (for the above and additional authorities, see Ozar ha-Posekim, IX, 236-238).
Responsa

As is to be expected, the responsa literature is also very scant in discussions of homosexuality. One of the few such responsa is by the late R. Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen Kook, when he was still the rabbi of Jaffa. In 1912 he was asked about a ritual slaughterer who had come under suspicion of homosexuality. After weighing all aspects of the case, R. Kook dismissed the charges against the accused, considering them unsupported hearsay. Furthermore, he maintained the man might have repented and therefore could not be subject to sanctions at the present time.

The very scarcity of halakhic deliberations on homosexuality, and the quite explicit insistence of various halakhic authorities, provide sufficient evidence of the relative absence of this practice among Jews from ancient times down to the present. Indeed, Prof. Kinsey found that, while religion was usually an influence of secondary importance on the number of homosexual as well as heterosexual acts by males. Orthodox Jews proved an exception, homosexuality being phenomenally rare among them.

Jewish laws treated the female homosexual more leniently than the male. It considered lesbianism as issur, an ordinary religious violation, rather than arayot, a specifically sexual infraction, regarded much more severely than issur. R. Huna held that lesbianism is the equivalent of harlotry and disqualified the woman from marrying a priest. The Halakhah is, however, more lenient, and decides that while the act is prohibited, the lesbian is not punished and is permitted to marry a priest (Sifra 9:8: Shab. 65a: Yev. 76a). However, the transgression does warrant disciplinary flagellation (Maimonides, Yad, Issurei Bi'ah 21:8). The less punitive attitude of the Halakhah to the female homosexual than to the male does not reflect any intrinsic judgment on one as opposed to the other, but is rather the result of a halakhic technicality: there is no explicit Biblical proscription of lesbianism, and the act does not entail genital intercourse (Maimonides, loc. cit.).

The Halakhah holds that the ban on homosexuality applies universally, to non-Jew as well as to Jew (Sanh 58a: Maimonides, Melakhim 9:5, 6). It is one of the six instances of arayot (sexual transgressions) forbidden to the Noachide (Maimonides, ibid).

Most halakhic authorities - such as Rashba and Ritba - agree with Maimonides. A minority opinion holds that pederasty and buggery are "ordinary" prohibitions rather than arayot - specifically sexual infractions which demand that one submit to martyrdom rather than violate the law - but the Jerusalem Talmud supports the majority opinion. (See D. M. Krozer, Devar Ha-Melekh, I, 22, 23 (1962), who also suggests that Maimonides may support a distinction whereby the "male" or active homosexual partner is held in violation of arayot whereas the passive or "female" partner transgresses issur, an ordinary prohibition.)
Reasons of Prohibition

Why does the Torah forbids homosexuality? Bearing in mind that reasons proffered for the various commandments are not to be accepted as determinative, but as human efforts to explain immutable divine law, the rabbis of the Talmud and later Talmudists did offer a number of illuminating rationales for the law.

As stated, the Torah condemns homosexuality as to'evah, an abomination. The Talmud records the interpretation of Bar Kapparah who, in a play on words, defined to'evah as to'eh attah bah. "You are going astray because of it" (Nedarim 51a). The exact meaning of this passage is unclear, and various explanations have been put forward.

The Pesikta (Zutarta) explains the statement of Bar Kapparah as referring to the impossibility of such a sexual resulting in procreation. One of the major functions (if not the major purpose) of sexuality is reproduction, and this reason for man's sexual endowment is frustrated by mishkav zakhur (so too Sefer ha-Hinnukh, no. 209).

Another interpretation is that of the Tosafot and R. Asher ben Jehiel (in their commentaries to Ned. 51a) which applies the "going astray" or wandering to the homosexual's abandoning his wife. In other words, the abomination consists of the danger that a married man with homosexual tendencies may disrupt his family life in order to indulge his perversions. Saadiah Gaon holds the rational basis of most of the Bible's moral legislation to be the preservation of the family structure (Emunot ve-De'ot 3:1: cf. Yoma 9a). (This argument assumes contemporary cogency in the light of the avowed aim of some gay militants to destroy the family, which they consider an "oppressive institution.")

A third explanation is given by a modern scholar, Rabbi Baruch Ha-Levi Epstein (Torah Temimah to Lev. 18:22), who emphasizes the unnaturalness of the homosexual liaison: "You are going astray from the foundations of the creation." Mishkav zakhur defies the very structure of the anatomy of the sexes, which quite obviously was designed for heterosexual relationships.

It may be, however, that the very variety of interpretations of to'evah points to a far more fundamental meaning, namely, that an act characterized as an "abomination" is prima facie disgusting and cannot be further defined or explained. Certain acts are considered to'evah by the Torah, and there the matter rests. It is, as it were, a visceral reaction, an intuitive disqualification of the act, and we run the risk of distorting the Biblical judgment if we rationalize it. To'evah constitutes a category of objectionableness sui generis: it is a primary phenomenon. (This lends additional force to Rabbi David Z. Hoffmann's contention that to'evah is used by the Torah to indicate the repulsiveness of a proscribed act, no matter how much it may be in vogue among advanced and sophisticated cultures: see his Sefer Va-yikra, II, p. 54.).
Jewish Attitudes

It is on the basis of the above that an effort must be made to formulate a Jewish response to the problems of homosexuality in the conditions under which most Jews live today, namely, those of free and democratic societies and, with the exception of Israel, non-Jewish lands and traditions.

Four general approaches may be adopted:1) Repressive: No leniency toward the homosexual, lest the moral fiber of the rest of society be weakened. 2) Practical: Dispense with imprisonment and all forms of social harassment, for eminently practical and prudent reasons. 3) Permissive: The same as the above, but for the ideological reasons, viz., the acceptance of homosexuality as a legitimate alternative "lifestyle." 4) Psychological: Homosexuality, in at least some forms, should be recognized as a disease and this recognition must determine our attitude toward the homosexual.

Let us consider each of these critically.
Repressive Attitude

Exponents of the most stringent approach hold that pederasts are the vanguard of moral malaise, especially in our society. For on thing, they are dangerous to children. According to a recent work, one third of the homosexuals in the study were seduced in their adolescence by adults. It is best for society that they be imprisoned, and if our present penal institutions are faulty, let them be improved. Homosexuals should certainly not be permitted to function as teachers, group leaders, rabbis, or in any other capacity where they might be models for, and come into close contact with, young people. Homosexuality must not be excused as a sickness. A sane society assumes that its members have free choice, and are therefore responsible for their conduct. Sex offenders, including homosexuals, according to another recent study, operate "at a primate level with the philosophy that necessity is the mother of improvisation." As Jews who believe that the Torah legislated certain moral laws for all mankind, it is incumbent upon us to encourage all societies, including non-Jewish ones, to implement the Noachide laws. And since, according to the halakhah, homosexuality is prohibited to Noachides as well as to Jews, we must seek to strengthen the moral quality of society by encouraging more restrictive laws against homosexuals. Moreover, if we are loyal to the teachings of Judaism, we cannot distinguish between "victimless" crimes and crimes of violence. Hence, if our concern for the murder, racial oppression, or robbery, we must do no less with regard to sodomy.

This argument is, however, weak on a number of grounds. Practically, it fails to take into cognizance the number of homosexuals of all categories, which, as we have pointed out, is vast. We cannot possibly imprison all offenders, and it is a manifest miscarriage of justice to vent our spleen only on the few unfortunates who are caught by the police. It is inconsistent because there has been no comparable outcry for harsh sentencing of other transgressors of sexual morality, such as those who indulge in adultery or incest. To take consistency to its logical conclusion, this hard line on homosexuality should not stop with imprisonment but demand the death sentence, as is Biblically prescribed. And why not the same death sentence for blasphemy, eating a limb torn from a live animal, idolatry, robbery -all of which are Noachide commandments? And why not capital punishment for Sabbath transgressors in the State of Israel? Why should the pederast be singled out for opprobrium and be made an object lesson while all others escape?

Those who might seriously consider such logically consistent, but socially destructive, strategies had best think back to the fate of that Dominican reformer, the monk Girolamo Savonarola, who in 15th-century Florence undertook a fanatical campaign against vice and all suspected of venal sin, with emphasis on pederasty. The society of that time and place, much like ours, could stand vast improvement. But too much medicine in too strong doses was the monk's prescription, whereupon the population rioted and the zealot was hanged.

Finally, there is indeed some halakhic warrant for distinguishing between violent and victimless (or consensual and non-consensual) crimes. Thus, the Talmud permits a passer-by to kill a man in pursuit of another man or of a woman when the pursuer is attempting homosexual or heterosexual rape, as the case may be, whereas this is not permitted in the case of a transgressor pursuing an animal to commit buggery or on his way to worship an idol or to violate the Sabbath, (Sanh. 8:7, and v. Rashi to Sanh. 73a, s.v. al ha-behemah).
Practical Attitude

The practical approach is completely pragmatic and attempts to steer clear of any ideology in its judgments and recommendations. It is, according to its advocates, eminently reasonable. Criminal laws requiring punishment for homosexuals are simply unenforceable in society at the present day. We have previously cited the statistics on the extremely high incidence of pederasty in our society. Kinsey once said of the many sexual acts outlawed by the various states, that, were they all enforced, some 95% of men in the United States would be in jail. Furthermore, the special prejudice of law enforcement authorities against homosexuals - rarely does one hear of police entrapment or of jail sentences for non-violent heterosexuals - breeds a grave injustice: namely, it is an invitation to blackmail. The law concerning sodomy has been called "the blackmailer's charter." It is universally agreed that prison does little to help the homosexual rid himself of his peculiarity. Certainly, the failure of rehabilitation ought to be of concern to civilized men. But even if it is not, and the crime be considered so serious that incarceration is deemed advisable even in the absence of any real chances of rehabilitation, the casual pederast almost always leaves prison as a confirmed criminal. He has been denied the company of women and forced into society of those whose sexual expression is almost always channeled to pederasty. The casual pederast has become a habitual one: his homosexuality has now been ingrained in him. Is society any safer for having taken an errant man and, in the course of a few years, for having taught him to transform his deviancy into a hard and fast perversion, then turning him loose on the community? Finally, from a Jewish point of view, since it is obviously impossible for us to impose the death penalty for sodomy, we may as well act on purely practical grounds and do away with all legislation and punishment in this area of personal conduct.

This reasoning is tempting precisely because it focuses directly on the problem and is free of any ideological commitments. But the problem with it is that it is too smooth, too easy. By the same reasoning one might, in a reductio ad absurdum do away with all laws on income tax evasion, or forgive, and dispense with all punishment of Nazi murders. Furthermore, the last element leaves us with a novel view of the Halakhah: if it cannot be implemented in its entirely, it ought to be abandoned completely. Surely the Noachide laws, perhaps above all others, place us under clear moral imperatives, over and above purely penological instructions? The very practicality of this position leaves it open to the charge of evading the very real moral issues, and for Jews the halakhic principles, entailed in any discussion of homosexuality.
Permissive Attitude

The ideological advocacy of a completely permissive attitude toward consensual homosexuality and the acceptance of its moral legitimacy is, of course, the "in" fashion in sophisticated liberal circles. Legally, it holds that deviancy is none of the law's business; the homosexual's civil rights are as sacred as those of any other "minority group." From the psychological angle, sexuality must be emancipated from the fetters of guilt induced by religion and code-morality, and its idiosyncratic nature must be confirmed.

Gay Liberationists aver that the usual "straight" attitude toward homosexuality is based on three fallacies or myths: that homosexuality is an illness; that it is unnatural; and that it is immoral. They argue that it cannot be considered an illness, because so many people have been shown to practice it. It is not unnatural, because its alleged unnaturalness derives from the impossibility of sodomy leading to reproduction, whereas our overpopulated society no longer needs to breed workers, soldiers, farmers, or hunters. And it is not immoral, first, because morality is relative, and secondly, because moral behavior is that characterized by "selfless, loving concern."

Now, we are here concerned with the sexual problem as such, and not with homosexuality as a symbol of the whole contemporary ideological polemic against restraint and tradition. Homosexuality is too important - and too agonizing - a human problem to allow it to be exploited for political aims or entertainment or shock value.

The bland assumption that pederasty cannot be considered an illness because of the large number of people who have or express homosexual tendencies cannot stand up under criticism. No less an authority than Freud taught that a whole civilization can be neurotic. Erich Fromm appeals for the establishment of The Sane Society - because ours is not. If the majority of a nation are struck down by typhoid fever, does this condition, by so curious a calculus of semantics, become healthy? Whether or not homosexuality can be considered an illness is a serious question, and it does depend on one's definition of health and illness. But mere statistics are certainly not the coup de grâce to the psychological argument, which will be discussed shortly.

The validation of gay life as "natural" on the basis of changing social and economic conditions is an act of verbal obfuscation. Even if we were to concur with the widely held feeling that the world's population is dangerously large, and that Zero Population Growth is now a desideratum, the anatomical fact remains unchanged: the generative organs are structured for generation. If the words "natural" and "unnatural" have any meaning at all, they must be rooted in the unchanging reality of man's sexual apparatus rather than in his ephemeral social configurations.

Militant feminists along with the gay activists react vigorously against the implication that natural structure implies the naturalness or unnaturalness of certain acts, but this very view has recently been confirmed by one of the most informed writers on the subject. "It is already pretty safe to infer from laboratory research and ethological parallels that male and female are wired in ways that relate to our traditional sex roles... Freud dramatically said that anatomy is destiny. Scientists who shudder at the dramatic, no matter how accurate, could rephrase this: anatomy is functional, body functions have profound psychological meanings to people, and anatomy and function are often socially elaborated" (Arno Karlen, Sexuality and Homosexuality, p. 501).

The moral issues lead us into the quagmire of perennial philosophical disquisitions of a fundamental nature. In a way, this facilitates the problem for one seeking a Jewish view. Judaism does not accept the kind of thoroughgoing relativism used to justify the gay life as merely an alternate lifestyle. And while the question of human autonomy is certainly worthy of consideration in the area of sexuality, one must beware of the consequences of taking the argument to its logical extreme. Judaism clearly cherishes holiness as a greater value than either freedom or health. Furthermore, if every individual's autonomy leads us to lend moral legitimacy to any form of sexual expression he may desire, we must be ready to pull the blanket of this moral validity over almost the whole catalogue of perversion described by Krafft-Ebing, and then, by the legerdemain of granting civil rights to the morally non-objectionable, permit the advocates of buggery, fetishism, or whatever to proselytize in public. In that case, why not in the school system? And if consent is obtained before the death of one partner, why not necrophilia or cannibalism? Surely, if we declare pederasty to be merely idiosyncratic and not an "abomination," what right have we to condemn sexually motivated cannibalism - merely because most people would react with revulsion and disgust?

"Loving, selfless concern" and "meaningful personal relationships" - the great slogans of the New Morality and the exponents of situation ethics - have become the litany of sodomy in our times. Simple logic should permit us to use the same criteria for excusing adultery or any other act heretofore held to be immoral: and indeed, that is just what has been done, and it has received the sanction not only of liberals and humanists, but of certain religionists as well. "Love," "fulfillment," "exploitative," "meaningful" - the list itself sounds like a lexicon of emotionally charged terms drawn at random from the disparate sources of both Christian and psychologically-orientated agnostic circles. Logically, we must ask the next question: what moral depravities can not be excused by the sole criterion of "warm, meaningful human relations" or "fulfillment," the newest semantic heirs to "love"?

Love, fulfillment, and happiness can also be attained in incestuous contacts - and certainly in polygamous relationships. Is there nothing at all left that is "sinful," "unnatural," or "immoral" if it is practiced "between two consenting adults?" For religious groups to aver that a homosexual relationship should be judged by the same criteria as a heterosexual one - i.e., "whether it is intended to foster a permanent relationship of love" - is to abandon the last claim of representing the "Judeo-Christian tradition."

I have elsewhere essayed a criticism of the situationalists, their use of the term "love," and their objections to traditional morality as exemplified by the Halakhah as "mere legalism" (see my Faith and Doubt, chapter IX, p. 249 ff). Situationalists, such as Joseph Fletcher, have especially attacked "pilpolistic Rabbis" for remaining entangled in the coils of statutory and legalistic hairsplitting. Among the other things this typically Christian polemic reveals is an ignorance of the nature of Halakhah and its place in Judaism, which never held that law was totality of life, pleaded again and again for supererogatory conduct, recognized that individuals may be disadvantaged by the law, and which strove to rectify what could be rectified without abandoning the large majority to legal and moral chaos simply because of the discomfiture of the few.

Clearly, while Judaism needs no defense or apology in regard to its esteem for neighborly love and compassion for the individual sufferer, it cannot possibly abide a wholesale dismissal of its most basic moral principles on the grounds that those subject to its judgments find them repressive. All laws are repressive to some extent - they repress illegal activities - and all morality is concerned with changing man and improving him and his society. Homosexuality imposes on one an intolerable burden of differentness, of absurdity, and of loneliness, but the Biblical commandment outlawing pederasty cannot be put aside solely on the basis of sympathy for the victim of these feelings. Morality, too, is an element which each of us, given his sensuality, his own idiosyncracies, and his immoral proclivities, must take into serious consideration before acting out his impulses.
Psychological Attitudes

Several years ago I recommended that Jews regard homosexual deviance as a pathology, thus reconciling the insights of Jewish tradition with the exigencies of contemporary life and scientific information, such as it is, on the nature of homosexuality (Jewish Life, Jan-Feb. 1968). The remarks that follow are an expansion and modification of that position, together with some new data and notions.

The proposal that homosexuality be viewed as an illness will immediately be denied by three groups of people. Gay militants object to this view as an instance of heterosexual condescension. Evelyn Hooker and her group of psychologists maintain that homosexuals are no more pathological in their personality structures than heterosexuals. And psychiatrists Thomas Szasz in the U.S. and Ronald Laing in England reject all traditional ideas of mental sickness and health as tools of social repressiveness or, at best, narrow conventionalism. While granting that there are indeed unfortunate instances where the category of mental disease is exploited for social or political reasons, we part company with all three groups and assume that there are significant number of pederasts and lesbians who, by the criteria accepted by most psychologists and psychiatrists, can indeed be termed pathological. Thus, for instance, Dr. Albert Ellis, an ardent advocate of the right to deviancy, denies there is such a thing as a well-adjusted homosexual. In an interview, he has stated that whereas he used to believe that most homosexuals were neurotic, he is now convinced that about 50% are borderline psychotics, that the usual fixed male homosexual is a severe phobic, and that lesbians are even more disturbed than male homosexuals (see Karlem, op. cit., p. 223ff.).

No single cause of homosexuality has been established. In all probability, it is based on a conglomeration of a number of factors. There is overwhelming evidence that the condition is developmental, not constitutional. Despite all efforts to discover something genetic in homosexuality, no proof has been adduced, and researchers incline more and more to reject the Freudian concept of fundamental human biological bisexuality and its corollary of homosexual latency. It is now widely believed that homosexuality is the result of a whole family constellation. The passive, dependent, phobic male homosexual is usually the product of an aggressive, covertly seductive mother who is overly rigid and puritanical with her son - thus forcing him into a bond where he is sexually aroused, yet forbidden to express himself in any heterosexual way - and of a father who is absent, remote, emotionally detached, or hostile (I. Bieber et al. Homosexuality, 1962).

Can the homosexual be cured? There is a tradition of therapeutic pessimism that goes back to Freud but a number of psychoanalysis, including Freud's daughter Anna, have reported successes in treating homosexuals as any other phobics (in this case, fear of the female genitals). It is generally accepted that about a third of all homosexuals can be completely cured: behavioral therapists report an even larger number of cures.

Of course, one cannot say categorically that all homosexuals are sick - any more than one can casually define all thieves as kleptomaniacs. In order to develop a reasonable Jewish approach to the problem and to seek in the concept of illness some mitigating factor, it is necessary first to establish the main types of homosexuals. Dr. Judd Marmor speaks of four categories. "Genuine homosexuality" is based on strong preferential erotic feelings for members of the same sex. "Transitory homosexual behavior" occurs among adolescents who would prefer heterosexual experiences but are denied such opportunities because of the social, cultural, or psychological reasons. "Situational homosexual exchanges" are characteristic of prisoners, soldiers and others who are heterosexual but are denied access to women for long periods of time. "Transitory and opportunistic homosexuality" is that of delinquent young men who permit themselves to be used by pederasts in order to make money or win other favors, although their primary erotic interests are exclusively heterosexual. To these may be added, for purposes of our analysis, two other types. The first category, that of genuine homosexuals, me be said to comprehend two sub-categories: those who experience their condition as one of duress or uncontrollable passion which they would rid themselves of if they could, and those who transform their idiosyncrasy into an ideology, i.e., the gay militants who assert the legitimacy and validity of homosexuality as an alternative way to heterosexuality. The sixth category is based on what Dr. Rollo May has called "the New Puritanism", the peculiarly modern notion that one must experience all sexual pleasures, whether or not one feels inclined to them, as if the failure to taste every cup passed at the sumptuous banquet of carnal life means that one has not truly lived. Thus, we have transitory homosexual behavior not of adolescents, but of adults who feel that: they must "try everything" at least once or more than once in their lives.
A Possible Halakhic Solution

This rubric will now permit us to apply the notion of disease (and, from the halakhic point of view, of its opposite, moral culpability) to the various types of sodomy. Clearly, genuine homosexuality experienced under duress (Hebrew: ones) most obviously lends itself to being termed pathological especially where dysfunction appears in other aspects of personality. Opportunistic homosexuality, ideological homosexuality, and transitory adult homosexuality are at the other end of the spectrum, and appear most reprehensible. As for the intermediate categories, while they cannot be called illness, they do have a greater claim on our sympathy than the three types mentioned above.

In formulating the notion of homosexuality as a disease, we are not asserting the formal halakhic definition of mental illness as mental incompetence, as described in TB Hag. 3b, 4a, and elsewhere. Furthermore, the categorization of a prohibited sex act as ones (duress) because of uncontrolled passions is valid, in a technical halakhic sense, only for a married woman who was ravished and who, in the course of the act, became a willing participant. The Halakhah decides with Rava, against the father of Samuel, that her consent is considered duress because of the passions aroused in her (Ket, 51b). However, this holds true only if the act was initially entered into under physical compulsion (Kesef Mishneh to Yad, Sanh. 20:3). Moreover, the claim of compulsion by one's erotic passions is not valid for a male, for any erection is considered a token of his willingness (Yev, 53b; Maimonides, Yad, Sanh, 20:3). In the case of a male who was forced to cohabit with a woman forbidden to him, some authorities consider him guilty and punishable, while others hold him guilty but not subject to punishment by the courts (Tos., Yev, 53b; Hinnukh, 556; Kesef Mishneh, loc. cit.: Maggid Mishneh to Issurei Bi´ah, 1:9). Where a male is sexually aroused in a permissible manner, as to begin coitus with his wife and is then forced to conclude the act with another woman, most authorities exonerate him (Rabad and Maggid Mishned, to Issurei Bi´ah, in loc). If, now, the warped family background of the genuine homosexual is considered ones, the homosexual act may possibly lay claim to some mitigation by the Halakhah. (However, see Minhat Hinnukh, 556, end; and M. Feinstein, Iggerot Moshe (1973) on YD, no. 59, who holds, in a different context, that any pleasure derived from a forbidden act performed under duress increases the level of prohibition. This was anticipated by R. Joseph Engel, Atvan de-Oraita, 24). These latter sources indicate the difficulty of exonerating sexual transgressors because of psycho-pathological reasons under the technical rules of the Halakhah.

However, in the absence of a Sanhedrin and since it is impossible to implement the whole halakhic penal system, including capital punishment, such strict applications are unnecessary. What we are attempting is to develop guidelines, based on the Halakhah, which will allow contemporary Jews to orient themselves to the current problems of homosexuality in a manner articulating with the most fundamental insights of the Halakhah in a general sense, and consistent with the broadest world-view that the halakhic commitment instills in its followers. Thus, the aggadic statement that "no man sins unless he is overcome by a spirit of madness" (Sot. 3a) is not an operative halakhic rule, but does offer guidance on public policy and individual pastoral compassion. So in the present case, the formal halakhic strictures do not in any case apply nowadays, and it is our contention that the aggadic principle must lead us to seek out the mitigating halakhic elements so as to guide us in our orientation to homosexuals who, by the standards of modern psychology, may be regarded as acting under compulsion.

To apply the Halakhah strictly in this case is obviously impossible; to ignore it entirely is undesirable, and tantamount to regarding Halakhah as a purely abstract, legalistic system which can safely be dismissed where its norms and prescriptions do not allow full formal implementation. Admittedly, the method is not rigorous, and leaves room to varying interpretations as well as exegetical abuse, but it is the best we can do.

Hence there are types of homosexuality that do not warrant any special considerateness, because the notion of ones or duress (i.e., disease) in no way applies. Where the category of mental illness does apply, the act itself remains to’evah (an abomination), but the fact of illness lays upon us the obligation of pastoral compassion, psychological understanding, and social sympathy. In these sense, homosexuality is no different from any other social or anti-halakhic act, where it is legitimate to distinguish between the objective itself including its social and moral consequences, and the mentality and inner development of the person who perpetrates the act. For instance, if a man murders in a cold and calculating fashion for reasons of profit, the act is criminal and the transgressor is criminal. If, however, a psychotic murders, the transgressor is diseased rather than criminal, but the objective act itself remains a criminal one. The courts may therefore treat the perpetrator of the crime as they would a patient, with all the concomitant compassion and concern for therapy, without condoning the act as being morally neutral. To use halakhic terminology, the objective crime remains a ma’aseh averah, whereas a person who transgresses is considered innocent on the grounds of ones. In such case, the transgressor is spared the full legal consequences of his culpable act, although the degree to which he may be held responsible varies from case to case.

An example of a criminal act that is treated with compassion by the Halakhah, which in practice considers the act pathological rather than criminal, is suicide. Technically, the suicide or attempted suicide is in violation of the law. The Halakhah denies to the suicide the honor of a eulogy, the rending of the garments by relatives or witnesses to the death, and (according to Maimonides) insist that the relatives are not to observe the usual mourning period for the suicide. Yet, in the course of time, the tendency has been to remove the stigma from the suicide on the basis of mental disease. Thus, halakhic scholars do not apply the technical category of intentional (la-da’at) suicide to one who did not clearly demonstrate before performing the act, that he knew what he was doing and was of sound mind, to the extent that there was no hiatus between the act of self-destruction and actual death. If these conditions are not present, we assume that it was an insane act or that between the act and death he experienced pangs of contrition and is therefore repentant, hence excused before the law. There is even one opinion which exonerates the suicide unless he received adequate warning (hatra’ah) before performing the act, and responded in a manner indicating that he was fully aware of what he was doing and that he was lucid (J.M Tykocinski, Gesher ha-Hayyim, I, ch. 25, and Encyclopaedia Judaica, 15:490).

Admittedly, there are differences between the two cases: pederasty is clearly a severe violation of Biblical law, whereas the stricture against suicide is derived exegetically from a verse in the Genesis. Nevertheless, the principle operative in the one is applicable to the other: where one can attribute an act to mental illness, it is done out of simple humanitarian considerations.

The suicide analogy should not, of course, lead one to conclude that there are grounds for a blanket exculpation of homosexuality as mental illness. Not all forms of homosexuality can be so termed, as indicated above, and the act itself remains an "abomination". With few exceptions, most people do not ordinarily propose that suicide be considered an acceptable and legitimate alternative to the rigors of daily life. No sane and moral person sits passively and watches a fellow man attempt suicide because he "understands" him and because it has been decided that suicide is a "morally neutral" act. By the same token, in orienting ourselves to certain types of homosexuals as patients rather than criminals, we do not condone the act but attempt to help the homosexual. Under no circumstances can Judaism suffer homosexuality to become respectable. Were society to give its open or even tacit approval to homosexuality, it would invite more aggressiveness on the part of adult pederasts toward young people. Indeed, in the currently permissive atmosphere, the Jewish view would summon us to the semantic courage of referring to homosexuality not as "deviance" with the implication of moral neutrality and non-judgmental idiosyncrasy, but as "perversion" - a less clinical and more old-fashioned word, perhaps, but one that is more in keeping with the Biblical to’evah.

Yet, having passed this moral judgment, we cannot in the name of Judaism necessarily demand that we strive for the harshest possible punishment. Even where it was halakhically feasible to execute capital punishment, we have a tradition of leniency. Thus, R. Akiva and R. Tarfon declared that had they lived during the time of the Sanhedrin, they never would have executed a man. Although the Halakhah does not decide in their favor (Mak., end of ch. I), it was rare indeed that the death penalty was actually imposed. Usually, the Biblically mandated penalty was regarded as an index of the severity of the transgression, and the actual execution was avoided by strict insistence upon all technical requirements - such al hatra’ah (forewarning the potential criminal) and rigorous cross-examination of witnesses, etc. In the same spirit, we are not bound to press for the most punitive policy toward contemporary lawbreakers. We are required to lead them to rehabilitation (teshuva). The Halakhah sees no contradiction between condemning a man to death and exercising compassion, even love, toward him (Sanh. 52a). Even a man on the way to his execution was encouraged to repent (Sanh. 6:2). In the absence of a death penalty, the tradition of teshuva and pastoral compassion to the sinner continues.

I do not find any warrant in the Jewish tradition for insisting on prison sentences for homosexuals. The singling-out of homosexuals as victims of society's righteous indignation is patently unfair. In Western history, anti-homosexual crusades have too often been marked by cruelty, destruction, and bigotry. Imprisonment in modern times has proven to be extremely haphazard. The number of homosexuals unfortunate enough to be apprehended is infinitesimal as compared to the number of known homosexuals; estimates vary from one to 300.000 to one to 6.000.000!. For homosexuals to be singled out for special punishment while all the rest of society indulges itself in every other form of sexual malfeasance (using the definitions of Halakhah, not the New Morality) is a species of double-standard morality that the spirit of Halakhah cannot abide. Thus, the Mishnah declares that the "scroll of the suspected adulteress" (megillat sotah) - whereby a wife suspected of adultery was forced to undergo the test of "bitter waters" - was cancelled when the Sages became aware of the ever-larger number of adulterers in general (Sot. 9:9). The Talmud bases this decision on an aversion to the double standard: if the husband is himself an adulterer, the "bitter waters" will have no effect on his wife, even though she too be guilty of the offense (Sot. 47b). By the same token, a society in which heterosexual immorality is not conspicuously absent has no moral right to sit in stern judgment and mete out harsh penalties to homosexuals.

Furthermore, sending a homosexual to prison is counterproductive if punishment is to contain any element of rehabilitation or teshuva. It has rightly been compared to sending an alcoholic to a distillery. The Talmud records that the Sanhedrin was unwilling to apply the full force of the law where punishment had lost its quality of deterrence; thus, 40 (or four) years before the destruction of the Temple, the Sanhedrin voluntarily left the precincts of the Temple so as not to be able, technically, to impose the death sentence, because it had noticed the increasing rate of homicide (Sanh. 41a, and elsewhere).

There is nothing in the Jewish law's letter or spirit that should incline us toward advocacy of imprisonment for homosexuals. The Halakhah did not, by and large, encourage the denial of freedom as a recommended form of punishment. Flogging is, from a certain perspective, far less cruel and far more enlightened. Since capital punishment is out of the question, and since incarceration is not an advisable substitute, we are left with one absolute minimum: strong disapproval of the proscribed act. But we are not bound to any specific penological instrument that has no basis in Jewish law or tradition.

How shall this disapproval be expressed? It has been suggested that, since homosexuality will never attain acceptance anyway, society can afford to be humane. As long as violence and the seduction of children are not involved, it would best to abandon all laws on homosexuality and leave it to the inevitable social sanctions to control, informally, what can be controlled.

However, this approach is not consonant with Jewish tradition. The repeal of anti-homosexual laws implies the removal of the stigma from homosexuality, and this diminution of social censure weakens society in its training of the young toward acceptable patterns of conduct. The absence of adequate social reproach may well encourage the expression of homosexual tendencies by those in whom they might otherwise be suppressed. Law itself has an educative function, and the repeal of laws, no matter how justifiable such repeal may be from one point of view, does have the effect of signaling the acceptability of greater permissiveness.
Some New Proposals

Perhaps all that has been said above can best be expressed in the proposals that follow.

First, society and government must recognize the distinctions between the various categories enumerated earlier in this essay. We must offer medical and psychological assistance to those whose homosexuality is an expression of pathology, who recognize it as such, and are willing to seek help. We must be no less generous to the homosexual than to the drug addict, to whom the government extends various forms of therapy upon request.

Second, jail sentences must be abolished for all homosexuals, save those who are guilty of violence, seduction of the young, or public solicitation.

Third, the laws must remain on the books, but by mutual consent of judiciary and police, be unenforced. This approximates to what lawyers call "the chilling effect", and is the nearest one can come to the category so well known in the Halakhah, whereby strong disapproval is expressed by affirming a halakhic prohibition, yet no punishment is mandated. It is a category that bridges the gap between morality and law. In a society where homosexuality is so rampant, and where incarceration is so counterproductive, the hortatory approach may well be a way of formalizing society's revulsion while avoiding the pitfalls in our accepted penology.

For the Jewish community as such, the same principles, derived from the tradition, may serve as guidelines. Judaism allows for no compromise in its abhorrence of sodomy, but encourages both compassion and efforts at rehabilitation. Certainly, there must be no acceptance of separate Jewish homosexual societies, such as - or specially - synagogues set aside as homosexual congregations. The first such "gay synagogue", apparently, was the "Beth Chayim Chadashim" in Los Angeles. Spawned by that city's Metropolitan Community Church in March 1972, the founding group constituted itself as a Reform congregation with the help of the Pacific Southwest Council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations some time in early 1973. Thereafter, similar groups surfaced in New York City and elsewhere. The original group meets on Friday evenings in the Leo Baeck Temple and is searching for a rabbi - who must himself be "gay". The membership sees itself as justified by "the Philosophy of Reform Judaism". The Temple president declared that God is "more concerned in our finding a sense of peace in which to make a better world, than He is in whom someone sleeps with" (cited in "Judaism and Homosexuality" C.C.A.R. Journal, summer 1973, p. 38; five articles in this issue of the Reform group's rabbinic journal are devoted to the same theme, and most of them approve of the Gay Synagogue).

But such reasoning is specious, to say the least. Regular congregations and other Jewish groups should not hesitate to accord hospitality and membership, on an individual basis, to those "visible" homosexuals who qualify for the category of the ill. Homosexuals are no less in violation of Jewish norms than Sabbath desecrators or those who disregard the laws of kashrut. But to assent to the organization of separate "gay" groups under Jewish auspices makes no more sense, Jewishly, than to suffer the formation of synagogues that care exclusively to idol worshipers, adulterers, gossipers, tax evaders, or Sabbath violators. Indeed, it makes less sense, because it provides, under religious auspices, a ready-made clientele from which the homosexual can more easily choose his partners.

In remaining true to the sources of Jewish tradition. Jews are commanded to avoid the madness that seizes society at various times and in many forms, while yet retaining a moral composure and psychological equilibrium sufficient to exercise that combination of discipline and charity that is the hallmark of Judaism.

Source: Norman Lamm, “Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality” in Encyclopedia Judaica Yearbook 1974 (194-205). Jerusalem: Keter.

J.I.F.G.A. - Jewish Institute for Global Awareness


JIFGA Overview: Introduction 

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The Seven Noahide Laws: A Blueprint for a Better World

 

JIFGA’s Mission

 

The Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA) teaches that by understanding, internalizing and following a set of Divinely-ordained moral imperatives and universal ethics known as the Seven Noahide Laws, the world can produce more just societies, which are better able to receive and retain G-d’s** Presence.  We seek to inspire our fellow human beings, because we are all descendants of Noah who, together with his family, is described in the Hebrew Bible as the survivor of The Flood and who thus became the ancestor of all of humanity.  However,  not only do we seek to inspire everyone who follows the Abrahamic religions (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) to follow these Noahide laws but also those of every race, color, or creed.


Our foundation is rooted in Biblical principles and expresses a Biblical world-view. Some may refer to this code as representative of a “Judeo-Christian” worldview because it includes the moral values initially set forth in the Hebrew Bible (the Torah) and shared by the Christian traditions that historically shaped much of the western world. Given to us by G-d at the dawn of history, (as recounted in the book of Genesis and documented in the Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a-b -- the Oral Law), these seven principles, if followed, permit us to establish a harmonious world in which diverse peoples can live together peacefully. 


JIFGA seeks to globally provide humanity with greater awareness of the existence of these universal values, principles that are dependent upon Biblical teachings. These are root ethical values that Jews, Christians and Muslims, who represent more than 50% of the world’s population, can act upon within their own religious traditions. The great Eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, also have, at their root, a primordial link to these core values. In fact, going back to Noah, these values are part of a legacy for all humanity.

 

Jews Have a Special Obligation to Spread Knowledge of the Noahide Laws

 

Orthodox Jewish tradition states that these moral imperatives were given by G-d as a binding Code of Conduct for the children of Noah, i.e., for all of humanity; further, that Jews (as the original recipients of the tradition from Sinai) are obligated to teach people about the Code's existence and to encourage them to observe these laws. 


Maimonides (1138-1204), a great rabbinic sage, said, ‘Moses, our teacher, instructed the Jewish people, having been authorized from the mouth of G-d, to bring all of the inhabitants of the world to observe the commandments given to the children of Noach [Noah]. It is the Jew’s duty to see to it that all peoples lead the righteous and decent life which comes from compliance with G-d’s Laws.”

Rabbi Daniel Levy currently from the United Kingdom explains:  “The Jew has a crucial role to play. He cannot be a by-stander remaining aloof from the world’s conduct.”


And Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the revered deceased leader of the world-wide Chabad movement, in urging Jews to inform non-Jews about the Noahide Code of Conduct, said, “Every Jew has the obligation to ensure that all the peoples of the world observe the Seven Noahide Laws. The religious tolerance of today, and the trend towards greater freedom, gives us the unique opportunity to enhance widespread observance of these laws.”


Even though G-d charged the Children of Israel to serve as His "Light unto the nations" (Isaiah 49:6)  at Mount Sinai, historical circumstances did not permit us to publicize Noahide laws, also reiterated at Sinai, until the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, revived this lost tradition in the early 1980s in an effort to prepare the world for a new era.  Recent rabbinical support from a group of Modern Orthodox rabbis reaffirm “the fundamental ethical obligations that all people have before G-d [as] … taught [by Judaism] through the universal Noahide covenant.”


The Jewish Institute for Global Awareness, working with people of all three of the Abrahamic faiths, as well as any individual who has a potential affinity with these basic values, was thus formed to take upon itself this obligation by spreading awareness of the content of these commandments and to encourage adherence to them.


Non-Jewish Involvement


Any non-Jew who adheres to these seven Biblical Laws, and does so because they were commanded to Moses as part of the general revelation at Sinai, is considered a “righteous gentile” in G-d’s eyes and is thus assured of a place in the world to come (Olam Haba) -- the ultimate reward for the righteous. There is no imperative for such a person to become a Jew and Jews are mandated not to prostelyze religious conversion to Judaism but simply to make known to all of humanity the laws which humanity in general is commanded to follow.


- Christianity: Most Christian believers today see these 7 Noahide Laws as compatible with the main ethical tenets of their faith and advocate adhering to its Code of Conduct. The original intention of Jesus (the Nazarene) and Paul (Saul of Tarsus), according to the historical research of Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776), was to convert non-Jews to the observance of the Seven Noahide Laws. Indeed, early Christian references to the essence of the Noahide Laws as a Code of Conduct is mentioned in the first century CE, Acts 15:1-31 when Paul agreed to admit gentiles into the Christian Church only after they accepted the substance of these principles. The New Testament, followed by Christians, incorporated the universal values of the Noahide Laws which in turn are part of the Old Testament that G-d gave at Mt. Sinai for all of humanity.


- Islam: Because Noah is recognized as a prophet in the Koran, there is Muslim support  for and compliance with the spread of the Seven Noahide Laws. This fact is evidenced by its specific acceptance by many Muslim leaders.  For example, the Mayors of several Israeli Arab communities such as the Mayor of the Galilean City of Shefa-Amar (Shfaram) and the Abu Gosh Mayor (Salim Jaber), both of whom signed a declaration in 2004 committing to establish a more humane world by adopting the values of the seven Noahide Laws.  Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, has expressed the view in 2012 that these values truly unite civilizations.  The spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Mowafak Tarif (in 2004) likewise recognized these seven principles as fundamental values of society. And, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a leader of the Italian Muslim Assembly, unequivocally declared in 2006, “Islamic law holds within it the seven laws of Noah and can be taught correctly to the Muslims of the world.” It is hoped that acceptance of these common moral values can end the centuries old animosity between Muslims and Jews.


Belief in G-d and His Moral Values Essential


In order to transcend our innate selfishness and the subjectivity of our intellects, a key aspect of this universal moral code is an acknowledgement that society must be predicated on a belief in G-d. If we are to follow His commandments, we must recognize the existence of a Higher Power, one to whom we are responsible for our actions. Morality should not be altered to suit one’s personal whims or for his/her social convenience.  Human beings cannot become the sole arbiters of right and wrong. If we do so, then "right" and “wrong” become relative rather than absolute.  When this occurs, the “politically correct” view enforces one group’s standards, regardless of the consequences it may have to others who may disagree. On the other hand, G-d’s commandments as to what is “right” and what is “wrong” provide us with universal moral absolutes which have withstood the test of time over millennia.


Today’s world has lost touch with these moral absolutes and thus we find ourselves living in a time of great moral and social drift – without an objective or universal moral anchor.  We need to rediscover these timeless laws and incorporate them into our daily lives, thereby enabling us, based upon G-d’s commandments, to structure an ethical code of conduct for human existence. By doing so, we can not only unify different cultures, societies, and traditions but also reverse the course of moral decay that is evident in western civilization.


Connection to the Ten Commandments


There is a clear connection between the seven Laws of Noah which were commanded to Noah sixteen generations earlier than the Ten Commandments which were given at Mt. Sinai to Moses as part of the Torah (Hebrew Bible) as an eternal inheritance (Deut. 33:4).  At a minimum, five out of the Ten Commandments are specifically referenced in the Seven Noahide laws while the other five are implicitly included in the more generalized Seven Noahide laws, either through inference or by interpretation. 


Rabbi Dr.  Shimon Dovid Cowen, founder and director of the Institute for Judaism and Civilization in Melbourne, Australia explains that both the Seven Laws of Noah and the Ten Commandments are at the core of a revelation communicated to Moses in its totality in the Five Books of Moses. “This [revelation] contained altogether 620 commandments, comprised of 613 commandments addressed to the Jewish people and seven commandments, the Noahide laws, addressed to humanity.” While the universal part of the revelation—the Noahide laws—was communicated to humanity prior to Sinai, its reiteration in the Sinai revelation fortifies the importance of Noahide law and the social order it commands.


Drawing upon the ancient Jewish tradition of gematria which assigns a number to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order to help us understand hidden meanings of words and phrases as well as capturing the spiritual association or connection between words and spiritual concepts, Rabbi Dr. Cowen points out the symbolism of “the fact that the Hebrew text of the Ten Commandments contained 620 letters,” precisely the same number of total commandments (613 plus 7) revealed at Mt. Sinai to the world, thereby evidencing G-d’s intent to connect the seven laws of Noah with the Ten Commandments.

 

Government Leaders Encourage Adherence to the Seven Noahide Laws

 

The universality of these principles and global import was recognized in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan when he spoke of “the eternal validity of the Seven Noahide Laws [as] a moral code for all of us regardless of religious faith” (Proclamation on the National Day of Reflection, April 4, 1982).


Seven years later, in 1989, President George H.W. Bush not only proclaimed that these “Biblical values are the foundation for civilized society” but he also recognized that “A society that fails to recognize or adhere to them cannot endure.”


He understood how these “principles of moral and ethical conduct that have formed the basis for all civilizations comes to us, in part, from the centuries old Seven Noahide Laws.” And, in doing so, he noted their origins: “The Noahide Laws are actually seven commandments given to man by G-d, as recorded in the Old Testament. …” (Proclamation 5956-Education Day, USA 1989 and 1990, 102 Stat. 3016, April 14, 1989)


Both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States Congress in 1991, on a bipartisan basis, further recognized how this “historical tradition of ethical values and principles…upon which our great Nation was founded … have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization, when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws.”  The American Congress understood how “the most recent weakening of these principles … has resulted in crises that beleaguer and threaten the fabric of civilized society.” Thus, they warned us that “without these ethical values and principles the edifice of civilization stands in serious peril of returning to chaos.” (Public Law 102-14, 102d Congress, 1st session, H.J. Res. 104)  


Other world leaders have joined the call for further observance and knowledge of these laws. For example, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Union wrote (in July, 2014) that he seeks greater “dissemination of the universal values known as the Noahide laws” and Major General Michael Jeffery, Governor General of Australia, lamenting family breakdowns and drug and alcohol abuse in modern society in a 2008 letter wrote that he believed that observing the fundamental values of the Noahide Laws can be an antidote to such ills of society. 


We only need to look at the havoc in which we find ourselves today in order to recognize the validity of these truthful assertions.


Specifics of the Seven Laws of Noah


So what are these seven Laws of Noah? Depending upon the source utilized to ascertain these laws, the exact order--but not the substance--may vary somewhat.


They are:


ONE: Prohibition of Idolatry: by being ever mindful and aware of G-d’s Presence. We are to focus on the monotheistic concept of the unity of G-d and negate what is the opposite of a belief in G-d, i.e. idolatry of any sort. By having knowledge of G-d, we are able to imitate His G-dly qualities.


TWO: Reverence for G-d: includes a prohibition of blasphemy against G-d’s holy Name (the ultimate irreverence for G-d) and by positive concepts of serving G-d by revering Him in our speech and respecting His sacred texts. Likewise, since every human being is created in the image of G-d, he or she must be treated with respect and honor. In particular, this respect for G-d’s image within us is associated with honoring one’s parents, honoring one’s own words, being careful not to lie, and exercising the G-d given free will of humans, thus enabling us to choose ethical responses to life’s situations. 


THREE: Prohibition of Homicide: not to kill [physical harm is included in the prohibition of theft – theft and material harm] a human being. As required by respect for the sanctity of human life, suicide, assisting suicide, elective abortion, and euthanasia are forbidden. By engaging in these acts, we metaphorically lessen G-d, for humans were created in the image of G-d. Phrased positively, this law requires us to respect human life.


FOUR: Prohibition of Theft/Robbery: includes not only stealing, lying, or cheating but extends to all kinds of harm to person or property. Overall affirmative respect for another’s personhood, rights and property are included.


FIVE: Prohibiting Sexual Deviations/Misconduct: We are commanded to forever protect and uphold the family unit by not committing any acts of sexual immorality (adultery, incest, bestiality, homosexuality, sexual abuse) as well as not engaging in promiscuous behaviors nor engaging in castration, pornography, and masturbation.  It also includes the positive aspects of strengthening natural marriages and procreating.  The sanctity of natural marriage reflects the oneness of G-d and his creations.


SIX: A Dietary Law Prohibition: not to eat flesh taken from an animal while still alive – is part of a broader prohibition on gratuitous cruelty to animals; we are also enjoined not to be heedlessly wasteful or unnecessarily destructive to G-d’s physical creation.


SEVEN: Create a Fair and Righteous Judicial System: to enforce the other six laws and all other laws consistent with them.

 

                                                                 ###


**It is traditional among many Jews, rather than spelling out the full word for the Supreme Being, to substitute the letters “G-d,” thereby treating G-d’s name with reverence and providing respect to Him as the Supreme Being. By doing so, we can erase or dispose of the writing without disrespecting Him or symbolically destroying His name. 


JONAH'S Psycho-Educational Model for Healing
Author / Contributor :: ELAINE SILODOR BERK & ARTHUR A. GOLDBERG JONAH Co-Directors

Written By ELAINE SILODOR BERK & ARTHUR A. GOLDBERG, JONAH Co-Directors


Science and religion often clash, and rarely are they used to prove one another in modern times.

The authors wish to acknowledge the input of Martin Pressman, a facilitator in the JONAH program, for developing several of the concepts set forth in this article and for his help in editing this article.


"I continue to be amazed at what I experienced. The kindness, compassion and love from each man was apparent. All of them courageous - choosing to fight this battle. I can honestly say I slaughtered several of the demons inside of me which have been blocking my growth for years. I know that I am a different person now. I feel different. I think differently and one of the guys even told me that I look different. I am so certain that this battle can not only be fought but won."


(Response of a JONAH member after attending a Journey into Manhood Weekend, as reported on the JONAH @ shamash listserv.)

"I will be doing some mundane chore when I'll bust up laughing because I know I'm a man! This is such a powerful thing for me to realize. It's what I've lusted for in others for so long, and I now I have it myself. This is so-o-o cool! I am a man among men. NEVER did I think I could say that, or know it in the core of my being, but I'm there … and I LOVE IT! I welcome it and own it, and feel it."
(Response of a JONAH member after attending a New Warrior Training Adventure Weekend, as reported on the JONAH @ shamash listserv.)


Introduction


These quotes are representative of similar sentiments expressed by our members who have participated in the gender-affirming processes ("GAP") espoused by JONAH. Gender empowerment, rather than homosexuality or androgyny, is the ideal we seek and although we are a relatively new organization, we believe that the results demonstrated by our members should be shared with the therapeutic community. We believe our experiences are not only replicable but will help others gain new insights and tools to help their clients.


JONAH, Jews offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, is the first organization dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the prevention, intervention, and healing of the issues surrounding homosexuality. While JONAH works closely with other religious and secular groups which share our viewpoint that same sex attraction (SSA) is treatable through a strategy of inner healing for those who are motivated to change, we are developing our own comprehensive psycho-educational healing strategy. We believe our model holds great promise for achieving the healing desired by our members or others who utilize it. Although Dr. Joseph Nicolosi has written about a number of these therapeutic procedures in Reparative Therapy for Male Homosexuality, and others have spoken about them at NARTH conferences, we have been fortunate to see how these strategies effectively interact when used as part of a comprehensive plan of healing SSA.


This holistic strategy of combining elements from several gender-affirming processes ("GAP:" a program designed to fill in the developmental gaps) has been praised by our members who noted a synergistic effect which in turn resulted in an acceleration of their healing. When these various aspects of the healing model are combined, particularly when compared to those who only received individual private therapy, we found a marked difference in the ability of the struggler to achieve changes in identity, behavior, arousals, and fantasies. In fact, the experiential, spiritual and emotional work done by the client outside of the therapist's office was reported to be critically important to implement the cognitive understandings he may receive during the therapy session. However, even at the cognitive level, a variety of additional resources (such as bibliotherapy or participation in support groups, whether in-person, teleconferenced, or e-groups) accelerated the recovery of the client.


In fact, this holistic approach to intervention resulted in accessing a member's inner drives, dismantling his defenses, intensifying his affective involvement in the treatment, identifying the transference patterns and projections as they arise, and unlocking the unconsciousness. Analogous to certain aspects of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP), as developed by Habib Davanloo and Patricia Coughlin Della Selva, this approach appears to shorten the time frame needed for a client to achieve an enduring change for his unwanted same-sex attractions.


Impressive progress in overcoming same-sex attractions and regaining masculine identity has been reported by several of our participating male members.(A separate article will report on which healing strategies our women members found most effective.) Since motivation is a key element in what traditionally has been a relatively long treatment process for healing SSA, the measurable and attainable progress as occurs within this "gap" approach is critical in sustaining the perseverance needed to continue the process.
The gender-affirming process is completed when a man comes to own his masculine power and takes his place as an equal in the world of men.


To encourage therapists and faith-based ministries to utilize these multiple healing strategies when treating men with homosexual attractions, we are providing brief descriptions of several facets of JONAH's gender affirming process for healing. For more detailed information, please feel free to contact our organization. For the purposes of this discussion, we have listed our healing strategies in alphabetical order:


Bibliotherapy
Experiential Healing Weekends
Healing of the Family System
Individual Psychotherapy
Jewish Spiritual Development
Masculinity Development and Empowerment
Mentoring
Networking, Support Groups, Daily Internet E-Mail Listserv
Overcoming Shame and Narcissism
Receiving Healthy Touch and Affection


We'd like to explain that through our in-take interviews, we were dismayed to find several clients who had either been in therapy for SSA for several years or who had participated in certain programs of other faith-based ministries but had no idea about the wealth of resources available.


All too often we found clients who were never informed about books which could help them understand the origins of their feelings or from which they could learn how others healed from many of the same wounds which precipitated their same-sex attraction. We also found a lack of knowledge about helpful websites, group support meetings, and mentoring programs. Most of them never participated in the experiential weekends nor did they even know of their existence.


In other cases, many religiously observant clients maintained an erroneous belief that faith alone, without any psychological assistance, would bring about the desired healing. Our observation is that in these cases, all too often, simply a repression of behavior occurred without an effective treatment of fantasies or arousals.


Our belief is that therapists working with those struggling with unwanted SSA should encourage their clients to avail themselves of the numerous resources now available in addition to individual therapy. We were surprised to learn from many of our members that numerous therapists (a) never informed them about available resources outside the therapy session nor (b) provided any encouragement to participate in those activities. Our experience has shown that strugglers experience an exponential leap forward when they use our psycho-educational model as a check list to assure themselves that they are doing everything possible to accelerate the healing process.


Bibliotherapy


As Dr. Joseph Nicolosi points out in his book, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality:A New Clinical Approach (p.204), the therapeutic utilization of books, reading materials, tapes, video cassettes and other educational sources permits the individual struggling with SSA to gain several beneficial insights. These include: (a) The knowledge gained from biographical information of recovered homosexuals lends credence to their own struggle and prospects for recovery. Our members are inspired when they can relate their own experiences to those who have successfully resolved the underlying emotional issues which cause SSA and this simultaneously lessens the concern that they are alone in their struggle. (b) Reading material enables the individual to understand the causes, the healing strategies, and the basics of reparative therapy, thereby enabling them to apply this new-found knowledge to their own situation. (c) Finally, as Nicolosi says, bibliotherapy can offset the "demoralizing confusion created by gay propaganda and the popular media of our culture." (p. 204).


JONAH has found that reading about the issues underlying same-sex attractions is a vital part of the healing process. In fact, we not only encourage our members to read extensively about the subject but we also recommend that spouses, siblings, and parents read the same materials. Families need to be brought into the healing process, an approach strongly advocated by psychotherapist Richard Cohen in his book Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality.


The books provide a psychological framework and encouragement for the struggler through explanations of how others have healed. Often members report how they saw parts of themselves portrayed in the literature. Book discussions occur within the JONAH support groups as well as on the daily E-mail listserv. Some members who discussed these materials with their therapist reported that the literature provided their therapist with an opportunity to help the struggler dig deeper into his issues.

JONAH has a Book Order section on our web site [www. Jonahweb.org] which lists many recommended books and permits the viewer to order the book directly through our site.


Experiential Healing Weekends


JONAH refers our members to several experiential weekends, some of which contain a generic spiritual component involving a Higher Power unconnected to any particular religion. (Ultimately we hope to develop an experiential weekend specifically incorporating certain Jewish motifs.)


Weekends consist of discussions, psychodrama, journaling, and individual "drills" which enable participants to reach feelings not usually accessible in the short time frame of the typical therapeutic session.


The most popular and effective programs, as reported by our members, are three complimentary and synergistic weekends listed here:

Journey into Manhood (web site: peoplecanchange.com)

New Warrior Training Adventure (web site: mkp.org)

Love, Sex, & Intimacy Seminars (web site: gaytostraight.org).

Describing the objectives and methodology of one of these weekend programs will illustrate why they are so effective. For example, here is a description of The Journey into Manhood weekend, principally designed by Ben Newman of Peoplecanchange, together with David Matheson, an associate of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi:


The objective of the Journey Into Manhood is to provide "an experiential weekend for men who experience unwanted homosexual feelings and are sincerely self-motivated to work to lessen homosexuality identity, attractions, and behaviors and to increase masculine identity and desires. The training is designed to teach these men, through words and processes, that mature heterosexual masculinity can be achieved through authenticity (or internal integrity), need fulfillment, masculine identity, and male bonding." (Peoplecanchange Journey into Manhood Protocol)


These objectives are accomplished by challenging men (1) to examine their beliefs, perceptions and judgments about themselves and others that may be producing a sense of gender inferiority (2) experience trusting and bonding with other men in non-sexual ways (3) process deep feelings related to their pasts, themselves and their relationships with others, and experience at least an initial release of those feelings that may be blocking growth into heterosexual masculinity and (4) become ready to embrace a new way of seeing themselves and of being in the world, particularly in the world of men.


As shown in the quotes set forth at the beginning of this paper, men return from these weekends nearly euphoric from the experience of accessing their inherent masculine power. For some, this is the first time in their lives they could sense ownership of their own masculinity and deal with deep personal issues (such as same-sex peer wounds, mother wounds, or father wounds) in a safe, supportive environment which encourages them to break down destructive behavior patterns to which they had clung for many years. These concentrated and intense emotional experiences yield significant results and give hope to many.


Additionally, our members report that when they become sufficiently comfortable in the New Warriors' community of men and have an opportunity to staff a weekend, they find the experience to be even more powerful than the initial weekend because of the leadership role they are able to assume.


Healing of the Family System


JONAH believes that homosexuality frequently can be viewed as a family system problem, not just an individual problem. When parents, in particular, can become a part of the healing process, it is extremely beneficial to the whole family system. Often, parents inadvertently contributed to the development of their child's SSA. Much has to do with the child's perception of the relationship between him and his mother and father. Once the parents understand the sources of their child's problem, we found many are able to assist their child in the developmental growth process required to overcome the condition.


Even when parents cannot be brought into the healing process because of physical or emotional abuse, extreme neglect, or emotional incapacity, there are siblings, extended family, or close family friends who can participate. Sometimes, just to openly discuss the issues with close family or friends brings immeasurable relief to an overcomer who has kept this part of his being hidden for so many years.

We encourage our members to openly discuss their issues with family members and to provide educational material to those in his "circle" who are willing to learn about the underpinnings of homosexual attractions. Several of our members have attended, together with the families, the Love, Sex, and Intimacy Seminars given by Richard Cohen of the International Healing Foundation. In doing so, they reported experiences which enabled them either to begin or to accelerate the process of peeling back their own defensive detachment from their father figure, untangling their mother enmeshment issues, and repairing the fractured relationships with siblings and other family members.


For those who are married, we often find that the struggler was leading a double life. Most wives who are informed of the homosexual condition by their husbands (which we strongly encourage) respond favorably and perform a major role in the healing process. Again, couples who have attended the Love, Sex, and Intimacy Seminars. and utilize appropriately trained reparative therapists for couples therapy in their follow-up work, reported favorable results.


Today's politically correct notion that homosexuality is merely an alternative lifestyle can complicate the healing process, particularly when the family member or spouse incorrectly believes the struggler was born that way or has a so-called "gay gene." Therefore, we must redouble our efforts to educate the entire community that homosexuality is a treatable condition.


Elizabeth Moberly expressed the importance of family in treating the homosexual condition. In a 1985 lecture given to the Royal Society of Health, she said, "The homosexual condition - although often an occasion for sexual expression - is in itself a state of unfulfilled developmental needs. For this reason, homosexuality may best be evaluated, not by comparison with sexuality in general, but by comparison with the parent-child relationship and facilitating of human maturation."


JONAH recognizes that support groups (for spouses, parents, family, and friends of those wishing to heal from SSA) are critical to the struggler's healing. Each group faces unique problems as they confront past issues which may have led to their loved one's homosexual attractions or to the construction of changed relationships, both in the present and reaching into the future, as their loved one accomplishes the human maturation Moberly spoke about.


Individual Psychotherapy


JONAH wishes to make clear that we only work with members who either seek to grow out of their same-sex attractions or are ambivalent about such attractions. Should prospective members request to become more comfortable with their homosexual attractions or with the gay lifestyle, we will refer them elsewhere and make no value judgments about their choice.


However, for those who seek assistance, JONAH maintains a global referral list of therapists, both for in-person therapy and for phone therapy. Therefore JONAH is always seeking therapists who agree with and are skilled in reparative and directive therapy and will adopt the gender affirming healing processes advocated by JONAH. Those who are interested in being part of our referral service should call (201) 433-3444 and leave a message.


We believe that the type of therapist who can best help these men is not the classical emotionally-detached therapist. Such therapy, in the words of NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi, "reactivates memories of earlier frustration from the cold and distant father." (Reparative therapy for Male Homosexuals, p.20) Nicolosi continues: "Withholding personal involvement merely frustrates the homosexual client, who particularly needs intimate male connectedness, and whose healing comes primarily through the therapeutic relationship." Thus, Nicolosi concludes, the therapist must be emotionally involved with his client, create a directive approach, exude an air of masculinity, "and, within therapeutic guidelines, permit dependency."


We believe that gender identity determines sexual orientation and that one sexualizes or eroticizes that with which he does not identify. To successfully treat someone with a homosexual condition, our experience shows that a directive and activist therapy program is critical in assisting a client to internalize his gender identity, demystify his romantic attractions to the same sex, and satisfy his unmet developmental needs for attention, affection, and approval from others of the same gender without sexualizing these needs.


Jewish Spiritual Development


Although JONAH is an outreach organization that works with all Jews, from the strictly observant Orthodox to the most secular of Jews, we stress certain aspects of our religious teachings. We blend lessons from the Torah (what Christians refer to as the Old Testament) with other Jewish sources in order to help individuals access their inner souls and thus recapture their G-d given inherent heterosexuality.


Part of the reason for this emphasis is to provide the person struggling with SSA with the ability to distinguish a moral right from a moral wrong in today's culture war. The Torah's eternal values integrate the principles of deferred gratification and the exercise of restraint in sexual activity into the human psyche. In doing so, we note how this view is antithetical to today's prevalent moral relativism in which the only factor to restrain human behavior is mutual consent. Simply stated, this attitude can be summed up as follows: "If two or more consenting adults want to _______ (fill in the blank), then no one else need be concerned."


When we understand that the homosexual cohabitation prohibited by Lev.18.22 and explained in the Talmud (Nedarim 51a) is a mistaken response to an unfilled emotional need, we are able to remove an oppressive guilt from the person who was mistakenly led (most often by forces initially beyond his/her control) into such activity.


By understanding the root causes, and the unfilled needs for which the behavior (or fantasy) attempts to compensate, a program of remediation becomes achievable. We find it is helpful to employ a combination of both the Jewish concept of "teshuvah" (a process of transforming one's inner being, commonly translated as "return" or "repentance") and the secular understandings of gender affirming therapies.


Jewish law creates a delicate balancing act: accepting the individual as a human being who deserves love and compassion but rejecting the homosexual activity in which he/she may participate. But this "love the person but not the behavior" principle is equally true of any illicit sexual behavior, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual. For example, we accept the community philanderer as a person but disapprove of his/her sexual brokenness. It is incumbent upon the community to understand the mentality and inner development of the persons who perpetrate the act and find a way to assist them in their healing.


JONAH makes special efforts to reach the Jewish community through synagogues and the large network of Jewish organizations in order to spread this message of hope and healing.


Masculinity Development and Empowerment


At its core, male homosexuality is a matter of undeveloped manhood. True healing requires a resumption of the journey into manhood. The boy who physically grew into an adult male but missed out on certain developmental stages will need to go through them now. Nicolosi points out, for example, that the pre-homosexual boy who missed out on rough and tumble play with his father and , later, did not take part in the physical competitions characteristic of his age often ended up removing himself from such competition and thereby diminished his own sense of masculinity. (Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, p. 193)


A basic issue in healing SSA involves reconnecting the individual from the alienation he experienced from his own gender. To help SSA individuals take ownership of their G-d given masculinity is a formidable task, but we at JONAH have developed several tactics to assist in this regard. The person with same-sex attraction must learn how to experience trust and how to bond with other men in non-sexual ways. As discussed in the experiential weekend strategy section, The New Warrior Training Adventure (or the Sterling Men's Group) is particularly helpful in this regard.


To illustrate a program employed to assist men with their masculine development, it is useful to cite the two hour sports activity we developed following each support group. We utilize knowledgeable coaches to lead these activities. We receive outstanding feedback from group members as to the effectiveness of the sports therapy. They learn teamwork, including how to trust other men and bond with members of their team.


Men who are not able to attend our group meetings find that having a coach or a friend teach them a team sport, such as baseball or basketball, is invaluable in developing their masculine identity. We do not seek to make any of these men into athletic stars but rather use this exercise to reinforce their connection to other men. They are doing things that men do. In the process, they discover their own masculine strength which they had previously believed was lacking and receive affirmation of their inherent masculinity.


Since masculinity is connected to the use of the body, when men are not using their body, they often disconnect from it. Playing sports heals the disconnection with body from which our members suffer. Members report that playing sports and learning the skills helped them heal that disconnection while simultaneously increasing their sense of masculinity. As David Matheson, an associate of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, said to one of his clients who is also a member of JONAH, "Doing something you think you can't do is empowering. Gaining mastery over fear, ineptitude, and inadequacy is empowering."


In addition, playing sports helps our members overcome the problem of passivity. Men learn that the ball is not going to come to them unless they are in a position to catch it. This insight is a lesson of life. Healing from SSA will not happen unless the person does the work required to overcome it.


There is another aspect of engaging in sports activities as part of the strategy of resuming the growth into manhood. Many of our members report that their fear of sports stemmed from early childhood same-sex peer wounds and that learning how to play sports in a safe environment permitted them to overcome these wounds. They found themselves able to bond with other men, many for the first time in their lives. And, as Nicolosi makes clear, central to the repairing of homosexuality is the establishment of nonsexual intimate relationships with men (Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, p.194). Being involved in traditional men's activities, such as sports, is a direct way to heal those wounds.


Mentoring


Individuals trying to heal from SSA need role models and guidance from heterosexuals of the same-sex in order to heal the wounds caused by defensive detachment from the same-sex parent and peers. Such a role model becomes a mentor who assumes a role originally designed for a father to have fulfilled for the boy as he was growing up. Qualities needed by a mentor include compassion, empathy, a non-judgmental attitude, and most importantly, knowledge about how to heal from SSA, or at least a strong desire to learn.

If the struggler is lucky enough to have parents willing and able to help, and the struggler is able to reconnect with the same-sex parent, this is the obvious first choice for a mentor. For those whose parents are unavailable, mentors can be sought from among clergy, teachers, members of social groups to which the struggler belongs or any other appropriate group. Some of our members report that the New Warrior experience (or the Sterling Men's group, a similar organization) provided them with a mentor with whom they could bond.


The importance of healthy male-to-male mentoring cannot be emphasized enough. It is not uncommon for strugglers to suffer from feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. The mentor is the role model that takes the mystery out of masculinity and supports the struggler's journey to his own masculine power.


Closely related is the need for same-sex non-sexual friendships. Nicolosi speaks of the importance of this relationship when he stated, "same-sex friendships have shown themselves to be therapeutic" (p.194). These friendships come both from
other men in recovery and from men who never had SSA.


Networking, Support Groups, Daily Internet E-Mail Listserv


Networking: Leaving behind one's same-sex attraction and achieving heterosexual attraction can be a long and difficult struggle. Essentially our gender affirming process enables members to create a totally new support structure in many different facets of their lives. Before finding our group, these strugglers often felt isolated and alone in their struggle. Alternatively, they felt that the gay lifestyle provided them with a circle of friends they could never find in the "straight" world. Thus, to create a feeling of belonging, we believe it is critical for our members to network with others in the process of recovery or with those who have completed their journey to sexual wholeness (often through the group support meetings, the daily E-mail listserv, mentoring or networking).


Members report that fellow journeyers on the road to recovery help them by sharing experiences, understanding their fears, and providing accountability and support. The benefits are immeasurable. The group support sessions and the daily E-mail listserv provide methods to make the connections so that strugglers can bond with others sharing similar concerns.


Although some therapists believe networking between those in recovery to be risky, Nicolosi encourages individuals within his support groups to network with each other outside the group sessions. Within the JONAH support network, to date we have never had a sexual liaison take place between our members. Instead we find the members provide each other with a social camaraderie that clearly outweighs any perceived risks. Our experience is thus similar to other self-help groups where affected individuals assist others who have not progressed as far as the person providing the assistance.


The person who was active in the gay lifestyle often found a sense of belonging among other gays which overcame his sense of alienation and loneliness. To replace that sense of belonging, it is critical for mentoring and networking to take place. Without it, it is difficult to establish non-sexual intimate relationships. We believe that the therapist who works individually with his patient and who does not recommend getting involved in group support and networking is doing his client a disservice. Our observable experience is that strugglers leap forward when they undertake the following processes: maintain communication with others who have healed or are in the process of healing from SSA, establish relationships with empathetic mentors, some in the process of recovery and others who have never had an SSA problem.


An interesting footnote to this process is the fact that many of our members who begin to help others heal found that they were able to strengthen their own healing process. Many have reported a greater sense of self-confidence and affirmation of their own value because their own past experiences helped others heal. In a spiritual sense, they felt good about the ability to perform the "mitzvah" (commandment) of helping others.


JONAH's gender-affirming processes enable a person to step into a totally new support structure. It provides both encouragement and direct assistance while the member travels the road to recovery. An important aspect of his masculine empowerment is the ability to connect to his brothers in recovery, thus overcoming the detachment and alienation he experienced from the world of men.

In addition to networking, our member support groups and daily E-mail listserv are additional tools to accomplish this goal.

Men's Support Groups: JONAH's men's support groups run weekly or bi-weekly for approximately 2 hours with discussions being led by facilitators who are well-versed in the issues involved in healing homosexuality. Our goal is to increase the number of groups for men (and parenthetically to do the same for women and family members).


For men who do not live near the three groups currently operating (See "more about JONAH" at the end of this article for group locations), we initially arranged teleconferencing into our in-person support groups. We found, however, that these combined groups were not as effective as unmixed in-person or teleconferenced groups. By separating the groups, we found that each group standing by itself can better maximize interpersonal relationships and significantly reduce the isolation and loneliness of the members. Teleconference support groups presently operate.


Daily Internet E-Mail Listserv: Men and woman from six different countries post messages on a private confidential JONAH listserv (hosted by Shamash.org, a service of the Hebrew College) and report how welcome they feel in our ever-growing healing community. Postings range from loving support of another's personal struggle to deep discussions on issues directly relevant to SSA.


The Daily E-Mail Listserv is an excellent method to reach strugglers with special needs: those in geographically isolated locations; those unable to afford private therapy; those who have just learned that a healing process for SSA is possible and seek to learn more about the "GAP" process; those who require daily support in their struggle.


Overcoming Shame and Narcissism


Special mention should be made of four interrelated underlying issues which therapists such as Andrew Morrison and Joseph Nicolosi have identified as pivotal to healing homosexuality but which traditional therapy has somewhat ignored. They are shame, narcissism, guilt, and grieving. Each of these issues contributed to the homosexual condition and each of our strategies has a component which addresses certain aspects of these issues.


Overcoming shame has become a major focus of faith-based groups dedicated to helping men heal from homosexuality. Phrases such as "coming out of shame" or "going past your shame" are consistently utilized by these groups when they develop their healing strategies. They have intuitively understood that shame underlies much of SSA.


According to Andrew Morrison, "Because shame is so often unspoken, many therapists have not appreciated its importance in analytic and therapeutic work. Frequently it is hidden behind the clearly defensive manifestations of distress, and these are usually investigated alone - often from the perspective of intrapsychic conflict and related dynamics - without appreciation of the underlying or accompanying shame." (See, "Shame, the Underside of Narcissism" pg. 5)


A key to appropriate treatment, according to Morrison, is the relationship narcissism bears to shame, for he believes, "that shame, in some form, is always present in narcissism and its various manifestations."


Gay activists preach that the way to overcome the issue of shame is to come out of the closet and loudly proclaim and affirm one's gayness. However, we believe there is another and preferred door leading from the closet of homosexuality. It is the door of healing - a healing which recognizes the shame and how it relates to the narcissism which underlies homosexuality.


Richard Fitzgibbons recognizes that "Narcissism is a very powerful disorder that fuels the homosexual behavior in many people. This personality weakness is not easily overcome because of the reluctance to give up a life of unchecked, irresponsible self-indulgence." When the therapist properly treats shame and narcissism (and when its recognition and overcoming is encouraged through support groups and networking), then a person's healing can progress. Fitzgibbons points out that when narcissism is not treated, "this clinical disorder is the major reason for failure in recovery from homosexuality." (See, The Truth About Homosexuality by Father John Harvey, Appendix I, by Fitzgibbons)


Our experience has been that as men look at the circumstances in which they found themselves during the process of growing up, they come to realize that they adopted a False Self (often originating from the "good little boy" syndrome) in order to cope with their situation. Much of the struggler's life was spent seeking a way to gain approval from others or trying to gratify and please.

In childhood, these men erected emotional barriers or walls which protected them from what they perceived as a harsh and unfriendly world. As adults, these same walls acted to imprison them, trapping their feelings, and preventing them from completing their journey into manhood. As men take down these walls and work through the profound grief they feel for never having been "seen" for the individuals they truly were, they can understand and mourn the loss of the "True Self" and move forward in their healing.


A therapeutic strategy needs to penetrate the two defenses of narcissism and the False Self. The client needs to be focused on fully feeling and expressing the "shamed-defective self." If he can't feel it, he can't heal it. But when he feels his inner emotions, says Nicolosi, the adult struggler discovers that "he need not fear the primal threat of abandonment-annihilation, and he can begin to surrender the defenses of homosexuality, narcissism and the False Self." (See, interview conducted by Linda Nicolosi in article entitled "Grief Work" (NARTH.com).


These issues need to be directly addressed by the therapist. Exercises to address these issues are being incorporated within the various experiential weekends referred to earlier and by our support group. However, the front line of treatment of these issues needs to come from the therapists who are conducting individual private therapy.


Receiving Healthy Touch and Affection


Many who struggle with SSA experience touch deprivation, an issue often overlooked in therapy. Ashley Montagu writes in his groundbreaking book Touching: "the communications we transmit through touch constitute the most powerful means of establishing human relationships, the foundation of experience."


As a result of defensive detachment, many men with SSA never received the healthy touch that can come from being in a healthy relationship with one's father and peers. Because many of these men never received healthy touch or did not receive the physical affection they needed from their fathers, the idea of receiving a non-sexual hug from a man as a sign of affection makes them uncomfortable.


We also have had members tell us that once they decided to stop their homosexual acting out, they missed the warmth or affection of another human being's touch. Others, even when they had opportunities to receive healthy touch and affection, such as non-sexual hugs or pats on the back, were confused as to the healthy boundaries for touch. Others, whose condition of SSA consisted of fantasy and pornography, reported a lack of physical contact over a period of years.


Many presently feel touch deprived because they did not receive physical affection in their childhood and experienced other unfilled emotional needs. We found several members who previously expressed an unquenchable need to sexually touch others or to be sexually touched either by others or by themselves (to a level where masturbation may become addictive). Such touch is the means for them to literally feel or fantasize their connection with other men, something they had yearned for all their lives.


The question of human touch is exacerbated when emotional or sexual abuse lurks in the background of a particular individual. For those who were sexually abused, intimacy stimulates painful memories. In order to avoid emotional intimacy, many sought physical gratification through anonymous sexual encounters.


Our experience in JONAH has been that as men bond with other men in a healthy non-sexual atmosphere, particularly through attendance at the experiential weekends, both the resistance to healthy touch and the need for inappropriate sexual touch dissipate. Healthy touching can be controversial, particularly if the situation is not well-controlled and the boundaries not clearly set forth. If a man has properly progressed in his healing processes and understands the proper boundaries of touch, we will then strongly encourage non-sexual hugs and affectionate gestures (like pats on the back) in our groups.


One advantage of our team sport events is the reinforcement of the cultural acceptability of victory celebrations by the players when they openly embrace and hug one another. Another culturally acceptable method of gaining appropriate touch is through regular therapeutic massages.


In order to experience safe and healing touch from another man, our members have used a number of therapeutic bodywork techniques. Among these are: massage, shiatsu and Feldenkrais. Men report touch therapy useful in releasing negative feelings and emotions stored within their bodies. The Feldenkrais method, for example, founded by the Israeli physicist Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais,has also helped men focus on how their bodies move. Through directed movements given by a practitioner, men learn new ways to use their bodies. Consequently, Feldenkrais has helped men feel connected to their bodies, improve their coordination and become more self-confident.


Having set forth the issue and the need for solutions, we believe that overcoming touch deprivation is an area in need of further development. We continue to examine practical ways of overcoming touch deprivation which exists for so many of our members.


Summary


These aspects of JONAH's healing paradigm are presented here to encourage the reader to explore the complex process undertaken when men and women begin to heal their same-sex attractions. There is no "magic bullet" for healing even though it is frequently wished for by those suffering from a same-sex attraction disorder (SSAD).


JONAH's multi-dimensional approach can be viewed as encompassing four processes which, if worked in tandem, can help facilitate in-depth healing. In our opinion, true healing occurs when an individual is able to heal at four different levels:


Cognitive: Head
Experiential: Body
Emotional: Heart
Spiritual: Soul


An incomplete healing occurs when fewer than the four levels are accessed.


While individual psychotherapy is critical to help individuals heal from SSAD, participating in private therapy, without these other experiences, may increase the time required for the healing process to occur. Obviously, it takes a longer period of time to access all four levels when a therapist is able to work with his client for only an hour or two a week. By increasing the time on task in a cost effective manner, the struggler can accelerate the time needed for healing. Moreover, by employing the multi-dimensional paradigm described in this paper, and thereby enlarging the daily and weekly amount of time in which a member delves into his head, heart, body, and soul, our reports indicate an important acceleration of the healing process.


Our purpose in setting forth our experience and findings is to share what we have learned from our members. JONAH happily acknowledges that many therapists and faith based groups have independently used parts of this model (including some of the live-in programs). Hopefully, for those readers from the therapeutic community who have not adopted aspects of this program they (a) will see the benefits of this more comprehensive approach to healing SSA and (b) will incorporate them within their treatment plans.

Jury Finds for Plaintiffs in JONAH Case #JONAH #FCDF #SPLC #SSA #FreedomOfChoice http://conta.cc/1JmwYDx

Posted by JONAH Inc on Donnerstag, 25. Juni 2015

Interview with Arthur Goldberg

Statement of Rabbis

The Committee for the
Declaration on the Torah Approach to Homosexuality
www.TorahDec.org

December 26, 2011
For Immediate Release
[email protected]

Therapy to Help Homosexuals Change Orientation:
Hundreds of Rabbis Say It’s the Only Torah-Approved Way

A coalition of more than 150 Orthodox rabbis, community organizers and leaders, and respected mental-health professionals have released a statement declaring that, political correctness notwithstanding, the only Torah-approved course of action with regard to homosexuality is psychological therapy coupled with teshuva, or repentance.

The document, entitled “Declaration on the Torah Approach to Homosexuality,” seeks to clarify the theological understanding of the Biblically mandated prohibition. It also presents what the authors and signators see as a practical and achievable solution for those faced with same-sex attractions. Its position is that same-sex attractions can be modified and healed.

“The concept that G-d created a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable,” says the Declaration, which views same-sex attractions as any other behavior that can be controlled and altered, such as addictions or weight control.

The signators represent the broad spectrum of the Torah-observant world, including Modern Orthodox rabbis, ultra-Orthodox roshei yeshivas as well as some from Yeshiva University, pulpit rabbis, yeshivish and chassidish rabbis, organizational rabbis, Sephardic rabbis, rebbetzins, community organizers, and mental-health professionals.

The timing of the Declaration to coincide with Chanukah, which celebrates the Jews’ resistance to forced Hellenization, was not coincidental. Homosexuality was one of the hallmarks of ancient Greek culture.

The timeless and immutable Torah-based conviction regarding the unacceptability of homosexual behavior motivated the authors and signators of the Declaration.

Dismissing the modern trend, even in some religious circles, to view homosexuality as a permanent, unchangeable characteristic or trait, the statement “emphatically rejects the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome his or her inclination and desire.”

“Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid,” says the statement.

The Declaration, which was written by a 25-member committee consisting of rabbis, parents, “strugglers” (those still undergoing therapy), and “success stories” (those who underwent therapy and today are living heterosexual lives, many with spouses and children), rejects efforts by secularists and some in the religious community to downplay or deny totally the possibility of change. Further, the Declaration recognizes that those who dismiss the possibility of change are forcing individuals with same-sex attractions to live their lives as either homosexuals or celibates.

 “Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness and despair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel,” says the statement.

The treatment recommended in the statement is reparative or gender-affirming therapy, which the Declaration defines as “reinforcing the natural gender-identity of the individual by helping him or her understand and repair the emotional wounds that led to its disorientation and weakening, thus enabling the resumption and completion of the individual’s emotional development.”

Teshuva, which the statement sees as a necessary component, is the Torah-mandated “self-motivated process of turning away from any transgression or sin and returning to G-d and one’s spiritual essence.”

“These processes are typically facilitated and coordinated with the help of a specially trained counselor or therapist working in conjunction with a qualified spiritual teacher or guide. There is no other practical, Torah-sanctioned solution for this issue,” says the statement.

The statement goes out of its way to caution against castigation of the individual suffering from an unwanted same-sex attraction. “The key point to remember is that these individuals are primarily innocent victims of childhood emotional wounds. They deserve our full love, support, and encouragement in their striving towards healing,” says the Declaration.

Because so many of the committee’s members have either formerly dealt with the issue or are still undergoing therapy, the entire committee decided to keep its membership anonymous.

“Our identity isn’t important; our message is,” said one of the members.

According to the member, the purpose of the Torah Declaration is to help Jews who “have become confused on this issue and have become accepting of some false notions,” including the concept “that a person cannot control his ‘nature’ and, therefore, should accept his prohibited inclination as something natural and normal that does not need to be worked on and healed.”

The member said that many of the committee’s “success stories” are now married to women who are fully aware of their husbands’ backgrounds and are living family-oriented lives in the mainstream Orthodox community.

While the members of the committee have requested anonymity, the signators, many of them world-renowned, have gone public with the Declaration. Their names and affiliations, as well as the full Declaration on the Torah Approach to Homosexuality and other pertinent information, can be accessed at www.TorahDec.org.
For more information, members of the press can contact our press representative, who has agreed to field questions from the press, act as a liaison between members of the committee and the press, and, when possible, facilitate interviews with signators. Our press representative can be reached at [email protected]

(Source: http://www.torahdec.org/PR.aspx)

AFTAH - Arthur Goldberg




Homosexuality and Judaism | 2001

 
Written by Rabbi Barry Freundel

Introduction

Homosexuality, once a word whispered only with revulsion or derision, is now out in the open for all to see and hear. In fact, homosexuality and its attendant issues have become big news.

Whether it is the rapidly spreading, and ever-more frightening AIDS epidemic, or the increase in sympathetic "gay" characters in the theater and in literature, or the widening legal battles over the status of homosexuals, one cannot go very far in contemporary society with out confronting this once extremely closet-bound topic.

Traditional Judaism, too, has been forced to confront the issue as "gay" individuals and "synagogues" have appeared on the Jewish landscape, often appealing for support from the liberal segments of the Jewish community.

Certainly, an authentic Jewish response must begin with the biblical prohibition against homosexuality. The Bible unequivocally states that a homosexual act between two consenting adult males is a capital crime(1). Therefore, homosexuality is an activity that no traditional Jew can engage in, endorse, accept, or approve of (recent televised statements to the contrary notwithstanding)(2).

Despite this initial biblical negative, there is much to discuss regarding our attitude to the homosexual, the issue of the homosexual's place in the community, the question of approach and the treatment of the homosexual, and the problem of the homosexual's rights and acceptance in society. In addition, we must consider why the Bible and Jewish thought reject homosexuality keeping in mind as we do that female homosexuality, though forbidden, is not nearly as serious a crime as is its male counterpart(3).

Drawing the Right Picture

Our analysis of Judaism's approach to homosexuality begins with the question, "What is Judaism's view of the Jewish homosexual?" It is this author's contention that the only appropriate answer to this question is "there is no such individual(4)."

To explain this rather radical statement, one must go back to the structure that halacha places upon Jewish society. In this structure there are certain legal personalities who constitute the dramatis personae of the Jewish community. A Cohen is such a personality, as is a Levi. A woman is such a personality, as is a slave or a king. Other "characters" populate the Jewish landscape. The mamzer and the Cohen Gadol, the Katan and the gadol, the cheresh and the shoteh each has his place in the scheme of things(5). Lacking from this list is the homosexual. So much is he missing from the cast of characters of Jewish society that one is hard put to find a halachic term used specifically for him(6).

If one were, in fact, to apply a halachic category to this individual, it would be the general category of mumar l'teiavon (one whose desires put him in opposition to Torah law), specifically mumar l'mishkav zachor (one who because of his repeated involvement in homosexual activity is in opposition to Torah law). Such a category exists in halachic literature(7), is clearly defined, and places the homosexual on a equal footing with other mumarim who violate other laws.

It seems clear from this that halacha never viewed the homosexual as a member of a unique category or as different from the non-homosexual. He has no greater or lesser rights or obligations. He deserves no special treatment or concessions nor any special vilification. In fact, the term "homosexual" is an essentially inappropriate description for him. We should, rather, refer to this individual as a person engaged in homosexual activity. "Homosexual" is therefore not a noun that identifies and categorizes the individual but an adjective that describes his activity.

This approach has great intuitive appeal. It is hard to imagine Jewish thought accepting the premise the sexual desires and activities provide grounds by which to define an individual's place in the community. In addition, there are vast and important ramifications that emerge from this picture of the individual as a person involved in homosexual activity and not as a homosexual.

The first effect of this changed conceptualization is to alter and improve the individual's perception of himself. If one is labeled and defined by the term "homosexual", he is consequently different than the heterosexual. As such, he will struggle for minority status and for his rights as a member of that minority. He is, and should be, portrayed as a unique character type in movies, theater, and on television, and he should command an appropriate number of participants in any institution that constitutes itself along racial, ethnic, and religious lines. He agitates for gay pride and gay power, and if he is Jewish, he creates gay synagogues and other gay institutions.

On the other hand, If "homosexual" is a term that is limited to the description of an activity, then the individual practicing this activity remains an undifferentiated member of society, and if Jewish he is part of Jewish society. He need not feel excluded from the community. In the same way that the adulterer, the practitioner of pre-marital sex, the mechallel Shabbat(8) or the speaker of lashon harah all enter the synagogue and feel at home while individually dealing with whatever guilt they carry as a result of their sinful activities, so, too, the individual involved in homosexual activity can and should enter the synagogue and feel himself to be part of the community. He is still a human being and a Jew. He is most assuredly not part of a separate homosexual society or sub-society. (See below for a discussion of the Gentile homosexual.) Obviously, the adulterer, mechallel Shabbat, et al are duty-bound to change their ways - to do teshuva - and the mumar l'mishkav zachor has the same obligation(9).

The second implication of this approach concerns the community's dealings with the individual involved in homosexual activity. If the practitioner of homosexuality is considered a full fledged Jew (albeit a mummar), the community should welcome him as such. This is particularly true in our post-holocaust era, wherein our heightened awareness of the value of each Jewish soul has motivated many communities to make kiruv rechokim (attempts to bring non-observant Jews into the fold of Torah-observance) a hallmark of their activities. This Kiruv work should not and cannot be limited only to violators of halacha in ritual matters. Deviance from halachic norms in sexual matters is as much an area for concern, outreach, and proper education as anything else. Particularly in an area that is as difficult to control as sexual desire(10), the support of the community for one who might want to bring his lifestyle in line with halacha may be crucial to success.

At this point something should be said about the term "toeivah(11)" as used by the Torah in connection with homosexuality. Some may feel that its appearance in this context precludes treating the practitioner of homosexuality in the same way that one would treat an individual who is guilty of a different sin. The problem with this suggestion is that to be consistent we would require similarly negative treatment of the persons who eats non-Kosher food(12) the idolator(13), the unethical business man(14) and the individual who remarries a woman who, since her divorce from him, has entered and left (by death or divorce) another marriage to another man(15). All of these individuals are guilty of committing a toeivah, according to the respective verses that prohibit the particular activity. If we are going to ostracize the individual who commits homosexual acts, then we must ostracize these individuals as well. Since we do not take this approach in the other cases, we should not do so in dealing with the individual involved in homosexual activity.

How then to understand the toeivah designation? In an article in the Encyclopedia Judaica Yearbook, Dr Norman Lamm(16) defines toeivah in aesthetic terms. These actions are repulsive in and of themselves; no rationale or explanation is necessary. Rather, the divine aspect within the human being is automatically and instinctively repelled by these activities. The fact that any number of individuals are possessed of a deadened spiritual sensitivity that allows them to accept or even participate in the acts in question, does not mean that the spiritually sensitive individual allows his revulsion to be diminished nor does he apologize for that revulsion.

Further, it is important to note that the wording of the act in question indicates that this revulsion is directed only at the act and not at its perpetrator. The perpetrator is not to be ostracized. One who commits a toeivah is halachically and societally no different than one who commits a transgression of a non-toeivah law of equal severity.

Although it may be true that a leopard cannot change its sports, Judaism holds that a human being can change or control his activities(17). While we certainly recognize that many individuals have personality factors that would tend to promote certain sinful activities, our expectation is that these individuals will control these tendencies. We no more would accept the act of murder as legitimate because the perpetrator is prone to violence, then we should accept the act of homosexuality as inevitable because of the existence of biological, genetic, or environmental factors that may contribute to an individual's preference for homosexual acts. A rational individual can control himself, and no amount of apologetics, explanations, or rationalizations can change this fundamental fact. Simply put, the individual engaged in homosexual activity is wrong in what he is doing and is held responsible for having done it.

It is on this issue that the approach presented here parts company most completely with Dr.Lamm's view. Whereas Dr. Lamm(18) sees the homosexual as an anuss (an individual forced into heredity and/or environment into activity that the Bible forbids) this author sees him as mumar. Whereas Dr. Lamm effectively removes culpability from him (anuss rachma patrie(19)), this author insists that creating a sense of culpability is an integral part of the approach that Judaism should take in confronting the individual involved in homosexual activity. This sense of culpability may be just the push necessary for the individual to begin the teshuva process.

The view presented here seems more in keeping with biblical(20), talmudic(21) and other halachic sources(22). The consistent position taken by these sources is that the homosexual is ultimately subject to punishment for his actions. The halachic system fully expects that an individual properly warned, witnessed, and brought to trial for this act be killed. There is no indication anywhere in the literature that such individuals have a prima facie defense as anussim.

Dr. Lamm(23) supports his approach by arguing that present public policy and social reality preclude punishment of all offenders. We must, therefore, maintain our condemnation of the act while refraining from dealing punitively with the offender. In his view, this can best be done by treating the offender as an anuss.

However, there is nothing in his argument that prevents our labeling the individual as a mumar. We do not punish Sabbath violators, or those who eat treif. Environment/heredity is not enough to label the individual involved in homosexual activity an anuss. Rather label him a mumar, indicating that he is responsible for his actions.

Further, a stance such as Dr. Lamm's seems to carry with it the possibility of pushing the individual presently questioning his own sexual orientation over the wrong edge.

After all, if biology/upbringing is the cause, and the participant is only the victim of irresistible forces, he has a handy excuse and less of a reason not to succumb to his desires.

Labeling one a mumar does not necessarily mean that the community should respond with public condemnation and rejection or the individual. In an era which lacks a Sanhedrin and adequate Jewish communal structures we have long tolerated, worked with, and even welcomed and accepted violators of many halachot within our community. It is necessary, therefore, to couple our tolerance of the individual with disapproval of the activity. This must then be combined with an expectation and hope that the individual will change his behavior. Calling him a mumar, if handled correctly, strengthens the chances for change.

The subject of change brings us to our next point. Jewish thought would argue that homosexually oriented individuals can change their sexual orientation and can ultimately develop an interest in and derive pleasure from heterosexual activity. This conclusion is an obvious consequence of our discussion thus far. If a homosexual act is punishable, and if we expect he individual who has homosexual desires to avoid giving in to them, what then is the life situation of such and individual? There seem to be two possibilities. One: such and individual cannot change his feelings. If this is the case he is a prisoner trapped in a body which, while commanded to marry an procreate, has an emotional structures that finds such a concept at best unfulfilling and at worst a living purgatory. Two: change - and a normal, happy, fulfilled life marriage and heterosexual union are possible.

We are told by the Talmud(24) that G-d does not play tricks on His creations. Particularly as the area of sexuality is an area of such deeply personal implications to any individual, it is difficult imagine G-d creating a situation wherein those who feel themselves to possess a homosexual orientation cannot change and are consequently locked in a living prison with no exit and no key. Therefore, some method or methods must exist to successfully change the sexual orientation of motivated individuals. It's heartening to note that a recent study (25),indicates a 70% success rate among such individuals. It is unfortunate that the mass media and most mental health professionals publicly portray the goal "acceptance of one's orientation" as the optimum, while downplaying or denying the possibility of change. Our task must be to publicize the possibility of change, and the relevant statistics that now become statistics of hope. We also should encourage the mental health community to develop new and even more effective methods to alter the sexual orientation of those striving to live Torah-true lifestyle.

Perhaps one further support for the idea that homosexual orientation is at least preventable, if not totally changeable, is the anomalous fact that one community in which the percentage of homosexual preference is significantly lower than in the general population is the Orthodox Jewish community(26).

It is almost as if halacha rejects the notion of an individual called a homosexual, rejects the necessity of the homosexual act for any individual, rejects the idea of an irrevocable homosexual orientation, and then creates a society in which these ideals can, apparently quite successfully, be lived.

Judaism rejects the suggestions that homosexuality is either a form of mental illness or an "acceptable alternate lifestyle." Judaism's positions would be a third and as yet unconsidered option. Homosexuality is an activity entered into volitionally by individuals, who may be psychologically healthy, which is maladaptive and inappropriate. Depending on one's theory, it may indicate arrested development, poor family structure, early trauma, frustration of the purpose of creation, disruption of the basic family structure, unnatural behavior, etc.

But whatever the case it constitutes activity that will diminish an individual's capacity to fulfill, in his own life, G-d's expressed plan for creation. As such, this individual cannot achieve his full potential as a human being(27). Therefore, our task is to treat and redirect this individual to more appropriate and fulfilling activity.

Gentile Homosexuals

One question not addressed directly in the previous section is, "Why does Judaism not recognize the existence of a homosexual sub-group within the Jewish community?"

Of course, one might answer that as the act of homosexuality is forbidden, Judaism would no more grant official status to those who practice it than it would grant such status to murderers, thieves, or adulterers. This answer may, in fact, be sufficient and perhaps we should simply turn to the next section and the discussion of the rationale for Judaism's negative approach to the entire issue of homosexuality.

However, there may be another more profound and far-reaching answer to this question. The Sifra states(28)

"I did not say this except for those laws inscribed for them [the Gentiles] their fathers' father. What did they [the Gentiles, as opposed to the Jews] do? Men would marry men, and women would marry women".

This seems to indicate a difference between homosexuality when it makes its appearance in the Jewish community. For the Gentile, homosexuality is a reality that is part of his heritage. For a Jew, homosexuality is a foreign incursion.

Additional support for this division along national lines can be adduced from the prohibition against female homosexuality. This prohibition, though not explicitly stated in the Bible, is derived from the same verse, Leviticus 18:2, that elicits the comment of the Sifra quoted above. The verse reads: "After the doings of the land Egypt wherein you lived you shall not do, and after the doings of the land of Canaan where I am bringing you, you shall not do, nor shall you walk in the statutes." This source provides a further indication that homosexuality is viewed as a foreign element in Jewish society. It may well be that this factor contributes to halacha's unwillingness to recognize a homosexual subgroup within Jewish society.

Statistics show significantly reduced levels of homosexual men in Orthodox Jewish circles as compared to all other segments of society. Further indication of this anomaly is provided by the dearth of questions relating to homosexuality and individuals involved in homosexual activity in halachic and responsa literature(29).

One obvious question remains. Does halacha recognize a homosexual individual who cannot change, and therefore a homosexual sub-community in the Gentile world?

The answer to this question seems unclear. On the one hand the Sifra quoted above indicates a belief that at least some Gentile homosexuals develop their sexual orientation because of a traditional cultural heritage. This would tend to support the idea the halacha acknowledges the possibility of a homosexual subgroup in Gentile society.

On the other hand, none of the stories from the Bible, such as the sin of Ham, the men of Sodom, or the Potiphar's true purpose in purchasing Joseph as his slave, portray any of the individuals as totally homosexual. All are either married (in the normal fashion) or are said to father children in the course of their lives. This would seem to indicate that pure homosexuality was considered an aberration even if found in Gentile circles.

Further, halacha prescribes the death penalty for homosexual acts committed between Gentile men(30). Our tendency would therefore be to deny that halacha recognizes a homosexual community among Gentiles. If we, in fact, did recognize such a community would we not be advocating genocide towards it? Such a position is obviously troubling.

Condemnation of Homosexuality - Why?

In discussions of the Jewish view of homosexuality, the question "Why does Judaism condemn a pleasurable, victimless act that tales place between two consenting adults?" often takes center stage. Although explanations are not lacking in the literature a truly consistent approach should also shed some light on why female homosexuality, though forbidden, is far less heinous a crime than male homosexuality(31).

In fact, a number of suggested answers suffer from a failure to adequately explain this last point.

One such approach centers around the primacy of family and children in our system of values. The practice of male homosexuality obviously frustrates the implementation of these values(32). But so does the practice of female homosexuality. Yet the two are not treated with equal severity.

A second approach argues that homosexuality is somehow unnatural. Our bodies are constructed to act in certain ways, and the practice of male homosexuality prevents these ways(33). Once again, female homosexuality seems to be every bit as unnatural as the male variety, yet we do not react to it in the same way.

Often, those who advocate these two approaches resort to the "hashchatat zera" (destruction of seed) argument(34). Since male homosexuality involves hashchatat zera and female homosexuality does not, the prohibition as violated by the man is more stringent.

There are two problems with the treatment of the male participant. Hashchatat xera in other contexts does not entail the death penalty(35).

However, males involved in homosexual activity (as opposed to females) are subject to capital punishment. Hashchatat zera, therefore, does not appear to be a significant enough factor to explain this severe reaction of the part of Torah law.

Second, the biblical prohibition concerns the homosexual act and not hashchatat zera. In Jewish law, homosexual activity, if consummated, is a capital crime even if there is not hotzaat zera, yet male physical contact, even if it results in hotzaata zera, is not punishable in this way unless actual sexual consummation occurs(36). For these reasons, the approaches cited seem unable to serve as complete explanations for the Torah view of this issue.

However, one variation of the "unnatural"theme seems to fare better in dealing with our question. This position takes its definition of natural, not from physiology and nature as studied in the laboratory, but from nature as defined in the Torah. The Torah says:

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife and they shall be as one flesh(37)".

The Torah has, in the verse, defined "natural" as man and women united in heterosexual union. Any person engaged in homosexual activity acts against G-d's natural order of things, and is therefore culpable. However, women involved in homosexuality are less in violation of the "natural" then men as it says: "He shall cleave…..and they shall be as one flesh", can be accomplished by males in homosexual union but not by females. This explanation seems to deal neatly with the various facets of the problem(38).

One other approach to the question of why Judaism has such antipathy to homosexuality deserves mention(39). This approach expands on the argument "And he shall cleave and they shall be as one flesh...", reintroduces the centality of the family in Judaism to the discussion of homosexuality, and treats the halachic differences between male and female homosexuality in a rather interesting way. This explanation argues that homosexuality, when it did occur at all in the Jewish community, usually occurred in a bisexual context and not as an exclusively homosexual orientation on the part of the individual. Individuals raised in the Jewish community usually possessed a strong sense of family as part of their tradition and heritage. This, coupled with the desire to find personal continuity into the next generation and with communal pressure to marry, would naturally lead almost everyone to establish a marriage relationship. Unfortunately, some individuals might seek additional companionship elsewhere. This outside companionship could possibly be homosexual in nature. Such an outside relationship might then be devastating to the special intimacy between husband and wife and to the family, the fundamental building block and most important religious institution in Jewish society

Many rabbinic discussions allude to homosexuality in a strongly negative tone(40). The Talmud(41) discusses the meaning of the term "toeivah" as used the context of homosexuality. Says Bar Kapparah, "toeivah" means "to'eh ata ba", "your have strayed from her." This phrase is explained by Tosafot as meaning:

"That they leave their wives to follow homosexuality."

This statement seems to embody the essence of the proposed explanation.

Whether because of different emotional needs on the part of women, their status in society, or because of the physiological impossibility of "He shall cleave ...and they shall be as one flesh", on the part of women, male homosexuality is considered a far more serious danger in this context and is, therefore, treated with greater severity.

Our discussion to this point leads to the following conclusions:

Homosexuality is an activity, not a state of being. Put another way, "homosexual" is an adjective, not a noun.
Homosexual activity is wrong.

Homosexuality may be a foreign incursion into Judaism.

The perpetrator of homosexual activity is held responsible for the activity.

We expect individuals involved in such activity to make every attempt to stop the activity and to alter their sexual orientation.

No greater halachic stigma attaches to the practitioner of homosexuality than the Sabbath violator or the violator of many other divine commandments.


In light of these conclusions the traditional Jewish community should agree on the following goals:

The primary goal should be to create an environment that is most conducive to motivating the practitioner of homosexuality to want to change his orientation.

In the absence of this motivation or during a period when initial attempts to change are unsuccessful, our task is to keep this individual within the Torah community. We must create a situation which offers a positive alternative to the "gay synagogue" and to the even worse choice of complete abandonment and assimilation.

It would seem that these goals can best be realized by implementing the following agenda:

All unnecessary negative stigma must be removed from the individual involved in homosexual activity. Such an individual must be encouraged to see himself as someone with a problem that he is responsible to overcome, and not as a person who has been defined by his sexual orientation.

At the same time that the individual is told of his responsibility to change, he must also be told, with great compassion, that we recognize the difficulty of his task and that we are willing to help in any way possible.

This is similar, in general terms, to the way in which we treat others such as the alcoholic.

Specific programs of outreach to those participating in homosexual activities should be implemented so that those best able to respond to the questions of these individuals will have a chance to work with them. Contemporary Jewish organizations do Kiruv (outreach) work with individuals who violate many commandments. We must do the same with those whose failures are sexual areas. This is particularly true because of the all-pervasive nature of sexual desire and because of the constant encounter with sexual imagery that pervades our society.

Mental health professionals must be encouraged to develop new and better therapeutic techniques to alter sexual orientation. Methods that are even partly successful must be highlighted and publicized to offer hope to those who would want to change.

The issue of homosexuality is an extremely sensitive, difficult, and emotional one. It is a topic that creates a sense of discomfort and even revulsion not only in those who may have been personally involved in such activity, but also in many who have never had any personal contact with it at all. Stereotyping and personal doubts about one's sexuality tend to maintain and reinforce these reactions and the AIDS scare has given them new impetus. Our response as Torah-true Jews must be to reject these prejudical and counter-productive reactions. On the other hand, we cannot equivocate in our opposition to homosexual activity. This is particularly true in light of the media's continuing portrayal of homosexuals as positive role models and the increasing acceptance of the homosexual as a minority group with "legitimate" civil rights.

The program described above entails walking a difficult tightrope between condemnation of an act and acceptance of the perpetrator as a Jew worth saving. We cannot close our eyes and pretend that a problem of this magnitude will go away. It is our task to present a legitimate Jewish response, balancing our opposition to homosexual activity with our concern for the human beings involved.
 
(Quelle: http://www.jonahweb.org/sections.php?secId=88)

 

Homosexuality

JONAH (jewish): http://jonahweb.org - JONAH is a non-profit international organization dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the prevention, intervention, and healing of the underlying issues causing same-sex attractions. If you are confused by same-sex attractions or know someone who is and desire help, please contact us for resources and professional confidential assistance.



 


For information about Judaism and homosexuality, click here.

 


Dear Colleagues,
 
Arthur Goldberg, my Co-Director at JONAH, was recently asked a question about his soon-to-be published book (by Red Heifer Press in Los Angeles). The book's title is "Light In the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change." Much of the book speaks of the synergy between the process of teshuvah and gender affirming processes.
 
For those who don't understand the term "teshuvah", it is the Jewish process of repentance and returning to your pure self as created by God.  I found Arthur's brief response to be very illuminating and wanted to share it with you during this Jewish holy season when we all hope to assess in which areas of our lives we need to do teshuvah.
 
Shalom, Elaine



 
-----------------
I will try to very briefly summarize the ways in which the process of teshuvah is analagous to the process involved in reparative therapy:
 
Throughout the ages, the rabbis viewed teshuvah as a process, not a single act. Rabbi JB Soloveitchik explains that "Repentance is not a function of a single decisive act, but grows and gains in size, slowly and gradually, until the penitent undergoes a complete metamorphosis, and then, after becoming a new person, and only then, does repentance take place." In much the same way, healing from SSA does not occur with a bolt of lightening, the silver bullet if you will. Rather, it is through a gradual process of growth and renewal by which one fills in his developmental gaps. Both teshuvah and gender affirming processes are life affirming processes. They counteract a form of death in life, a psychic numbing, and therefore enhance the personal processes of renewal and growth. Both processes also involve a future correction of something in the past because only the future can transform the trends and tendencies of the past. The Rambam ( Maimonides )set forth three key elements by which an individual does teshuvah, each of which apply directly to the healing of SSA: regret, rejection, and resolution. Regret deals with the past, rejection with the present, and resolution with the future. Only when all 3 dimensions are securely in place will the full process of teshuvah and gender affirming processes take place. One can regret and reject his/her SSA but only if these individuals resolve to function differently and have the ability to internalize such resolution will their SSA be changed. 
 
Arthur Goldberg, Co-Director of JONAH


 


 
August 28, 2006
 
 
Dear Friends and Colleagues of JONAH,
 
Because of the successful demonstration at the recent American Psychological Association (APA)  convention in New Orleans, JONAH has decided to start a letter writing campaign to keep up the pressure on the APA to recognize and encourage therapy for those with unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA).  As most of you are aware, both the American Psychiatric Asso. and the American Psychological Asso. have capitulated to gay activism in recent decades - much to the detriment of individuals and our society in general.
 
If you wish to be a part of this letter writing campaign, you must be willing to use your name and address and send letters to 3 principals at the APA and a copy to JONAH.
 
Please send me your name if you wish to participate in this campaign and then I will get back to you with guidelines for the letter, the names to whom you should send copies of your letter, etc.  We believe that having one letter appear every week would work best, so I will let you know when to send your letter depending upon how many people sign up.
 
PLEASE get involved and help JONAH and the other members of PATH (www.pathinfo.org ) in this important endeavor.  Also, JONAH is not only for Jews, so I hope the many Christian members of my lists will also participate.
 
Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you, Elaine

 



Growing Out of Isolation and Shame: The Benefits I Found in JONAH's Support System
 
There seems to be some misconceptions regarding the role of therapy in the healing process. My take is that a therapist merely facilitates one's own healing processes. We should not think of him as a doctor setting a broken bone (something you really shouldn't attempt on your own without serious training). Rather, a better analogy is to think of him more like a physical trainer (or in our case, an emotional trainer who can help facilitate our emotional growth).
 
As a facilitator of the process of emotional re-adaptation, the therapist has knowledge, experience and offers guidance, but the real work still needs to be done by us.  I've seen too many people in the process trying to "subcontract" their personal problems to others, hoping that another person (or even G-d) may give them a magical cure. The healing must come from within us. A statement I have  repeated over and over again on the JONAH On-line List Serve says it all: Just because one may spend untold hours and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on therapy, healing retreats, etc., does not mean the problem of feeling unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA) will just go away. In the end, success will be achieved by the amount of sweat, blood and tears we are personally willing to put in. Therefore the question becomes what should we do to help ourselves heal?

Reading is always a great start -- I've stayed up a couple of nights reading everything I could find on the JONAH ( www.jonahweb.org ) and NARTH ( www.narth.com ) web sites. Exchanging ideas and experiences with list members has also been immensely valuable. Just knowing that I am not alone and that there are others facing the same issues is comforting. I've come a long way during my 10 months with JONAH, in terms of having a crisp, lucid and deep understanding of my condition -- What a difference compared to the vague hunches, shame, confusion and isolation I was living with for so many years. Based on my experience, I strongly encourage others to overcome whatever shyness and shame we may have had about the subject and to discuss specific issues on the JONAH List Serve. By doing so, we learn more about ourselves and find others who respond as brothers by both accepting me and understanding my value as a person. What a rewarding and healing experience!

While there are many other things we can do to continue our growth into full masculine maturity, it is my belief that reading and gaining support from others is an important tangible start.

 
Best, Ari




A JONAH MAN TALKS ABOUT HIS BISEXUALITY
 
This essay is prompted by questions posed to me on the JONAH E-Mail List Serve. In an earlier post, I stated that even though I've always identified myself as a heterosexual man, my sexual arousal pattern was very strongly oriented toward the same sex since puberty, that is, age 12 or so. The questions posed: How is this contradiction possible? Why doesn't this fact simply confirm the gay pride propaganda about “internalized homophobia?” Therefore, they would argue I should give into these same- sex attractions of mine and identify as gay? 
 
I always suspected that my homoerotic desires were simply manifestations of some other need. After all, my same-sex attraction (SSA) would really flare up when I felt alone or rejected; on the other hand, it all but disappeared when I was hanging out with good 
friends and feeling accepted. I recognized a sobering fact: this sexual attraction to other boys was totally unlike my attraction to women, which is independent of my social situation or mood. My attraction to women was constant regardless of my mental state or emotional feeling. I remember even telling myself, at a fairly young age (15? 16?) -- "You don't really desire these guys sexually, you want them to like you, you want them to think you're cool, you want to be part of their group." 
 
Rather than pursuing this early-on (and correct!) insight, I embarked on a self-contradictory process of suppression and denial. I refused to deal with my issues by simply denying them. Sometimes I would grind my teeth and mutter to myself, "No! You are NOT attracted to that man!" -- which was, of course, a lie. At other times, I would accept that I had unwanted attractions, but would tell myself that as long as I didn't act on them, it's as if they didn't exist; indeed, plenty of willpower and a fear of the consequences kept me from acting out for some 15 years. I accepted the SSA as a permanent fixture, as something I'm stuck with and can't do anything about. 
 
Since I refused to admit that I had a problem, I wasn't looking for a real solution -- certainly not one attacking the root causes of the SSA. The homoerotic fantasies and urges got stronger and stronger until the dam broke. I began to act out homosexually last year. 

 


About the same time that the acting out began, I was fortunate enough to discover JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality. They provided me with the  necessary tools to formalize and crystallize the insight I had early on but lost along the way while in my process of denial. I also discovered that the best  psychiatrist is the one who tells you something you intuitively already knew about yourself. JONAH helped me analyze what I really wanted out of life.

 

In truth, I was repelled by the dominant gay culture, the stereotypical mannerisms learned by gay men, and the whole idea of being sexually tender with another man. The gay world was diametrically opposed to my personal goals of having a traditional family, wife and children. Moreover, I always had Opposite Sex Attractions (OSA), an attraction totally different >from my SSA attractions. I never had a problem being attracted to women, or having meaningful, emotional relationships with them, including satisfying sexual relationships. 
 
My identity was always strongly heterosexual. Perhaps my identity actually became hyper-masculine to compensate for the SSA (the martial arts, the physical and social "aggressiveness", etc.). So what then are the differences between my feelings of OSA and SSA? 
 
I see attractive women all the time (I am attracted to several types, which more or less conform to most other men's judgment of female beauty). Of course, the attraction is never based on appearance alone -- there must be an emotional and intellectual connection as well. But my fantasies regarding women are always part of a complete story. I see us holding hands, talking, cuddling on a couch, making passionate 
love while looking into each other's eyes, that kind of stuff. The women to whom I am attracted are ones with whom I can visualize myself raising a family and being my best friend. When I experience intercourse with a loving woman who fits the model above, it has a wholesome, manhood-affirming, empowering effect. It makes me proud to be a man, proud to be able to please my woman. 


Contrariwise, the SSA had a totally different feel to it. I'd see a man, and feel a certain pang of hunger. I wouldn't want to talk to him, nor get to know him, or even to be his friend. I would picture us in various very specific, very graphic sexual scenarios. And, as soon as the fantasy would be over, I'd want him gone -- out of sight and out of mind. These scenarios describing my SSA and OSA are total opposites. 
 
I realize that I tend to be attracted to younger, boyish or innocent-looking, slim athletic men. For a long time I thought it was simple aesthetics, but in light of what I've learned about myself through the JONAH programs and intensive reading, it's not that
simple. What I subconsciously looked for in SSA encounters, strangely enough, are friendships reminiscent of the friendships I desperately sought as a younger boy. It's a very strange realization because I have no shortage of very good friends now, and by no means do I presently feel lonely or isolated. But SSA doesn't work on rationality, it feeds on scars formed long ago during one's formative years. As a child, I lacked deep meaningful friendships and healthy male affection due to a fear that I did not measure 
up. The men I'm attracted to now in some ways remind me of the friends I would have wanted years ago. In effect, I am trying to repair earlier same-sex peer wounds by a totally inappropriate means. After all, none of the homosexual encounters felt wholesome or manhood-affirming. Rather, like taking a drug, it had medicated my pain, albeit temporarily. What I experienced was an intense euphoric "high" followed by guilt, shame, depression, and a compulsive urge to seek more. (On the other hand, it should be pointed out that real life situations that provide negative responses often have an opposite effect as well: In my case, the isolation >from my peers during adolescence created a self-reliance that to this day is one of my strongest character traits.) 
 
Heterosexual relationships and sex are a hefty effort -- going out, talking, the slow progress of intimacy, the foreplay, worrying about the possibility of premature pregnancy, etc. The homosexual encounters, on the other hand, took the essence of sexual gratification and packaged it in a cheap, easily accessible container. You can get right to the point without wasting any emotional effort -- most of my encounters lasted only an hour or so (without knowing anything about the other person involved). It's the 
ultimate instant gratification, and I found it extremely addictive. 
 
Since I have always had both SSA and OSA, in a very real sense I made a choice regarding my orientation. There were many reasons for rejecting the gay (or bi) lifestyle: religious, ethical, and pragmatic. Ultimately, I always believed that only a wife and children can bring true happiness to a man; any man who claims to be happy otherwise is, I believe, simply coping (perhaps effectively) with a pathology. 


When I traced my SSA history as a product of years of legitimate unmet needs, it all started to make sense. Of course those encounters would be so euphoric: they were tapping into those needs -- bottled up, pressurized (and deformed under pressure), explosive. Of course once exposed that emotional scar tissue would be particularly sensitive and raw. It's all so simple in my mind now, but for many months I was 
greatly distressed and confused. If the SSA experiences were so much more intense than the OSA ones, then what is my "real" orientation? The messages I heard on TV and read in the newspapers tried to convince me to think I should identify as "gay." But my inner self said "au contrair". 


In this battle, I formerly viewed my effort to be straight as one of a painful sacrifice, one of "toughing it out" requiring me to give up the physically addictive high intensity for the greater ideal of having a normal family. Now I see how that thinking was all misguided. Those men could not possibly give me what I need -- there is no "sacrifice" to grieve over. If I fulfill my need for healthy authentic male connection in intimate non-sexual ways, I can be and in fact am at peace with my inner self and my physical drives. I can 
finally enjoy my OSA feelings without my former SSA feelings impinging upon them. 
 
This essay cannot be complete without a comment on the disservice done to me by the education system, media, and prevailing culture. Starting from high school and all through college, I was bombarded by gay-affirming messages and offered countless resources in the form of counselors and straight-gay-transgender alliances. Not a single mention was ever made of how to deal with unwanted same-sex attractions. The popular culture also sent out a very clear message that a person is defined by his urges ("obey your thirst"); this conveniently makes any internal struggle pointless at best and harmful at worst. If a man chooses to give into his same-sex attractions and lead a homosexual lifestyle, that is certainly his legitimate choice. If only the gay activists would afford me the same recognition of legitimacy!

 

My desire to free myself of my same-sex attractions is being attacked by the gay activists as an illegitimate denial of my "true" orientation and a capitulation to society's homophobia. The fact that even the few friends I've told about my SSA take more or less this stance is a testament to the massive victory of gay activism. When I think of the 
pain (and dangers) I could have been spared, had I had the opportunity to speak with groups like JONAH in my adolescence, I am filled with anger. All those years of pain, confusion (even fleeting thoughts of suicide) -- all inflicted on me, not because there isn't an alternative voice to the gay propaganda, but because this alternative is being viciously stifled, censored and de-legitimized. I will do everything in my power to help groups like JONAH disseminate their message, in the hope they will reach the thousands of adolescents like myself who struggle with the shame, confusion and loneliness of unwanted same-sex attractions. 
 
Ari









August, 2006

 

FRIENDS OF JONAH

 

Our adventure started when we arrived in Orlando on June 28th and checked into our hotel.  We met with the founder of the Ex-Gay Teachers Caucus, Ms. Jeralee Smith and her group comprised of many ex-gays and many dedicated people like ourselves.  She is an amazing woman, committed and convicted that this battle is worthwhile, as we all are.  I learned a lot from her and look forward to a long lasting, mutually rewarding relationship with her and her group.

 

The convention started with us setting up on Thursday (6/29) afternoon.  Afterwards we all met to discuss strategy and prepare for any hostile interactions.  It was an edifying and wonderful experience that closed in prayer.  Everyone gave a synopsis of their life and situation and we all bonded with one mind.  Great stuff!!

 

Friday we were ready for battle!  While many people came up to us asking “what is ex-gay, how can that be”, they were not really hostile.  Many listened, accepted our literature and said they would think about what we had to say.  Many agreed with us but felt there was nothing they could do about it, we quickly counteracted that with information and resources.  Of course, there were those that told us that “ex-gay” is impossible, that they don’t believe it, and some asked us why we were even there.  Our  answer was that they were right, this issue shouldn’t be intertwined in the educational process, however, it is and if one side is presented, then certainly we had the right to present the other side of the issue.  Fair and balanced was our mantra, and it seemed to diffuse those that were opposed to us.  We left Friday night to go out to dinner with the group feeling like we had accomplished good things.

 

Saturday, things and attitudes did change somewhat.  We found out that Wayne Besen was on site, that he had given a press conference saying that we had no right to be at the convention.   We were thankful when one of the reporters at the press conference came over to interview Jeralee and at least hear our side of the story.  Of course when the article came out in the Orlando Sentinal, it was one sided and definitely did not print what Jeralee said at all (I have a copy if you want it).  That was a whole other issue that we now had to contend with.

 

We felt that a few of the people that stopped by were sent by Wayne as they were difficult and extremely unreceptive.   Of course that was our feeling, we really did not know for sure.  In the afternoon, when Jeralee went to a budget meeting and Greg Quinlan and David left the booth, Wayne showed up, stood in the middle of the floor in front of our booth and started attacking us.  I immediately called David to come back with Greg and they did.  Wayne went at it with Greg, but Greg did not let him score any points at all.  Actually, Wayne looked and acted like the aggressor and we decided to call security in to see if we could get him taken away.  Security came along with two state troopers and after a little more heated discussion, the state troopers escorted him away from us.   Amazingly, after that many people came up to us (the man in the booth across from us and others) to tell us that we did nothing wrong and that he was very aggressive and just plain wrong!  Greg was amazing, so was Janet Boynes (one of our ex-gays at the booth).  All in all, it was a very precarious situation and we are thankful it turned out all right for us.  We continued working, spreading the word and getting feedback that was not negative at all.  One girl from the University of Nebraska stopped by and told us that in her Human Behavior class they had a speaker from the gay movement telling the class that people are born that way, accept it, etc.  She wondered why we didn’t have speakers at the universities sharing our philosophy.  She was right, something to think about.  She said she did not agree with them and that it was being “shoved down our throats”.  Interesting!


Saturday night we met around the pool, each of us shared why we were there, our most memorable moment of the weekend and exchanged all our demographic information.  It was an atmosphere of friendship and trust.  Great times!

 

Sunday was calm, without incident and at 11:00 am the booth closed and we went our separate ways.  All in all, in my opinion, it was a positive, rewarding experience and David and I would be more than glad to get more involved and become active in the ex-gay movement.

 

On a personal note, I would love to share this with all of you.  One man stopped by the booth, took some literature, appeared to not want to really talk about anything and left.  About 10 minutes later he came back, asked for help and told us that his son was gay and had not come out to him yet but that he didn’t know what to do.  It was touching to see David speak to him, share with him and help him.  While resolution never came, just the sharing and exploration they shared was touching for all of us.  Every one has a purpose, every one can help.  While the body is made up of many parts, it is difficult for it to work as intended without all of them.  That is what we do; we each have something to offer to a troubled world.  Thank G-d.

 

Our experience is that people are starved for more information, they do not know there is an alternative, and they do not know there are people fighting for them.   Somehow, we all have to get together to become more powerful as the opposition has done. 

 

If you need more information from me, please let me know.  Once again, thank you so very much for this wonderful opportunity.  This battle can be won if we call stay strong and united.

 

Maxine Andrade

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEA: Ex-Gay Caucus or Should I say Ruckus

 

By

Cathy Paris

 

Undercover Eagles had a difficult time gaining access to this year’s NEA Conference in Orlando, Florida. Press passes were denied to qualified members of the press. Why, you ask? The answer is quite simple; these particular reporters were dedicated Eagles and true advocates for the American families who send their children to public schools in every state of our nation. Speaking for myself and for Marguerite Cavanaugh, I can honestly say that we were fortunate to be able to bypass the NEA militia that worked diligently to keep us out of the conference. I will not reveal how we were able to gain access, for obvious reasons, but I will relay a report on what we witnessed first hand.

 

We entered the OrlandoConvention center, early on June 30, 2006 and were immediately assaulted by the propaganda espoused by the NEA; everywhere we looked we saw an assault on good old fashioned American values. This year’s conference drew an estimated 9,000 – 12,000 delegates and participants. We walked around, our eyes drawn in multiple directions, and wondered what has happened to our education system, who were these God-less educators in charge of our children, and how do we fight back? We noticed that there were hundreds of booths and exhibitors, but only four conservative booths at the NEA conference. We saw two pro-life booths, one creationism booth, and one Ex-Gay booth. I want to discuss the Ex-Gay Teachers Caucus, because there is much to say. Marguerite and I met some wonderful people at this booth. They consisted of ex-gay teachers and/or their spouses. We learned so much from them; not just that being a homosexual is a choice, but that being one in God and walking in His path is a bumpy road, yet full of His love and mercy. I stood there and watched as teacher after teacher came up to this booth and verbally assaulted these people, these ex-gay educators, who quietly responded to these assaults in a dignified manner. Their sole purpose was to inform and spread the word, that yes, Dorothy, you do have alternate choices. You can choose to lead a celibate, or a heterosexual lifestyle. I have a tremendous respect and admiration for these individuals who stayed there, day after day, and peacefully spread their message to anyone who was willing to listen.

 

We had the pleasure of meeting Gregory Quinlan, President and CEO of the Pro-Family Network, located in Dayton, Ohio. Greg, an ex-gay teacher, married to an ex-lesbian talked to passersby about the realization he had come too, that the lifestyle he was leading was a choice he had made; he testified that he had a choice and once he realized that, he chose to live as a heterosexual. A common mission amongst the members of the ex-gay teachers’ caucus was to educate children that they do have a choice; they can choose to be heterosexual. Greg’s website is www.profamilynetwork.org. Janet was another member we spent time with. She is an ex-lesbian who has started her own ministry called Janet Boynes Ministries. Her website is www.JanetBoynesMinistries.com. She travels around the country, spreading the word and sharing her story. She is an intelligent and articulate woman who has dedicated her life to God, who joyfully spreads the good news, that you too, can be called out of the darkness and into the light. I personally witnessed Janet keeping her composure in the face of a hostile and aggressive attack on her and the other members of the Ex-Gay Teachers’ Caucus.

 

An agitator, Wayne Besen showed up at the ex-gay booth. He is gay man, whose sole mission is to spread the homosexual agenda, not just to adults, but also to our children. When I visited his website, I was appalled to discover that he had placed a call out for help, asking for donations and for gay men and women to show up at the conference to protest the appearance of the Ex-Gay teachers’ caucus. He claimed he needed their help, in order to protect “their children” from the propaganda being spread by these individuals. I am fully aware that homosexuals are able to adopt children in most states in our country, but I was not aware that our children had become their children. We cannot allow this to continue. We must take a strong and united stand; we have to keep the homosexual agenda out of our school system and away from our children. It cannot and should not be taught that homosexuality is a normal and acceptable lifestyle. We now know that there are choices for those who are willing to make a conscious choice, thanks to people like Greg and Janet. When Wayne showed up at the booth, he came with one purpose in mind and that was to cause trouble. He repeatedly tried to engage Greg in a physical altercation, poking his finger centimeters from Greg’s face while calling him insulting names. Wayne hurled expletives at Greg and the others; trying to tempt them into a confrontation and a fight. I am proud to say that our new friends managed to maintain their composure under difficult and trying circumstances. I watched as they looked out for each other, careful not to let anyone lose their temper. Eventually, security arrived, quickly followed by deputies from the Sheriff’s department. After an initial investigation, the deputies removed anti Ex-gay activist, Wayne from the convention floor and arrested him for being disorderly.
 

The Ex-gay Teachers Caucus Booth ended with success, they were pleased that aside >from the usual angry passersby, so many more were given hope for themselves, a friend, a family member, or students in the classroom. There should never be a time when a teacher should talk about students sexuality, however since the NEA makes sure that sex education is here to stay, at least, maybe the curriculum will include choices. 

 

For further information, please visit the Ex-Gay Teachers website: www.nea-exgay.org


The Rabbinical Council of America
www.rabbis.org
Rabbi Barry Freundel, Chairman of the Ethics Committee, Congregation Kesher Israel, 2801 N Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20007; (202) 333-3579. The Concil, which is the national organization of Orthodox Jewish Rabbis, maintains a referral list of professionals who treat homosexuality from a perspective that is compatible with Orthodox Jewish beliefs.

 



DISTORTING JUDAISM IN GAY-MARRIAGE DEBATE
 
Letter to Editor of the Forward, June 9, 2006
 
   by Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
        Executive Vice President
        Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
        New York, N Y
 
In an effort that would no doubt impress even George Orwell, liberal clergy have joined together to defend gay marriage as a religious right whose restriction is an infringement of their First Amendment Right ("Liberals Defend Gay Marriage As Religious Right," May 26).   You quote a leader of a Reform congregation disputing the fact that "every spiritual tradition considers one man and one woman to be the only form of marriage," and arguing that to enshrine such a view in law is an "affront" to his faith.
 
With the issue of how American law should treat same-sex couples occupying center stage this week - with the United States Senate debating a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage - it is critical to make clear what has been Judaism's view on this matter for millennia.
 
The position of traditional Judaism on homosexual behavior is clear and unambiguous, terse and absolute.  Homosexual behavior is absolutely forbidden by Jewish law, beginning with the biblical imperative, alluded to numerous times in the Talmud and codified in the Shulchan Aruch.  The position of Judaism on marriage is equally clear.  Judaism recognizes marriage as a fundamental human institution, and affirms marriage only between a man and a woman.
 
I contest the description of Jewish values that has been foisted upon the public by numerous spokesmen of various factions of Judaism.  To argue that same-sex marriage is consistent with the traditions of Judaism is intellectually dishonest at best and blasphemous at worst.
 
People of good will can debate what is the appropriate policy stance toward this matter and how to enshrine it in American law.  I believe that all religions have the responsibility of educating the public about core values that we believe have universal, as well as particular, religious import.  In this regard, we ought to consider a talmudic passage that says that the nations of the world, however sinful, corrupt or perverse, still have the merit of at least three behaviors, one of which is "they do not write a ketubah for males." 
 
Other religious leaders and I did not foment this debate.  It has been forced upon us.  We are taught that certain aspects of human behavior, even very normal and natural functions, are best treated with modesty and privacy.  However, the extreme statements and declarations that have been made, and in the very name of Judaism, simply cannot be allowed to pass.  We cannot be silent when Judaism is fraudulently depicted as condoning something that its Torah clearly and irreversibly condemns.
 

JONAH's Mission Statement

JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, is a non-profit international organization dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the prevention, intervention, and healing of the underlying issues causing same-sex attractions.

Our Rabbinical sages explain that because mankind has been endowed by our Creator with a free will, everyone has the capacity to change. Furthermore, the Rabbis emphasize that parents, teachers and counselors have a special responsibility to educate, nurture, and provide an opportunity for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions to journey out of homosexuality.

Through psychological and spiritual counseling, peer support, and self-empowerment, JONAH seeks to reunify families, to heal the wounds surrounding homosexuality, and to provide hope.

http://jonahweb.org/index.php

 

www.jonahweb.org

Support Group for Wives of Men in Healing
 
Session Dates:  March 16, March 23, April 13th and April 20th

Time & Format: Time to be determined upon the group's composition and will be decided in coordination with Mary Jane and the group.  They will be 90 minute sessions via conference call

Leader: Mrs. Mary Jane Morgan
 

Description of Support Group: The trained facilitator who is familiar with the issues confronting SSA wives will help the wives: 

Learn about husband's transformation,
create peace in the home,
grapple with family and marital issues in the context of their husband's journey.


Number of Participants and Cost: The group will be capped at 8 Participants.  If the Monday night group gets oversubscribed, we will also schedule a 4 session group on Tuesday's during the day time.  The cost for the initial four sessions is $140.00 USD.

How To Enroll: To register, please respond to JONAH at [email protected] with a cc: to [email protected]. We ask that the cost of $140.00 be paid prior to the first meeting. You can easily make payment directly on the JONAH website at www.jonahweb.org through the donation function.
*Upon receipt of the fee, sign-on information for the conference call will be sent to you.*

Please note: The facilitator understands first-hand the issues facing a woman whose husband is in the process of healing and changing from past thoughts and/or behaviors. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, please act quickly as there are only 8 spaces available. Please be prepared to commit to the above four Monday evenings. As we respect your anonymity, please understand that you do not have to use your full name or your actual name during these phone sessions.
 

Israel

Dear Colleagues,
 
Arthur Goldberg, my Co-Director at JONAH, was recently asked a question about his soon-to-be published book (by Red Heifer Press in Los Angeles). The book's title is "Light In the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change." Much of the book speaks of the synergy between the process of teshuvah and gender affirming processes.
 
For those who don't understand the term "teshuvah", it is the Jewish process of repentance and returning to your pure self as created by God.  I found Arthur's brief response to be very illuminating and wanted to share it with you during this Jewish holy season when we all hope to assess in which areas of our lives we need to do teshuvah.
 
Shalom, Elaine

 
-----------------
I will try to very briefly summarize the ways in which the process of teshuvah is analagous to the process involved in reparative therapy:
 
Throughout the ages, the rabbis viewed teshuvah as a process, not a single act. Rabbi JB Soloveitchik explains that "Repentance is not a function of a single decisive act, but grows and gains in size, slowly and gradually, until the penitent undergoes a complete metamorphosis, and then, after becoming a new person, and only then, does repentance take place." In much the same way, healing from SSA does not occur with a bolt of lightening, the silver bullet if you will. Rather, it is through a gradual process of growth and renewal by which one fills in his developmental gaps. Both teshuvah and gender affirming processes are life affirming processes. They counteract a form of death in life, a psychic numbing, and therefore enhance the personal processes of renewal and growth. Both processes also involve a future correction of something in the past because only the future can transform the trends and tendencies of the past. The Rambam ( Maimonides )set forth three key elements by which an individual does teshuvah, each of which apply directly to the healing of SSA: regret, rejection, and resolution. Regret deals with the past, rejection with the present, and resolution with the future. Only when all 3 dimensions are securely in place will the full process of teshuvah and gender affirming processes take place. One can regret and reject his/her SSA but only if these individuals resolve to function differently and have the ability to internalize such resolution will their SSA be changed. 
 
Arthur Goldberg, Co-Director of JONAH







Dear Colleagues,
 
Two JONAH men were interviewed today by Walter Bingham on Israel National Radio for his program "Walter's World."  Bingham interviewed Arthur Goldberg, Co-Director of JONAH, last week.  Here is how you can hear both of these excellent interviews:  
 
Go to www.israelnationalradio.com  and click on "Radio News Highlights".
 
You will see the 2 interviews listed: 
 
June 20, 2006, interview with Arthur Goldberg entitled:
    "An Intellectual Investigation Into Homosexual Behavior"
 
June 25, 2006, interview with 2 JONAH men entitled:
    "Former Homosexual Men Talk About Their Experiences"
                                                       





Growing Out of Isolation and Shame: The Benefits I Found in JONAH's Support System
 
There seems to be some misconceptions regarding the role of therapy in the healing process. My take is that a therapist merely facilitates one's own healing processes. We should not think of him as a doctor setting a broken bone (something you really shouldn't attempt on your own without serious training). Rather, a better analogy is to think of him more like a physical trainer (or in our case, an emotional trainer who can help facilitate our emotional growth).
 
As a facilitator of the process of emotional re-adaptation, the therapist has knowledge, experience and offers guidance, but the real work still needs to be done by us.  I've seen too many people in the process trying to "subcontract" their personal problems to others, hoping that another person (or even G-d) may give them a magical cure. The healing must come from within us. A statement I have  repeated over and over again on the JONAH On-line List Serve says it all: Just because one may spend untold hours and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on therapy, healing retreats, etc., does not mean the problem of feeling unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA) will just go away. In the end, success will be achieved by the amount of sweat, blood and tears we are personally willing to put in. Therefore the question becomes what should we do to help ourselves heal?

Reading is always a great start -- I've stayed up a couple of nights reading everything I could find on the JONAH ( www.jonahweb.org ) and NARTH ( www.narth.com ) web sites. Exchanging ideas and experiences with list members has also been immensely valuable. Just knowing that I am not alone and that there are others facing the same issues is comforting. I've come a long way during my 10 months with JONAH, in terms of having a crisp, lucid and deep understanding of my condition -- What a difference compared to the vague hunches, shame, confusion and isolation I was living with for so many years. Based on my experience, I strongly encourage others to overcome whatever shyness and shame we may have had about the subject and to discuss specific issues on the JONAH List Serve. By doing so, we learn more about ourselves and find others who respond as brothers by both accepting me and understanding my value as a person. What a rewarding and healing experience!

While there are many other things we can do to continue our growth into full masculine maturity, it is my belief that reading and gaining support from others is an important tangible start.
 
Best, Ari


 



A JONAH MAN TALKS ABOUT HIS BISEXUALITY
 
This essay is prompted by questions posed to me on the JONAH E-Mail List Serve. In an earlier post, I stated that even though I've always identified myself as a heterosexual man, my sexual arousal pattern was very strongly oriented toward the same sex since puberty, that is, age 12 or so. The questions posed: How is this contradiction possible? Why doesn't this fact simply confirm the gay pride propaganda about "internalized homophobia?" Therefore, they would argue I should give into these same- sex attractions of mine and identify as gay? 
 
I always suspected that my homoerotic desires were simply manifestations of some other need. After all, my same-sex attraction (SSA) would really flare up when I felt alone or rejected; on the other hand, it all but disappeared when I was hanging out with good 
friends and feeling accepted. I recognized a sobering fact: this sexual attraction to other boys was totally unlike my attraction to women, which is independent of my social situation or mood. My attraction to women was constant regardless of my mental state or emotional feeling. I remember even telling myself, at a fairly young age (15? 16?) -- "You don't really desire these guys sexually, you want them to like you, you want them to think you're cool, you want to be part of their group." 
 
Rather than pursuing this early-on (and correct!) insight, I embarked on a self-contradictory process of suppression and denial. I refused to deal with my issues by simply denying them. Sometimes I would grind my teeth and mutter to myself, "No! You are NOT attracted to that man!" -- which was, of course, a lie. At other times, I would accept that I had unwanted attractions, but would tell myself that as long as I didn't act on them, it's as if they didn't exist; indeed, plenty of willpower and a fear of the consequences kept me from acting out for some 15 years. I accepted the SSA as a permanent fixture, as something I'm stuck with and can't do anything about. 
 
Since I refused to admit that I had a problem, I wasn't looking for a real solution -- certainly not one attacking the root causes of the SSA. The homoerotic fantasies and urges got stronger and stronger until the dam broke. I began to act out homosexually last year. 

 


About the same time that the acting out began, I was fortunate enough to discover JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality. They provided me with the  necessary tools to formalize and crystallize the insight I had early on but lost along the way while in my process of denial. I also discovered that the best  psychiatrist is the one who tells you something you intuitively already knew about yourself. JONAH helped me analyze what I really wanted out of life.

 

In truth, I was repelled by the dominant gay culture, the stereotypical mannerisms learned by gay men, and the whole idea of being sexually tender with another man. The gay world was diametrically opposed to my personal goals of having a traditional family, wife and children. Moreover, I always had Opposite Sex Attractions (OSA), an attraction totally different >from my SSA attractions. I never had a problem being attracted to women, or having meaningful, emotional relationships with them, including satisfying sexual relationships. 
 
My identity was always strongly heterosexual. Perhaps my identity actually became hyper-masculine to compensate for the SSA (the martial arts, the physical and social "aggressiveness", etc.). So what then are the differences between my feelings of OSA and SSA? 
 
I see attractive women all the time (I am attracted to several types, which more or less conform to most other men's judgment of female beauty). Of course, the attraction is never based on appearance alone -- there must be an emotional and intellectual connection as well. But my fantasies regarding women are always part of a complete story. I see us holding hands, talking, cuddling on a couch, making passionate 
love while looking into each other's eyes, that kind of stuff. The women to whom I am attracted are ones with whom I can visualize myself raising a family and being my best friend. When I experience intercourse with a loving woman who fits the model above, it has a wholesome, manhood-affirming, empowering effect. It makes me proud to be a man, proud to be able to please my woman. 


Contrariwise, the SSA had a totally different feel to it. I'd see a man, and feel a certain pang of hunger. I wouldn't want to talk to him, nor get to know him, or even to be his friend. I would picture us in various very specific, very graphic sexual scenarios. And, as soon as the fantasy would be over, I'd want him gone -- out of sight and out of mind. These scenarios describing my SSA and OSA are total opposites. 
 
I realize that I tend to be attracted to younger, boyish or innocent-looking, slim athletic men. For a long time I thought it was simple aesthetics, but in light of what I've learned about myself through the JONAH programs and intensive reading, it's not that
simple. What I subconsciously looked for in SSA encounters, strangely enough, are friendships reminiscent of the friendships I desperately sought as a younger boy. It's a very strange realization because I have no shortage of very good friends now, and by no means do I presently feel lonely or isolated. But SSA doesn't work on rationality, it feeds on scars formed long ago during one's formative years. As a child, I lacked deep meaningful friendships and healthy male affection due to a fear that I did not measure 
up. The men I'm attracted to now in some ways remind me of the friends I would have wanted years ago. In effect, I am trying to repair earlier same-sex peer wounds by a totally inappropriate means. After all, none of the homosexual encounters felt wholesome or manhood-affirming. Rather, like taking a drug, it had medicated my pain, albeit temporarily. What I experienced was an intense euphoric "high" followed by guilt, shame, depression, and a compulsive urge to seek more. (On the other hand, it should be pointed out that real life situations that provide negative responses often have an opposite effect as well: In my case, the isolation >from my peers during adolescence created a self-reliance that to this day is one of my strongest character traits.) 
 
Heterosexual relationships and sex are a hefty effort -- going out, talking, the slow progress of intimacy, the foreplay, worrying about the possibility of premature pregnancy, etc. The homosexual encounters, on the other hand, took the essence of sexual gratification and packaged it in a cheap, easily accessible container. You can get right to the point without wasting any emotional effort -- most of my encounters lasted only an hour or so (without knowing anything about the other person involved). It's the 
ultimate instant gratification, and I found it extremely addictive. 
 
Since I have always had both SSA and OSA, in a very real sense I made a choice regarding my orientation. There were many reasons for rejecting the gay (or bi) lifestyle: religious, ethical, and pragmatic. Ultimately, I always believed that only a wife and children can bring true happiness to a man; any man who claims to be happy otherwise is, I believe, simply coping (perhaps effectively) with a pathology. 


When I traced my SSA history as a product of years of legitimate unmet needs, it all started to make sense. Of course those encounters would be so euphoric: they were tapping into those needs -- bottled up, pressurized (and deformed under pressure), explosive. Of course once exposed that emotional scar tissue would be particularly sensitive and raw. It's all so simple in my mind now, but for many months I was 
greatly distressed and confused. If the SSA experiences were so much more intense than the OSA ones, then what is my "real" orientation? The messages I heard on TV and read in the newspapers tried to convince me to think I should identify as "gay." But my inner self said "au contrair". 


In this battle, I formerly viewed my effort to be straight as one of a painful sacrifice, one of "toughing it out" requiring me to give up the physically addictive high intensity for the greater ideal of having a normal family. Now I see how that thinking was all misguided. Those men could not possibly give me what I need -- there is no "sacrifice" to grieve over. If I fulfill my need for healthy authentic male connection in intimate non-sexual ways, I can be and in fact am at peace with my inner self and my physical drives. I can 
finally enjoy my OSA feelings without my former SSA feelings impinging upon them. 
 
This essay cannot be complete without a comment on the disservice done to me by the education system, media, and prevailing culture. Starting from high school and all through college, I was bombarded by gay-affirming messages and offered countless resources in the form of counselors and straight-gay-transgender alliances. Not a single mention was ever made of how to deal with unwanted same-sex attractions. The popular culture also sent out a very clear message that a person is defined by his urges ("obey your thirst"); this conveniently makes any internal struggle pointless at best and harmful at worst. If a man chooses to give into his same-sex attractions and lead a homosexual lifestyle, that is certainly his legitimate choice. If only the gay activists would afford me the same recognition of legitimacy!


My desire to free myself of my same-sex attractions is being attacked by the gay activists as an illegitimate denial of my "true" orientation and a capitulation to society's homophobia. The fact that even the few friends I've told about my SSA take more or less this stance is a testament to the massive victory of gay activism. When I think of the 
pain (and dangers) I could have been spared, had I had the opportunity to speak with groups like JONAH in my adolescence, I am filled with anger. All those years of pain, confusion (even fleeting thoughts of suicide) -- all inflicted on me, not because there isn't an alternative voice to the gay propaganda, but because this alternative is being viciously stifled, censored and de-legitimized. I will do everything in my power to help groups like JONAH disseminate their message, in the hope they will reach the thousands of adolescents like myself who struggle with the shame, confusion and loneliness of unwanted same-sex attractions. 
 
Ari



ISRAEL

News:

There is a support group now in Israel. More than 100 men have taken part in the last five years in a therepeutic support group for men struggling to resist homosexual behavior and diminish same-sex attraction (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25th, 2005). The group, which meets once a week in Kiryiat Moshe, is the only one of its kind that meets regularly in Israel and the only English-speaking group in the country. Adam Jessel, a Canadian-born therapist, leads the group.

Formal therapy like change a person's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual is often called reparative therapy. This also refers to a specific counseling technique that involves helping homosexuals bond in a close, intimate, but non-sexual relationship with adult members of the same gender. This relationship can substitute for the bond between client and same-sex parent that did not properly form in childhood.


Jessel, however, objects to the term "reparative therapy" for this group. They do work to diminish same-sex attraction and to foster bonding with members of the same sex, though.

Same-sex attraction is particularly hard for the Jewish community. The Bible explicitly states: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is an abomination (Leviticus 20:13).

Jessel, who is a member of NARTH and an Orthodox Jew, asks: "In every aspect of our lives, we are told that it is possible to tshuva - to effect change. Why should this be the only aspect of a person's life in which it is impossible to make any kind of change?"

"In today's political climate," he continues, "if someone tells me that he is attracted to his neighbor's young child and wants to reduce these attractions, I, as a therpist, can try to help him. If he has an unwanted attraction to his neighbor's wife, I can help him with this, too. But if he has an unwanted attraction to his neighbor, helping him is somehow regarded as unethical. I believe that if someone wants to change his behavior or reduce unwanted attractions, then he is entitled to  receive help. Overcoming one's personal inclinations in order to do what one thinks is right is a classic Jewish struggle."

Jessel sees groups upport as an important part of the process.

At the moment, there are 10 men in the group. All are religious, although in the past the group has also included secular Jews. Jessel sees his openness to both religious and secular as on of the group's assets. Ethical and halachic questions are brought to Rabbi Zev Leff, who sometimes consults with Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

"For some, the goal is to modify sexual orientation completely, a process that can take years," Jessel explains. "For most, complete change is irrelevant. Rather, their goal is to gradually resolve underlying issues and eliminate acting out of homosexual behavior." Potential members are screened to ensure their goals are congruent with the group's purpose. They are advised of the group's rules regarding strict anonymity and confidentiality.

Jessel says he has the greatest repect for the men in the group. "I consider my clients to be heroic. They are struggling against powerful sexual urges. Their desires cannot readily be channeled into something permissible. Nevertheless, all of the men are making progress, not just in dealing with same-sex attractions but also in developing self-esteem, becoming more assertive and improving communication. These individuals are among the finest I know. I believe they are lofty souls and I suspect that is why God has given them this challenge."

Adam Jessel can be reached through the Jerusalem Institute of Therapy at:

[email protected]

The Jerusalem Open House can be reached at 625-3191

A Message from the Co-Director of JONAH :: Arthur Goldberg


"Is it possible to set an ideal standard of behavior without becoming judgmental?"
Is it possible to be compassionate towards people without becoming permissive?"
"Can Judaism help those individuals choosing to leave the homosexual lifestyle?"

To answer these questions in the affirmative, we not only need to respect the dignity and humanity of every individual created in the image of G-d, whether or not they choose to follow a Torah-sanctioned path, but also need to understand that change from homosexual to heterosexual is possible, that homosexuality is a learned behavior which can be unlearned, and that healing is a lifelong process.

 

In 1986, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachum Schneerson, addressed the issue of whether homosexuality was a "right" or an "ill" and determined that because "it is a case of healing a malady" an individual choosing "this form of relationship" must be motivated "to correct it."

His foresight, that "despite the misguided way of the past, everyone has the power to change" their sexual orientation, foreshadowed what is today known as "reparative therapy." The basic premises of reparative therapy (also known as reorientation or change therapy ) are that a person tends to eroticize that with which they do not identify and therefore an internal sense of incompleteness of one's own gender becomes the essential foundation for a homoerotic attraction. However, through therapy and spiritual counseling an individual conflicted about homosexual desires can reclaim their wholeness in terms of their gender identity. Since an individual's perception or recollection of past events shapes their response to new situations, appropriate reorientation counseling assists the homosexual struggler to break down old patterns of avoidance and defensive detachment from their own sex.

JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, is an umbrella worldwide Jewish organization which helps those Jews conflicted by same-sex attraction issues. Their central office in Jersey City, New Jersey, houses counseling rooms, a library, and staff offices. JONAH is the first Jewish organization assisting strugglers and their families to understand and heal the emotional wounds causing the behavior patterns which result in same-sex attraction. JONAH maintains a confidential hotline  number (201-433-3444) for those troubled by same-sex attractions and for those who love them. Referrals are made to pre-approved therapists, Rabbis, and counselors for psychotherapy, religious counseling, and support groups.

One of JONAH's primary missions is community outreach and public education. Their Speaker's Bureau offers a wide range of topics related to the education, prevention, intervention, and healing of the issues involved in homosexuality. JONAH seeks to educate the Jewish community about the hope for healing by addressing individuals and groups within synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, and other Jewish organizations. In addition, training seminars are offered by JONAH for Rabbis, teachers, mental health professionals, the community, and those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions.

Seven is the classic Jewish number representing wholeness. Since JONAH's mission includes preparing the road for the journey into wholeness, we have assembled the following seven items as the commencement of your journey:


The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Sicha: On Healing Homosexuality
 
Our Stories: Testimonials by Jewish Recovered Homosexuals
 
Root Problems, Homosexual Symptoms: Discussion from the web site: www.PeopleCanChange.com 
 
Definitions and Causes of Same-Sex Attractions: Discussion of risk factors and/or variables that may led to same-sex attractions. Initially appeared on the web site of  International Healing Foundation--www.comingoutstraight.com
  
The Three Myths About Homosexuality: Discussion from the web site of the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality: www.narth.com 
 
JONAH's Online Library: Contains articles discussing same-sex attractions.
 
"Homosexuality: JONAH Offers Choice," The Jewish State (November 9,2007). This article by Seth Mandel describes the gender affirming process of JONAH and its philosophies.
After reviewing the information listed above, we hope you will be interested in finding out more about how we can help those seeking a choice to leave the homosexual lifestyle.

Thank you,
Arthur Goldberg, Co-Director, JONAH
 
(Quelle: http://www.jonahweb.org/sections.php?secId=111)

 

A Message Co-Director of JONAH :: Elaine Silodor Berk

 
Dear Parents, Rabbis, Therapists, Teachers, and the Jewish Community


JONAH was chosen as our group's name both as an acronym for Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality and to represent the biblical Book of JONAH. The Book of JONAH is the Torah portion read on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and thus the classic parable of repentence and returning to G-D. For all Jews, Yom Kippur represents the culmination of 40 days of reflection, evaluation, and the willingness to change what has not worked well in our lives.

The myths surrounding the attempt to normalize homosexuality have left many of us confused and bewildered. We want to be good people, we don't want to discriminate against our sisters and brothers who experience same-sex attractions, and yet - if we embrace someone's homosexuality as G-D given and natural, are we doing the right thing? Recent scientific evidence bolsters the traditional scientific evidence that leads us to believe that same-sex attractions represent a drive to meet unmet love needs. Based on the numerous articles and papers you will read on the JONAH web site, JONAH's position on how the Jewish community should respond to this issues is as follows:

We love our fellow Jews too much to watch them embrace the false identity of homosexuality. The Torah teaches us that homosexuality is a behavior, not an identity. This idea is further clarified in a letter of support from Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky who powerfully stated, " Anything that the Torah forbids, the human being is able to control."

Empirical evidence is clear that homosexuality is changeable and so we need to devote ourselves to teaching the public about the prevention, causes, and treatment of homosexuality.

For those of us who are parents and family members of those experiencing same-sex attractions, we need to admit that we probably unwittingly contributed to our children's homosexual attractions. Therefore, we need to provide an example of how we as people need to grow and change ourselves so that we can express our love for our children more fully, improve our relationship with them, and teach by example that we all have the capacity to change even deeply-rooted conflicts.
As Jews, we also need to insure that families and communities do not ostracize their children who live a homosexual lifestyle. It is heartless to reject a child for something that is not his/her fault. In the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we must "take a loving and caring attitude by extending a helping hand."

We need to reach out to those experiencing same-sex attractions and let them know that we will support them in every way possible if they decide to transition out of homosexuality and recover their heterosexual potential. However, we will love and cherish them as the individuals they are even if they choose to stay in a homosexual lifestyle.

We must reach out with love and compassion and an understanding that many times the worst treatment of homosexuals comes from their own internalized sense of shame and guilt. Alternatively, gay activists seek a cult-like environment to keep a person with a confused sense of gender identiuty within the bounds of the so-called gay lifestlye. Homosexuals are us and we are them, they were not born a different class of persons, they were not born different. No one chooses to be a homosexual anymore than you would choose to be an obese person, an alcoholic, or anyone afflicted with a life-damaging condition, which if we are honest, includes almost all of us in one way or another.

We need to work together to figure out the best way to explain that we can love our fellow Jews and yet encourage them to change. We must be honest and let the public know that in every way measurable, the cons outweigh the pros of a homosexual lifestyle, whether or not the government or a religious body gives its approval to homosexuality. It is simply cruel to tell young people experiencing same-sex attractions that a homosexual lifestyle will give them the same chance at living a full life as a heterosexual lifestyle - we know it won't and we must stand up to the "politically correct" rhetoric of our times and speak the truth.

In closing, we all gain when the issues surrounding homosexuality are out of the closet, when the stigma of being a homosexual is lessened, when recovered homosexuals are not ashamed to speak out and give hope to others, when parents can admit their mistakes, when our fellow Jews know that we love them enough to stand up and fight for their right to live a normal life, and when the world understands the underlying causes of same-sex attractions.
We all need to join together, speak out, publicize our cause, and help our fellow Jews who are suffering from unwanted same-sex attractions.

Shalom with love,
Elaine Silodor Berk, Co-Director of JONAH
 
(Quelle: http://www.jonahweb.org/sections.php?secId=112)

 

Seasons of Transformation

"Seasons of Transformation" Weekend Workshops

The Weekend Training is usually 60 hours long and conducted in a safe, protective environment, away from outside distractions. We journey together through the Jewish calendar, exploring the appropriate lessons each holiday reveals, in regard to relationships in particular. We then strive to experience the essence of these lessons through interactive exercises.

By the end of the workshop, we have differentiated and utilized a broad spectrum of practical interpersonal tools. We have become a circle of vibrant, creative individuals, as well as responsible, compassionate members of a community. This seminar introduces individuals to the possibility of experiencing relationships that are vulnerable and safe, powerful and compassionate. This workshop is gender specific in order to create the appropriate and optimal environment for personal transformation. This is an experiential workshop that literally transforms unconscious, constricted behavior into joyous and powerful ways of being.

For more info, click here: http://www.calloftheshofar.org/programs.php

FALLING MADLY IN BED

by Roger Mann (Posted December 2011)

[Introduction from Elaine Silodor Berk and Arthur Goldberg, JONAH's Co-Directors: The following article is an E-mail we received that contains valuable insights from two men who were actively involved in a gay lifestyle but who ultimately chose to leave that lifestyle. The dialogue below reflects what these men see as the differences between their former existence as active gay-identified men and their new found lives as men who are growing out of unwanted same-sex sexual attractions (SSA).

 
Based upon reports from several others in recovery programs, we believe these sentiments (as set forth in their dialogue) reflect the majority of men who are unhappy feeling or experiencing SSA. Those who are happy being gay may not share their feelings.  However, since we rarely hear first-hand voices of those with unwanted SSA, we believe that the pain and sexual confusion expressed in this article needs to be heard. Permission was granted by Roger to reprint his E-mail as well as the conversation he had with his friend. Roger's intent in granting permission is to prevent others from falling into the traps that he and his friends had previously fallen into.]  
 
E-mail Text:

Having been on homosexual web sites and forums for a while, I find a tendency by those still in the lifestyle to romanticize their actions. This applies whether a man has been in the lifestyle, or has just had an unwanted same sex sexualized attraction. The common refrain is, "if I just had a man that would love me like I need, then I would be OK and be satisfied  ... and, my masculine needs would be met and affirmed."

Well. . .  in talking with other guys who were in the lifestyle and who subsequently abandoned it due to actually realizing the nature of it, I thought it useful to share some observations with those of you who might still harbor fantasies of about the "joys" of a homosexual lifestyle and what the reality might be like. Now, there may be exceptions, but I sincerely doubt it because there is a great deal of denial and wishful thinking in the homosexual thought processes.

First of all, most homosexual relationships start by two guys meeting, being physically attracted, or just being horny, then falling madly in bed with each other. This can be minutes, hours, or a day or two after they meet. If they date, usually they will end up in bed, or in a car, or a hallway, alley, or even in bushes, etc. Usually this is a one night stand where they simply each use each other to masturbate themselves to climax and achieve an erotic high and then tell themselves it is love. If they do decide to continue the relationship, it almost always ends up essentially being a series of one night stands with the same person until the novelty is gone. Then it is onto the next one night stand or series of one night stands.

If by some strange twist of fate or pheromones, these two guys become a couple, it is seldom monogamous. I know almost no sexually monogamous homosexual couples. Even if they choose to be faithful to each other, they will not be giving themselves to each other like God designed a man and woman to do, but rather will still be essentially using each other's body as a vehicle for masturbation. Homosexual sex is an act of taking - not an act of giving.

My friend "S" and I were talking about dating with our present girlfriends, which is something totally new to him, but not to me.  The main difference "S" felt in this relationship is his desire to give, to please, and to cherish without regard to what he might get from it. In doing so he is receiving much more satisfaction than he ever thought was possible in a relationship, because in his other relationships with his boyfriends he always felt like he was taking something, instead of giving.  To "S", the sex act was more like a rape than true love-making, even though those words were never used.

I too felt the same thing in my relationship with "D" (a former boyfriend). While I thought I really cared for him, I recognized I was entering into the sexual act for what I could get, not for what I could give. If he was pleasured, I was happy, but it certainly was not a requirement for me.

Below is some of our conversation . I believe it is most informative and have been granted permission to share it with you. I quote:

- S:  "I lived with him for so long (in gay terms), but now I wonder how I did that.  I mean in reality, there was NO love in that relationship, it was narcissistic and it was all about what I or he could get from each other."
- R:  "Yes indeed, what D and I thought was love was also something much baser.
- S:  "YES! and now with my girlfriend, it's all about me giving of myself to her. I offer myself to her in a fully loving way, so our relationship isn't about me or my 'needs' at all. Rather it is about my desire to make her happy."
- R:  "And oddly, by giving, we receive all that we previously felt we simply were grasping for in our former gay lives. This is so much more satisfying."
- S:  "Yeah it's like it happens in a way where it's just natural and automatic.  With [my former BF], I felt like I was always sneaking around, always trying to get something more out of it, you know?"
- R:  "Yes, and you had to pull it out of the relationship because it was unnatural."
- S:  "Good point. I guess it's a kind of emotional and sexual rape because we're stealing from the other."
- R:  "And inside of us, we can feel that we are stealing something and we know we should not be having to do that. It is instinct."
- S:  "Yes, I think maybe that's what those deep unsatisfying feelings of wrongness and dirtiness are that we felt after the sex, you know what I mean?"
- R:  "Yeah, we are taking, when instincts and souls tells us we should be giving instead."
- S:  "Maybe that's why both guys involved are so insecure about the relationship and why we become so possessive, because both guys feel the relationship is on shaky ground?"
- R:  "Gay relationships are always on shaky ground. My boyfriends knew how we met. They knew that if I would pick him up (or he picked me up) and we immediately had sex, I would be just as susceptible to doing that with someone else.  We did not date, or get to know each other or the other's families like a real couple. We just met, had sex, and left for home."
- S:  "Do you think ANY homosexual couples get to know each other, truly?"
- R:  "All the ones I know met, were physically attracted, thought the other guy was "hot" and thus fell madly in bed together and then started trying to salvage their dignity with dating."
- S:  "Oh man, I love that expression - fell madly in bed - so, so, so accurate, and the post sex, after that first encounter, is all just downhill. All the dating after is an attempt to back pedal that fails totally."
- R:  "I think so. There is immediate regret and maybe some wishful thinking that even though it started out as more or less a mutual MB with each other's body, that maybe it might be someone I can love??"
- S:   "Yeah it's like at that point that the wishful thinking starts. Saying to yourself, this is more than just sex, right???  Oh please, let this be more than just a one night stand. And the fact that we're in a relationship all of a sudden is like a continual on-going accident when in reality what we are basically dealing with is a long string of one night stands with the same person."
- R:  "Oh, that is a good description, I like that."
- S:  "I spoke with "X" the other day, he was also in the lifestyle (like both of us) and some of what he said ties right into what you and and I went through, too. He connected with our observations here."
- R:  "Cool, I do not know him but I am glad there are more guys like us."
- S:  "Yes, he was very active in the lifestyle in the late 80's and 90's, activist type, "out and proud" and all that crap, but realized how empty it was and therefore got out of it a while ago. He has done a lot of work to help others come out of the lifestyle.  He was talking about what gay sex really is, and how the word sex shouldn't even really be applied because sex involves two people interacting with each other in a real way."
- R:   "Good point."
- S:   "MB is self love and isn't that what homosexuality is essentially?"


So from a couple of guys who have really been there, done that, and looked at our relationships with other men, this is what we have concluded. Homosexuality is not what it is advertised to be. It never was and it never will be. It is selfish and ego-centric and therefore doomed to die an unpleasant death. And it will take any of us down with it if we chose to go there.

(Source: http://www.jonahweb.org/article.php?secId=315. Used with permission)

The Torah Declaration

The Torah Declaration is a public statement signed by 212
Rabbis, Community Leaders, and Mental Health Professionals
Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality
Societal Developments On Homosexuality

There has been a monumental shift in the secular world’s attitude towards homosexuality over the past few decades. In particular over the past fifteen years there has been a major public campaign to gain acceptance for homosexuality. Legalizing same-sex marriage has become the end goal of the campaign to equate homosexuality with heterosexuality.

A propaganda blitz has been sweeping the world using political tactics to persuade the public about the legitimacy of homosexuality. The media is rife with negative labels implying that one is “hateful” or “homophobic” if they do not accept the homosexual lifestyle as legitimate. This political coercion has silenced many into acquiescence. Unfortunately this attitude has seeped into the Torah community and many have become confused or have accepted the media’s portrayal of this issue.
The Torah’s Unequivocal And Eternal Message

The Torah makes a clear statement that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity by severely prohibiting its conduct. Furthermore, the Torah, ever prescient about negative secular influences, warns us in Vayikra (Leviticus) 20:23 “Do not follow the traditions of the nations that I expel from before you…” Particularly the Torah writes this in regards to homosexuality and other forbidden sexual liaisons.
Same-Sex Attractions Can Be Modified And Healed

From a Torah perspective, the question whether homosexual inclinations and behaviors are changeable is extremely relevant. The concept that G-d created a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable. G-d is loving and merciful. Struggles, and yes, difficult struggles, along with healing and personal growth are part and parcel of this world. Impossible, life long, Torah prohibited situations with no achievable solutions are not.

We emphatically reject the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome his or her inclination and desire. Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid. Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness and despair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel. Such an attitude also violates the biblical prohibition in Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:14 “and you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind.”
The Process Of Healing

The only viable course of action that is consistent with the Torah is therapy and teshuvah. The therapy consists of reinforcing the natural gender-identity of the individual by helping him or her understand and repair the emotional wounds that led to its disorientation and weakening, thus enabling the resumption and completion of the individual’s emotional development. Teshuvah is a Torah-mandated, self-motivated process of turning away from any transgression or sin and returning to G-d and one’s spiritual essence. This includes refining and reintegrating the personality and allowing it to grow in a healthy and wholesome manner.

These processes are typically facilitated and coordinated with the help of a specially trained counselor or therapist working in conjunction with a qualified spiritual teacher or guide. There is no other practical, Torah-sanctioned solution for this issue.
The Mitzvah Of Love And Compassion

It requires tremendous bravery and fortitude for a person to confront and deal with same-sex attraction. For example a sixteen-year-old who is struggling with this issue may be confused and afraid and not know whom to speak to or what steps to take. We must create an atmosphere where this teenager (or anyone) can speak freely to a parent, rabbi, or mentor and be treated with love and compassion. Authority figures can then guide same-sex strugglers towards a path of healing and overcoming their inclinations.

The key point to remember is that these individuals are primarily innocent victims of childhood emotional wounds. They deserve our full love, support and encouragement in their striving towards healing. Struggling individuals who seek health and wellness should not be confused with the homosexual movement and their agenda. This distinction is crucial. It reflects the difference between what G-d asks from all of us and what He unambiguously prohibits.

We need to do everything in our power to lovingly uplift struggling individuals towards a full and healthy life that is filled with love, joy and the wisdom of the Torah.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions on the Torah Declaration

1. How do we know that G-d did not create someone with a homosexual orientation that can not be changed?
2. What about individuals who claim that they have sincerely tried to heal through reparative therapy but were unsuccessful?
3. Why is teshuvah necessary? What if a person never acted on his desires?
4. Why don’t we hear more from people who have successfully gone through the process of reparative therapy?
5. If people are not born homosexual, what is the cause of their homosexual inclinations?
6. There are some that claim that Halacha only prohibits one homosexual act and that everything else is permitted. Is this true?
7. Why should Jewish people care about homosexual issues such as gay marriage for non-Jews?
8. Is the Torah Declaration implying that one who has gone to therapy will never struggle with this issue again?
9. How does the Torah Declaration define the words “Change” and “Overcome?”

Question 1:

It states in the Declaration, “The concept that G-d created a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable. [Difficult struggles are part of this world, but]… Impossible, life long, Torah prohibited situations with no achievable solutions are not.”

How can you know for sure what G-d’s plan is for someone? People have all kinds of difficult lifelong struggles, how can you be sure that being an “unchangeable” homosexual is not part of G-d’s plan? Perhaps Hashem wants such a person to have a difficult life and nevertheless obey His commandments and stay celibate his entire life? How do you know that this is not one of the many difficult nisoyens (trials) that G-d sets out for people?
Answer:

This is a very crucial question because it touches upon our core understanding of Hashem’s relationship with us. It also brings up the question of how much we can actually understand about suffering in this world. In order to have clarity on this issue we have to define the kinds of suffering we are talking about and break them into separate categories.

Let us start with two categories:

    Difficult situations where there is no desire that would violate Torah law, even if one falters due to his or her difficult circumstances.
    Difficult situations where if one falters there is a direct Torah violation.

Examples of situation 1 would be someone who was born blind, without a leg or perhaps has cancer (Hashem yerachim). Those are truly tragic and difficult circumstances that can affect a person’s entire life and greatly limit some of the things that many of us take for granted. However, as difficult as such a life may be, there is no inconsistency with living a Torah lifestyle. In fact there are special dispensations within halacha to deal with the blind, disabilities and the terminally ill that take into account their circumstances and to guide them halachicly.

In these situations there is no question of a compulsion to violate Biblically prohibited law. All the special circumstances are dealt with in a halachic framework. (I.E. doing a melacha (prohibited work) on Shabbos for a person with a medical emergency is not a Torah violation but rather a mitzvah, etc.)

Situation 2 would encompass someone born with a nature that will only be satisfied by committing a Biblically forbidden act. That could be someone born with an unchangeable murderous bloodthirsty nature or hypothetically if we say a person is born homosexual and can not change, then in both situations the person seemingly can ONLY find satisfaction by violating a Biblical prohibition.

We know this to be factually not possible based on the following Gemaras:

T.B. Avoda Zora 3a. “Because the Holy One, blessed be He, does not deal imperiously with His creatures.” The Gemara explains that Hashem does not play cruel tricks on His creatures and create impossible situations that would cause Torah violations.

The Chofetz Chaim uses this Gemara as an example why someone can not say that their desire for loshen hora is so strong that it can not be overcome. Hashem does not create impossible Torah situations that lead to violations.

So how do we explain someone who was born with a bloodthirsty nature? How is that not a cruel trick being played on a person? The following Gemara explains how that works:

T.B. Shabbos 156a
If one was born under Mazal Mars, he will spill blood;
Rav Ashi: He will be a bloodletter, bandit, slaughterer or Mohel. (He can channel his disposition for something neutral, for Aveiros, (negative) or for Mitzvos (positive).)

“The Vilna Gaon in Even Shelaima 1:7, building on T.B. Shabbat 156a, implies that every [inborn] drive has some form of outlet that is acceptable within Torah.”
[This Vilna Gaon quote is from Nishma.org]

The following is a direct quote from a public letter written on July 4th 2008 by Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky regarding homosexuality:

“Our Sages teach us that every human being is capable of changing for the better. Those who make the false claim that human beings cannot change their tendencies are comparing them to animals. Indeed it may be very difficult to change one’s nature, but it is definitely possible if one so desires.”

From these sources we see that situation 2, where someone is born with an inborn unchangeable drive to violate Biblical law is not possible. Hashem does not play tricks by saying something is forbidden, and then creating people with a drive that only can be expressed with what He has forbidden to them. However, other struggles like situation 1 are possible and do not cause impossible Torah situations.


Question 2:

Can everyone change their homosexual inclinations? What about individuals who claim that they have sincerely tried to heal through reparative therapy but were unsuccessful?
Answer:

Not everyone succeeds with their current therapy, but everyone is capable of healing. This statement is true for most struggles that humans deal with. Whether it is drug or alcohol addiction, weight loss, anorexia, depression or any other human struggle. There will always be individuals who don’t succeed with their therapy, but it’s not because they are not capable of healing, rather they may just not be in the right space to achieve healing yet. For some it requires hitting rock bottom to be in that space. For others they may just not have yet been in a space to release certain blocks.

This is not about blame in any way, but rather the reality of why some people succeed and some people don’t. The fact that a person has not yet achieved healing, even after major effort, is not proof that they can’t eventually achieve healing, or that they should stop trying.

For example there is one individual who was 100 pounds overweight for most of his life. He struggled for 40 years with diets but was never able to successfully keep any weight loss beyond a short period of time. Then at 50 he finally lost the 100 pounds and 10 years later he has still kept the weight off.

This individual sincerely wanted to lose weight all his life. His not succeeding for 40 years does not mean he is not capable of success. It means that he was not in the right emotional/mental space to fully deal with the blocks that he had that were preventing success.

Each of these situations are unique and may be different than Same-Sex Attraction (SSA). However, all issues that require healing or therapy have in common that many people succeed in achieving their goals and others don’t.

To bring it back to SSA, one person struggled through therapy for SSA for seven years before achieving success. Can he have said after 5 years of major struggle that he is one of those individuals who can never change? At what point can we say that a person can’t deal with SSA successfully and should give up therapy? Perhaps an extended break is warranted or trying different techniques, but how can we tell the world that it is okay for some people to give up trying? How can there be any other message than everyone is capable of healing?

When it comes to homosexuality from a Torah perspective there is no other option other than healing. The Torah commands us to seek health and wellness and to repair, refine and elevate any aspect of ourselves that conflict with the Torah. For some it may be a short term struggle, for others a longer term struggle. Either way no one is exempt from continuously striving for healing and living a kosher Torah lifestyle.


Question 3:

The Declaration states that the process of healing is therapy and teshuvah. However, someone who has same-sex attractions but has never acted on it has done nothing wrong. Doesn’t including teshuvah imply that he has done something wrong, just by having those feelings?
Answer:

The Declaration is very sensitive to this concern and specifically worded it very carefully. The main focus in the declaration of the concept of teshuvah is as a holistic process of reintegration. Within the concept of teshuvah it is a two part process. The first as it states is, “turning away from any transgression or sin.” If someone has committed a transgression then the first step is to stop that activity. If someone has not committed any transgressions then this part does not apply to him at all.

The second and most crucial part of teshuva is healing as the document states about the process of teshuvah, “This includes refining and reintegrating the personality and allowing it to grow in a healthy and wholesome manner.” Teshuvah is about a process of returning to ones true self and that is what is emphasized in the declaration. This applies to anyone who has same-sex attractions, regardless if they have acted upon it or not.

This fits well with Rabbi Yosef Serebryanski’s explanation of the roots of Teshuvah:

“The word T’shuvah is composed of two words, “Tashuv” and the letter “Hey”. This means returning to Hashem. It has nothing to do with negative or bad, it is simply each person restoring their open connection and flow directly with Hashem - the source of all life and existence.”

We asked over twenty individuals who have struggled with this issue how they feel about the “Process of healing” paragraph and not one had an issue with it. They understood that this is not about “blame” but rather about a process of personal reintegration and returning to one’s true nature.

In fact in the final section we specifically stressed that someone struggling with this is an “innocent victim.” As the Declaration states, “The key point to remember is that these individuals are primarily innocent victims of childhood emotional wounds.”


Question 4:

Why don’t we hear more from people who have successfully gone through the process of reparative therapy?
Answer:

In the Torah Observant world there is a whole network of frum individuals who have gone through reparative therapy and have overcome their same-sex attractions. Many of these brave individuals are now married with their wives full knowledge and support and are upstanding members of Klal Yisrael living lives filled with kedusha and consistent with the Torah. These individuals are just like everyone else. Why would they want to publicize a difficult and private struggle in their lives?

Despite this, many of these brave souls know how important it is to bring awareness to this subject and are willing to privately share their personal struggles, the healing and therapeutic techniques and the joy and equanimity that successful change has brought to their lives. They have agreed to speak privately with anyone who is either struggling themselves with this issue or with a Rabbi, teacher, or community leader who needs more information about this issue.

If you fit into either of these two categories and would like to speak to someone who has successfully overcome their SSA, please email us with your specific situation and we can have someone contact you to discuss it further.


Question 5:

If people are not born homosexual, what is the cause of their homosexual inclinations?
Answer:

The Gemara in Nedarim 51a states that To’eivah (abomination) translates as To’eh attah bah – you are mistaken or being misled with this (in our case with homosexual inclination).

The most widely accepted theory, among those with the most experience in helping individuals heal, as to the root cause of homosexuality is that something has gone awry in childhood development. There are many possibilities and combinations of factors that may lead to same sex attraction. From emotional or sexual abuse, to having a sensitive nature while not being able to properly bond with a father figure or male peers. There may be other issues as well, but the underlying factor is that this developmental deficiency with male bonding may manifest in a desire to connect with males in an inappropriate sexualized way.

One of the standard lines from homosexual activists is that they would never choose this voluntarily. They are correct in the sense that it was not a conscience choice to develop same sex attractions, but it is a conscience choice whether one chooses to heal from the underlying issue. No one consciously chooses to be overweight, but it is a choice and a possibility to lose weight and to deal with the emotional factors that lead to overeating. Just because one does not consciously choose a struggle or difficulty, does not mean that one can’t choose to heal from it.

For more information you can watch this excellent 16 minute video that gives a detailed and easy to understand explanation of some of the root causes of homosexuality and how it develops in childhood.

www.Homosexuality101.com


Question 6:

There are some that claim that Halacha only prohibits one homosexual act and that everything else is permitted. Is this true?
Answer:

According to the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch prohibited homosexual activity includes any non-platonic physical contact; even yichud (seclusion) with someone of the same gender is forbidden for homosexually active individuals.

Rambam Hilchos Isurei Biah 21:1,2; 22:1,2. See also Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 24

Question 7:

Why should Jewish people care about homosexual issues such as gay marriage for non-Jews?
Answer:

Homosexuality is forbidden for all people, including non-Jews, by the Seven Noahide Laws. The Rambam (Maimonides) is explicit that the prohibition of sexual immorality in the Noahide laws specifically includes homosexuality.

Rambam, Mishneh Torah, in Sefer Shoftim, Hilkhoth Melakhim u’Milhamotheihem 9:7- 11

9:7 – “There are six types of sexual acts forbidden to a ben Noah: Intercourse with one’s mother, with one’s father’s wife (who is not one’s mother, i.e.: step mother), with another man’s wife, with one’s sister who has the same mother, with another male, with an animal…”

Another Torah source that explicitly mentions homosexual marriage is the Midrash Rabba which states that homosexual marriage was the ‘straw that broke the camels back’ and brought the Great Flood to the world:

“Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rebbi: The generation of the flood were not wiped out from the world until [men] were writing marriage contracts to males and to beasts.” (Midrash Rabba Breishis 26:5)


Question 8:

Is the Torah Declaration implying that one who has gone to therapy will never struggle with this issue again?
Answer:

Deeply ingrained psychological or emotional issues are the root cause of people acting out in various unhealthy ways, be they addictions, alcoholism, obesity, or homosexuality, all of which are difficult to overcome. Being committed to healing the underlying issue with the help of therapy and supportive family and friends is a major step in the healing process.

However, ALL psychological issues, even after successful therapy, require continued emotional health and stability to maintain. As a person goes through life and he or she is subjected to trying or difficult times, some of those feelings may resurface. That is why, for example, an alcoholic may attend a support group or have a personal “sponsor” even after being sober for 10 years.

Paying proper attention to our emotional and mental health, which includes appropriate dietary habits, sleeping patterns and a network of supportive friends and family, is important for everyone and particularly crucial for those who have undergone therapy for major life issues. Without a commitment to continued mental and emotional health and well being, anyone who has undergone therapy for ANY issue is at risk of recidivism.

The following relevant excerpt comes from Dr. Bentzion Sorotzkin Psy.D. website:

    “The fact that overcoming SSA [Same-Sex Attraction] is indeed difficult and is often only achieved imperfectly is also cited as evidence of the unchangeable nature of sexual orientation thus making the apparent change not authentic. This claim is absurd! All psychological problems are difficult to change. Is it easy to help someone improve his self-esteem? Or to develop confidence? Or to overcome years of abuse? When the person makes progress, do we belittle his progress because he is still struggling? And if he improves with his issue 90%, do we not see this as a tremendous success even though vestiges of his problem remain? Why is the treatment of SSA held to such ridiculous and illogical and dramatically different standards than other areas of psychotherapy? Only because of a political agenda, it seems.”


Question 9:

How does the Torah Declaration define the words “Change” and “Overcome?”
Answer:

In terms of the word “Overcome” the following is the dictionary definition:

Overcome

    Succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty).
    To get the better of [a difficulty] in a struggle or conflict

“To succeed in dealing with” or “to get the better of” any kind of struggle does not necessarily mean that the issue with which one is dealing has been wiped away forever. The definition of the word “overcome” does not contradict that one may still have to deal with the issue in difficult times throughout life. How one is able to “overcome” an issue is totally dependent upon the depth of the initial wounds and his/her ability to take care of him/her self in the future. In this context, the word “overcome” simply means that with therapy people can overcome their block in an area of life that would otherwise prevent them from achieving their goals. Moreover, it will enable them to live a Torah-true lifestyle, with a supportive spouse and children.

The same applies to the dictionary definition of the word “Change:”

Change

    Any variation or alteration; a passing from one state or form to another; as, a change of countenance; a change of habits or principles.
    To be altered; to undergo variation; as, men sometimes change for the better.

Reparative therapy or Gender affirming processes involves changing one’s inner sense of gender identity and changing the response patterns that may lead to a desire to act out in ways that are forbidden by the Torah.

Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky explains that “everyone is capable of overcoming an inclination that is prohibited by the Torah.” (Hakirah: The Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought, Volume 12, Fall, 2011, p. 33.) The Rosh Yeshiva went on to explain the concept of “change” and how two separate and distinct types of “change” relevant to mishkav zachar [homosexuality] may occur:

    virtual elimination of the thoughts, feelings, and behavior, or
    significant decrease of the desire, combined with knowledge of the tools necessary to redirect one's feelings if the desire returns.

He recognized that every person faces challenges of one sort or another but as humans we have been given by our Creator the capacity to overcome them. (Hakirah, p. 33)

In other words, changing one’s life does not necessarily mean that one will never struggle with this issue in the future. It doesn’t mean that one has to resolve all his/her inner gender conflicts before he/she can be considered “changed.” That process may take time, patience, and continued work. What does change more immediately, however, is one’s outlook on life and one’s ability to maintain healthy heterosexual relationships.

To sum up, an alcoholic who has been sober for a number of years has overcome their destructive patterns and changed their lifestyle to a productive and healthy one. The same understanding applies to obesity, other addictions and same-sex attractions.

(Source: The Torah Declaration: http://www.torahdec.org/FAQs.aspx#Q3. Used with permission)

 

Links Israel

JONAH's Response

JONAH's Response to Gay & Lesbian Task Force Report for APA ( 8/6/09 )
 
Political correctness reigns supreme in an unbalanced, scientifically flawed document that was prepared by six-gay identified therapists (all appointed as members of the six member "Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation") and approved by The American Psychological Association (APA). There was never any pretense of balance as to the make-up of the committee's membership. The gay and lesbian caucus of the APA, originators of the study, consistently rejected for committee membership any number of qualified therapists either with neutral views or actual practitioners of therapies designed to assist sexual reorientation change. 
 
The APA study also chose to totally ignore NARTH's landscape review of over 600 studies (as compared to the APA's citations of less than 100 selectively chosen studies.) The more detailed and definitive study was recently released by NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.)  After providing a comprehensive review of the peer-reviewed literature that examined the ability of individuals with unwanted homosexuality to change, NARTH's Scientific Advisory Committee (the authors of the NARTH study) concluded that those with unwanted homosexual feelings or behavior can indeed change their sexual orientation, disputed the contention that change therapies are harmful, (even the APA report had to concede "there is no clear evidence of harm") and stated their concern that homosexuals are at greater risk for medical, psychological, and relationship pathology than are members of the general population. 
 
Interestingly, at the same convention where the resolution prepared by the gay-identified therapists was accepted, a symposium show-cased findings from a six year study (by Drs. Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse) of people  who went through a Christian reorientation program. That study showed that a significant number of the subjects studied either successfully converted to full heterosexuality or dis-identified with their homosexuality and embraced chastity.
 
The secular bias in the report against religious values is evident. The report suggests that psychologists may counsel those with religious belief systems that object to homosexuality to explore alternative life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation; in other words, suggest an alternative religion or life style that affirms their gayness. They do concede however that if the client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions is sinful or destructive of his faith, psychologists may then help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions; however, this course of action is only appropriate, according to the  APA,  after the counselor provides a blatant misrepresentation: that no evidence exists showing that therapy can change sexual orientations. The psychologists are also advised to promote the happiness allegedly attainable from identifying as a gay or lesbian.
 
A principal rationale constantly referenced in the APA report was that the peer reviewed studies showing change of sexual orientation were insufficiently rigorous in their scientific approach. We must note that under this standard most therapies, particularly Gay Affirmative Therapy,  have not been subjected to such a rigorous standard. Moreover, it should be recognized that no genetic or hormonal tests exist that distinguish gays from straights. Of relevance here are the three identical twin studies containing over 10,000 sets of twins showing that less than 10% of identical twins are concordant for homosexuality.  
 
The basic problem with the report is explained by the recently released book  Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change, which recently entered its second printing, (see www.redheiferpress.com)  "Men and women struggling with same-sex attractions are commonly being denied the right to receive life-giving information about the existence and effectiveness of various gender-affirming methods and therapies; the right to seek treatment for sexual disorientation and the right freely to choose to change their sexual orientation. Such interference with fundamental rights offends the dignity and humanity of these men and women. ... Such attitudes are not merely wrong. They are contemptible, immoral, irresponsible, and potentially lethal." 
 
Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Silodor Berk, Co-Directors, JONAH

A Long, Hard Road: How Reparative Therapy Saved My Life
Written By: Daniel Meir Horowitz [1]
(Posted May 2012)

There has been much ado in the Jewish media about the idea of Orthodoxy and homosexuality. I have decided to share my personal story for the purpose of letting others know that, despite what so many people claim to “know,” there are options and there is a way out of Same Sex Attraction (SSA).
I was raised in a modern-Orthodox, frum family. I clearly remember in 8th grade being among other boys discussing which girls in our class they had crushes on. At the time I had absolutely no attraction to women and, to avoid embarrassment, I blatantly lied and said that I did indeed have a crush on a certain female classmate. But inside I was tormented: “When will I feel these feelings like the other guys?” I asked myself. I kept hoping that someday I would just wake up and be “normal.” Unfortunately, that time never came. By 10th grade I had already come to the conclusion that something was wrong, and also admitted to myself that I was instead attracted to other boys in my class. I recall praying and crying to G-d to “take it away” and heal me. One summer I spent every day saying the entire book of Tehillim (Psalms) in the hope that I could earn enough merit to make my homosexuality go away. But it didn’t.
After graduation, I dutifully spent a year in an Israeli yeshiva. Being in a dormitory situation was a complete nightmare. I felt trapped in a prison that I could not escape, tempted by things that I could never act upon, dangled in front of me constantly. By the end of that year I was almost non-functional, and finally mustered up the courage to discuss my situation with the Rosh Yeshiva. I was sure that I would be summarily cast away and shamed, but felt I didn’t have a choice since I was suffering so much. I needed to talk to someone. Instead, I received compassion, advice, and a recommendation to see a local psychologist.
When I returned home at the end of the year, I began immediately seeing a religious psychologist to try to work through these issues while I stayed in yeshiva. Over the next seven years I cycled on and off seeing a total of three different psychologists and one psychiatrist, spending at least twenty thousand dollars. These were highly recommended professionals, some of whom are rather well known. They all assured me that they could help me with my SSA. Yet after all of my time and money, I accomplished absolutely nothing. I still was embroiled in attraction to other men, and felt no attraction to women. All of my friends were getting married and having children, while I just spun my wheels.
During those years I became depressed and hated my life. I often contemplated suicide. Multiple times while driving home from the therapist’s office, frustrated at our lack of progress, I would think: “Just turn the wheel a little to the left and slam into the divider on the freeway. No one will know it wasn’t just an accident.” I would have to consciously switch to the right lane so I could be sure I wouldn’t give in to the temptation. Part of me truly wanted to die, though, and I regularly wished that a car would hit me when I was crossing the street.
In utter desperation I began searching the Internet for possible alternative treatments. I was willing to try almost anything if I thought it would work. I discovered a weekend retreat for men struggling with SSA. After consulting with one of my rabbeim and my therapist, I signed up for the next available open slot, bought my plane tickets to Utah and set out. The retreat changed my life. I met other men who had struggled with SSA and had moved through it. I was taught about reparative therapy and that there was hope. Soon after that weekend I started seeing a licensed reparative therapist regularly, and within a year began to slowly see signs of progress. I don’t remember exactly when, perhaps 18-24 months into the therapy, but I was reading a magazine and an attractive woman in an ad caught my attention. I found myself staring at the photograph. Then it struck me: I was actually interested in looking at the woman! I felt such exhilaration at the experience. I had instinctually done what I never would have done before. Something had changed.
Anyone who says that working through homosexual desires and feelings is an easy, quick process is lying. It is a long, hard road with many challenges, pitfalls, and setbacks. But it is possible. I wish I could say there is a “cure” for SSA, but I believe there is no such thing. SSA is something I will struggle with for the rest of my life. But now, I am in control of it. It no longer tortures me. When I am diligent and follow the game-plan provided by those who understand reparative therapy, it fades to the faintest whisper in the background and therefore no longer controls me. And I am attracted to women, when I never was before.
Why was I so tortured? Why did it hurt so much? What drove me to become suicidal? Being a frum person with SSA felt like being trapped in a prison with no escape. If I have homosexual desires, urges to do what the Torah blatantly forbids, I have only three options:

A) To give in to those desires, and violate the Torah. Many have taken that path, often eventually abandoning all Torah observance. I truly believed, and believe, that G-d gave us the Torah, and so giving in to my desires was not an acceptable course of action for me.

B) To “white-knuckle,” to try to resist these temptations with sheer willpower and live a “normal” life despite them. This was an unbelievably depressing prospect. It meant getting married with no real desire for a woman. It meant having desires that could never be fulfilled. It meant being trapped in the closet all alone, suffering. (To say nothing of how wrong doing so would be to the woman I would have married.)

There were those who would tried to offer me a variant of this option: Accept myself as a homosexual and identify as gay, and stay single, all the while refraining from violating the Torah. While on the one hand, it sounded brave, I knew it to be a fallacy and an empty dream. Firstly, I would still have to suffer a lifetime of unfulfilled yearnings. The reality is, however, that despite firm initial convictions, every single person that I know who tried this, eventually succumbed and ended up violating the Torah. This always devolved back into option A.

C) To try and change the desires, or at least mitigate them until they become a mere nuisance. This seemed to be the only viable approach to me. And I tried for many years, floundering along through therapy, even taking extra jobs to pay for it. I remember thinking at one point: “What more can G-d possibly want from me? I’m doing everything I can!!” Yet, I persevered and eventually found a treatment that helped.

The reparative therapy approach is what led me to where I am.
There are those who will wish to silence me, and protest the publication of my story. They will describe reparative therapy as a sham. I can only say that I wish someone had told me about it earlier. There are no guarantees for any treatment of any illness. But I would rather have tried mightily and failed, than to have had someone stifle me by censoring those who would have given me options and hope.
Of course, no one should ever be forced into therapy if they don’t want it. And no one can experience any change unless they want to. No matter how supportive and well-meaning family and friends are, changing sexual orientation or growing out of SSA will not occur if the person does not wish to do it for himself and find the proper therapeutic approach that works for him. For those who choose to work through their SSA, there are several alternative paths for them to take. And, by doing so, they can lead truly fulfilled lives.
Even if after spending time (and money) with one therapist is found not to be helpful, that does not in any way mean that another won’t be helpful. If, G-d forbid, someone was diagnosed with cancer and a certain treatment wasn’t working, he wouldn’t give up. He would seek out another doctor with a different method, or try alternative medicines or modalities. I spent almost ten years trying different therapy methods, and eventually one worked for me. So if one doesn’t work for you, who knows? Some other treatment might.
I want to shout to all those plagued by SSA who wish they were not: Don’t give up. Please. Despite what you read and hear in our secular culture about the false idea that change is impossible, a ray of light might be just around the corner. Keep looking and know that the help you seek is out there. You only need to find it.
[1] This is a pseudonym. Certain other identifying details have been changed as well. I truly wish that I felt safe enough to use my actual name and identify myself. However, as someone still searching for his soul mate, I am keenly aware of how careful I must be to explain these details about me at the right time and in the proper context.

The Jewish Community

DO HOMOSEXUALS FIT INTO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY?
Written By: Bronya Shaffer (posted Jan. 2011)


Printed from JewishMontana.com

Question:

According to Jewish law, how should a person react to homosexual feelings? Do homosexuals fit into the Jewish community?

Answer:

You ask about feelings and law. But feelings do not fall within the domain of law. A person feels what a person feels. Then he has the power to decide whether he will act upon those feelings or… not. This is the human experience: desire, longing, wanting…and the law. Part of our development from childhood to adulthood is creating for ourselves a moral compass. Something that's internal. That which tells us right from wrong. And that moral compass is comprised of myriad components, but must be firmly grounded, always, in a system of absolutes. Absolute law. Absolute values. Torah. From the time we're very, very young we learn: this may be how you feel, but this is not how you may act. Consider a three year old who longs to use his grandmother's couch as a trampoline, consider what his mother will tell him. We feel what we feel. And we act according to the law: the law of the Torah, or the law of the land, or the laws of social niceties. And as we grow, clear about absolute laws, we develop our own moral compass.

We feel what we feel. And we act according to the lawSo what to do when our desires are for unequivocally forbidden acts? While firmly closing the door on the act, often we find that when we consistently redirect those emotions, again and again, the emotions are slowly tempered and change. Sometimes it takes just a little work, sometimes many years. Some feelings never go away. That is the challenge of being human.

Jewish law unconditionally prohibits the homosexual act. Just as the heterosexual act is prohibited outside of marriage, regardless of personal desires, attractions or inclinations, so the homosexual act is forbidden.

Or perhaps your question is in regard to how we should react to the homosexual feelings of others? Or how we should react to someone who eats on Yom Kippur? Or someone who longs for the relationship with a man other than her husband? On this, the classic work known as the Tanya provides strong advice: Consider what it means to have such burning passions for forbidden fruit. Consider the day to day fierce and relentless battle demanded to conquer such passions. Consider that a person with such feelings who fails even once in such a battle is sinning. And then ask yourself, "Do I ever fight such a battle on my own ground? What makes me any better than him?"

The Tanya continues to illustrate the many areas in which all of us could improve by waging at least a small battle on our own ground.

On your question concerning community: A Jew belongs within a Jewish community. There are no application forms and no qualification requirements. He's Jewish—that's where he belongs. Period. We all have our challenges, our shortcomings, our feelings...and our failures in battle as well...and with all that, we are a community of Jews.

Wishing you all the best,

Bronya Shaffer for Chabad.org

DOES HOMOSEXUALITY INCORPORATE THE SEXUAL HOLINESS VALUES OF JUDAISM?


Much of today's world denies the concept of sexual holiness, and sees sex as but another natural function - like eating, drinking or defecating. The sex act itself is therefore compared, or even equated, to drinking a glass of water. Judaism, on the other hand, clearly believes sex between a husband and a wife is a "kiddushin", a sanctification, a holy act commanded by G-d.

Conjugal Sex's Unique Holiness in Judaism:

The sacredness of lawful sex which lies at the heart of traditional Judaism is often forgotten. As R.Patai tells us in "Sex and Family in the Bible and the Middle East," while the ancient Canaanites saw "the entire sexual aspect of life as surrounded by an aura of sanctity," and believed that "performing the sexual act in honor of a deity was a religious practice" (the saturnalia), their view permitted sexual pairings of all kinds - heterosexual, homosexual, incestuous, pederastic and group sex - in order to sexually stimulate the gods, who were watching, so they would then make the herds, fields and women fertile.

When the Hebrews accepted the existence of One Lawful G-d, the pagan notion of sex as holy was retained but was severely limited by recognizing a sacred sexuality solely in the marital bed. Adultery, premarital sex for women, homosexuality, incest and bestiality were therefore banned. "The revolution begun by the Torah when it declared war on the sexual practices of the world wrought the most far-reaching changes in history," according to Dennis Prager in "Judaism, Homosexuality and Civilization." It was Judaism that demanded that all sexual activity be channeled into marriage, and thus, as Prager observed, "it changed the world."

David Gelernter recently maintained in Commentary Magazine (2003) that "husband and wife create a whole man out of two halves. Their sexual union is inherently blessed whether a child is engendered or not. The cult of the couple has given marriage in Judaism a supreme (and unique) importance." With the notion of "the married couple at the center of the universe," Jews "celebrate sexuality."

This view of sex as serious, sacred, and limited to one's spouse contradicts America's increasing trivialization of sex. And, in turn, the trivialization produced in young people's minds by previous experiences with many partners weakens the emotional exclusivity with which they view the marital sexual bond. This has become a major psychological reason for America's high divorce rate.

The intense sexual pleasure which marriage brings both partners helps create and maintain love and affection between them. (The importance of a wife's sexual satisfaction has long been stressed by Jewish sages.) The marital trust evoked by sexual fidelity helps create homes in which children learn the love and trust upon which civilization itself rests.

On the contrary, feminist, gay and other political movements have systematically minimized or denied the biological differences between men and women. As leading advocates of sexual freedom and promiscuity, these movements represent the major political enemies of fidelity and sexual holiness. In doing so, they hide one of Judaism's greatest contributions to civilization, that is, the transformation of raw biological sexuality and the inborn attraction of male and female, by channeling it into the faithful, sacred love of the Song of Solomon.

A Word on Homosexual Ideology

Andrew Sullivan, one of the homosexual movement's leading ideologists, refers to the "natural urges in a particular person that may run counter to the nature of the species as a whole." Judaism calls such defiance for its own sake "the evil inclination." Sullivan, however, goes on to illustrate how "homosexuals have delighted in showing in their ironic games with the dominant culture" that they can be "ultimately immune to its [society's] control." This finding suggests the centrality of defiance as part of the psychology within many gays. In contrast, obedience to the Law is, of course, the essence of Judaism.

The Opposite Natures of Homosexual and Traditional Marriage

The real conflict between homosexual and traditional marriage is the reliance on different standards that are found in two competing cultures: one of fidelity and the other of "freedom" (or promiscuity) . Fidelity - sexual exclusivity - is at the heart of both Jewish and Christian traditional marriage between men and women. But gay couples are apparently more interested in sexual variety. Of 156 such couples who had lived together for at least 5 years ( many were together for 20 years or more) and were interviewed by a pair of gay researchers named McWhirter and Mattison, only seven had a totally exclusive relationship--however, none of these seven had been in their relationship for more than five years . Indeed, these researchers concluded that "the single most important factor that keeps [these gay] couples together past the ten year mark is the lack of possessiveness they feel. Many couples learn very early in their relationship that ownership of each other sexually can become the greatest internal threat to their staying together."

Another pair of gay investigators (M.Kirk and H. Madsen in "After the Ball") describe "the cheating ratio of 'married' gay males, given enough time, [as] approaching 100%." This being how gay couples actually behave, the notion of faithful homosexual marriage, although doubtlessly occasionally occurring, appears rather questionable.

The gay and feminist political movements hold strong power positions, especially in the mass media, and are now attempting to use the U.S. Supreme Court's recent Lawrence decision to get further acceptance of homosexuality as equal, if not superior, to heterosexuality. For example, New York Times national political correspondent Richard Berke told the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association that at times, "literally three-quarters of the people deciding what's on the front page are not-so-closeted homosexuals." And the American psychiatric, psychological and social work associations are trying to declare unethical any psychotherapeutic attempts to help people wanting to change from homosexuality.

While any two or more people can make whatever private contracts they wish, the acceptance of legally and/or religiously-approved homosexual marriage would gravely undermine the uniquely sacred nature of traditional marriage. For those of us who practice Judaism as a religion and understand the sacredness of a sanctified relationship between a man and woman which is called marriage, a so-called homosexual "marriage" would be comparable to a Jew trying to kosher a pig.

- Dr. Nathaniel S. Lehrman
(Posted to JONAH Online Library - April 2004)

DEAR PARENTS, RABBIS, THERAPISTS,TEACHERS AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY

Back


JONAH was chosen as our group's name both as an acronym for Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality and to represent the biblical Book of JONAH. The Book of JONAH is the Torah portion read on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and thus the classic parable of repentence and returning to G-D. For all Jews, Yom Kippur represents the culmination of 40 days of reflection, evaluation, and the willingness to change what has not worked well in our lives.

The myths surrounding the attempt to normalize homosexuality have left many of us confused and bewildered. We want to be good people, we don't want to discriminate against our sisters and brothers who experience same-sex attractions, and yet - if we embrace someone's homosexuality as G-D given and natural, are we doing the right thing? Recent scientific evidence bolsters the traditional scientific evidence that leads us to believe that same-sex attractions represent a drive to meet unmet love needs. Based on the numerous articles and papers you will read on the JONAH web site, JONAH's position on how the Jewish community should respond to this issues is as follows:

We love our fellow Jews too much to watch them embrace the false identity of homosexuality. The Torah teaches us that homosexuality is a behavior, not an identity. This idea is further clarified in a letter of support from Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky who powerfully stated, " Anything that the Torah forbids, the human being is able to control."

Empirical evidence is clear that homosexuality is changeable and so we need to devote ourselves to teaching the public about the prevention, causes, and treatment of homosexuality.

For those of us who are parents and family members of those experiencing same-sex attractions, we need to admit that we probably unwittingly contributed to our children's homosexual attractions. Therefore, we need to provide an example of how we as people need to grow and change ourselves so that we can express our love for our children more fully, improve our relationship with them, and teach by example that we all have the capacity to change even deeply-rooted conflicts.
As Jews, we also need to insure that families and communities do not ostracize their children who live a homosexual lifestyle. It is heartless to reject a child for something that is not his/her fault. In the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we must "take a loving and caring attitude by extending a helping hand."

We need to reach out to those experiencing same-sex attractions and let them know that we will support them in every way possible if they decide to transition out of homosexuality and recover their heterosexual potential. However, we will love and cherish them as the individuals they are even if they choose to stay in a homosexual lifestyle.

We must reach out with love and compassion and an understanding that many times the worst treatment of homosexuals comes from their own internalized sense of shame and guilt. Alternatively, gay activists seek a cult-like environment to keep a person with a confused sense of gender identiuty within the bounds of the so-called gay lifestlye. Homosexuals are us and we are them, they were not born a different class of persons, they were not born different. No one chooses to be a homosexual anymore than you would choose to be an obese person, an alcoholic, or anyone afflicted with a life-damaging condition, which if we are honest, includes almost all of us in one way or another.

We need to work together to figure out the best way to explain that we can love our fellow Jews and yet encourage them to change. We must be honest and let the public know that in every way measurable, the cons outweigh the pros of a homosexual lifestyle, whether or not the government or a religious body gives its approval to homosexuality. It is simply cruel to tell young people experiencing same-sex attractions that a homosexual lifestyle will give them the same chance at living a full life as a heterosexual lifestyle - we know it won't and we must stand up to the "politically correct" rhetoric of our times and speak the truth.

In closing, we all gain when the issues surrounding homosexuality are out of the closet, when the stigma of being a homosexual is lessened, when recovered homosexuals are not ashamed to speak out and give hope to others, when parents can admit their mistakes, when our fellow Jews know that we love them enough to stand up and fight for their right to live a normal life, and when the world understands the underlying causes of same-sex attractions.

We all need to join together, speak out, publicize our cause, and help our fellow Jews who are suffering from unwanted same-sex attractions.

Shalom with love,

Elaine Silodor Berk,
Co-Director of JONAH


HOMOSEXUALITY AND JUDAISM

Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Volume XI - 1986

Introduction

Homosexuality, once a word whispered only with revulsion or derision, is now out in the open for all to see and hear. In fact, homosexuality and its attendant issues have become big news.

Whether it is the rapidly spreading, and ever-more frightening AIDS epidemic, or the increase in sympathetic "gay" characters in the theater and in literature, or the widening legal battles over the status of homosexuals, one cannot go very far in contemporary society with out confronting this once extremely closet-bound topic.

Traditional Judaism, too, has been forced to confront the issue as "gay" individuals and "synagogues" have appeared on the Jewish landscape, often appealing for support from the liberal segments of the Jewish community.

Certainly, an authentic Jewish response must begin with the biblical prohibition against homosexuality. The Bible unequivocally states that a homosexual act between two consenting adult males is a capital crime(1). Therefore, homosexuality is an activity that no traditional Jew can engage in, endorse, accept, or approve of (recent televised statements to the contrary notwithstanding)(2).

Despite this initial biblical negative, there is much to discuss regarding our attitude to the homosexual, the issue of the homosexual's place in the community, the question of approach and the treatment of the homosexual, and the problem of the homosexual's rights and acceptance in society. In addition, we must consider why the Bible and Jewish thought reject homosexuality keeping in mind as we do that female homosexuality, though forbidden, is not nearly as serious a crime as is its male counterpart(3).

Drawing the Right Picture

Our analysis of Judaism's approach to homosexuality begins with the question, "What is Judaism's view of the Jewish homosexual?" It is this author's contention that the only appropriate answer to this question is "there is no such individual(4)."

To explain this rather radical statement, one must go back to the structure that halacha places upon Jewish society. In this structure there are certain legal personalities who constitute the dramatis personae of the Jewish community. A Cohen is such a personality, as is a Levi. A woman is such a personality, as is a slave or a king. Other "characters" populate the Jewish landscape. The mamzer and the Cohen Gadol, the Katan and the gadol, the cheresh and the shoteh each has his place in the scheme of things(5). Lacking from this list is the homosexual. So much is he missing from the cast of characters of Jewish society that one is hard put to find a halachic term used specifically for him(6).

If one were, in fact, to apply a halachic category to this individual, it would be the general category of mumar l'teiavon (one whose desires put him in opposition to Torah law), specifically mumar l'mishkav zachor (one who because of his repeated involvement in homosexual activity is in opposition to Torah law). Such a category exists in halachic literature(7), is clearly defined, and places the homosexual on a equal footing with other mumarim who violate other laws.

It seems clear from this that halacha never viewed the homosexual as a member of a unique category or as different from the non-homosexual. He has no greater or lesser rights or obligations. He deserves no special treatment or concessions nor any special vilification. In fact, the term "homosexual" is an essentially inappropriate description for him. We should, rather, refer to this individual as a person engaged in homosexual activity. "Homosexual" is therefore not a noun that identifies and categorizes the individual but an adjective that describes his activity.

This approach has great intuitive appeal. It is hard to imagine Jewish thought accepting the premise the sexual desires and activities provide grounds by which to define an individual's place in the community. In addition, there are vast and important ramifications that emerge from this picture of the individual as a person involved in homosexual activity and not as a homosexual.

The first effect of this changed conceptualization is to alter and improve the individual's perception of himself. If one is labeled and defined by the term "homosexual", he is consequently different than the heterosexual. As such, he will struggle for minority status and for his rights as a member of that minority. He is, and should be, portrayed as a unique character type in movies, theater, and on television, and he should command an appropriate number of participants in any institution that constitutes itself along racial, ethnic, and religious lines. He agitates for gay pride and gay power, and if he is Jewish, he creates gay synagogues and other gay institutions.

On the other hand, If "homosexual" is a term that is limited to the description of an activity, then the individual practicing this activity remains an undifferentiated member of society, and if Jewish he is part of Jewish society. He need not feel excluded from the community. In the same way that the adulterer, the practitioner of pre-marital sex, the mechallel Shabbat(8) or the speaker of lashon harah all enter the synagogue and feel at home while individually dealing with whatever guilt they carry as a result of their sinful activities, so, too, the individual involved in homosexual activity can and should enter the synagogue and feel himself to be part of the community. He is still a human being and a Jew. He is most assuredly not part of a separate homosexual society or sub-society. (See below for a discussion of the Gentile homosexual.) Obviously, the adulterer, mechallel Shabbat, et al are duty-bound to change their ways - to do teshuva - and the mumar l'mishkav zachor has the same obligation(9).

The second implication of this approach concerns the community's dealings with the individual involved in homosexual activity. If the practitioner of homosexuality is considered a full fledged Jew (albeit a mummar), the community should welcome him as such. This is particularly true in our post-holocaust era, wherein our heightened awareness of the value of each Jewish soul has motivated many communities to make kiruv rechokim (attempts to bring non-observant Jews into the fold of Torah-observance) a hallmark of their activities. This Kiruv work should not and cannot be limited only to violators of halacha in ritual matters. Deviance from halachic norms in sexual matters is as much an area for concern, outreach, and proper education as anything else. Particularly in an area that is as difficult to control as sexual desire(10), the support of the community for one who might want to bring his lifestyle in line with halacha may be crucial to success.

At this point something should be said about the term "toeivah(11)" as used by the Torah in connection with homosexuality. Some may feel that its appearance in this context precludes treating the practitioner of homosexuality in the same way that one would treat an individual who is guilty of a different sin. The problem with this suggestion is that to be consistent we would require similarly negative treatment of the persons who eats non-Kosher food(12) the idolator(13), the unethical business man(14) and the individual who remarries a woman who, since her divorce from him, has entered and left (by death or divorce) another marriage to another man(15). All of these individuals are guilty of committing a toeivah, according to the respective verses that prohibit the particular activity. If we are going to ostracize the individual who commits homosexual acts, then we must ostracize these individuals as well. Since we do not take this approach in the other cases, we should not do so in dealing with the individual involved in homosexual activity.

How then to understand the toeivah designation? In an article in the Encyclopedia Judaica Yearbook, Dr Norman Lamm(16) defines toeivah in aesthetic terms. These actions are repulsive in and of themselves; no rationale or explanation is necessary. Rather, the divine aspect within the human being is automatically and instinctively repelled by these activities. The fact that any number of individuals are possessed of a deadened spiritual sensitivity that allows them to accept or even participate in the acts in question, does not mean that the spiritually sensitive individual allows his revulsion to be diminished nor does he apologize for that revulsion.

Further, it is important to note that the wording of the act in question indicates that this revulsion is directed only at the act and not at its perpetrator. The perpetrator is not to be ostracized. One who commits a toeivah is halachically and societally no different than one who commits a transgression of a non-toeivah law of equal severity.

Although it may be true that a leopard cannot change its sports, Judaism holds that a human being can change or control his activities(17). While we certainly recognize that many individuals have personality factors that would tend to promote certain sinful activities, our expectation is that these individuals will control these tendencies. We no more would accept the act of murder as legitimate because the perpetrator is prone to violence, then we should accept the act of homosexuality as inevitable because of the existence of biological, genetic, or environmental factors that may contribute to an individual's preference for homosexual acts. A rational individual can control himself, and no amount of apologetics, explanations, or rationalizations can change this fundamental fact. Simply put, the individual engaged in homosexual activity is wrong in what he is doing and is held responsible for having done it.

It is on this issue that the approach presented here parts company most completely with Dr.Lamm's view. Whereas Dr. Lamm(18) sees the homosexual as an anuss (an individual forced into heredity and/or environment into activity that the Bible forbids) this author sees him as mumar. Whereas Dr. Lamm effectively removes culpability from him (anuss rachma patrie(19)), this author insists that creating a sense of culpability is an integral part of the approach that Judaism should take in confronting the individual involved in homosexual activity. This sense of culpability may be just the push necessary for the individual to begin the teshuva process.

The view presented here seems more in keeping with biblical(20), talmudic(21) and other halachic sources(22). The consistent position taken by these sources is that the homosexual is ultimately subject to punishment for his actions. The halachic system fully expects that an individual properly warned, witnessed, and brought to trial for this act be killed. There is no indication anywhere in the literature that such individuals have a prima facie defense as anussim.

Dr. Lamm(23) supports his approach by arguing that present public policy and social reality preclude punishment of all offenders. We must, therefore, maintain our condemnation of the act while refraining from dealing punitively with the offender. In his view, this can best be done by treating the offender as an anuss.

However, there is nothing in his argument that prevents our labeling the individual as a mumar. We do not punish Sabbath violators, or those who eat treif. Environment/heredity is not enough to label the individual involved in homosexual activity an anuss. Rather label him a mumar, indicating that he is responsible for his actions.

Further, a stance such as Dr. Lamm's seems to carry with it the possibility of pushing the individual presently questioning his own sexual orientation over the wrong edge.

After all, if biology/upbringing is the cause, and the participant is only the victim of irresistible forces, he has a handy excuse and less of a reason not to succumb to his desires.

Labeling one a mumar does not necessarily mean that the community should respond with public condemnation and rejection or the individual. In an era which lacks a Sanhedrin and adequate Jewish communal structures we have long tolerated, worked with, and even welcomed and accepted violators of many halachot within our community. It is necessary, therefore, to couple our tolerance of the individual with disapproval of the activity. This must then be combined with an expectation and hope that the individual will change his behavior. Calling him a mumar, if handled correctly, strengthens the chances for change.

The subject of change brings us to our next point. Jewish thought would argue that homosexually oriented individuals can change their sexual orientation and can ultimately develop an interest in and derive pleasure from heterosexual activity. This conclusion is an obvious consequence of our discussion thus far. If a homosexual act is punishable, and if we expect he individual who has homosexual desires to avoid giving in to them, what then is the life situation of such and individual? There seem to be two possibilities. One: such and individual cannot change his feelings. If this is the case he is a prisoner trapped in a body which, while commanded to marry an procreate, has an emotional structures that finds such a concept at best unfulfilling and at worst a living purgatory. Two: change - and a normal, happy, fulfilled life marriage and heterosexual union are possible.

We are told by the Talmud(24) that G-d does not play tricks on His creations. Particularly as the area of sexuality is an area of such deeply personal implications to any individual, it is difficult imagine G-d creating a situation wherein those who feel themselves to possess a homosexual orientation cannot change and are consequently locked in a living prison with no exit and no key. Therefore, some method or methods must exist to successfully change the sexual orientation of motivated individuals. It's heartening to note that a recent study (25),indicates a 70% success rate among such individuals. It is unfortunate that the mass media and most mental health professionals publicly portray the goal "acceptance of one's orientation" as the optimum, while downplaying or denying the possibility of change. Our task must be to publicize the possibility of change, and the relevant statistics that now become statistics of hope. We also should encourage the mental health community to develop new and even more effective methods to alter the sexual orientation of those striving to live Torah-true lifestyle.

Perhaps one further support for the idea that homosexual orientation is at least preventable, if not totally changeable, is the anomalous fact that one community in which the percentage of homosexual preference is significantly lower than in the general population is the Orthodox Jewish community(26).

It is almost as if halacha rejects the notion of an individual called a homosexual, rejects the necessity of the homosexual act for any individual, rejects the idea of an irrevocable homosexual orientation, and then creates a society in which these ideals can, apparently quite successfully, be lived.

Judaism rejects the suggestions that homosexuality is either a form of mental illness or an "acceptable alternate lifestyle." Judaism's positions would be a third and as yet unconsidered option. Homosexuality is an activity entered into volitionally by individuals, who may be psychologically healthy, which is maladaptive and inappropriate. Depending on one's theory, it may indicate arrested development, poor family structure, early trauma, frustration of the purpose of creation, disruption of the basic family structure, unnatural behavior, etc.

But whatever the case it constitutes activity that will diminish an individual's capacity to fulfill, in his own life, G-d's expressed plan for creation. As such, this individual cannot achieve his full potential as a human being(27). Therefore, our task is to treat and redirect this individual to more appropriate and fulfilling activity.

Gentile Homosexuals

One question not addressed directly in the previous section is, "Why does Judaism not recognize the existence of a homosexual sub-group within the Jewish community?"

Of course, one might answer that as the act of homosexuality is forbidden, Judaism would no more grant official status to those who practice it than it would grant such status to murderers, thieves, or adulterers. This answer may, in fact, be sufficient and perhaps we should simply turn to the next section and the discussion of the rationale for Judaism's negative approach to the entire issue of homosexuality.

However, there may be another more profound and far-reaching answer to this question. The Sifra states(28)

"I did not say this except for those laws inscribed for them [the Gentiles] their fathers' father. What did they [the Gentiles, as opposed to the Jews] do? Men would marry men, and women would marry women".

This seems to indicate a difference between homosexuality when it makes its appearance in the Jewish community. For the Gentile, homosexuality is a reality that is part of his heritage. For a Jew, homosexuality is a foreign incursion.

Additional support for this division along national lines can be adduced from the prohibition against female homosexuality. This prohibition, though not explicitly stated in the Bible, is derived from the same verse, Leviticus 18:2, that elicits the comment of the Sifra quoted above. The verse reads: "After the doings of the land Egypt wherein you lived you shall not do, and after the doings of the land of Canaan where I am bringing you, you shall not do, nor shall you walk in the statutes." This source provides a further indication that homosexuality is viewed as a foreign element in Jewish society. It may well be that this factor contributes to halacha's unwillingness to recognize a homosexual subgroup within Jewish society.

Statistics show significantly reduced levels of homosexual men in Orthodox Jewish circles as compared to all other segments of society. Further indication of this anomaly is provided by the dearth of questions relating to homosexuality and individuals involved in homosexual activity in halachic and responsa literature(29).

One obvious question remains. Does halacha recognize a homosexual individual who cannot change, and therefore a homosexual sub-community in the Gentile world?

The answer to this question seems unclear. On the one hand the Sifra quoted above indicates a belief that at least some Gentile homosexuals develop their sexual orientation because of a traditional cultural heritage. This would tend to support the idea the halacha acknowledges the possibility of a homosexual subgroup in Gentile society.

On the other hand, none of the stories from the Bible, such as the sin of Ham, the men of Sodom, or the Potiphar's true purpose in purchasing Joseph as his slave, portray any of the individuals as totally homosexual. All are either married (in the normal fashion) or are said to father children in the course of their lives. This would seem to indicate that pure homosexuality was considered an aberration even if found in Gentile circles.

Further, halacha prescribes the death penalty for homosexual acts committed between Gentile men(30). Our tendency would therefore be to deny that halacha recognizes a homosexual community among Gentiles. If we, in fact, did recognize such a community would we not be advocating genocide towards it? Such a position is obviously troubling.

Condemnation of Homosexuality - Why?

In discussions of the Jewish view of homosexuality, the question "Why does Judaism condemn a pleasurable, victimless act that tales place between two consenting adults?" often takes center stage. Although explanations are not lacking in the literature a truly consistent approach should also shed some light on why female homosexuality, though forbidden, is far less heinous a crime than male homosexuality(31).

In fact, a number of suggested answers suffer from a failure to adequately explain this last point.

One such approach centers around the primacy of family and children in our system of values. The practice of male homosexuality obviously frustrates the implementation of these values(32). But so does the practice of female homosexuality. Yet the two are not treated with equal severity.

A second approach argues that homosexuality is somehow unnatural. Our bodies are constructed to act in certain ways, and the practice of male homosexuality prevents these ways(33). Once again, female homosexuality seems to be every bit as unnatural as the male variety, yet we do not react to it in the same way.

Often, those who advocate these two approaches resort to the "hashchatat zera" (destruction of seed) argument(34). Since male homosexuality involves hashchatat zera and female homosexuality does not, the prohibition as violated by the man is more stringent.

There are two problems with the treatment of the male participant. Hashchatat xera in other contexts does not entail the death penalty(35).

However, males involved in homosexual activity (as opposed to females) are subject to capital punishment. Hashchatat zera, therefore, does not appear to be a significant enough factor to explain this severe reaction of the part of Torah law.

Second, the biblical prohibition concerns the homosexual act and not hashchatat zera. In Jewish law, homosexual activity, if consummated, is a capital crime even if there is not hotzaat zera, yet male physical contact, even if it results in hotzaata zera, is not punishable in this way unless actual sexual consummation occurs(36). For these reasons, the approaches cited seem unable to serve as complete explanations for the Torah view of this issue.

However, one variation of the "unnatural"theme seems to fare better in dealing with our question. This position takes its definition of natural, not from physiology and nature as studied in the laboratory, but from nature as defined in the Torah. The Torah says:

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife and they shall be as one flesh(37)".

The Torah has, in the verse, defined "natural" as man and women united in heterosexual union. Any person engaged in homosexual activity acts against G-d's natural order of things, and is therefore culpable. However, women involved in homosexuality are less in violation of the "natural" then men as it says: "He shall cleave…..and they shall be as one flesh", can be accomplished by males in homosexual union but not by females. This explanation seems to deal neatly with the various facets of the problem(38).

One other approach to the question of why Judaism has such antipathy to homosexuality deserves mention(39). This approach expands on the argument "And he shall cleave and they shall be as one flesh...", reintroduces the centality of the family in Judaism to the discussion of homosexuality, and treats the halachic differences between male and female homosexuality in a rather interesting way. This explanation argues that homosexuality, when it did occur at all in the Jewish community, usually occurred in a bisexual context and not as an exclusively homosexual orientation on the part of the individual. Individuals raised in the Jewish community usually possessed a strong sense of family as part of their tradition and heritage. This, coupled with the desire to find personal continuity into the next generation and with communal pressure to marry, would naturally lead almost everyone to establish a marriage relationship. Unfortunately, some individuals might seek additional companionship elsewhere. This outside companionship could possibly be homosexual in nature. Such an outside relationship might then be devastating to the special intimacy between husband and wife and to the family, the fundamental building block and most important religious institution in Jewish society

Many rabbinic discussions allude to homosexuality in a strongly negative tone(40). The Talmud(41) discusses the meaning of the term "toeivah" as used the context of homosexuality. Says Bar Kapparah, "toeivah" means "to'eh ata ba", "your have strayed from her." This phrase is explained by Tosafot as meaning:

"That they leave their wives to follow homosexuality."

This statement seems to embody the essence of the proposed explanation.

Whether because of different emotional needs on the part of women, their status in society, or because of the physiological impossibility of "He shall cleave ...and they shall be as one flesh", on the part of women, male homosexuality is considered a far more serious danger in this context and is, therefore, treated with greater severity.

Our discussion to this point leads to the following conclusions:

Homosexuality is an activity, not a state of being. Put another way, "homosexual" is an adjective, not a noun.
Homosexual activity is wrong.
Homosexuality may be a foreign incursion into Judaism.
The perpetrator of homosexual activity is held responsible for the activity.
We expect individuals involved in such activity to make every attempt to stop the activity and to alter their sexual orientation.
No greater halachic stigma attaches to the practitioner of homosexuality than the Sabbath violator or the violator of many other divine commandments.
In light of these conclusions the traditional Jewish community should agree on the following goals:
The primary goal should be to create an environment that is most conducive to motivating the practitioner of homosexuality to want to change his orientation.
In the absence of this motivation or during a period when initial attempts to change are unsuccessful, our task is to keep this individual within the Torah community. We must create a situation which offers a positive alternative to the "gay synagogue" and to the even worse choice of complete abandonment and assimilation.
It would seem that these goals can best be realized by implementing the following agenda:

All unnecessary negative stigma must be removed from the individual involved in homosexual activity. Such an individual must be encouraged to see himself as someone with a problem that he is responsible to overcome, and not as a person who has been defined by his sexual orientation.

At the same time that the individual is told of his responsibility to change, he must also be told, with great compassion, that we recognize the difficulty of his task and that we are willing to help in any way possible.

This is similar, in general terms, to the way in which we treat others such as the alcoholic.

Specific programs of outreach to those participating in homosexual activities should be implemented so that those best able to respond to the questions of these individuals will have a chance to work with them. Contemporary Jewish organizations do Kiruv (outreach) work with individuals who violate many commandments. We must do the same with those whose failures are sexual areas. This is particularly true because of the all-pervasive nature of sexual desire and because of the constant encounter with sexual imagery that pervades our society.

Mental health professionals must be encouraged to develop new and better therapeutic techniques to alter sexual orientation. Methods that are even partly successful must be highlighted and publicized to offer hope to those who would want to change.

The issue of homosexuality is an extremely sensitive, difficult, and emotional one. It is a topic that creates a sense of discomfort and even revulsion not only in those who may have been personally involved in such activity, but also in many who have never had any personal contact with it at all. Stereotyping and personal doubts about one's sexuality tend to maintain and reinforce these reactions and the AIDS scare has given them new impetus. Our response as Torah-true Jews must be to reject these prejudical and counter-productive reactions. On the other hand, we cannot equivocate in our opposition to homosexual activity. This is particularly true in light of the media's continuing portrayal of homosexuals as positive role models and the increasing acceptance of the homosexual as a minority group with "legitimate" civil rights.

The program described above entails walking a difficult tightrope between condemnation of an act and acceptance of the perpetrator as a Jew worth saving. We cannot close our eyes and pretend that a problem of this magnitude will go away. It is our task to present a legitimate Jewish response, balancing our opposition to homosexual activity with our concern for the human beings involved.


____________________________________________________________

Foot notes:


1. Levitacus 18:22 and 20:13

2. On WNBC TV's "Donahue" show during a discussion of the controversial Harvey Milk High School for homosexual students, June 12, 1985

3. See below for sources.

4. Spero, M.H., in (a) "Homosexuality: Clinical and Ethical Challenges", Judaism and Psychology Halalchic Perspectives, Yeshiva University, New York,1980 and (b) "Further Examinations of the Halalchic Status of Homosexuality". Proceedings of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists, vol. 7, 1983, disagrees with this position and claims that a homosexual personality, as defined by desires, orientation and lifestyle does exist, and that this state is intrinsically prohibited. In addition to the philosophical problems discussed in the article that arise from this position, there is an even more serious problem, with his approach. The sources that Spero uses to support his position, Torah Temimah to Genesis 2;24, San Hedrin 58a, "T.J. 'Kiddushin" 1;1, all deal with Gentiles. Although anything forbidden to Gentiles is forbidden to Jews, the prohibition against existing in a homosexual state cannot apply to Jews if the state does not exist for Jews. At best Spero has supported the idea of a homosexual subgroup in Gentile society. See below for discussion.

5. The Mishnayot in the third chapter of at Tractate Horiyot and the Mishnayot in the eighth chapter of Yevamot. The categories of individuals mentioned here are Cohen-priest, Levi, mamzer-product of an adulterous or incestuous marriage, Cohen Gadol-high priest, katan-child, gadol-adult, cheresh-deaf-mute, shoteh-mental incompetent. This list is by no means complete.

6. Roveia (c.f. Sanhedren 9b) refers to only one aspect of the homosexual act and is also used for other sexual acts, e.g. bestiality (Levitacus 18:23 and Mishna Sanhedrin, 1;4), and intercourse between animals (Levitacus 19;19 and T.j. Avodah Zorah 40a) A. Even-Shoshan, HaMilon Hehadash, s.v. Ravah, sees this first meaning as the primary and original meaning of the term. Interestingly R. Ishmael (Sanhedren 54b) requires a different verse ( Deut. 23;18) to warn the "female" participants in the homosexual act than the verse (Levitacus 18;22) which warns the "male" participant. As a result if an individual plays both roles at one time he is punishable for two sins. R. Akiva disagrees and allows an alternate reading of the verse in Levitacus to serve as warning for the "female" participant, and consequently holds that an individual who plays both roles at once is punishable only once. It seems that R. Ishmael, certainly, and R.Akiva, probably, saw the two types of activity as being different. This strikes another blow against "Roveia" being a term for a homosexual and another blow against one who would want to suggest that the rabbis did recognize a homosexual personality. If there are two types of actions involved and two different verses or readings needed to cover them, there can not be a homosexual in Jewish law. If there were such an individual one verse should be sufficient. Other possible terms such as Shochev Im Zecharim or Shochev Mishkivei Isha are awkward and do not appear in colloquial usage. The modern transliteration of homosexual into Hebrew only proves the point that no term exists.

7. See Avodah Zorah 26b, Hulin 5a, Horiyot 11a, Rambam Yad, Hilchot Teshuva 3:9 and Kesef Mishnah ad. Loc, Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 2, and Choshen Mishpat, 266:2. Some might argue that homosexuals who are exclusively homosexual are actually Mumarim L'hachis (following Rashi A.Z., ad. loc., sv. L'Teiavon). Although some militant homosexuals may come close to this definition, the emotional conflicts and extenuating circumstances involved make it difficult to describe most, if any, homosexuals as having actively chosen to reject permissible sexual relations for forbidden ones in the same way that Rasi describes the Mumar L'hachis' behavior regarding non-kosher meat. Even if one could define some or all homosexually oriented individuals as Mumarim L'hachis the comment of the Chazon Ish quoted in the next footnote would allow us to treat such an individual in the same way that we would treat a Mumar L'Teiavon i.e. like any other Jew (see kesef Mishneh loc. cit.).

8. It is well known that if one violates the Sabbath in public there is a serious stigma attached (see Hulin 3a-6b and Eruvin 69a.). However, the equating of the Sabbath desecrator and the Idolator is rarely applied in anymore then a pedagogic sense in contemporary halachic literature ( aee R. Moshe Feinstein, Iggerot Moshe, Orach Chaim, 1, No. 23 and especially 1, No. 33). In addition to R. Feinstein's lenient stance on Mechallelel Shabbat, The Chazon Ish Yoreh Deah 2;16, says that the stringent treatment of transgressors described in the Talmud does not apply today, as such treatment will cause greater abandonment of Judaism. Since our task is to improve the situation and not to make it worse, the only approach to take with sinners is "to bring them back with ropes of love." This statement form the Chazon Ish could serve as the central message of this article.

9. Rambam, Sefer Hamitzvot Positive Commandment, No. 73.

10. "There is no guardian against unchastity" (Ketubot 13b and Hulin 11b), or the even more dramatic, "even the most pious of the piuos is not appointed guardian over unchastity" (T) Ketubot 1;8). See also Rambam, Issurei Biah, 2:19, that inappropriate sexual behavior will occur from time to time, in all communities because of man's extreme desire for sexual matters.

11. Levitacus 18:22 and 20:13

12. Deut.14:3.

13. Deut.7:25-26 and 27:15

14. Deut. 25:16. Parenthetically, it would be interesting to see the stigma presently attached to homosexuality placed on anyone guilty of unethical business practices-at least for a brief time.

15. Deut 24;4.

16. Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality, "Encycopaedia Judaica Year book 1974, Keter, Jerusalem, 1974, p. 198.

17. The concept of Teshuva makes no sense without this premise.

18. Ibid pg. 202. See also Matt, H.J., "Sin, Crime, Sickness or Alternative Lifestyle? A Jewish Approach to Homosexuality", Judaism, vol. 27 No. 1 Winter 1978, and Bleich, J.D., Judaism and Healing, Halalchic Perspectives, Ktav , New York, 1981. Bleich comes closest to the view presented in this article on the homosexual as anuss (forced). However, "mummar" (sinner) as opposed to "anuss" is the term to be used in the discussion of homosexuality. Introducing "oness" (compulsion) in a discussion of homosexuality is as appropriate as introducing it to a discussion of murder. There are murderers who are anussim (psychopathological murderers), but a discussion of these individuals is not a discussion of murder or the Jewish attitude to that crime. Yet we continue to speak of anussim (psychopathological homosexuals), who may make up only a small portion of those involved in that activity, in regard to Judaism's general view on the subject.

19. Bava Kama 28b, Avodah Zarah 54a. Nedarim 27a. Spero, op. cit, (b) also reject the anuss position on these and other grounds.

20. Levitacus 20:13

21. e.g. Sanhedrin 9b and 54a

22. Rambam, Yad, Hilchot Issurei Biah 1;14

23. Ibid pp.203-204

24. "ain hakodosh boruch hu bo bitranina aim bitraninav" Avodah Zorah 3a

25. Schwartz, M.F. And Masters, W.H., "The Masters and Johnson Treatment Program for Dissatisfied Homosexual Men". American Journal of Psychiatry 141:2, February,1984, pp. 173-181. This study shows a remarkable success rate. After 1 year the success rate was 79.1% and after 5 years it was 71%.

26. "...except that the (frequency of the) homosexual among Orthodox Jewish groups appears to be phenomenally low", Kinsey, A.C., Pomeroy, W.B., Mari, C.E., Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, W.B., Saunders, Phila., 1948, p. 4. See also Rosenhelm, E. "Sexual Attitudes and Regulations in Jusaism". Money, J. and Musaph, H., ed., Handbook of Sexology, Excerpta Medica Amsterdam, 1977, p.1321-22

27. See Spero, op.cit., (a), p. 157.

28. To Levitacus 18;2.

29. Encyclopaedia Judaica s.v. Homosexuality; Lamm, op.cit.,197;Epstein J.M. Sex Laws and Customs in Judaism, Ktav, New York, 1948, pp. 64-65, 135. See Sefer HaChinuch No. 209 who describes a homosexual prostitute and then says that such an individual is known to us from the Arabs (Eretz Ha'Yishmaelim). The Chinuch is quoting from Ramban To Deut. 28;18 with one change. Rambam doesn't mention the Arabs, but he does say the institution was known from the Egyptians. Both these scholars were obviously unfamiliar with homosexual prostitution-and therefore with institutionalized or extensive homosexuality within the Jewish community. Further comp are Rambam, Yad, Hilchot Issurei Biah 22;2 with 22;5 and (the Gentiles)

30. Sanhedrin 58a Rambam Yad , Hilchot Melachim 9;5.

31. Yevamot 76a, Shabbat 65a. Female homosexuality is punished by "Halot Mardut" which is a rabbinic and not a biblical punishment, Yad, Issurei Biah21;8, On the other hand male homosexuality is a capital crime as has been indicated. For a more complete discussion of female homosexuality see Spero, op. cit., (b).

32. Sefer HaChinuch No. 209.

33. Torah Temimah to Levitacus 18;22, No.70.

34. Sefer HaChinuch, loc. cit.

35. Niddah 13a, Rambam, Yad, Hilchot Issurei Biah 21;18, Shulchan Aruch, E.H. 23;1-2. There is no question of the seriousness of this sin, but is not a capital crime to be tried in a human court of law as is homosexuality. See also Feldman, D.M., Birth Control and Jewish law, New York University, 1968, chs. 6 and 8, and the debate between him and M. Tendler in Tradition, Vol. 9, No.'s 1-2 and 4. Even if we accept the view that Er and Onan (Genesis 38) died for the sin of haschatat zera, their punishment came at G-d's hands and not in a court of law.

36. Sanhedrin 55a, Rambam, Yad, Hilchot Issurei Biah 1:10, and 1:14, Suclchan Aruch, Even Ha'Ezer, 20;2.

37. Genesis. 2:24.

38. This approach is suggested by the Beraita, Sanhedrin 58a, which derives prohibitions for various immoral sexual activities for Gentiles from this verse

39. This approach was suggested to me by Mr. Mat Hoffman, national director of "The Flame"; Jewish College Student's Organization. It is also suggested, in brief terms, by Dr. Lamm, op.cit., pp.197-198.

40. Genesis Rab., 26;59 (commenting on Genesis 6;2)

41. Nedarim 51a

Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality
-----------------------------------------

Societal Developments On Homosexuality

There has been a monumental shift in the secular world’s attitude towards homosexuality
over the past few decades. In particular over the past fifteen years there has been a major
public campaign to gain acceptance for homosexuality. Legalizing same-sex marriage
has become the end goal of the campaign to equate homosexuality with heterosexuality.
A propaganda blitz has been sweeping the world using political tactics to persuade the
public about the legitimacy of homosexuality. The media is rife with negative labels
implying that one is “hateful” or “homophobic” if they do not accept the homosexual
lifestyle as legitimate. This political coercion has silenced many into acquiescence.
Unfortunately this attitude has seeped into the Torah community and many have become
confused or have accepted the media’s portrayal of this issue.

The Torah’s Unequivocal And Eternal Message

The Torah makes a clear statement that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle or a
genuine identity by severely prohibiting its conduct. Furthermore, the Torah, ever
prescient about negative secular influences, warns us in Vayikra
(Leviticus) 20:23 “Do
not follow the traditions of the nations that I expel from before you...” Particularly the
Torah writes this in regards to homosexuality and other forbidden sexual liaisons.

Same-Sex Attractions Can Be Modified And Healed

From a Torah perspective, the question whether homosexual inclinations and behaviors
are changeable is extremely relevant. The concept that G-d created a human being who is
unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition
is neither plausible nor acceptable. G-d is loving and merciful. Struggles, and yes,
difficult struggles, along with healing and personal growth are part and parcel of this
world. Impossible, life long, Torah prohibited situations with no achievable solutions are
not.
We emphatically reject the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome
his or her inclination and desire. Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid
something which is impossible to avoid. Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness and
despair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is
heartlessly cruel. Such an attitude also violates the biblical prohibition in Vayikra
(Leviticus) 19:14 “and you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind.”

The Process Of Healing

The only viable course of action that is consistent with the Torah is therapy and
teshuvah. The therapy consists of reinforcing the natural gender-identity of the individual
by helping him or her understand and repair the emotional wounds that led to its
disorientation and weakening, thus enabling the resumption and completion of the
individual’s emotional development.
Teshuvah is a Torah-mandated, self-motivated process of turning away from any transgression or sin and returning to G-d and one’s spiritual essence. This includes refining and reintegrating the personality and allowing it to grow in a healthy and wholesome manner.
These processes are typically facilitated and coordinated with the help of a specially
trained counselor or therapist working in conjunction with a qualified spiritual teacher or
guide. There is no other practical, Torah-sanctioned solution for this issue.

The Mitzvah Of Love And Compassion

It requires tremendous bravery and fortitude for a person to confront and deal with same-
sex attraction. For example a sixteen-year-old who is struggling with this issue may be
confused and afraid and not know whom to speak to or what steps to take. We must
create an atmosphere where this teenager (or anyone) can speak freely to a parent, rabbi,
or mentor and be treated with love and compassion. Authority figures can then guide
same-sex strugglers towards a path of healing and overcoming their inclinations.
The key point to remember is that these individuals are primarily innocent victims of
childhood emotional wounds. They deserve our full love, support and encouragement in
their striving towards healing. Struggling individuals who seek health and wellness
should not be confused with the homosexual movement and their agenda. This distinction
is crucial. It reflects the difference between what G-d asks from all of us and what He
unambiguously prohibits.

We need to do everything in our power to lovingly uplift struggling individuals towards a
full and healthy life that is filled with love, joy and the wisdom of the Torah.
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The Bible Says Homosexuality is an Abomination, Right?

Well, yes and no. Yes, it says something like that, but no, this is not exactly what we understand by it.

In his book “Light In the Closet. Torah, Homosexuality And the Power to Change” (which I highly recommend by the way. It has been published by Red Heifer Press), Arthur Goldberg goes deeper into the meaning of “to’eivah”, the Hebrew word for “abomination”:

Some editions of the Pentateuch now even use the word “abhorrence” instead of “abomination”.So what about it?

“Abhorrence”might be more like it, as it is less judgmental. Webster’s Deluxe Unabridged Dictionary (2nd ed.) defines “abhorrent” as “contrary to,” or “repugnant to” someone or “inconsistent with” something. Regarding “abomination”, Webster’s defines this term as something “very hateful, detestable, loathsome, odious to the mind, offensive to the senses.” What Is the difference between the two? “Abomination”describes human feelings rather than God’s.

Abomination or abhorrence – there is always a way out: “teshuva” – the return of the penitent who completely expiates his or her sin.

In the Talmud (Nedarim 51a) you find an interesting comment, made in the tradition of authentic Torah interpretation by one of the Sages of the Talmud – Bar Kappara.

Bar Kappara says that the word “to’eivah” derives from the words “to’ei attah bah” (“you are straying through it”. In other words: Those who engage in homosexual behavior are “straying” or have been “led astray” – a view in line with a holistic Torah perspective. In that sense homosexual acts are a deviation from the right path. This view includes that the right path can be regained – a view in accordance with the great medieval commentators.

(For more information, go and get Arthur’s book).

Robert
Useful links:

NARTH

www.narth.com


People Can Change

www.PeopleCanChange.com


International Healing Foundation

www.comingoutloved.com


Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality (PATH)

www.PathInfo.org


Dr. Neil Whitehead

www.mygenes.co.nz


Dr. Julie Harren - Hamilton

16 MINUTE VIDEO: ROOTS AND CAUSES OF HOMOSEXUALITY

www.homosexuality101.com


Dr. Joseph Nicolosi

www.josephnicolosi.com


International Institute of Reorientation Therapies

www.iirth.biz


Voices of Change

www.Voices-of-change.org


Guard Your Eyes- Maintaining Moral Purity in Today's World

www.guardyoureyes.com

Jews breaking free from pornography internet addiction, sexual obsessions and masturbation.

Remember:

The only reason why people don't find freedom from same-sex attractions is because they don't believe it can be done!

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HA: New Homepage!

Homosexuals Anonymous has a new homepage:

http://www.homosexuals-anonymous.com/

How I Told My Fiancée about my SSA

 

Written by Michael

 

(Posted October 2014)

 

I just had the most amazing experience of my life. It was worth telling my fiancée about my SSA just for the experience itself. 

 

The girl who I am dating (her name is xxxx) is a truly amazing woman! I took her to Central Park and we went to the Lobe Boathouse.  We went rafting for an hour and it was so beautiful. Great place for a date. (highly recommended). Then I took out the towels and kosher food I brought with us. I made a beautiful picnic and we ate lunch there. Then, I went for the "dive." 

 

I started by telling her how beautiful I thought she was and about all the amazing things I have seen in her since I met her. I told her that I trust her completely and that I am only sharing this information because I love her so much. I felt it important and wanted her to see the *REAL* me, and thus understand the true source for my growth. 

 

I started by telling her a summary of all that I had shared with her already. Then I went on to tell her about the sexual abuse that I went through at ages 7-10.  As I was explaining this, she started to tear, and I asked her what the tears were about. She responded "that must have been so hard for you".  We spoke about the abuse for 20 minutes and I reassured her that I am no longer bothered by it because I have done my work around that. She responded with awe.

 

 Finally, I told her what all my issues resulted in. I said that I had developed attraction to other males and that at one point I was totally lost in how to deal with these feelings. I went to my rabbi, and he referred me to a JONAH referral therapist. I have been working on my "issues" for the past 2 and half years. I told her about all my struggles and she listened intently. After I had finished, she responded with the following " it must have been so hard for you to tell me that.  Thank you so much for being honest and opening up to me. The fact the you are being so open with me and trusting me with your struggles makes me more attracted to you than I have ever been before. I am so impressed that you can be so emotionally open with me".  She then went on to ask me questions about my therapy. She asked me to repeat the main core issues underlying SSA and to explain how it applied to my life. She had already met my family twice and gotten to know their personalities a bit.  After I had told her everything, she told me "now it all makes sense". 

 

She totally "got me" guys. I was totally amazed at her sincerity and understanding. She kept emphasizing how happy she was that I was honest with her, and that it would have been a big slap in her face if she found out after marriage some other way. She now knows my struggles and is willing to stand by my side. 

 

I also spoke to her about my social work degree and the field of interest I am planning on working in (SSA and Sexual abuse). She responded "of course! this is something you went through, and it would be a shame if you didn't utilize your unique gifts, understanding, and knowledge to help  those who are struggling". My fiancée and I have a meeting with Enrique, my therapist from JONAH next week. she is excited to meet the man who i have learned so much from about myself for the past year. (And of course to meet my mentor Arthur at the same time).

 

Basically, to follow up,I told her to take her time on things, And I encouraged her to meet my Rabbi as well. She told me that she has no concerns and because she trusts me fully, she does not need to speak with anyone else. She told me that her trust in me before I told her was 100%,but now it's 150%. She saw my "GOLD" guys! Its amazing what authenticity feels like!

 

I can finally be *ME.*  I don't have to live with a double-bind. I feel alive. I am only 24 years old; yet, I feel like I have come to place of well being such as a healthy 80 year old man feels. Thank you to all of you who took the time to pray for me. I'm sure everyone created a stir up in Heaven for me. You guys rock!

 

Postscript:  Before their marriage, Michael and his bride to be went to Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky for a blessing where they fully disclosed the issues with which he was dealing. Rabbi Kamenetsky was delighted to provide such a blessing for a happy and healthy marriage. 

 

This email was written to others in JONAH during 2011. The writer is now happily married, has a healthy child, and is helping others heal as a licensed mental health professional.


 [ This article can be found in the Library of www.jonahweb.org and in the Stories section of www.voices-of-change.org ]


Why SSA Became a Blessing in Disguise
Written By: "S"
(Posted Dec. 2014 )
For me, SSA (same-sex attraction) is a blessing in one hell of a disguise. Every single day between the ages of 13 and 23, I would think and despair endlessly about the impossible struggle I was in, being attracted to other men. Ten years alone, keeping this heavy, shameful secret from every single person in my life. It hurt a lot, for a very long time, in a very deep place.
In October 2013, I attended the Journey into Manhood (JiM) workshop in Israel and had the most wonderfully powerful experience of my life. I haven’t been the same since. While SSA was definitely the primary motive behind my decision to attend the workshop and begin therapy, I have realized that the underlying issues, as well as the significant changes I have created in my life since the workshop, span a spectrum far broader than sexuality alone.
Over the past year since the workshop, I have worked hard at gaining awareness and authenticity within myself, and pursued activities and relationships that provide a platform for personal empowerment. I am proud to say that my achievements in these areas have brought about significant growth in my life:
* I no longer live with the burden of harboring a secret. I am who I am, where I am, and I’m OK with that, which is an incredible feeling.
* I have learned to process the attraction I feel toward other men, identify my underlying desires and needs, and meet them in ways that are not sexual, thus diminishing the sexual aspect of the attraction.
* I have processed and shattered negative beliefs about myself, such as the belief that I am “less than” certain other men.
* I found the courage to share my SSA with my parents following the JiM workshop, which has enabled me to have a more open, deep and healthy relationship with them.
* After literally a decade of dealing with a harmful pornography addiction, I have been 100% “clean” since the JiM workshop a year ago (and my smartphone doesn’t have a filter).
* I have bonded authentically with other guys, and today I own the feeling of being a good man among men.
* Perhaps most excitingly for me, this past winter I fell head over heels, emotionally and physically, for a fantastic girl. I told her about my feelings for her, and later, about my SSA. I proved to myself that what I had perceived to be impossible is, in fact, possible.
This is not to say that my journey is easy or devoid of setbacks and pitfalls. Far from it. Like all people, I go through horrible days and hard times, when the prospect looks bleak and the journey impossible. Fortunately, these times are few and far between, and I have solid friends, brothers and mentors who help me pull through (as I do for them).
I am not on this journey because of religious, political or social beliefs alone. I would readily swear on a stack of bibles that this therapy has huge, undeniably beneficial effects on many different areas across my life, with the reduction of my attraction to other men and the increase of my attraction to women being very significant among them.​​

Is Change Possible?

To make it very clear: Yes, the Jason ministry definitely believes that change is possible. We believe in God and His power to change our hearts and minds.

Matthew 19:26 King James Version (KJV):

"26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."

"Whoever says that a person with SSA cannot change does not know my God."

Pastor Paul

Oceania and Africa

Thanks to the outstanding service and commitment of Pastor Paul, we were able to expand our ministry in Oceania, Africa and Asia. For more information please click here.

Was ist das eigentlich, "Homosexualitaet"?

Kurz gesagt, die Tatsache, dass sich jemand überwiegend und über einen längeren Zeitraum hinweg in sexueller und/oder emotionaler Hinsicht zum eigenen Geschlecht hingezogen fühlt. Wir bevorzugen aber den Begriff "gleichgeschlechtliche Neigungen". Zum einen ist der Begriff "Homosexualität" (als eigenständige Form der Sexualität) noch gar nicht so alt. In klinischer Hinsicht konzentriert er sich vor allem auf die sexuelle Anziehung, was jedoch zu kurz gegriffen ist, da man hier die emotionale Zuneigung außer Acht lässt. Zum anderen sind wir als Christen der Überzeugung, dass es nur eine Gott-gegebene Form der Sexualität gibt - und das ist die Heterosexualität. Ja, es gibt Menschen, die - aus welchen Gründen auch immer (und seien sie "genetisch") - gleichgeschlechtlich empfinden, wir sehen dies aber nicht als eine eigenständige Identität, sondern als Teil der Heterosexualität an. Dies bedeutet keine Abwertung von Menschen mit gleichgeschlechtlichen Neigungen oder eine Minder-Bewertung unseres Empfindens - ganz im Gegenteil. Wir sehen uns als Teil von etwas, das größer ist als wir (Gottes heterosexuelle Schöpfung) und sind weder besser noch schlechter als andere Menschen noch sehen wir uns als etwas Besonderes an und blicken auch nicht auf die herab, die ihre gleichgeschlechtlichen Neigungen ausleben. Auch konzentriert sich unser Leben nicht auf unser sexuelles und/oder emotionales Empfinden, sondern auf den, dem wir nachfolgen und der uns eine teuer erkaufte Freiheit geschenkt hat, damit auch wir frei sein können: Jesus Christus.

Homosexuals Anonymous

Jason is affiliated to Homosexuals Anonymous:

www.homosexuals-anonymous.com

 

Dr. med. R. Febres Landauro

http://dr-richi.com/german/index.php/de/

Kontaktdaten

Ich freue mich auf Ihren Anruf oder Ihre E-mail. Sie brauchen keine Überweisung.

In Österreich erreichen Sie meine Ordination unter +43 662 84 53 25.

In Deutschland erreichen Sie die Praxis unter +49 8651 979 38 29.

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Douglas McIntyre, Co-Founder of HA

What is Homosexuality?

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Sie dürfen sich jederzeit - auf Wunsch auch anonym - an uns wenden. Sämtliche Anfragen werden vertraulich behandelt.

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Kontakt-Email: [email protected]

Wir freuen uns auf Sie!


The 14 Steps

1. We admitted that we were powerless over our homosexuality and that our emotional lives were unmanageable.

2. We came to believe the love of God, who forgave us and accepted us in spite of all that we are and have done.

3. We learned to see purpose in our suffering, that our failed lives were under God's control, who is able to bring good out of trouble.

4. We came to believe that God had already broken the power of homosexuality and that He could therefore restore our true personhood.

5. We came to perceive that we had accepted a lie about ourselves, an illusion that had trapped us in a false identity.

6. We learned to claim our true reality that as humankind, we are part of God's heterosexual creation and that God calls us to rediscover that identity in Him through Jesus Christ, as our faith perceives Him.

7. We resolved to entrust our lives to our loving God and to live by faith, praising Him for our new unseen identity, confident that it would become visible to us in God's good time.

8. As forgiven people free from condemnation, we made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, determined to root out fear, hidden hostility, and contempt for the world.

9. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs and humbly asked God to remove our defects of character.

10. We willingly made direct amends wherever wise and possible to all people we had harmed.

11. We determined to live no longer in fear of the world, believing that God's victorious control turns all that is against us into our favor, bringing advantage out of sorrow and order from disaster.

12. We determined to mature in our relationships with men and women, learning the meaning of a partnership of equals, seeking neither dominance over people nor servile dependency on them.

13. We sought through confident praying, and the wisdom of Scripture for an ongoing growth in our relationship with God and a humble acceptance of His guidance for our lives.

14. Having had a spiritual awakening, we tried to carry this message to homosexual people with a love that demands nothing and to practice these steps in all our lives' activities, as far as lies within us.

While the Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship was inspired by the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, they are not really an adaptation. Rather, they were created specifically for this Fellowship, and should not be construed otherwise. AA, which is a program concerned only with recovery from alcoholism, and is not in any way affiliated with this Fellowship.

Homosexuals Anonymous

Why Neither Homosexuality nor Heterosexuality Exist in Judaism

Rabbi Joel Beasley teaches Bible, Talmud, and Philosophy, and develops creative learning programs in a variety of educational institutions near his home in Alon Shvut, Israel. This article first appeared in the Jewish Spectator, Winter 1998.

"God does not play tricks on His creations". - Talmud, Avoda Zara 3a
"I'm not a bad girl; I'm just drawn that way." - Jessica Rabbit, Who Shot Roger Rabbit? (1988).

Canadian columnist Barbara Amiel recently identified a product of Western culture she called the "azza," a person who prefaces comments with the words, "as a." "Azza left-handed pro-life Scottish-nationalist Elvis-imitator," for example, "I might find your remarks offensive." The azza preface grants critical immunity. Honest intellectual discussion is hard to come by with this ultra-sensitive, utilitarian character.

Amiel's words resonate in an era in which Jewish tradition is derided as bigoted and homophobic. Is there any relevance in this environment for the Torah view that the homosexual act is an "abomination" (Leviticus 18:22)? How can Judaism with its unambiguous position speak to this generation? As far as the Jewish religion goes, there are no homosexuals in the world, nor have there ever been. There are no heterosexuals either. Both terms are pejorative. They imply that the essence of existence lies somehow within the crass and the carnal. Human beings are reduced to their most primal function, as if the point of life was to contemplate the smorgasbord of sexual possibilities in the world.

From the Jewish perspective, identifying existentially as a homosexual or a heterosexual is as irrelevant as identifying as a ptyalizer (a person whose saliva flows excessively).The words may describe predilections or behavior, but they hardly capture the essence of the person. The Torah labels people not by their primal urges, but by their obligations to God. The Cohen, Levi, and Yisrael each play a different role within the apparatus of Divine worship. The adult keeps mitzvot, while the youth is exempt. The indentured servant, the non-Jewish citizen, and the free person all enjoy different monetary obligations. In dividing these responsibilities, God apparently did not care about human preferences, sexual or otherwise. He did not ask the Jewish people whether or not they would like to follow His Torah. According to the Midrash, He held the mountain over the entire nation and said, "take it." No azza interest group declined because of special needs. It was an offer no one could refuse.

In the pre-azza world, Jews tended to appreciate their Creator more, not only for bringing them out of bondage, but for enabling them to breathe. The Torah gave them the opportunity to express their gratitude. Before JFK, God told His people not to ask what He can do for them, but what they can do for Him. If any one label applies accurately to the Jew, it is Eved Hashem, servant of God. This may represent the main point of conflict between the ideology of the azza world and the Torah. The azza is concerned with rights. The Torah rarely discusses rights. It is more focused on responsibilities. Within its structured framework, people can maximize their own distinct talents and interests. Their ultimate task is to become partners with God in the world's creation -- literally by creating their unique selves in His image.

As part of this act of self-creation, people must see their personal qualities as constantly evolving. Branding themselves with labels stymies their potential for growth and destroys their partnership with God. Labels rarely describe people as they are. They more frequently become self-fulfilling prophecies. A child who is labeled "slow" from an early age feels defeated. Trying to rise above the low expectations seems futile.

Teshuvah, the assumption that any human quality can be changed if necessary to serve the Creator, allows individuals to maximize their potential beyond their wildest expectations. A child once assumed to have been slow can develop into a top scholar with the appropriate determination. Every destructive impulse can be directed towards appropriate holy activity.

The current consensus amongst Behavioral Psychologists supports the Torah's optimism with regards to change. With the right positive and negative reinforcement, people can adjust to any number of previously unimaginable realities. Behavioral conditioning usually works more efficiently at earlier ages, but all people can adjust to new situations if they are motivated.

According to sexual behaviorists like Masters and Johnson, babies are born neither heterosexual nor homosexual in any categorical sense (Human Sexuality, 1995, fifth edition). They are sexually malleable, and can remain in flux throughout their lifetimes. Whether sexuality is determined by biology or by the environment -- or both -- is a question that defies clear empirical proof. Regardless of the nature-nurture conundrum, sexual attraction is almost always influenced to some degree by external stimuli. Human preferences are complex and quirky. If chocolate ice cream tastes sensational today, it may taste less so tomorrow. People are inclined naturally towards aesthetic variation. That does not mean they should be free to act on their impulses. The Torah understands that unrestrained pursuit of personal pleasure takes a terrible toll on society, and creates havoc for the stability of the family.

What if people feel genuinely attracted to their own gender? This does not make them homosexual, even if they experience homosexual feelings. These feelings may or may not go away in time, but the Torah still expects that people adapt themselves as best they can to male-female marriage. There have always been people in the world who at least at one point in their lives are attracted to their own gender, to little children, to family members, to ever-changing sexual whims. God does not permit people to act out their fantasy lives if these conflict with His vision of holiness.

The Torah does not accept the concept of monogamous homosexual relationships because self-fulfillment is not part of its agenda. If human sexuality is influenced by environment, someone with homosexual ideation can potentially lead a fulfilled marital life. But even if their innermost desires remained unfulfilled, it does not matter. It may never become clear why some people do not feel predisposed to marrying someone of the opposite sex. The obligation remains.

Marriage is meant to teach people how to rise above their own selfish needs in order to give to a partner who is both psychologically and physiologically different. Same-gender marriages might have been too easy. As one essayist put it, male couples would have been able to sit around and watch ballgames all day; female couples would have been able to sit down and really talk about one another's feelings. But marriage is meant to challenge each of the partners. John Grey's bestsellers on the subject (Menare from Mars, Women are from Venus, et al.) have touched a raw nerve precisely because members of both sexes are aware of the difficulty in bridging the chasm between them.

Jews have always appreciated the gap between the sexes. The Torah sanctified it. The Jews were the first people in world history to make divorce difficult by forcing the man to pay a hefty sum before separating permanently from his wife. When the inevitable conflicts arose, neither spouse could run away so quickly. They had to stay together and work things out the hard way, often becoming finer individuals in the process. Divorce was a possibility, but only as a last resort after all other options had been explored. The constructive tension in marriage helped them grow.

Male-female marriage is a much more stable societal norm than monogamous same-sex relationships. Dennis Prager argues that men in particular need women as a civilizing force in order to tame their potentially unruly libidos ("Judaism, Homosexuality, and Civilization," Ultimate Issues ,April-June 1990). Societies that tolerated homosexual behavior in history were characterized almost without exception by the oppression and subjugation of women, by the elevation of male sexual gratification as a mainstream pastime, and by a lack of any persevering family life. Men by their nature are not as willing to commit to long-term relationships. Prager argues that "while it is possible for male homosexuals to live lives of fidelity comparable to those of heterosexual males, it is usually not the case." According to one study, the typical lesbian has fewer than ten lovers in the course of her active sexual life, the typical male homosexual has over five hundred (Bell and Weinberg, Homosexualities, Alfred Kinsey Institute for Sex Research, 1978).

God's idea of holiness is not always discernible to the human mind. These explanations may not fully account for the Torah's overall prohibition. They do refute the popular claim that the Torah would have sanctioned monogamous homosexual relationships if it had known about them. The prohibition was meant to be unambiguous and eternal. This is one reason the Torah is so spare with its words, "And do not lie with the male in the way you lie with a woman -- it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22). Try as they may, modern voices fail to twist these words beyond their unavoidably clear meaning.

God is not cruel. He does not ask people to do anything beyond their capacity. He does at times ask them to harness their desires. To some degree, all mitzvot go against the natural human grain. Without the social or ethical restraints that usually bind them, most people would steal, live promiscuously, lie, cheat, and occasionally murder, sometimes out of sheer convenience. The greatest struggle in life, according to the Torah, is to discipline base instincts in pursuit of moral excellence. People are bursting with inchoate spirituality. The truly righteous learn how to control their physical drives while striving to realize their loftiest convictions.

Many people diminish their potential by embracing labels. The self-proclaimed homosexual who engages in homosexual acts is not necessarily considered evil from a Torah perspective. The act is evil. The prohibition may be absolute, but Jews still have a priority of showing one another compassion, especially when doing the right thing becomes a struggle. There is no contradiction when those who condemn homosexual behavior reach out lovingly to self-identified "homosexuals." It means that they are able to see the Divine image in all people.

In a world that hypocritically accepts homosexuality in public and abhors it in private, the compassionate Jewish approach is unique. But for Judaism to be on the cutting edge is nothing new. The Midrash explains why our founder was called Avraham ha'ivri. While the rest of the world stood on one side(iver) of the river, Avraham bravely stood on the other. Jews are defined from the beginning of their history by their ability to stand firm in their beliefs despite the prevailing trends in the world. The Jewish views of monotheism, a limited monarchy, and freedom have rarely been endorsed by the historical powers of the world. Most of these powers themselves have died out, while the Jews and their Torah are as vibrant as ever. When homosexuality was exalted in Greek, Mayan, Chinese, Scandinavian cultures -- in fact almost every society in world history (see David E. Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality, 1988) -- the Jews stood resolutely by their ideal of male-female marriage.

People diminish themselves by insisting on azza-like labels. Strangely enough, in the modern world, identity often becomes enmeshed with career: "I am a secretary," "a lawyer," "a clerk," "an artist." These self-definitions are sadly accurate for those who accomplish little beyond their all-consuming careers. Others identify with their astrological signs, their lives assuming a kooky arbitrary dimension that seems beyond the individual's control. And some identify with their carnal preferences, as homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or otherwise sexually challenged. Sex indeed often dominates their lives. If their days and nights are not filled with pursuits of physical pleasure, their minute-to-minute fantasy life tends to be all-engrossing.

The Torah offers a finer alternative. Within God's scheme, career, cosmos, and sexuality are all part of life's intricate fabric. Judaism is not ascetic. The individual is supposed to appreciate the richness of God's physical creation. The key is to accept the Torah's parameters. Through discipline and a pursuit of holiness, the Torah teaches how to appreciate the spiritual gifts in the universe and thereby live the fullest kind of existence.

Arthur Goldberg

New Homepage: Voices of Change!

Click here for more info.

Homosexuals Anonymous

Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship Services

www.homosexuals-anonymous.com

USA

Homosexuals Anonymous is an international organization dedicated to serving the recovery needs of men and women who struggle with unwanted same sex attraction.

This fellowship of men and women, who through their common spiritual, intellectual and emotional experiences have chosen to help each other live in freedom from homosexuality.

Welcome to our website

If you are a person who struggles with unwanted same sex attraction, you are not alone Homosexuals Anonymous and many other related ministries, counselors and therapists provide valuable resources that can be of great use to you.

Remember always that while no one chooses to have same sex attraction, many do choose to diminish and eliminate those feelings of attraction. All people have the right to self determination, the right to choose for themselves the aspects that comprise their identity. Through HA, you will meet many people who see their identity as being rooted in their faith and not in their unwanted desires and behaviors.

If you are a parent, relative or friend of someone who struggles with unwanted same sex attraction, you can find helpful resources they will appreciate.

If you are a parent, friend or relative of someone who embraces and lives a gay lifestyle, you can find support, encouragement and hope in the material you will find available to you in website. If you are interested in online support groups or forming a local parents support group, please contact us and let us know how we can serve you.

If you are a minister, counselor or therapist looking for a support group and other resources to serve the needs of a counselee wanting freedom from homosexuality, then please read through our website. In your exploration you will learn who we are and how we can help you.

Affection Between Men
Torah Study Program: Hazon - Our Universal Vision

I would like to discuss the issue of affection between men. But before I discuss the issue in a broad sense, I will attempt to respond to the question that was raised whether, according to halacha (Torah law), two men can engage in erotic hugging, kissing, and touching, as long as they do not have intercourse.

There is a general Torah prohibition against engaging in any erotic touching with someone whom one is forbidden to sleep with, and this prohibition also includes erotic touching of a homosexual nature. The source for this prohibition is found in Leviticus 18:6 which states: "Any man shall not approach his close relative to uncover nakedness; I am Hashem." The Oral Torah interprets the phrase "shall not approach" to refer to any erotic touching which can lead one to have any form of intercourse which is forbidden by the Torah. This prohibition is discussed by Maimonides in his Sefer HaMitzvos (Prohibition 353), and it is also discussed in the Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzva 188). The Sefer HaChinuch states that this prohibition applies to both men and women.

There is a major halachic difference, however, between the Torah's prohibitions against forbidden forms of intercourse, and the Torah's prohibition against erotic touching: Unlike the prohibitions against intercourse, the prohibition against erotic touching does not bring "kares" (the soul being cut off) or the dealth penalty. Even if one violated one of the Torah's prohibitions against intercourse, there is the life-giving option of "teshuva" - repentance and renewal which cause us to return to the path of our Creator.

There is no question that Torah-committed individuals who are unable to get married, whether they have a heterosexual orientation or a homosexual orientation, were given a difficult life-challenge. In some respects, the person with the homosexual orientation has the greater challenge, for reasons already mentioned in previous correspondence. The reason why the Creator gives certain individuals unusual life-challenges is a topic for another discussion. It may be helpful, however, for all people to remember, regardless of their sexual orientation, that there can be warm, physical expressions of affection and love which are not erotic. There are many men, including "gay" men, who sometimes engage in non-erotic hugging and touching with other men. In fact, traditional Jewish culture is much more open to displays of physical affection between men than Anglo-Saxon culture. For example, in Israel, especially among the Sephardim, one sees men hugging or kissing each other at joyous occasions or when greeting each other after a period of separation. And in Israeli yeshivos, when a young man gets engaged, it is customary for his fellow students to not only wish him "mazel tov," but to also give him a hug or a kiss on the cheek. And let us not forget that in Torah-observant communities, men dance with men and women dance with women. These "mitzva" dances create a warm sense of unity among the participants, and they are emotionally and spiritually uplifting.

Last, but not least, men can experience with their male friends the deep pleasure of "emotional" affection and intimacy. To experience this form of intimacy, however, they need to be in touch with their feelings and to be capable of expressing these feelings in words. Many men find this to be a difficult process, especially those who grew up in an Anglo-Saxon culture. In fact, some married men have difficulty developing this type of intimacy with their wives.

I have known some single men and women who had a deep need for emotional intimacy, but they didn't know how to achieve this, so they ran after sexual experiences which they hoped would meet this need. They ended up feeling unsatisfied, for they did not receive the emotional love they were looking for.

The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5:19) teaches that all love which depends on a physical or external cause will pass away when the cause is no longer there, but a love which is not dependent on a physical or external cause will last forever. And the Mishna cites the friendship between David and Jonathan as an example of a love which lasts forever. It is recorded in the Book of Samuel 1 that "Jonathan's soul became attached to David's soul" (18:1). As the Malbim and other commentators explain, the good and the holy within Jonathan's soul was drawn to the good and the holy within David's soul, and vice versa. These spiritual qualities last forever; thus, a love based on these spiritual qualities also lasts forever.

Our sages often refer to Hashem as "Rachmana" - an Aramaic word which means "the Loving One." May Rachmana bless all of us with a love that lasts forever.

Shalom Rav,

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen
[email protected]

The author is the director of the E-mail Torah study program "Hazon - Our Universal Vision":
www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

New Book by Dr. Douglas McIntyre!

Broken Chains: A journey of recovery from ssa, anger, addiction and child abuse

Dr. Douglas E. McIntyre (Author)

Paperback: 80 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 19, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1481265334

ISBN-13: 978-1481265331

Get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Chains-journey-recovery-addiction/dp/1481265334/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356982439&sr=1-1&keywords=broken+chains+douglas+mcintyre

Alliance Defending Freedom

Feed design by pfalzonline.de

Seek Me!

Jeremiah 29:13

King James Version (KJV)

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

 

Map

ORTHODOX RESPONSE TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union (Posted June 2008)

It is high time for a statement asserting and explaining the traditional Jewish position on homosexuality. Various Jewish groups have left the impression with the public at large that Judaism is supportive of homosexual behavior to the extent of endorsing same sex marriage. Thus it is imperative for the Orthodox world to make our position clear once more.

The position of traditional Judaism on homosexual behavior is clear and unambiguous, terse and absolute. Homosexual behavior between males or between females is absolutely forbidden by Jewish law, beginning with the biblical imperative, alluded to numerous times in the Talmud and codified in the Shulchan Aruch.

The position of Judaism on marriage is equally clear. Judaism recognizes marriage as a fundamental human institution, and affirms marriage only between a man and woman.

Judaism recognizes the central role of the two-parent, mother-father led family as the vital institution in shaping the entire human race. Within the Jewish people, the two-parent marriage is a model not only for human relations but for relations with the Divine. The Almighty Himself is seen as being a third partner to the father-mother configuration, and the central role of the family, unless circumstances make it impossible, is to conceive and raise children, thereby perpetuating the human race and for Jews, ensuring the continuity of the Jewish people.

I contest the description of Jewish values that has been foisted upon the public by numerous spokesmen of various factions of Judaism, most recently, and extremely, in the David Ellenson essay on these pages ( Same Sex Marriage, In The Jewish Tradition, March 12). To argue that same-sex marriage is consistent with the traditions of Judaism is intellectually dishonest at best and blasphemous at worst.

Nevertheless, while the sources irrevocably forbid homosexual relationships and overt homosexual behavior, there are other issues that are more nuanced and must be clarified. One has to do with the attitude toward homosexual individuals prescribed by Jewish tradition. Here it is critical to adopt the distinction, already implicit in numerous rabbinical texts, between the sin and the sinner; that is, between the person and his or her behavior. Given the nature of our times, it is impossible to formally condemn people who violate Jewish norms. Orthodox Jews and Orthodox synagogues display various degrees of tolerance and acceptance to individuals who are violators of the halachic aspects of the Sabbath, or individuals who flagrantly violate the kashrut laws. The tolerance rightly shown to these individuals by no means condones their behavior, but accepts them as people who may be misled or uninformed. While tolerance for individuals who manifest homosexual tendencies is certainly a Jewish value, and consistent with some of the core values to which Rabbi Ellenson refers, there is a great difference between tolerance for an individual and recognition of a movement which wishes to turn something clearly wrong by Jewish standards into something not only tolerated but normative.

Observant Jews must have an attitude of empathy and understanding for individuals who say, I have these urges, I can t help them. But we cannot accept those who would say, I have these urges, they are God-given and therefore it is a mitzvah to follow them.

Another complex issue that needs to be addressed is the degree to which this clear Jewish position should be translated into public policy in a pluralistic democratic society. Here, people of good will can debate the merits of whether any religion can urge its values upon the greater society. Here we can disagree, although I personally believe that all religions have the responsibility of educating the public to core values that we believe have universal, as well as particular, religious import. In this connection we ought to consider a Talmudic passage (Chullin 92a) that says that the nations of the world, however sinful, corrupt or perverse, still have the merit of at least three behaviors, one of which is they do not write a ketubah for males.

We can also debate the wisdom of a constitutional amendment defining marriage. It can be argued that any tampering with the U.S. Constitution, a document that arguably has done more for the Jewish people than any other secular document in historical memory, is a risky proposition. However, whatever your position on the constitutional amendment, the inclusion of same-sex relationships in the definition of marriage is something that any Jew of conscience should oppose.

I, and other Orthodox leaders did not foster this debate; it has been brought upon us. We are taught that certain aspects of human behavior, even very normal and natural functions, are best treated with modesty and privacy. However, the extreme statements and declarations that have been made, and lately in the very name of Judaism, simply cannot be allowed to pass without protest. We cannot be silent upon occasions where Judaism is fraudulently depicted as condoning something that its Torah clearly and irreversibly condemns.

theWord Bible Software

Freedom from SSA

Guys,

there are many professionals who are able to scientifically explain to you how to find freedom from same-sex attractions.

I am a simple man so I will try to tell you in simple terms.

Imagine a father who wants to teach his son how to ride a bike. He will not give him a lesson on the functioning of each single part, where it came from and what it is made of. Nor will he lecture on how the human body works and how the mind coordinates things. He loves his sonny and wants him to be able to ride that bike on his own.

Of course, he could let him continue to ride with additional wheels, but this is not what the father wants. Daddy knows that his son will likely fall a couple of times. There will be tears and some pain as well. But as a loving father he buys his son a bike and takes him out to teach him how to ride.

Now the son does not expect a big lesson or a manual to start with. Yes, he might be somewhat scared as he does not know what to expect and how to handle this bike without additional wheels that keep it stable. But he knows that he can fully trust his father. He loves his daddy more than anything - and daddy loves him. So he takes a courageous first step and lets daddy show him how to do it.

Daddy will fist be there all the time to hold his son while he rides. However, step by step he will let him run a little bit on his own.

Sonny will ride this first bits all shaky and insecure, but then again he trusts his daddy, so he manages to do it - sort of.

Sometimes he will fall and have his knee scratched. Tears will roll down his cheek, but daddy will hold him im his arms and encourage him to take another effort.

Day by day little sonny will drive a little longer all by himself, until he finally manages to ride that bike completely alone. Daddy will be so proud of his son and his son will come running into his arms, thanking his beloved daddy for keeping his promise to be there all the time when things were getting rough on him. Daddy told him that he will ride that bike and all his little son had to do is to trust him just enough that he goes for it.

Sometimes all that keeps us from succeeding is the lack of belief that it can be done.

Rob

Americans for Truth about Homosexuality

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One JONAH Struggler’s Thoughts on the Gay Pride Events in Jerusalem

by Akiva

 

The planned 2006 Gay Pride march in Jerusalem – whether it takes place or not - is, no doubt, triggering a number of reactions in the Jewish world. But while most discussions revolve around national and religious issues, some of us are affected on a far more personal level. For those of us who are dealing with homosexual desires, this march represents a major crossroad in our lives.

 

On one hand, we can continue with unanswered questions, double lives, and feelings of emptiness as we feel left behind while everyone else seems to be finding their life-partners and settling down. Or, alternatively, we can ‘come out’ and join the parade. We can embrace - and hopefully be embraced by – the Gay Community.

 

To some, the choice may seem obvious. The march seems to offer so much: Glitz, glamour, freedom, liberalism, an accepting community, etc. But, remember all that glitters is not gold. I am not certain that it can fulfill all its promises.

 

So, don’t make any hasty decisions – just because the ‘circus has come to town’. Don’t get caught up in the event or make bold ‘coming out’ announcements. Waving rainbow flags on national TV with thousands of others will definitely provide a sense of camaraderie, but what happens after the parade, when everyone goes home?

 

Those of us who have this struggle owe it to ourselves to investigate all options before making decisions that could affect our entire lives, and contrary to what the Gay Movement would have us believe, other options are available. Unfortunately, many of these options have been belittled and stigmatized. The Gay Movement is very quick to cite ineffective or inhumane treatments of the past, such as exposing homosexual men to gay pornography and then giving them electrical shocks, or advising them to snap themselves with an elastic band every time they had a homosexual thought. Even if these techniques were once considered a cure for homosexuality, they are no longer.

 

Today therapists have a far deeper insight into the root causes of homosexuality, and it is at this deeper level that they focus. When I started reading about their theories and insights, and the life stories of people they were helping, I was amazed. It was as though they had summarized my life into a book. I realized there must be a classic pattern to the causes of same-sex attractions (SSA), and it seemed they understood these well. You may be surprised at how closely their ideas resonate with you and your experiences.

 

A good place to start this search is to take a look at www.jonahweb.org , www.peoplecanchange.com  , www.narth.com and www.comingoutstraight.com .

In particular, look for articles by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Richard Cohen and Alan Medinger.

 

But before you do that, here are a few things that I wish I had been told when I first started my search:

 

First, you will often see the term “Reparative Therapy”. This is quite an unfortunate term, as it seems to imply that these therapists feel we are broken and need to be fixed. Don’t be put off by this. Once I understood the reasoning and explanation for the term’s use, a light went on. The term refers to a therapeutic approach that is based on something called a “

Reparative Drive
”: Part of developing our masculinity is building healthy bonds with other men – particularly our fathers and same-sex peers – but for some of us, for whatever reason, this did not happen early on in childhood. So in an attempt to repair these unmet needs for attention, affection and approval from other men, we develop same-sex attractions. Reparative Therapy focuses on pinpointing the initial factors that prevented these bonds from developing naturally, dealing with these factors, then helping us develop these bonds and bringing out other important qualities that have gone underdeveloped.

 

This brings me to my second point. From my personal experience, very little of the therapy is actually focused on the same-sex attractions. Rather it focuses on a number of underlying issues that, when dealt with, would improve our ability to live healthy and productive lives. These include: building better bonds with men; developing healthier relationships with our parents; feeling better about ourselves, our bodies, and our insecurities; building confidence and assertiveness; taking healthy risks; participating in physical activities, going to the gym and developing our bodies; learning how to deal with stress, anger and rejection; identifying stress triggers that arouse same-sex attractions or lead us to act out; dealing with our unhealthy pornography and sex addictions. Wouldn’t anyone benefit from growing in these areas, whether they have SSA or not? And, even if the therapy did not resolve all our same-sex attraction issues, in any event, the benefit derived in overall personality growth would, I’m sure, be more than worthwhile.

 

You’ll notice that I used the words “same-sex attraction” or “SSA”. You’ll see it used pretty often in the literature. Initially, I was quite cynical of this terminology. Why not just say “gay”? That’s what it means, right? But, if SSA and GAY were one and the same, then why not talk about the “Same-Sex Attraction March” or celebrating “Same-Sex Attraction Pride”? The term SSA refers to only one particular aspect of our lives, while using the term “gay” implies a total identity, one that encompasses our whole existence. “Gay” says this is us and defines us. As freeing as it may be to some to come out as gay, it felt even more freeing to me when I realized that I did not have to base my entire life’s journey on these attractions nor to totally define myself by such an identity.

 

The final important point I think you should know before investigating these options is that there are few clear, definitive answers upon which everyone agrees. One study says one thing, another says the opposite, and there’s considerable mud-slinging between the proponents of the two. Sometimes, you’ll hear about someone who no longer experiences SSA and is now married or involved in a fulfilling heterosexual relationship, while at other times, you’ll hear that the best one can hope for is leading a fulfilling celibate life.

 

Even if there are people out there with definitive answers, it takes considerable time and effort to start trusting the process and to find a therapist and therapeutic route that would work best for you and your individual challenges. It’s a process with ups and downs. Often the end point may not be clear and indeed the end point may differ for different people. Some will be able to substantially reduce their SSA and develop opposite-sex attractions (OSA), while for others this won’t be possible. The important point here is to not expect to find someone who can sprinkle a little ‘anti-faerie dust’ on you, and make all your problems go away. That is simply unrealistic.

 

Once you’ve done some research, you’ll know what’s possible and what’s involved, and you will be able to make a far more informed decision.  You can then decide how you would like to deal with this, and whether this is something that you want to deal with. Although it doesn’t necessarily have to, once we set out on a process of change, it tends to occupy much of our thoughts and energy. If you’re working on growth in other areas of life and seeing progress, then this progress may be good enough for the moment. If, on the other hand, life is getting you down and out of desperation you feel about ready to take up that rainbow flag as an apparent answer, then it may be time to start investigating these other options.

 

Also, if you’re in Israel – even if you originally came to support the 2006 Gay Pride events – you should be aware of and take advantage of the resources available here. Many come to Israel to “find themselves”. Israel is geared towards people who are soul searching and are on their own personal growth paths. There are rabbis and therapists who specialize in this area. There are support groups for people who are struggling with the same issues. Contact the people who run the JONAH website ([email protected]) and they can put you in touch with local therapists who specialize in this issue in Israel and many other parts of the world.area.

 

There is certainly a huge difference between coming out to the world as being gay or sharing one’s struggle with a few trusted people who may be able to listen, advise and guide us and with whom we can build deep long lasting healthy relationships. Sharing this struggle with others is scary and risky, but I have found the rewards to be ten-fold.  At the end of the day, the decision is yours. Everyone you speak to will have their own opinions, issues, prejudices, and motives. You need to make sure that the choices you make are right for you, remembering that they will affect your life not only today, but tomorrow as well. Don’t make your decisions out of frustration or impulsivity, but rather make them rationally and knowledgeably.

 

I wish you much luck and success on your journey.

You can contact me at [email protected] .

(November 2006) 

 

    Janelle Hallman

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    For Immediate  Release
    March 27, 2007

    Schechter Rabbinical  Seminary in Jerusalem Upholds Existing   Admissions Policy  Regarding Gay and Lesbian Rabbis

    Rabbi Einat Ramon,  Dean of the Masorti/Conservative Movement's Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in  Jerusalem, announced at its Executive Committee meeting this week, that there  will be no change in the admissions policy of the Schechter Rabbinical  Seminary in response to a recent decision by the Committee on Jewish Law  and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly in New York that would permit  the ordination of practicing gay and lesbian rabbis and pave the way for the  sanctification of same-sex commitment ceremonies.
    The CJLS, the  Conservative Movement's North American halakhic authority, voted to endorse two  responsa on this issue in December 2006:  1) The decision that ordination  of practicing gay and lesbian rabbis is not permitted by Jewish Law (Rabbi Joel  Roth,), and 2) the decision permitting the ordination of practicing gay and  lesbian rabbis (Rabbi Elliot Dorff and two colleagues).  
    Since  Masorti/Conservative Judaism is a pluralistic movement, when the CJLS votes to  approve two conflicting opinions in this way, each local rabbi is authorized to  choose which opinion to follow.
    Although the  Israel branch of the  Conservative Movement has long asserted its independence in matters of Jewish  Law, Rabbi Ramon felt that in light of the discussions in North America generated by the split CJLS decision, it was  important to clarify the policy of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary.  In  doing so, she was acting on the authority vested in her by the school's  Executive Committee, chaired by Rabbi Hanan Alexander, Professor and  Chair of the Department of Education at the University of Haifa. In upholding the status quo, Ramon  is in agreement with Rabbi Roth's opinion, which was also endorsed by Rabbi  David Golinkin, President and  Professor of Jewish Law at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in  Jerusalem.
    In a position paper  that Rabbi Ramon distributed to the Executive Committee, she called attention to  the historic centrality of heterosexual marriage in
    Jewish life.  “Jewish  theology regards the union between a man a woman who are sexually and  emotionally different from one another as a complementary covenant of friendship  and intimacy, which forms the basis for procreation and childrearing.  This  is why Jewish law has so fervently opposed sexual relations between members of  the same sex”, she explained, “and why the heterosexual family has played such a  vital role throughout the ages in the transmission of Jewish values and the  survival of the Jewish people”.
    "I have great  respect for Masorti/Conservative rabbis who have chosen to follow a different  opinion," said Rabbi Ramon, "and for the Reform Movement in Judaism which has  long admitted candidates to its rabbinical schools who are practicing gays and  lesbians or who favor same-sex commitment ceremonies.  
    However, Jewish Law  has traditionally prohibited homosexuality and only sanctifies sexual relations  between members of the opposite sex."   
    The Schechter  Rabbinical Seminary was founded twenty-three years ago in Jerusalem to prepare rabbis  and spiritual leaders for contemporary Israeli life in a spirit that combines  observance of halakhah with modern academic scholarship. "We have always  admitted students committed to an observant life-style," continued Ramon,  "including Kashrut, Shabbat, and the sanctity of the heterosexual family.   Today in particular, when the traditional family is in trouble, it is especially  important that we ordain modern rabbis who are devoted to this institution and  identify with this worldview."

    For further  information:
    Linda Price, Dir. of  Communications, 972-52-6665510
    Rabbi Dr. Einat  Ramon: 050-5607019
    Rabbi Prof.  Hanan  Alexander: 054-643-2568
    Rabbi Prof.  David Golinkin:  052-6665580

     
    A JONAH WIFE SHARES HER HUSBAND'S HEALING JOURNEY ( 6/07)
     
    I am an observant Jewish woman. I hope that what I have to say will be of help to those who are in the same situation as my husband and I and also to help others to be more understanding of my husband's situation. We have now been married for 11 years. These years have mostly been very happy but we have had some very big struggles along the way. Let me tell you our story:

    As "newly" orthodox Jews, when each of us felt ready to get married, we were introduced to other singles by friends or acquaintances. Some singles are blessed with meeting the right one on their first date. Others, such as us, can go out with several people before meeting the right one. During this dating period, there is absolutely NO physical contact. I mean zilcho! If your hands so much as brush against each other, it's like highly awkward!

    Anyway, after a few weeks of going out and hopefully enjoying each other's company and weighing up whether this person fits your criteria for suitable marriage partner and potential parent to your children, you tie the knot and then you still don't have ANY physical contact until your wedding night!( Just a side note. This approach to marriage really does make a lot of sense. As you are planning on spending the rest of your life with this person, it's best to make sure that you're not being blinded by passion. Yes, as we'll see, there are the down sides to this approach but this isn't the place to get into a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of Jewish dating. I will say, however, that after all's said and done I wouldn't have it any other way. Not for me and not for my children. Anyway, on with the story.)

    Right away when David and I met, I just really liked him. He was (and is) such a good person. We went out for a few weeks before we got engaged and then had 3 months before the wedding to continue getting to know each other.  After we were married, I was concerned that there was some kind of problem. I didn't know exactly what the problem was but what I did know was that when we were "intimate", he didn't seem to be so into it.

    This is a devastating experience for a newly wed. At first I let myself be fobbed off with thoughts like: well, he's so new to this. It will take time to adjust. But I saw, over time, that the "adjustment period" seemed to be taking far longer than I had anticipated. According to all theories, he ought to have been over-excited, not less than apathetic! So what was going on?

    Now I'll let you into a little secret.....I am not the type to suffer in silence! So, as I kept trying to work out what the problem was, I involved David in my quandary: "Dave, why don't you like to get intimate?" "Dave, why don't you try doing this?"       "No, not like that!"…..how about this?".........I just didn't get it! And apparently, neither did he!

    Eventually, he couldn't take my constant (and yes, in hindsight incredibly insensitive) hounding. Things obviously weren't going according to plan. I'm not exactly sure what the plan was. I do know that he had been advised to get married and everything would work out for the best! This isn't terrible advice. What does bother me was that the person who gave this advice didn't make a point of saying that it isn't a good idea to get married, under these circumstances, unless the person you want to marry knows the truth and agrees to go along with the situation. The truth? Well, approximately 8 weeks after we were wed, David told me that he's gay.

    My response was a cacophony of silent emotions. Inside I was screaming: You -------! How could you do that to me? I could've married someone who was attracted to me, who wanted me, who cared about me. Now I'm stuck with you! You, who's not attracted to me, doesn't want to be with me. You, who didn't have enough respect or care to involve me in the decision-making process. You've used me. Used me as a front to make you look normal. Used me to fulfill your desire to have a family. Aaaaarrrrrghghgh!

    While all this noise was going on inside  my head, Dave was crying, in fact sobbing and telling me how difficult it's been for him, all these years, having these feelings and wishing he didn't. Wishing he could be normal. Not knowing what to do, who he could turn to. Not being able to tell anyone, not even his best friend. In fact, especially not his best friend! Not even his family knows. I sat and I cried with him, held him, sympathized, all the while feeling inside all those things I said above. But also realizing that the reason he hadn't told me before was because he was so afraid of losing me.

    Now before I go on with the story, I'd just like to take a little interlude to discuss the options on both sides, here. My options were pretty straightforward. I didn't say easy! I said straightforward. I either stay and give him my full support or I leave. Simple!  Now, let's talk about the options of the man who has SSA (same sex attraction) who wants to marry a regular heterosexual woman:

    1) Tell

    2) Don't tell.

    That also looks pretty simple, on the surface. I'd just like to take a bit of time to examine the implications of these two choices. If he tells her the truth, his prospective wife could decide that this is not for her and make the decision not to marry him. This is very good. If he hadn't told this particular woman and they had gotten married the SSA man would then have to continue to carry the burden of that lie. Eventually that's too much for anyone. Particularly when the wife really knows that something isn't right. You don't just get magically healed because you found someone blind enough to actually marry you!

    At some point the truth has to come out. At this point the wife feels cheated and betrayed. The one that would have left before the marriage is probably not able to give him her full support. There would be a major breakdown in the marriage. She would never be able to trust how much he's willing to take her feelings into consideration. From thenceforth every time there are problems (and in all marriages there are problems, even without this humongous hurdle to overcome) she will blame him because she will feel that he should not have married her in the first place, without her being fully involved in that decision. Many women, given these circumstances, would not stay in the marriage. And: listen up: divorce carries a heavy burden of stigma, speculation and questions. I am sure that some women would feel avenged and absolved by letting people know, inadvertently or otherwise, the truth of the matter.

    Supposing, by the time he confesses, they already have children, so they both decide to stick it out for the sake of the children. How happy is that? Every time things go sour, there comes that nagging inner voice: I didn't ask for this. You didn't include me in this decision. How could you dump this on me? I could've been happily married to someone else.

    Is this a fair and reasonable approach to your marriage partner? No, it definitely isn't! I'm just trying to be real about what happens in a marriage that was entered into without complete honesty from both sides. So please do think very carefully before you make any of these major, life-changing decisions: to get married or not. To tell your wife or not. These things are.............well, not to put too fine a point on it: HUGE!

    David has told me that one of the reasons that he chose me to be the lucky woman that would become his wife was because he saw that I was very open-minded. In fact on one of our dates I actually unwittingly made a reference to homosexuals, saying how hard it must be for those who really don't want to be that way. "What does G-d want from them?" I pondered! Dave saw this as a sign that, were he to marry me and get to a point where he decided to make the big revelation, then I would be completely tolerant and understanding. Well, I can sincerely say that he was absolutely 200% R-A-W-N-G, spells RAWNG! My coming to terms with the situation has been a very lengthy, ongoing, uphill battle. Even though I have been determined to give it my best, our relationship has been pretty rocky, to say the least.

    Is it possible that you could tell the truth before you get married and not end up wondering what to do with a spare 2 carat diamond ring that seems to have found its way back into your possession? Yes. I really believe that it is possible to get her full support. I'm going to tell you soon about a movement that is growing rapidly that espouses a method of healing for SSA's. It isn't an overnight cure but it does offer the hope of permanent change for a vast majority of participants. And, in the meantime, there are other, more temporary possibilities, which I'll also tell you about.

    I also believe that there are certain women for whom sex just isn't that important. On the other hand there are women for whom sex is very important. And I would think that, on the whole people do know how important it is or isn't for them. Give your potential partner enough credit and enough respect to allow them to be involved in the decision-making process. Otherwise they will always feel they have the right to be angry with you about it and you will always regret it. It's far better to build a relationship based on mutual trust and honesty than to always feel like it was based on a massive deceit  It really could happen that she is committed enough to you that she is willing to help you through. Then you know that she can't, at some point get angry because she didn't know.

    Of course, another major issue is how much you believe in a Higher Force and what that Force wants of us. If you are an observant Jew, like myself, then you know what the rules are. I will say, without a shadow of a doubt that this really has to be one of the most difficult situations. You have certain positive commandments and certain negative commandments and your overall feelings seem to make the whole thing nearly impossible. The most important word in that last sentence is 'nearly'. It's nearly impossible. We know that  G-d doesn't give a command that's not possible to fulfill. Difficult? Yes. Very difficult? Yes, yes. But never impossible.

    For this reason, I think it fair to say that G-d obviously thinks that you are capable of reaching to a very high level, or he would not have given you this test. And not only that. This situation is a tremendous gift to you from the Creator of the Universe. Now you may think that it's very easy for me to sit here, glibly typing away that you have a big test here and that G-d knows that you have the capacity to pass this test or He wouldn't have given it to you in the first place. And that this seemingly horrendous situation is actually a gift. You would be right in thinking that it's easy for me to talk like this when it's not my test. But I do feel in a position to talk about life's challenges and how they can affect us.

    Aside from having my own challenges in being married to a man who finds it difficult to be intimate with me, I have spent the last 18 months battling cancer. I have had several difficult surgeries, one where I nearly lost my life. I've endured seven months of chemotherapy and nearly two months of traveling every day to the hospital for radiation. I think I can quite safely say that this has definitely been one of the most difficult times of my life. But, I can sincerely say that I have emerged a far better person for it. I have had so many challenges along the way and I have tried constantly to see each new challenge as an opportunity for growth, a test to see whether or not I could manage to do the right thing and behave in a way that I know my creator wants from me. That is a tremendous opportunity. An incredible gift. If you're one of these people who think that we're in this world on average for 70 or 80 years to have fun and pleasure, then what I'm trying to say won't speak to you and you can just skip this part. But if you believe, like me, that there is a higher purpose then it follows that everything that happens to us is part of a Divine plan. Every little detail is orchestrated. There are no mistakes. No coincidences. Each of us is here to fulfill our own potential. My potential isn't anybody else's and therefore my tests are designed only for me so that I have the opportunity to reach that potential. And, you know what? I can absolutely guarantee that if we could see the master plan, we wouldn't want it any other way. G-d  knows what's best for you. He created you and He created the plan. Each of us gets what's absolutely best for us. Best for us to have the opportunity to climb to the highest heights. If a test is especially difficult, he obviously thinks very highly of you. He knows that you have the capacity to reach incredibly high. He gave you the test AND He gave you the capacity to pass the test, even when it seems almost impossible. And if doing the right thing means that you stay single? I know that being single is no joyride, especially in a community that revolves around family. But, as painful as that is, it sure beats the alternatives. Marriage isn't easy under the best of circumstances. I really wholeheartedly believe, as painful as it may be, it's better to stay single than to be in a marriage that's based on a lie.

    Now, having said all that, let me tell you a little about what has transpired over the years and explain how, after 11 years of sharing this struggle together, Dave and I are, thank G-d, happily married.

    The first four years were not so easy. Sex was very infrequent and (sorry Dave) Not the greatest! That is until around about our fourth anniversary. Something changed. For 2 months Dave went for hypnotherapy and guess what? It really worked! For the first time, things really seemed to be the way I always thought, hoped and dreamed they could be. Yes!!

    However (yes, there had to be a catch, folks!) Well, firstly, it worked out to be rather expensive. Of course, IF you have the money, it's definitely worth the improvement in your intimate life, but it really was taking a large chunk of our income AND, after a while it does gradually wear off and the hypnotee (?) has to go back for refresher courses. As we live about a 2 hour bus ride from the particular hypnotherapist that was having so much success with Dave, this was no easy undertaking. I also realize, in hindsight, that, though hypnotherapy really can work, it's a bit like taking an aspirin when you have a brain tumor. It will help with the headaches but it's not going to cure the problem. However, as a method of alleviating the symptoms, it definitely is worth making the effort, on this front, until the cure is more established. Did I say cure? Oh! So like this........

    After several years of good and bad times, with or without the hypnotherapy, we finally discovered a Jewish organization named JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) that has created an entire series of programs to help men and women with SSA! They recommend that each of their male participants attend JIM.  Who or what is JIM? Well the letters stand for Journey into Manhood. A few months ago, Dave went away on a JIM weekend and, I'll be honest - he really came back a changed person. He seems much more at ease with himself. I don't mean he just accepts himself the way he is. Heavens, NO! He's somehow tapped in to who he is in a way that he was really meant to be and always felt that he should be. No hypnosis, no pills, no tricks. Is he now the perfect man? Well, I know you wouldn't believe me if I said that he was. But I see that he has started a process. He's on a journey. And the initial change is really tangible.

    Since that weekend he goes to regular meetings in town, once a week and he organizes outings for the group attendees to get together. And I really see that it's helping him to relate to others as G-d intended it to be. Dave was able to attend this weekend because he received a grant from JONAH. I have to say that we are both immensely grateful for this. I think that if we hadn't received this grant then he would've been far less motivated to take part.

    So, you may wonder: what goes on at these meetings? Well, I'll tell you the truth. I've been wondering the same thing myself!! He told me, after that first weekend, that everything that goes on is confidential and I really try as much as possible not to pry. Though it's not always easy! I'm very curious to know what they did or said to make such a drastic change. He has told me a little of his own personal stuff. It definitely all sounds very wholesome! On the whole, I'm somewhat in the dark but I really don't mind too much because I just know that it really is working and since JIM came into our lives we haven't had one glitch in our personal life. And that's really something to shout about!!

    As I mentioned earlier, I'm not naturally the silent type. So, I do have to admit that I did ask the million dollar question....Oh, how did I have the nerve??

    "Da-ave," I asked in that pseudo-innocent voice that warned him he was about to get one of 'those' kind of questions!!

    "Ye-e-s??"

    "When you have these meetings...

    "Ye-e-s??..."

    "Well, doesn't it kind of happen, sometimes that a guy will be sitting across from another guy and everyone knows that everyone there has SSA.....Well, doesn't it happen that he might be thinking 'Hmmm....he's kinda cute'?"

    "And what then? They go back to his place and get to know each other?"

    "Well, yes!"

    I flinched; waiting for the backlash.......I was pleasantly surprised by the total lack of defensiveness in his tone.

    "No, Sarah. It really isn't like that. Everyone there knows that we're there because we don't want to be like this. We're there to get help and to help each other. It just doesn't fit into the whole picture."

    "Oh.......................................................... Really?"

    "Yes. Really."

    So, there you have it. I guess the reason that I decided to put my feelings out there was to bring this whole subject out in the open. To shed light on a very taboo and painful subject. And to let you know that if a person has SSA there are alternatives to joining the gay movement and going out on parade. It really doesn't have to be that way.

    If you want to contact me to ask questions or details of contacts, my email address is

    [email protected] .

    If you want to contact a therapist who specializes in overcoming same sex attractions, contact the JONAH Institute for Gender Affirming Therapy, a non-denominational service to help men and women with same-sex attractions or to assist their families in dealing with the issue at 201 433 3444

    If you want to join an established support group for SSA men, contact JONAH at [email protected]

    If you want to join an established support group for wives of SSA men also contact JONAH at [email protected] or the International Healing Foundation at www.comingoutstraight.com

    If you want some further reading material, here are some excellent books: Dr.Joseph. Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy for the Male Homosexual;  Richard Cohen, Coming Out Straight and Gay Children, Straight Parents; Jeff Konrad, You Don't Have to Be Gay; Alan Medinger, Growth into Manhood: Resuming the Journey, and Arthur Goldberg, Light in the Closet! Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change (to be released shortly by www.redheiferpress.com, click onto catalog at the Red Heifer Press website for information.


    A Letter on Homosexual Pornography - excerpted from "The Treatment of Sexual Orientation"

    Written By: Dror Zandman, Clinical Psychologist

    (Posted March 2012)

    [ NOTE from the JONAH Directors: This letter was written by "R.L.", a former client of Israeli Psychologist Dror Zandman, and was written in two parts, one immediately prior to R.L's marriage and the second part 5 months after his marriage. It was written to encourage men dealing with unwanted SSA. This letter is part of a soon-to-be-published book in Hebrew by Israeli Psychologist, Dror Zandman, entitled: “The Treatment of Sexual Orientation”.]
    My Dear Friend,
    I am writing this letter a few hours before my chupah [wedding canopy & ceremony].I want to tell you about what I’ve been through in these past 10 years. I know that you are suffering great pain and are going through many crises growing up. Life feels much harder for you than it seems to be for most of your friends. You are constantly fighting your sexual feelings; you are attracted to men, but you are also religious. You live with a tremendous inner contradiction. You struggle desperately between wanting to satisfy your “natural” desires, and your emunah [faith] in the Ribono shel Olam [Master of the Universe], who seems to be cruelly torturing you by having placed you in the position in which you find yourself.
    I know exactly how you feel.
    I have been dealing with this exact problem since my early adolescence; from the time when I was 12 years old. I “always” knew that I was different. I wasn’t attracted to girls. (not that there were many girls around - I studied in various national religious schools where for many good reasons, the sexes are kept separate). I was attracted to men. I found men to be very sexually exciting, and I felt like I just had to find a man who I could lean on, who would protect me.
    I spent years looking at magazines and then on the Internet searching for more and more pictures of sexy men. Naked men. More recently, in high school, I “graduated” to spending hours with homosexual pornography. Many, many hours. And all the time, my emunah [faith] in the Ribono shel Olam grew stronger and more profound, and I believed, deep in my heart, that He created me just as I am, with a goal and a purpose in this world.
    I knew perfectly well that homosexuality is not compatible with the Torah, and that the “gay” lifestyle is deeply, and diametrically, opposed to the Jewish vision of life. The homosexual lifestyle consecrates the material world, it worships the bodily passions, and it destroys the most important basis of Jewish life - the family. Relationships between men, as wonderful as they can ever be (also between straight men, by the way), can’t even begin to approach in any way the deep connection between a man and a woman. G-d created the world in such a way that every man is missing something; a man needs a woman, and a woman needs a man. There is no other way to realize our potential or to achieve real satisfaction in any field of life, without the intimate partnership of man and wife.
    It was my great good fortune, which I understand as Divine Providence, that in 9th grade, my Rav [Rabbi] noticed that something was troubling me. After many heart-to-heart talks with him, he gained my trust and I opened up and told him what I was going through. He supported me; he helped me to understand that I was not sick, that G-d didn’t hate me. He explained to me that every person has different challenges in his life, some less, some more, and that every man is given the strengths that are necessary to achieve the goals and overcome the challenges that G-d places in his path.
    The rest of my high school years, and the beginning of my days in a “hesder yeshiva" [religious Zionist program combining yeshiva studies with military service], went by in the same way - but with my secret helper, my Rav, who supported me and helped me to maintain my sanity, along with a healthy and constantly developing relationship with the Ribono shel Olam [Master of the Universe].
    It was a very, very hard time: in high school, in the yeshiva, and in the army. I was always surrounded by men, and at the same time surrounded by a world of Torah and religious belief. I was living a life of intense and constant contradiction.
    Baruch Hashem, [blessed be G-d] I never had any sexual contact with another man, Heaven forbid. I never met another man like me - neither a religious nor a secular one. Everything I did was between me and myself; it was me and the Internet, me and the pictures, me and the masturbation, just me by myself.
    Somewhere during my army service, during a very difficult time of profound despair, my Rav (with whom I have kept up a very important and meaningful relationship to this day) recommended that I see a psychologist who could help me, because he felt that he himself did not have the tools with which to move me forward, despite his enormous desire to assist me. The psychologist who helped me was Dror Zandman.
    (The continuation of this letter was written 5 months after my marriage)
    It was worth everything: all the suffering, all the constant coping, all the frustrations, all the crises. It is impossible for me to describe the enormous happiness, the emotional, spiritual and sexual satisfaction that I have experienced with my wife. Yes, yes, with my wife.
    It is infinitely deeper, satisfying, fulfilling, and empowering; way beyond any fantasy that I ever had with men.
    You can believe it! It is possible!
    I was in therapy with Dror for over three years. It was standard, verbal psychological therapy, with the addition of some sex therapy. Together, we tried to ascertain the reasons behind my homosexual feelings. What was I missing? Why was I attracted to men? Why wasn’t I attracted to women? What was I attracted to in the men I desired? The therapy also included work with initiating conscious, directed arousal towards women. I learned how to redirect the amazing power of sexual imagination – which until then had only been utilized for fantasies about men - into fantasies about women. Imagining her body. Imagining a relationship with a woman. And I am telling you – all of that pales a million times when compared with the real thing – relations with a real woman.
    Throughout all the time I was in therapy I would experience regressions - mostly with the Internet. (It’s unbelievable how much sickness and evil are so instantly accessible there!). But Schelomo HaMelech [King Solomon] was right when he said: “A tzadik [righteous man] will fall seven times and then rise up” (Proverbs, 24:16). Do not lose hope!
    This is a very difficult struggle. Sometimes it can seem insurmountable. But it is possible! You can fight and be victorious over this accursed inclination. If you work hard, you will find a woman with whom you can fall in love, and build a “bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael!” [a home faithful to Jewish Tradition.] And even if this “problem” won’t entirely disappear (as in my case – this “false lust” for men is still there on occasion, but I have learned how to live with it or redirect it and to handle it one day at a time) – you can achieve a beautiful marriage with a woman.
    Dror helped me to understand this. He pushed me; he guided me, like a blind man in the darkness. In his merit I have come to where I have always wanted to be, to where HaKodosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One, Blessed be He) wanted me to be.
    Thank you, Ribono shel Olam for the “nisayon” [test] that you placed me in, and for my incredible wife. Thank you Dror for being a faithful emissary for the Creator, Yisborach [may He be blessed]. Thank you to my wife, for the love, the support, and the total acceptance [of me, with knowledge of the issues I've overcome].
    Best of luck to you in your life! Believe in Hashem [G-d, literally "The Name."]!
    “Blessed is the man who trusts in G-d” (Yermiahu, 17:7)