So yes, I am a firm believer in live and let live.
That goes for long time friends that have actually converted away from our cherished Jewish traditions to friends or relatives that choose a gay or lesbian lifestyle--it's their choice!
And everyone has free choice to do what they think is right--that is the nature of free choice--if we weren't free to choose, then how could we be responsible for our choices?
But what I am confused about sincerely with the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States in legalizing marriage for gays and lesbians is not the concept of where everyone is equal under the law, but the open contradiction with the Torah (Biblical) texts that I am familiar with since I was a child in Yeshiva:
1) Leviticus 18:22--"Thou shalt not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
2) Leviticus 20:13--"If a male lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death, their blood is upon them."
I understand that many advocating for gays and lesbians have explained these texts as no longer applicable today (ref: Huffington Post):
- That the Biblical passages "do not refer to homosexuality as we know it today" (i.e. those that are consensual, not cultic rites, etc. )
- That they "are conditioned by the cultural and historical realities of the authors" and one needs to consider the greater biblical context for G-d's love and caring of all.
But looking at the strict text of these passages, they don't seem to read as conditional (there are no conditions identified), and for those that believe that the Torah is divine (written by G-d) and is timeless, then how do we reconcile it with our wanting to be loving and accepting of ALL people who aren't hurting themselves or anyone else?
Adding to the confusion, we read just this week about extremists like ISIS killing gays by brutally throwing them off of roofs and routinely about arch enemy Iran hanging them in the public square.
Also going in my mind is the question of there being separation of church and state in this country, yet does legalizing gay and lesbian marriage affirm that separation or does it cross it by legislating against the strict scripture that many hold inviolate.
Similar to the debate on abortion rights, these are where modern day-to-day issues and traditional religious teachings and values can be difficult to harmonize.
I am truly happy for gays and lesbians that they can marry if they choose and find their happiness--everyone deserves this, but religiously, I am left unsure of how to reconcile this with the Torah as written.
Can we think that we are free to choose the individual commandments we believe in or not or to find explanations where we don't understand them or they don't make sense to us--if so, how do we know we are doing what G-d wants of us or whether we are going astray?
In the end here the Supreme Court affirmed the right to choose and to respect all people under the law--this is fundamental to our basic beliefs in freedom, human rights, and love of our fellow man.
But in so doing, will some see this as encroaching on G-d's law and if so, what is the impact to those that are deeply religious and/or hold strictly heterosexual marriage as sacrosanct?
Surely each person must follow the dictates of their conscience which G-d has granted us, but pitting the Supreme Court of us earthly beings potentially against that of Heaven--this is a truly tricky and slippery slope to understand and reconcile. ;-)
(Source Photo: Twitter @WhiteHouse)