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We Are Not Under Attack By the LGBT Community

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Photo Credit: Daniel Dreifuss/Flash 90

A strident op-ed titled “We Are Under Attack by the LGBTPed Community” was published on 5TJT.com and has been picked up by YWN. The article argues that government bans on so called Conversion Therapy is an assault on religious freedom. This sort of therapy has been discussed on this blog previously. See: Conversion Therapy.

The upshot of the article is that Agudath Israel, OU, and NCYI need to lobby against these bans that, as the author concludes, “deprives both minors and therapists the freedom of seeking out therapies that will encourage redirection for those struggling with unhealthy physical attractions. This is a direct assault on religious freedoms in this state by the LGBTPed community, and we must put in an all-out effort to quash this bill.”

There is so much wrong with this op-ed. Too many of the assumptions in the article are based on familiar, and erroneous, conservative Daas Radio talking points.

The headline is obscene. It implies that there is equivalence between LGBT and pedophiles. Leaving aside the issue of whether these tendencies are inborn or learned, or whether they are deviant tendencies, LGBT and pedophilia cannot be uttered in the same sentence with a straight face. One who is LGBT and acts on those tendencies with a consenting adult may be a sinner in the eyes of some religions or God. However, they are acting in a loving and respectful manner. A pedophile who acts on their tendencies is taking advantage of a child. This is a violent, selfish, abusive act. There is no moral equivalence between the two and we should not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of equating the two under any circumstance.

There is an assumption that Orthodox organizations do not work together with Christian lobbyists. This is incorrect. The frum organizations joined Christian forces in opposing the “contraception mandate” portion of the American Healthcare Act. (See: Controlling Birth Control and OU and Agudah Unite Against Contraceptives on DovBear). There is plenty of evidence that Orthodox Jewish organizations and conservative Christians work together on many things. This is just something that they are (thankfully) choosing to ignore (so far).

Banning Conversion Therapy is not an assault on freedom nor is it an attack against religion. The 9th Circuit correctly ruled that these bans are not an assault on freedom because they do not regulate speech. They regulate professional activity. We are guaranteed freedom of speech, not freedom of professional activity. It’s no different than any law that regulates psychologists or lawyers or really any profession where the bulk of the work being done is speech. When speech is used in a professional context like therapy it is not simply speech, it becomes conduct. The government has the right to regulate professional conduct. Just because much of the conduct is speech, the power the government has to regulate the conduct does not magically become limited.

Also, as Professor Volokh notes, even though the science of whether something is harmful or helpful may change, as long as the government leaves the issue open for reevaluation based on the current science, the law is fair. It’s not an assault on freedom. Orthodox Jews are free to teach Leviticus and we are free to deny any religious rights and privileges to anyone we so choose. But the state can still regulate therapy. This is not an attack on religion.

Further, the horror stories of JONAH participants is enough to discourage any of us from lamenting laws that prohibit them from engaging in dangerous forms of therapy. Disallowing this kind of therapy protects children and teens from potential harms. I’ve been told that JONAH also provides therapy to sex abusers, oftentimes together with LGBT people. This is a clear message to LGBT people that they are viewed as equals to sex abusers. Protecting its citizens is certainly within the rights of a state. The lack of scientific evidence to support Conversion Therapy combined with the harmful activities associated with organizations like JONAH are enough to support the state’s decision to ban it.

There is nothing to be gained by dehumanizing LGBT people. They have been made to feel subhuman for their tendencies enough times in their lives. We don’t need to pile on. In fact, it would be really great if we could somehow assure people who have been through so much already that they are loved and accepted no matter their preferences behind closed doors. While it’s true that we cannot proclaim that an act we believe to be a sin is not a sin, we are not obligated to do everything in our power to make their lives miserable. Indeed, it is not uncommon for LGBT people to feel unloved and shunned by the Orthodox Jewish community. Is there any group that would benefit more from a little extra love and affection from the rest of us? Perhaps not.

Too often I see it formulated this way. Homosexuality is wrong. We cannot compromise on that. Therefore we reject all attempts to normalize these activities. Further we oppose any legitimization of LGBTs by way of civil rights and privileges. But of course we love all Jews, even the gays.

This is all wrong. I believe the correct formulation should be as follows. No matter a person’s private activities, we love our fellow Jews. Those who are in pain or are outcasts deserve extra love and sympathy. It is far too common for LGBTs people to feel like outcasts. Our primary concern has to be their emotional welfare. We can’t allow our children, brothers, and sisters to feel like they are alone or disassociated from their families. That comes first. Their religious or spiritual welfare comes second and only long after concern number one is sufficiently satisfied.

We’re all quite familiar with the prohibitions in the Torah.  It’s not a valid concern to think that expressing our unconditional love to LGBT people or laws granting rights to LGBTs or preventing certain forms of therapy will somehow subsume the relevant prohibitions. I see no reason that the normalization of LGBT people would have any more of an effect on Orthodox Jewish society than the normalization of eating McDonald’s will make Orthodox Jews start eating Mickey D’s.

One final word on the subject for now. Social conservatives have made this one of their primary issues. I don’t claim to understand their reasoning or justification for this choice. However, when it comes to Orthodox Judaism, we have no mandate that requires us to give more attention to this than any other issue facing our community. We are not beholden to their selective outrage machine. The constant use of euphemisms like Toeiva or anti-Torah when referring to this particular issue and not to others is a baffling social phenomenon. I can think of at least a few dozen matters that deserve more attention and derision than this issue. Let’s refocus the collective energy and place it on other things that matter more.

Think about the teens, young adults, and everyone else who needs our love more than anything else right now. They are people with lives and feelings and fears just like the rest of us. We are really not under attack from them. If anything, the are under attack from us. Please don’t ever forget that.

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About the Author: Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D. is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at finkorswim.com. Connect with Rabbi Fink on Facebook and Twitter.


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21 Responses to “We Are Not Under Attack By the LGBT Community”

  1. the problem is that gays do recruit. homosexuality is an entity that cannot survive without recruiting. look at Germany during the second world war there were 4,000,000 males and 2,000,000 of them were homosexuals, dont tell me that they are all born that way all of a sudden, even in the U.S.A. why all of a sudden are there so many coming out of the closet? We do well to take Leviticus 18 verse 22 to heart, as G-d is not mocked.

  2. let me remind you of something else. G-d delivered the Israelites out of slavery while in Egypt and they were few in number. He drove out other nations before them, because of the abominable and detestable things these nations practiced which were evil in the sight of the Lord. and He also warned them not to do likewise. so if you throw out the commandment given in Leviticus 18 verse 22, what have you got left, at least Christians believe christ suffered for these sins of the flesh so that people could repent of same by looking on His suffering and be healed. but if they refuse to repent, then they are also mocking Christ suffering at Calvary.

  3. one of the reasons im an atheist is that its so obvious that if there was a loving god that he would never allow an ignorant ******* like you to exist

  4. Mario Vredenburg says:

    I am gay and a jew and we DO NOT recruit!!! Were have you ever heard such a strange thing? So many are coming out because they can. If Hashem makes no mistakes, then gay observant Jews should have no fear.

  5. Mario Vredenburg i hope you find the courage to come out of the religious closet like you did from the straight one…my heart goes out to you being gay and still stuck in a primitive mindset

  6. Nissan Ratzlav-Katz says:

    If all therapies that are unproven and may even have harmful effects are banned, then a good number of the nation's psychologists and psychiatrists will be out of a job, as will all the homeopathists, and a good number of "mekubalim"…..

  7. Roy Neal Grissom says:

    What difference does it make whether or not Jews are "under attack" by homosexuals? What difference does it make whether or not they recruit? Homsexuality is forbidden under both Torah AND the Noachide Laws, and they CANNOT be legalized.

    As to (h–vens to betsy!) cooperating with Notzerim, what of it? Is everything the Notzerim believe or do now magically un-kosher? Must Jews disown the Holy Torah because Xian "bibles" contain a translation of it? Perhaps Jews should cease breathing oxygen, since Xians also engage in this practice. You know, this whole thing is getting a little silly. How about going by the Torah and Halakhah rather than looking to what the Xians do and then doing the opposite?

    Jews were Theocrats a thousand years before Xianity existed. There was no "freedom of religion" as the post-enlightenment knows it in ancient, Torah Israel. Worshiping a "gxd" who wasn't HaShem was a capital offense. Those ancient Jews also did "primitive, silly" things like engage in sacrificial rituals that Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson (today's Jewish authorities, apparently) would have been unable to justify.

    There is on Facebook a page for Jewish Polygamists, since quite correctly they note that the Torah does not require monogamy (provided that there are multiple wives, but no multiple husbands). Hopefully it won't bee too long until we see a Facebook page for advocates of Jewish Theocracy.

  8. Erica Cook says:

    As a lesbian and as a person with Jewish ancestry, thank you.

  9. Justin Spiro says:

    Thank you Rabbi Fink for speaking the words that so many Orthodox rabbis are afraid to say. Yasher Koach! You are literally saving lives!

  10. Ofer Kalifon says:

    "I see no reason that the normalization of LGBT people would have any more of an effect on Orthodox Jewish society than the normalization of eating McDonald’s will make Orthodox Jews start eating Mickey D’s." – So true, as is that teaching sex-ed does not encourage kids to have sex. Moreover, he strikes right at the heart of the matter when he says "I can think of at least a few dozen matters that deserve more attention and derision than this issue. Let’s refocus the collective energy and place it on other things that matter more." The reason social/cultural conservatives have focused on this is because they've joined at the hip to the economic conservatives who oppose the socioeconomic message of most religions. Hence their poor reaction to the pope's statements about gays and atheists and to his renewed emphasis on social justice and responsibility.

  11. Joel Grober says:

    Thanks for posting Justin

  12. John Prescod says:

    No one's under attack by the LGBT community, we're under attack by the control system, POSING as the saviors of the LGBT community.

  13. Ben Yosef Shomer says:

    ''Soon the king Messiah he will bring to trial all the clowns who mocked the Creator.

    The world is in chaos, do not believe you know for a moment what the future holds. All this makes the Creator completely in charge of the whole world, without exception. We must cry to the Creator. With all the Jews crying out to the Creator, to mend this world, the king Messiah will put this entire world in a state of order!' (from the last message from rabbi Nir ben Artzi ) CAN YOU HEAR r. FINK?

  14. Michael Grad says:

    Saving lives? Give me a break

  15. Mario then I suppose you dont believe in the Lord G-d of Israel, who gave the commandment in Leviticus 18 verse 22 that for a man to lie with another man is an abomination? And that he sent Christ who suffered for these sins of the body on Golgotha, so that we could look to Him and repent and receive forgiveness? and do you remember that when G-d delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, when few in number he drove out other nations before them, because they practiced abominable and detestable things which were evil in the eyes of the Lord? G-d does not change but remains the same and His Word abide forever. I feel sad for you.

  16. mario vredenburg, homosexuality is an entity that cannot survive on its own. so they need to recruit as during the time of the second world war there were 4,000,000 males in Germany 2,000,000 of them were homosexuals, the birth rate plummeted the reason they were put in prison to discourage them from recruiting. this is the reason homosexuality is taught to the children that is normal part of the gay agenda re recruiting.

  17. Sientje Seinen, so sad that the dinosaurs went extinct but people like you still exist

  18. Ofer Kalifon says:

    So you are claiming that the LGBT is not under attack by cultural conservative? The denial of same-sex marriage rights by governments does not constitute discrimination in your opinion? The LGBT community does not need government to step in and quash any sort of discrimination? I know you don't trust government in general but do you really trust private organization (such as corporations) to behave decently towards LGBT members? Or churches? Or state governments in the US? I know you claim to support gay marriage and non-discrimination towards LGBT but you effectively deny it since you don't trust government and believe that its support of LGBT rights is all an act. You think that its support comes with unacceptable strings attached yet how many members of the LGBT community give a damn about those strings? I doubt all that many. I find it hard to believe that most LGBT servicemen and servicewomen opposed the repeal of DADT. I doubt the LGBT community rejects Obama's public support. I doubt they'd reject the Supreme Court's recent decisions on Prop 8 and Windsor. But you do which effectively puts you on the side of the homophobes since I doubt they care WHY you oppose all of this – They only care that you oppose it.

  19. John Prescod says:

    Ofer Kalifon I trust churches to behave decently toward LGBT people far more than I trust the federal government to do so. Churches aren't spying on gay people or groping them at the airport or giving them proctology exams, or stealing from them, or murdering them if they get too close to a story.

    The LGBT's are under far worse attack by the "liberals' than the conservatives, it's the liberals who are attacking our civil rights. It's fine for gays to embrace the "strings attached" to federal government support, I'm just saying those strings are attached to a 1000 pound anvil that's going to fall on all our heads, gay and straight alike.

    I don't care what LGBT service people think of DADT, their opinion on the military industrial complex is far more important to me. Further, when gay rights is being discussed at the top levels of power, it isn't about gay rights. It's about the NWO agenda of sterilization and population control and hate speech regulations, and the pedophilia rampant at the heart of the Anglo-American power structure, and while we're at it demonziing Putin so gays here won't care that we're bombing him.

  20. Using websites as a proof ? Oh pulease. Who cares what dov brar had?

  21. Benny Gamal says:

    I am from the Five Towns and my dear cousin, The Legendary Danny O'Doul, used to write for the 5TJT, where he was the "Cousin Marilyn" (from 'The Munsters') of the paper. Larry who publishes the paper is a good guy and the paper is free, but it has thousands of advertisers … so a little controversy sells even "free" papers better! Trust me we don't have a big problem here with LGBT members running around trying to recruit the other team… but, we do have our fare share of "fruit loops" and "LB's" (loony bins!) who mostly just talk on their cellphones while driving Mercedes and huge SUV's and walk into walls on The Avenue because they are texting while walking!

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