L’Observatoire des religions

"Judaism’s Sexual Revolution : Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality."

dimanche 23 mars 2008 par Dennis Prager

When Judaism demanded that all sexual activity be channeled into marriage, it changed the world. The Torah’s prohibition of non-marital sex quite simply made the creation of Western civilization possible. Societies that did not place boundaries around sexuality were stymied in their development. The subsequent dominance of the Western world can largely be attributed to the sexual revolution initiated by Judaism and later carried forward by Christianity.

This revolution consisted of forcing the sexual genie into the marital bottle. It ensured that sex no longer dominated society, heightened male-female love and sexuality (and thereby almost alone created the possibility of love and eroticism within marriage), and began the arduous task of elevating the status of women.

Author Dennis Prager (born August 2, 1948) is a Jewish American syndicated radio talk show host, columnist, author, ethicist, and public speaker. He is noted for his conservative political views and for his study of the consequences of secularism in the 20th Century.

Choose life

Judaism cannot make peace with homosexuality because homosexuality denies many of Judaism’s most fundamental principles. It denies life, it denies God’s expressed desire that men and women cohabit, and it denies the root structure that Judaism wishes for all mankind, the family.

If one can speak of Judaism’s essence, it is contained in the Torah statement, "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse, and you shall choose life." Judaism affirms whatever enhances life, and it opposes or separates whatever represents death. Thus, a Jewish priest (cohen) is to concern himself only with life. Perhaps alone among world religions, Judaism forbade its priests to come into contact with the dead. To cite some other examples, meat (death) is separated from milk (life) ; menstruation (death) is separated from sexual intercourse (life) ; carnivorous animals (death) are separated from vegetarian, kosher, animals (life). This is probably why the Torah juxtaposes child sacrifice with male homosexuality. Though they are not morally analogous, both represent death : one deprives children of life, the other prevents their having life. This parallelism is present in the Talmud : "He who does not engage in propagation of the race is as though he had shed blood."

GOD’S FIRST DECLARATION about man (the human being generally, and the male specifically) is, "It is not good for man to be alone." Now, presumably, in order to solve the problem of man’s aloneness, God could have made another man or even a community of men. But instead God solved man’s aloneness by creating one other person, a woman — not a man, not a few women, not a community of men and women. Man’s solitude was not a function of his not being with other people ; it was a function of his being without a woman. Of course, Judaism also holds that women need men. But both the Torah statement and Jewish law have been more adamant about men marrying than about women marrying. Judaism is worried about what happens to men and to society when men do not channel their passions into marriage. In this regard, the Torah and Judaism were highly prescient : the overwhelming majority of violent crimes are committed by unmarried men. Thus, male celibacy, a sacred state in many religions, is a sin in Judaism. In order to become fully human, male and female must join. In the words of Genesis, "God created the human ... male and female He created them." The union of male and female is not merely some lovely ideal ; it is the essence of the Jewish outlook on becoming human. To deny it is tantamount to denying a primary purpose of life.

Few Jews need to be informed of the centrality of family to Jewish life. Throughout their history, one of the Jews’ most distinguishing characteristics has been their commitment to family life. To Judaism, the family — not the nation, and not the individual — is to be the fundamental unit, the building block of society. Thus, when God blesses Abraham He says, "Through you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

"Crisis" 11, no. 8 (September 1993).

Copyright © 1993 by Crisis Magazine

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