Homosexuality: It’s ok now, right?
Again, the so-called harshness of the basic law for Gentiles is put on display when people take a look at the law regarding sexual morality, in particular the principle regarding the prohibition against male homosexuality. Hasn’t most of the civilised world moved on? Aren’t we now supposed to be tolerant of homosexuals and judge their sexual acts and relationships as totally fine?
Politicians around the world are making homosexual marriages legal, which also, in the eyes of many, shows that it’s moral. And anyone who goes against the popular trend today which backs or shows indifference about that, another union of two consenting adults (or the inclinations said to exist even in children), will be met with public disgrace, political pressure to accord with such pro-homosexual views, looks of dismay from open-minded and freedom loving individuals, possibly even the loss of friends and associates and the brand of being homophobic.
How can anyone in this day and age, or in western culture, or in a civilised society hold such old, antiquated views? Aren’t the statements and attitudes present in the Torah or Bible outdated?
Anyone who is faithful to Torah is likely to have to at least consider this issue. At most, they’ll have to protect themselves and defend themselves against the multi-directional attacks that will be launched against them. Who knows? By even talking about this subject, I may have a proverbial gun of political correctness pointed in my direction. I never know.
But nonetheless, I have to take this subject on. Or at least I choose to.
What is forbidden?
According to the Seven Laws, the physical act of a man having sex with another man is forbidden. As with all the other Seven Laws sexual prohibitions, it’s the physical act that brings liability.
So what does that mean? The fact that a male finds himself attracted to other men is not the crime, any more than a man being attracted to someone else’s wife. So having homosexual tendencies or inclinations are not forbidden. Female homosexuality, whether it the physical act or the inclination, is also not forbidden according to the core laws. That’s it.
But it is always important to state that the Seven Laws do not contain all the good and bad actions a human being can perform. Something being permissible according to the basic code doesn’t make it good or wise. They are the most basic laws that state what can be handled by a righteous court of law, a righteous court that has at its disposal the death penalty to administer the punishment. Keeping the prohibitions among the Seven just gives someone a place in this life.
Once the basics are covered, it’s for us humans to develop our humanity, to see the Seven Commandments and build upon them, to see decent behaviour and grow. And the Seven Commandments are foundations for an individual and a community to build upon.
[ASIDE: Just to add, it’s important to remember that we must not add to God’s Torah, even to the Seven Commandments of Noah. As King David says, “The Torah of GOD is perfect, restoring the soul…. The commandment of Hashem is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Tehillim [Psalm] 19) What we think of as “the minimum” in the Seven Commandments is actually quite a high standard for most people to live up to – and simply living up to that minimum standard will transform the world in ways we can only begin to imagine.
So when I speak of “building our humanity” and using the Seven Commandments as a foundation, I’m not saying that God commanded other things to Gentiles, but rather that we can learn from God’s commandments to do ethical things simply for the sake of doing good as opposed to some idea that those ethical aspects are also commanded.]
Therefore although the sexual act of male homosexuality breaks the basic code, that doesn’t make all the acts leading to such intercourse totally ok. The acts that lead to the forbidden act can morally be seen in a negative light, such as the courtship of male with male, the physical acts of petting and sexual arousal, the non-penetrating sexual acts.
Also, seeing that the Torah law for Gentiles also defines what a “marriage” is, the cohabitation of male and female in a lasting intimate sexual union, it can be said that female homosexuality, where it comes to marital unions, are a non-entity and have an outlawed status. That means female on female marriages have no positive status according to Torah law for Gentiles. Other teachings in Torah also views then in a negative light.
So, to summarize, male homosexual acts are a no-no, are forbidden, and female homosexual acts are a nothing, if not negative acts.
Arguments against the prohibition of (male) homosexuality
Many in today’s culture and many historical cultures would spit on the previous statements. It is anathema to say them, believe them, live by them. And the arguments for the acceptance of homosexual acts and therefore against the Torah prohibition with its derived principles are in the mouths of so many out there. They include the following:
– It’s a person’s choice as long as they are not hurting anybody. All that matters is that there are two consenting adults. This is expressed in the notion of “equal rights” and that everyone should be able to have sex with whomever they choose as long as it is done by free will choice. To quote a site that defends homosexual marriages “Denying marriage to two individuals who love each other is to deny them a fundamental freedom” (from the article “10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage Should be legalized” at https://infogr.am/10-reasons-why-gay-marriage-should-be-legalized)
– It’s in the genes. Some claim that homosexuality is genetic in one way or another, whether it be through the genes of the individuals, or through our supposed common evolutionary genetic heritage with the animals, animals which have supposedly been seen partaking in homosexual acts. Therefore, the fact that it is ok is either in the belief that there are genetic markers in an individual for homosexual tendencies, or that since our evolutionary relatives, the animals, exhibit homosexuality, therefore it can be classed as simply a natural relationship open to humans. It is just a natural expression of who a person is.
– The world has progressed from the days of the Torah and morality has gotten better. It is widely believed that the world today had crafted a rational, ethical morality for itself without “religion” and without God. This morality is supposedly superior and more developed in its approach to different aspects of life such as homosexuality and deems it to be fine.
– “We should be tolerant.” Another word floating around the western civilisation and political spheres is the word “tolerance” taken to mean that we should be accepting of many different lifestyles and not be condemning. In this light it is wrong to be condemning of the acts of homosexuality. Dictionaries define the word “tolerance” as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.” And thus it is a value of the world right now we should be permissive (meaning accepting, lenient, lax, granting permission) with regards to homosexuality.
– The principles of the Torah that do not conform to the standards and norms of this day and age are deemed old fashioned and outdated. Things that are old fashioned and outdated should be put aside for what is new, evolved and developed.
– The pro-homosexuality faction is becoming the majority in a lot of the world. Therefore it should be seen that more and more people are accepting of homosexual relationship and thus the Torah is becoming out of touch with the present.
I know there may be some overlap in these arguments, but these are the ones I tend to hear about with regards to homosexuality.
The true value of those arguments – Who makes the rules?
I think it is very important to ask who makes the rules about morality. If humans make the rules, then there are no hard and fast rules, only opinions and subjective value judgements. All of the arguments are innately subjective. There is nothing objective about any one of them. Not one of them can be imposed on a law upon all humanity. Even the hilarious definition of tolerance that defines it to include the notion of objectivity would be place in the realm of “unrealistic” and “not based on reality.”
And so many of them are based on inconsistent reasoning and practicing. Imagine this: the same politicians who do their best to legalise homosexuality on the grounds that “denying the marriage of two individuals who love each other is to deny them a fundamental freedom” would also hesitate to repeal laws against incest, against a brother and sister who love each other, against a woman who wants to marry multiple men and against a man who wants to marry multiple wives.
If sex itself is meant to be a freedom, then why the hell do so many countries either make prostitution either very difficult or outright illegal? Where’s the freedom in what a man chooses to do with his money and sexual organ and what a woman chooses to do with her sexual organ, and vice versa?
The logic of equal rights, the value of freedom of choice, “tolerance,” evolution in morality and the doing away with what is old, all of that when compared with what people actually value and defend and protect is arbitrary and worthless. Normally, it is only when it suits a certain arbitrary personal feeling that equality is preached, but only when it is comfortable.
If the principle is taken to its logical conclusion that all adults who consent can do what they want sexually, that sons and mothers, brothers and sisters, sisters and sisters and sisters and sisters, brothers and brothers, prostitutes, polygamists, polyandrists (is that a word?), then all of a sudden some vague arbitrary limit is demanded. But what happened to the equality, the expressing of one’s nature, the tolerance, the shedding of old-fashioned values?
With regards to marriage, it is an agreement between three parties – the man, the woman, and God. Therefore, statements like, “Denying marriage to two individuals who love each other is to deny them a fundamental freedom”, are inherently nonsensical. The only person who can deny someone the freedom to make that agreement is one of the parties to the agreement.
The government, or society, or a minister, etc, are not party to this agreement in any way, and thus have no say in it. Similarly, the very idea of two men or two women getting married doesn’t make any sense in a Torah sense. Whatever that is falls outside the basic definition of the concept… so, they can do whatever ceremonies and sign whatever documents they want… but it’s simply not marriage in the Torah sense.
Now, think about this logic: because it’s part of biology, makes it ok to express. Because it is who I am (or who I declare myself to be), that is the grounds upon which I can determine what is permissible for me to do. Does that really make sense? If it could be proved that the killing of one animal by another happens in nature, does that make it ok for humans to kill each others? If it can be shown that a serial murderer or rapist had a biological condition that drove him to destroy the lives of others, does that make it perfectly permissible for him to express himself? Some people have medical condition that make them hard of learning. Why not let that natural condition itself and just allow that person to remain of low intelligence and not to strive for anything more, to strive to be beyond the physical?
Let’s focus on the natural. You may not like what I’m gonna say next. I’m gonna be blunt but I’ll curb my bluntness. When it comes to men, how healthy is it for the organ that releases life creating substances to be inserted in the orifice that is specifically meant for the emission of waste? The anus is not a receptacle to receive such content and use it in a meaningful and productive way. The biological machinery just wasn’t meant for such a use.
Also consider the ideal end goal of the sexual interaction between same sex couples in comparison to heterosexual couples. I state the word “ideal” because due to medical issues may prevent the ideal from taking place (such as infertile couples) but at least the potential and the main function is still there. With regards to same sex couples, the biological pinnacle of the experience is heightened arousal and a feeling of togetherness, and nothing more.
The biological pinnacle of a heterosexual couple is two-fold: the coming together of organs that naturally complement each other, and the actual intermingling of the core components of each to produce a biological furtherance of at least the genetic code of each, i.e., a child. There is no such step forward biologically with same sex couples. It’s just a happy time at a brick wall. Physically, the opposite genders complement each other. The female and male organs generally fit and one is meant for the other.
So things are not as cut and dry as the defenders of homosexual relations make out.
Now just to be clear – because I could be misunderstood here – I am not discussing the pros and cons of the various forms of penetrative sex out there. It is understood that within the confines of a marital union between a man and a wife, such acts are permitted. So I’m not at all saying that some form of sexual contact is forbidden to every single couple, including that of a man and his wife, simply because it cannot produce babies. And I’m not saying that infertile people are forbidden from having sex. That’s why in all that biological talk I was giving before, I refrained from using the words “forbidden” because it is only a discourse on function, not morality. The main point was the complementary main functions of the male and female organs, as opposed the lack of those complementary main functions in homosexual interactions. That is all!
Also, it cannot properly be argued that because the Torah is old, old-fashioned or outdated. In two significant ways this is true. That murder is considered wrong is an old concept. Does its age mean that the principle should be thrown away? Do you know how long 2 plus 2 has resulted in 4? Maybe that should be discarded as well, right?
And in another way, homosexuality is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on for a very long time. If there is a old prohibition against it in one culture, amongst the Hebrews and in their Torah, it would be logical to conclude that the act existed back in those days. In fact, just like idolatry, homosexuality was in the vast majority of cultures in the ancient days, such as in the times of ancient Greece and Rome. So if old things should be discarded, that should apply to homosexuality as well.
Also the position that more and more people are accepting of homosexuality is not a valid argument against the Seven Laws that forbid it. Might doesn’t make right. Numbers don’t automatically make something correct.
And that’s the issue. Human morality, morality that is solely based on human opinion, has no objectivity about it. It’s what a person lives by for whatever reason, either due to culture, peer-pressure, parental pressures, personal brain chemistry, pleasure, whatever. And there is no objective “better” to any choice a person makes. If one bunch of humans deem one thing as right or wrong, there is nothing objective to compel another set of humans or even another single human to accept that right or wrong.
If God, if the Creator of the whole universe sets the rules, gives moral instruction, then that is the objective truth, truth from the most superior and outside source. Our compliance to those instructions or lack thereof has no impact on those standards. They are not simply the product of another human being, someone just like me, but rather the guidance of the One who knows our very purpose, our very reason for being, the fabric and essence of each one of us, and therefore would know what is best for us.
That’s why Torah, despite its age, is a lasting standard against which to measure our behaviours. The arguments of the pro-homosexuality camp are as empty and vacuous and subjective as the here-today-gone-tomorrow humans that espouse them. The standards of Torah come from a much more trustworthy and objective source.
Consistent living in the image of God
As I’ve said and maintained throughout the existence of this blog, being a decent human being is about more than simply keeping the basics of the Seven Commandments. Although it includes that aspect, it also means doing one’s best to avoid those actions as best as we can.
There is a difference between the basic moral/legal teaching of the Seven Commandments and the ideal that they lead to or point to, between “mere halakhah” and research into the deeper philosophy of the law to teach in wider areas of life. If a Gentile simply does the basics, only the basics, then at least he has a place in this world. That’s not to say he is good or striving to be the best he can be. In fact, he isn’t if he just aims for the basics whilst striving towards doing those things that go against the ideals, or even doing acts that get him as close to liability as possible without crossing the line.
As a Gentile, as a non-Jew, my aim is not to be Jews. I don’t even believe the purpose of the rest of humanity is to become Jewish. It is simply to actually fulfil our role as humanity, as reflections of self-mastery, self-control and discernment in the world, reflections of the Divine, not in outward shape but in inner and active maturity.
With a foundation in the content of the commanded laws for all humanity, individually and as communities, humans are to curb unrestrained desires and their active outflowings in order to grow towards a more harmonious and productive population. One of those unrestrained desires and its consequent activities is the sexual drive. Although people wish to state it is simply a private choice between consenting adults, it is the sexual behaviours of a society that can be a sign, an indicator, regarding its rise or decline.
But living consistent to God’s image isn’t simply about making sure to live a life that doesn’t even touch on the fringes of the forbidden realms for non-Jews. Having a correct attitude towards those who have to deal with the issues surrounding these forbidden acts and the inclinations and temptations they may feel is also a matter of right judgment and good character traits.
To stand up for righteousness or for the basic moral code doesn’t necessarily mean being hateful to those who feel genuine pressures, internal and external, towards ways that are not according to the prescribed morality. It doesn’t mean that our main goal in life is to go above and beyond the law when it comes to its dealings and cause the victim of such pressures to also become victim to more immature invectives.
Sexual issues deal very closely with the natural desires many, if not most, humans carry. Sometimes to fight and struggle with a sexual urge is like a battle between the rational and moral inner man and the emotional and passionate inner man. And believe me, when something stirs up the passions, it takes so much, so very much, for the rational-moral core to stand strong enough to encourage right decisions. It doesn’t just require strength to stand but also effective strategies to cope with a deep-seated yearning. When a person fighting with such urges is then met with a lack of understanding and a quickness to condemn and shout down, it can be demoralising, which further causes more weaknesses and stresses for the rational-moral mind to deal with, and give strength to the need for comfort which is linked to those emotional urges for the forbidden.
Whether it is about dealing with the basic moral code regarding forbidden sexual partners (which is more than just homosexuality) or the heart’s desire to have for oneself a higher ethical sexual standard whilst still struggling with yearnings, either way, great understanding and maturity is needed, is essential, for the inner victory of an individual and the sexual health of a community.