Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

Jonathan Romain’s ‘Ask The Rabbi’

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The following came from an email list distributed and written by Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain discussing the view of equal marriage within Reform Judaism in the UK :

 

“If I were to ask you: What is the Reform Movement’s position on Gay Marriage?

I suspect you would be able to guess correctly…but you still might want to check out the below to see how right you were……”

ANSWER: The Bible itself does not comment on a person being Gay, but it does strenuously oppose Gay sexual relations. Such activities are “an abomination” (Leviticus 18.22), while it also prescribes the death penalty for it (20. 13). That attitude has led to Orthodox Judaism maintaining a negative attitude to this day. However, the essence of Reform Judaism is to combine the best of the teachings of the past with the insights of the present, which is why there is much in the Bible we still follow, but also much we have decided is no longer appropriate (eg animal sacrifices or stoning rebellious children). Sexuality is one of the areas in which our understanding has changed enormously – be it the social status of women or the attitude towards Gays. We no longer regard being Gay as a lifestyle choice but a matter of genetic make-up: people are born Gay. To put that in religious terms, it could be said that they are created Gay by God.

It follows, therefore, that there is no reason why being Gay should be the object of discrimination – and just as we have to persuade the rest of the world to undo centuries of habit in turning their backs on anti-semitism, so we have to do the same with Gays. This includes accepting the fact that a gay couple who want to establish the type of relationship we regard as ideal for heterosexual couples (stable, loving, committed) should not only be able to do so, but also have an official ceremony to recognise it. Calling it a “marriage” may offend those who associate the term exclusively with men and women, but then definitions change: not so long ago “the right to vote” was assumed to be only for men, and only those men who owned property, and without question not for women. So, once the law is changed, the Reform Movement will allow rabbis who wish to perform Gay marriages to do so.

 

(See also this article on Pink News from last May)

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Author: Hidden Perspectives

A research project within the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at The University of Sheffield.

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