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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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We Are Not Under Attack By the LGBT Community

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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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Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

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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