Response To ‘I Did Not ChooseTo Be What I Am…’ (Chronicle 12-1)
Needless to say, I cannot speak for you. I neither know you nor have I ever – thank G-d – walked in your shoes. I do hope for your sake that you have availed yourself of a proper course of psychotherapeutic evaluation with a competent therapist who can offer you, as a frum individual, the best chance for change. Essentially, such approach is comparable to the physically sick person’s pursuit of medical attention in quest of a cure.
Most SSA sufferers have evolved into their present predicament by circumstances having little to do with their inherent natures. Some have been affected by exposure to an abusive or oppressive parent figure or have suffered other psychological setbacks that have brought them to their current state of affairs. Then there are those who have alas sunk so low spiritually as to be easily influenced by a lifestyle touted in a decrepit secular society as being perfectly normal and acceptable.
A stable two-parent home, one parent of each sex, is the ideal atmosphere in which to care for and bring up the helpless infant and growing child. Full psychosexual maturity renders one capable of entering into a long-term intimate committed relationship with another adult of the opposite sex. A protest of “I can’t” or “I don’t want to” is indicative of failure in attaining that level of psychosexual maturation – the ‘highest’ level from a biological/scientific perspective, from which one has been diverted in childhood.
Having covered basic ground, let’s examine the points of contention you raised in your letter.
You say, “What I do not fathom is how the prohibition of a very specific behavior translates into Hashem not making people whose sexual orientation is homosexual.” Consider this: Adultery is forbidden. Is that to say that no man should ever be tempted to enter into an adulterous relationship? Quite the contrary – since G-d knew that man would be prone to misbehave, He instituted rules to keep him in line. While there are individuals who would never fathom crossing that line, some have natures that make it hard for them to abstain from doing so. In the same vein, there are businessmen who would never cheat, no matter how tempting the circumstance, while others struggle against a propensity for dishonesty. Needless to say, our Creator was well aware that SSA could jeopardize the quality of life as He meant for us to live it. Hence: the warning to steer clear of abhorrent behavior.
“It is the inherent desire of every woman to be desired by her husband.” With all due respect to your concern, this is like saying that every woman who has a baby automatically turns into a loving and caring mother. Certainly, most women need to be loved and desired (and appreciated) by their men. Yet, (as some of the letters to this column have attested), there are women whose love and respect for their man is powerful enough to keep their relationship intact, thriving and satisfying – regardless of the struggles of their SSA-suffering husbands. Naturally, the strength of the foundation of such a relationship is dependent on mutual openness and honesty at the outset. If a woman receives the attention and affection that she needs and deserves, she will remain by her partner’s side for better or worse, even to be his helpmate through his life-ordeal. Understandably, such resolve hinges upon an individual’s personality and stamina. If the parties involved are serious, mature, aware, and determined to make it work, it conceivably can, will, and has.
“Incurable” deafness, a physical disability, can hardly be placed in the same category as a disorder that consumes one with an unnatural desire for intimacy with one of his/her own gender. Hashem did not make you this way. Your “condition” evolved as a result of the psychological constellation of events in your growth and developmental stage – and, admittedly, has thus become your nisayon, your test in life.
Proof positive: If G-d had intended one to resign to his “state of homosexuality” and to accept it as his “fate,” the Torah would have provided guidelines in how to deal with the challenge – the same way the Torah explicitly prescribes allowances for the deaf-mute, the dimwitted and the minor (cheresh, shoteh v’katan). Other than stern admonition, one is hard-pressed to find divine reprieve for the SSA-afflicted. This is not to negate your struggle. But isn’t all of life a struggle? The stresses of life are many and varied, and temptation, granted, is very real. The nisayon hinges not only on resisting its pull, but also in altogether quashing the inclination.
Whatever form your demon assumes, whether it be SSA, pedophilia, alcohol/drug/sex addiction, a vile temperament, proclivity for deceitfulness, etc., whether blamed on circumstance or predisposition, your nisayon is to keep it at bay and – moreover – to conquer it completely.
Naysayers take note: Moshe Rabbeinu wrote, “Tosheiv enosh ad dako You turn man back until his afflictions weaken him, his pride is crushed and his arrogance turns to humility, and You call on him to repent” (Tehilllim 90:3) By having us confront challenges, Hashem summons us closer to Him, awakening in us the realization that we can depend only on Him to lift us out of our quagmire.
If we succumb to our animal instincts, what would differentiate us from the four-legged species? Ours is to draw a distinction between right and wrong and to use our intellect to that end – which calls for a dogged determination to crush the temptation and vanquish the desire.
Hashem admits to having created the yetzer hara – adept at zeroing in on our vulnerabilities and coming in for the kill – as well as the antidote to counteract its poison. His directive is indisputable. “U’bachartah b’chayim – life and death, I have given you and I exhort you to choose life” (Nitzavim 30:19).