Please continue to think about the last post “Quarreling with Orthodoxy” on what would be in a book to respond to post-orthodoxy and how would you address the problems. The Evangelicals in their discussions are showing that you wont solve the problems through more paternalistic liberalism or apologetics. The Evangelicals are showing in their struggles that one needs to properly name the problem, and then not to fix things with a repair kit but to offer a new vision combined with a return to basics.
A recent attempt for liberal tolerance for the issues in the community is last week’s Statement on Principles on Homosexuality. It was certainly needed to alleviate the suicide, depression, and self-hatred caused by a community that demands a single social aspiration and complete internalization of an external rule.
However, here is a new blog by two Orthodox women, both straight, grappling with the statements. I do not agree with many of their points. I am more catholic in many senses and do not think solutions will come via identity politics. But they raise the issues about liberal tolerance, hence they apply named themselves Accidental Radical.
I do know that whenever I am engaged in interfaith encounters and the other side starts with a declaration that we are all in the image of God and hence they would never do anything Anti-Semitic, then I know there will be no discussion of past Antisemitic acts, nor any plans to educate the laity, nor any apology, nor any commitments for the future since they already respect all humans.
Blogger #1- Svara
I strongly applaud the efforts of those who wrote and signed the statement, as it is a necessary and long overdue acknowledgment of the undeniable presence of homosexual individuals within the Orthodox community.
However, when I reached item three, I was a bit surprised. “ Halakhah sees heterosexual marriage as the ideal model and sole legitimate outlet for human sexual expression. The sensitivity and understanding we properly express for human beings with other sexual orientations does not diminish our commitment to that principle.”
We try to be accommodating, we even spew apologetics from time to time. But we continue to stand firm on our most important principle of all – that halacha says homosexual encounters are a big no-no, and there is nothing to be done about this reality.
I am a proud Orthodox Jew. I tend to run in more modern circles, and am occasionally met with confused looks when I proclaim my identity – people wonder how could I so readily align myself with a community that is perceived to be backwards in its approach to women, gays, tax responsibilities, etc. But my admiration of the strength and devotion of the Orthodox community, particularly in its commitment to halacha, has always trumped all of these problems that we have.
After all, if I am such a proud Orthodox Jew, shouldn’t I applaud this statement? Shouldn’t it be fundamental to any Orthodox approach?
I refuse to condemn homosexuality in any form.
In essence, what the statement does is tell the Orthodox community that we should not explicitly support our gay congregants, family, or friends’ homosexual relationships because they are not halachically valid, but if you so desire, when they want to come to shul or the family barbecue, with or without their partners and/or children, we should welcome them with open arms. I suppose my issue with this construct is that it continues to place the burden of blame for violating halacha on the shoulders of these gay individuals. We tell them that they’re violating halacha, but if they choose to do so (after all, is it really a choice to want to have a partner in life?), we won’t blame them for it. I just wonder if at any point the Orthodox community will explicitly grapple with the contradiction of halacha and our (independent?) moral instincts.
(In a similar vein, will we ever acknowledge that expecting Orthodox singles to be shomer negiah until they marry in their late 20s or early 30s is absurd? Because currently, many frum Orthodox singles in their 20s are “hooking up” on the side while pretending to be shomer negiah at shul, and this lifestyle is becoming increasingly widespread.) Will we ever stop handling these tricky questions by simply turning the other cheek, and instead step up and recognize how deeply this naive approach is hurting anyone who isn’t a married heterosexual Jew?
It bemoans me that the conversation on homosexuality needs to begin where this document does. Do we truly need to be reminded that all human beings are, well, human? Must we be told that we are prohibited from embarrassing, harassing or demeaning anyone?
It is an egotism to believe that we have the power to decide which aveirot are more severe than others. Who are we to proclaim that those who cheat on their taxes, those who treat others improperly, those who keep kosher homes but eat non-kosher in secret (perhaps I should add those who are shomer negiah in public but “hooking up” in private) are still worthy to be members of our community and receive honors, but those who have homosexual inclinations, or are in a homosexual relationship, do not deserve those same rights?
But I am conflicted by one of Svara’s points: “I just wonder if at any point the Orthodox community will explicitly grapple with the contradiction of halacha and our (independent?) moral instincts.” I wonder if this is the fear that permeates the Orthodox community which makes us so much quicker to condemn homosexuality and not kick out of our communities individuals who are convicted of attempted murder or child molestation: does halakha contradict our moral instincts?
My instinct is to answer a resounding no. But I have certainly felt that contradiction at times, this time being no exception.
I have many questions and no answers. But I will continue to grapple with these questions. Because I do not believe halakha offers us simple answers. But I do believe it has answers. And if those answers contradict my “(independent) moral instincts,” perhaps that is G-d’s way of telling me that I have not yet found the correct answers. And so we must continue to seek
For the Full Version- see here