Homosexuals - Equal Rights?

Recently a friend and I had a long discussion about the appropriateness of homosexuals as teachers and rabbis, etc., and on how Judaism should deal with homosexuality in general. It seems that there is a conflict between the need to provide equal rights to homosexuals, while not promoting homosexuality too much. Where should we draw the line?

Whatever the case, shouldn't Judaism be accepting of homosexuals as congregants, even if it does not feel entirely comfortable with homosexual behavior?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

One of the best-known biblical verses is Leviticus 18:22 which states that male homosexuality is incorrect behavior. Does the preponderance of homosexual activity prove that the Torah laws should not apply to them?

God knows human beings very well. He created them. He didn't make a blunder that now needs to be corrected by erasing verses in the Torah.

It is axiomatic that Judaism legislates only acts, not orientations. A desire for lobster dinner is not a violation of Kashrut laws, only the dinner is. The same is true with homosexuality.

Absolutely, homosexuals have the same rights as any human being. Judaism looks negatively at homosexual activity, but not at the homosexual. He is as beloved in God's eyes as any other Jew, and is as responsible as any Jew is in all the mitzvot. He is obligated to achieve life's goals by directing his life toward spiritual growth, sanctity and perfection of his character – no less than is any other Jew.

For each of us in our own areas, the test is harder, but we all need to overcome our drives. Imagine a "kleptomaniac" who could only find fulfillment by stealing from other people. How would society respond? Although we'd be sympathetic and concerned for the individual, we still would not be able to tolerate behavior that goes against the Torah.

But to officially sanction and condone homosexuality? For 3,300 years, Torah - in its totality - has made the Jewish people the most accomplished nation on Earth. We "revise" its laws at our peril.

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