A solution to homosexuality that every Orthodox Jew can agree upon

chastityA male chastity belt used in England during the time of Queen Victoria in the 19th century.  This metal device was created for “masculine self-control in support of the bourgeois ideal of domestic life.” photo from bbcamerica.com

Celibacy. It’s an easy solution that was right in front of everyone’s face. Lifelong celibacy is the answer. Gay Jews can be out and proud and be accepted by a community comfortably assured that no rumpy pumpy is happening behind closed doors. This is the premise of an article I read this morning written by a gay orthodox Jew, who says that it is entirely possible and preferable for homosexual Jews to lead celibate lives. Of course, the article is written by someone who already sowed his wild oats in a formerly non-frum life, is now middle aged and no longer a hormone crazed teen or young adult, and who seems to be able to satisfy his need for male companionship through close friendships with chavrusas, community members, and the occasional non-sexual massage from a straight masseuse.

It’s a win-win situation all around, because our gay brethren can officially take themselves “out of the parsha” with a valid excuse and no longer have to endure the constant overtures of shadchans, pushy friends and relatives, and surplus female victims of the shidduch crisis. Gay men can openly admit to same sex attraction, while at the same time, assuring the rest of the community that, of course, such attraction is merely theoretical.

IF gay Jews were halachically permitted to date, fall in love, and marry other men, they would do so. However, since halacha never has and never will permit two men to be together in the same way a man and woman can be together, being gay is just a philosophical label. Practically speaking, no gay activity will ever happen in an orthodox gay man’s life. No heterosexual activity will happen either, which in this scenario of eternal celibacy, is the main purpose of “coming out.” To let people know to back off in terms of shidduchim or expecting a gay man to father children with a woman. It’s not going to happen – unless of course, there is a trace of bisexuality there that will permit these mitzvot.

Really, the solution to the “homosexual problem” in the orthodox community is to create a new subset of sexuality – asexuality. People who vow to never engage in sexual activity with anyone – not with the opposite sex (who they are not attracted to anyway, and who they would be lying to if they engaged them in a relationship without disclosing their true sexual preference) and not with the same sex (with whom they would be violating Torah prohibitions if they engaged in such a relationship).

Orthodox Jews can finally be “politically correct” in our open acceptance of homosexual (read “practicing asexual”) members of the tribe. The politically correct bandwagon isn’t something that we orthodox Jews often get to ride on in the 21st century. Here’s our chance to be trendy! We can feel good about asking an openly gay man to daven for the amud, give him an aliya, hagbah, or ask him over for Shabbos and yom tov meals. Heck, there might even be a rush to include homosexual Jews into services and into our homes to show just how accepting we are! As long as there’s no mailman knocking on the backdoor, it’s all good!

If you think that expecting lifelong celibacy (and for an orthodox Jewish gay man, of course that means masturbation as well) is cruel or inhumane, you are falling into the patronizing attitude common among the heterosexual population.  Don’t bring your own issues into the discussion! Just because YOU wouldn’t be able to keep it in your pants for the next 120 years, doesn’t mean someone else isn’t capable, dang it! If you doubt the word of a frum homosexual man that he is remaining completely chaste, whether through his own hand or the hands of others, than you are simply a judgmental person who has never learned to be dan lchaf zchus and maybe needs to go back to cheder for this basic lesson.

Chazal have said, “There is a small organ in a man. When it is well-fed, it is hungry. When it is starved, it is satiated.” The less you use it, the less you need it. Therefore, maybe we can all take a page from this new movement of homosexual, or practicing asexual, Jews. Perhaps it is holier for all of us to suppress our sexual urges, and do as Chazal says. After a certain period of starvation, we will all eventually lose our sexual urges, and be practicing asexuals – free from sin, free from discrimination or discriminating, free from our yetzer hara, and as an added bonus, free from needing contraception!

32 thoughts on “A solution to homosexuality that every Orthodox Jew can agree upon

  1. I see that leaving Mitzrayim, the land of the worst immorality in history has left you unaffected. Perhaps you did not eat enough matzah! (or most likely not enough maror).

    While your compassion is notable your wisdom is sorely lacking. You have fallen for the gay lie hook, line and stinker. The “gay” men you are discussing are indeed capable of heterosexual relations.

    Most men with homosexual urges can choose to be with a woman. It is far from biologically impossible. I could explain further the many ways even the most uninterested “gay inclined” person can accomplish this but I would rather keep this in clean family friendly language and detail.

    Granted these people may have an interest even some quite strong of being with a man, but it is controllable and it can be biologically channeled into a woman. It is far from biological impossible. With great desire to do the right thing it can be accomplished. Even among those on the 100% level of the spectrum. However, the amount of people with strictly a 100% desire for same sex partners is minuscule. Most are bi-sexual and are capable of choosing their partners. However as Nachmonides states (in his commentary on Chumash) they have a “taiva yeseira” -a very strong sexual desire. They would indeed need a very sexually interested female partner in the best case scenario to channel this excessive need.

    We all have desires for things that we cannot have. All married heterosexual men for example are living a totally unnatural life if they choose to be monogamous. Monogamy is not the natural state of male sexuality. Every man is ready to jump at every beautiful woman he sees. That is natural. That is what all men are thinking. Many are able to control that desire and channel all of their needs into one female. However it is far from natural. It takes great strength, moral conviction and a tremendous amount of self control. It is a lifelong battle for all heterosexual men.

    Therefore we all have our struggles. The media has made the gay issue the social/civil rights issue of the day and has stifled all true thought. You have completely fallen for this media concoction and instead of remaining with faith firmly in the words of the Jewish sages of the last few thousand years.

    • It seems that you are well documented about the homosexual question, could you please quote your sources, thank you?
      By the way, don’t worry about Sharon, she is firmly standing in the faith of the Torah.

    • Geddy’s Rabbi – By your same logic, heterosexual men are capable of having homosexual relations. It is far from biologically impossible. I could explain further the many ways even the most uninterested “heterosexual” person can accomplish this but I would rather keep this in clean family friendly language and detail.

      Your conclusion that all a gay man needs is a nymphomaniac to switch him over to the other side is projection at best. There are some gay men that are utterly repulsed at the thought of being with a woman. Even if a gay man decided to try to conform to Torah standards and marry a woman, what kind of life is it if he has to keep his eyes shut and imagine he’s with George Clooney every time he and his wife are intimate? What kind of life is that for his poor wife?

      Of course we all have desires for things we can’t have. Every man is ready to jump at every beautiful woman he sees? Not the men being discussed in this post. You can’t generalize in such a way – just as the author of The Times of Israel article shouldn’t generalize that lifelong celibacy is a handy dandy solution for all orthodox gay men.

      Comparing the desires of married people to stray outside their marriages isn’t a fair comparison to the issue of homosexual celibacy. As you said, at least a married man has a satisfying outlet for his urges, even if he lacks the variety he might crave. For a man not attracted to women, there is no such relief. I disagree that there is no such thing as a truly gay man.

      • What you are saying is true. All people have within them the capacity to do every avera that the Torah mentions. Even a heterosexual man is capable of all the averas listed in last weeks parsha including homosexuality or bestiality. Although many of these averas may not currently have no appeal to us, deep within out subconscious we are capable of doing them. Rabbi Abraham Twersky was once asked by a team of researchers if he would like to undergo electrical tests to see all the things that in are in his subconscious. He replied that he does not need to be tested because he already knows what is in his subconscious-all the possible mitzvos and averas listed in the Torah.

  2. It has become such a politically charged issue that very few academicians or other public figures will have the courage to state what I said for fear of being ostracized from their professions.

    Intellectually debating homosexuality on a biological and psychological level has become almost as career threatening as questioning the validity of the theory of evolution if you work in the natural sciences department of a university. The intense intellectual “orthodoxy” of the academic world make even the most Chassidic community seem quite liberal.

    Ponder this.

  3. Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not very educated on the subject of homosexuality, but I recognize great writing when I come across it. Any well written piece -on a serious matter- that makes me chuckle out loud while I read, I will label “satire.” It is my liberal right to do so. I think.

  4. One of the major things I love about this blog, is that Sharon doesn’t “takes sides.” Shewrites a great posts about articles she reads, or videos she sees, but she doesnt make her posts opinionated -in my opinion. If readers chose to take offense to anything she writes, it’s their personal choice.

  5. Sharon is this a satire? If so, why? Do you not believe that what the author is saying is valid, or even more importantly, the most advisable path to take for someone in that position (Orthodox and gay)?

    • If the author can remain celibate for the remainder of his life, kol hakavod. I don’t think expecting other homosexual Jews to remain celibate for life is a realistic or humane solution. I think he is asking other homosexual Jews to do something which he himself didn’t do – he had his day on the sun, so to speak. However, I think his viewpoint is one that most Orthodox Jews will jump on as the ideal solution – and now they have an actual orthodox gay spokesperson who is advocating for this lifetime of suppression, so it works out perfectly.

    • I’m saying we should mind our own business and accept people in our communities without them having to make a public declaration of celibacy. We don’t expect straight singles or divorced people or agunas to assure everyone they are celibate. We don’t expect straight couples to publicly declare they are observing laws of nidda. What goes on in someone’s bedroom is between that person, their partner, and God.

      • No we don’t expect everyone who should be celibate according to halacha to make an announcement that they are celibate. We do expect them to follow halacha. If we as a community should be accepting of others, and not expect most homosexual Jews to be celibate (and by extension of that, expect them not to be), then we have created two sets of standards.

        • We should have no more expectations of them than we do for their straight counterparts. Again, none of us are required to register our sexual activity status. They shouldn’t have to either. We are all expected to follow Torah and communal norms. Doesn’t mean that everyone does, but it means we are given the benefit of the doubt. Gay people have the right to be judged dan l’chaf zchus too.

          • Absolutely–until they publicly divulge that information, as some may by indicating that they have a same-sex partner.

          • When a straight orthodox person divulges they are dating or engaged – are they given the benefit of the doubt that they are remaining celibate? Even if they are not remaining celibate with their significant other/others? Yes. Why can’t the same apply here?

  6. I don’t think you understand the gravity of the sin of homosexuality. I could quote you dozens of citations in the Chumash, Talmud and midrashim which paint a very dark picture of those who engage in this behavior. I think we can all agree that our great Rabbi’s are known as Sages for a reason. Jews don’t call anyone a Sage too easily!

    The Jewish view on this in completely unlike and a 180 degree difference from the secular world. It is literally the complete opposite and it is like we are Avraham standing on the other sider of the river from the rest of the world as he started to teach the world about the concept of One G-d.

    Like many, you have possibly become desensitized to the seriousness of this sin (yes “Sin”. Lets not forget that is a Jewish concept!!-Glad to see Mir119 using this term again.) through the constant bombardment of the media. The media has made anyone who thinks negatively of this act into a bigot and racist. Its so absurd how a sexual practice turns a certain people in to a “race”. Even stranger is that this “race” only lasts one generation. Not much of a race:)

    We can be compassionate and need to be compassionate to any struggles that one has when trying to reconcile his/her life to the demands of the Torah. We all have many challenges. No one has it easy. That is for sure.

    However the real issues have nothing to do with what is presented in the media. If we could come at this from a pure Torah and Chazal based perspective there would be much more clarity and in the end more compassion and real solutions.

  7. the thing i don’t get is why the need to publicize that one’s gay if they’re going to obstain from having homosexual relations? is it like a club thing? or to get shadchanim of their backs? why not just be celibate, and keep your preferences to yourself? i’m not getting it.

    • In the scenario the author of the Times of Israel article describes, I think it would be to get the community off their backs regarding shidduchim…also, just being open about who you are and taking off the mask. If you are celibate – practically speaking, are you of any sexual orientation, gay or straight? Is it the desire that makes you one orientation or the other, or is it the action? If it’s the action, and there is no action, it would seem there is no need for anyone, homosexual or heterosexual, to declare their preference. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

      • It’s the desire, but old cookie is right, unless a person just wants to get shadchanim off their backs, there is no need to announce it. The Times of Israel author is writing the article specifically to introduce celibacy into the equation, not to announce his orientation in its own right.

  8. the stigma of homosexuals isn’t going away anytime soon from the frum community. So being loud and proud about it, and expecting people to still not be weary just because you’re preaching to be celibate sounds like fighting and uphill battle…. to me it sounds like a pointless pain in the behind. (pun intended). even ignoring shadchanim sounds easyer.

  9. mir119, wouldn’t any orthodox male who felt a desire to sleep with another male obstain because they have learned that it’s wrong?

  10. Gay or straight, humans need intimacy, and most healthy adults need sexual intimacy. I think it is unfair to ask someone to live a celibate life, which to me, is just as “unnatural” as homosexuality. If G-d has placed the “obstacle” of homosexuality in front of certain individuals, then who are we, as a society to be “involved” with the decisions those people make with regard to that challenge? There are 613 mitzvahs! Why are we so hung up on the sex thing? I don’t understand!

  11. Hi, I’m the author of the essay this piece is responding to, and I’ve been asked for my thoughts.

    But frankly I can’t tell which parts of this confusing blog post are supposed to be ironic and which parts are earnest. Are the parts in which you twist the words of my essay and claim I say the opposite of what I did part of the satire?

    I’ve read it twice, I can’t figure it out, and I’m giving up. If anyone has any direct questions, I can try to answer them here or at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.

    • It’s pretty clear to me. You promote a life of celibacy for gay Orthodox Jews, when you yourself have not lived a life of celibacy according to your own admission. Only when you were done with that lifestyle did you make the choice to be a non-practicing homosexual, and find the solution so satisfactory that you recommend it for others. While it’s great that you have found a solution that works for you, it’s a pretty bitter pill to force someone else to swallow – especially for people that have never even had an opportunity to find love or romance as you did in the past.

      • Only someone who deliberately wants to skew what I wrote could make such claims about my essay. I urge the followers of your blog to read it for themselves. It is overwhelmingly about ME and my life choices, and why it’s wrong to demean people who choose celibacy. Your claim that I “promote a life of celibacy” and I “recommend it for others” can only be based on a single sentence found 3,500 words into a 4,500-word essay – and even that is in the context of, essentially “Celibacy is ideal, but here are some things to think about if you can’t be celibate.” In fact, there’s paragraph after paragraph about what gay Orthodox Jews should do if they can’t be celibate and virtually nothing telling them to be celibate in the first place.

        Yet to read your comments people would think my essay was basically “Why you should (must?) be celibate.” A gross misrepresentation of what I wrote (and what I believe) and I urge people to read it for themselves to see what it actually says.

        • I’m glad that you clarified you are describing your personal choices and not foisting them upon others who might not be able to live up to your ideal. That’s not how it read to me when I saw it.

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