click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




Homosexual - Is Change Possible?

The Torah says that homosexuality is an abomination; but isn’t there a more modern view? Aren't people compelled to engage in homosexuality? Isn't a clear percentage of any given population of homosexual orientation? How can God prohibit an activity that one has no control over?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

I think there is a misunderstanding of the purpose of the Torah. The Torah is not coming to allow us to gratify our individual desires. It is to help us each attain the perfection inherent in our unique personalities. When Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah, the angels wanted to prevent the Torah from being taken to Earth. Moses said to the angels, "Doesn't the Torah say: Do not murder, do not steal, etc. Do you angels have an inclination to murder? Do you then have an inclination to steal?” Whereupon the angels agreed to let Moses take the Torah.

The Sages explain: God purposely created us with different inclinations for good and bad, and commands us to overcome the bad inclinations by adhering to the Torah. We are all here to perfect a different part of the Torah, according to our unique desires, upbringing and environment.

All humans by nature have spiritual shortcomings; this is why teshuva (spiritual realignment) was given to us. Teshuva has the capacity to return a person to a state even higher than before the challenge.

Judaism doesn't get involved with the issue of nature-nurture (i.e. genetic or acquired). The Torah teaches that humans are neither homosexual or heterosexual, but simply sexual – essentially open to persuasion and able to make choices regarding their sexual expression.

It is anyway unnecessary to take sides on the scientific debate about homosexuality. Even when someone has a genetic disposition toward something, that does not mean they are incapable of refraining from that activity – or from changing.

Many studies have been done, with varying results, though there is a massive body of biological, anthropological and ethnological evidence to support the contention that homosexual behavior can be controlled. A 1994 report in MacIntosh revealed that, in a survey of 285 psychoanalysts who had dealt with 1,215 homosexual patients, 23% changed to heterosexuality and 84% of the group received significant therapeutic benefit.

In places like prisons where men are unable to express heterosexuality, homosexual interaction increases; upon release from prison the regular heterosexual behavior resumes. Today, Batak males of northern Sumatra are openly homosexual between the ages of 9 and 19. After that, without any apparent trauma, they switch to relative exclusive heterosexuality.

The Torah understanding is that people can control their behavior if they're motivated. There may be a predisposition toward homosexuality for some, but there exist many such predispositions. The Talmud says certain people have more of a genetic tendency toward bloodshed. The Talmud advises one to become a butcher or Mohel, to channel this tendency into a useful pursuit.

There are some homosexuals who would like to, and probably could, change their sexual orientation. If you offered someone a million dollars to stop for one year, they would be able. It's an issue of motivation, and unfortunately society provides little incentive to change behavior. Because there is a strong homosexual voice in Hollywood and the media, the public perception is largely that homosexuality can never be changed; therefore homosexuals are generally discouraged from seeking psychiatric consultation.

From a Jewish perspective, a homosexual should commit to a course through which he will ultimately rid himself of homosexual activity. If he is unable to change his sexual orientation, then he should at least cease this activity. It is obvious that for many people this will be difficult and will have to be accomplished over a period of time.

For those interested in more on this perspective, see www.jonahweb.org and www.narth.com

Read a first-person account of one man changing his homosexual orientation: http://www.aish.com/sp/so/48949396.html

More Questions

Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question


Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
Sign up today!