I’ll be honest. The SCOTUS ruling was met with complete passivity by me. I didn’t cheer, I didn’t jeer. I didn’t exclaim, nor did I sigh. I just read it, and moved right along. In short, I just don’t care all that much, because it simply does not a difference to me. I just don’t care. Maybe I should. I don’t know. But I can only be honest.
But I think, rather, that my outlook might be perfectly suited as an Orthodox Jewish response to the ruling. What I think is exactly not suited for us, however, is most of what I’ve been seeing. Slurs, quoted Biblical verses, idiotic idioms (“Adam and Steve…”), and worse. This gets us nowhere, and is without question a tremendous chillul Hashem. Stop being stupid about this.
Yes, the Torah prohibits homosexual intercourse. It will forever view it as a sin. But it never says we should go around shouting that in people’s faces! Especially in a culture like the one in America in 2015! We don’t go around shouting at people who eat shellfish how disgusting and despicable they are, and how they are morally ruining our country! And yet, the Torah uses that same word, “toeyvah/abberation”, to describe both acts. So some seichel here, please. The Torah-view remains unchanged. What the US allows and does not allow people to do has no affect on that whatsoever. We know the Torah view, and we know what actually happens around us. What was ruled by SCOTUS is nothing more than one more thing to add to that list.
Now, it is true that the Gemara no doubt views homosexual intercourse as more severe. It is a “yeharog v’al ya’avor”. And reading this statement today kind of hurts:
Ula said: Non-Jews [litt. Bnei Noach, the progeny of Noah] accepted upon themselves thirty mitzvot [divinely ordered laws] but they only abide by three of them: the first one is that they do not write marriage documents for male couples, the second one is that they don’t sell dead [human] meat by the pound in stores and the third one is that they respect the Torah. (Chullin 92ab)
But ok. So, again, we add something pretty hefty to our list. The sad fact is that there is nothing much we can do about it. Acting like ignorant religious bigots certainly won’t help. Indeed, halacha recognizes that in such a situation there is no need to push our religious agendas on non-Jewish governments. It is, rather, a chillul Hashem and we need to stop it.
From a Torah perspective? I disagree vehemently with SCOTUS’s ruling. I believe it is a Biblical prohibition, and that the Creator of the universe, and all that inhabit it, has commanded said creations, for whatever reason, against it. I don’t know why. I don’t care why. But either way, it is prohibited just like murder is prohibited. End of story. But vehemently viewing homosexual intercourse as a sin, and vehemently opposing a democratic ruling for freedom in the United States are two different things that need not go together.
Thus, from a US legal policy perspective, I’m not pro-gay marriage, nor am I anti-gay marriage. (Really, I don’t believe the government should be involved in marriage at all! If they pulled out entirely, left marriage as solely a religious thing (which it is), and instead sanctioned “X amount of people living together” for tax purposes, I think we would solve all of our problems.) But what I do not think is that in the year 2015, in exile, given the current state of things, that the US government needs to be making laws based on the Torah. They don’t discriminate against us, and that’s more than enough. And there is not question that this SCOTUS ruling is a huge step for freedom and democracy in the modern age. In general, the progression of history to give more rights to more people is viewed only as a great thing by Judaism. And, as a whole, it has done nothing but make our lives as Orthodox Jews easier. We need to remember that too. In the end, I do not care about how the US legally views a homosexual relationship because it has no bearing on my life. I simply Do. Not. Care. And I honestly don’t really see why so many people (who are not affected by the ruling whatsoever) do…
I should also like, at this point, to introduce this quote on Facebook I saw someone link to:
Orthodoxy supposes that what God wrote in the Torah and passed down oral explanations are true. So here’s what I’m wondering. We all know that one of the Noahide laws is that not person can curse the name of God. We also all know that in the USA, such behavior must be legal, and we also know that though we think its wrong to curse the name of God, since God told us so - it shouldn’t be done even though it should certainly not be policed by our government. If the supreme court had ruled that it’s completely permissibly to curse the name of God publicly (or any other of the Noahide laws, like letting brothers marry sisters legally, or like permitting explicitly people to savagely rip limbs from live animals, or anything else that we believe God said it’s not right to do) would you celebrate that?
No one is saying be happy with the ruling today. Remember and recognize that America is drifting further and further away from the morales and ethics of Sinai. And that should bother you, no doubt. But recognize that it is only one entry in a huge, huge list of things. Why we are so upset by this one, specifically, is nothing more than a product of our generation. Realize that.
So, you add all of this up — that our religious perspective does not change at all, that I don’t see how/why we would be angrily opposed to this, but that to celebrate this ruling is utter dissonance — and I think a reaction of passivity is proper. At least, as stated, that was my natural reaction.
No ruling by any court is going to change how we view homosexual intercourse. Not a thing has changed for our lives as Orthodox Jews since the SCOTUS decision. Some people you probably do not even know will now be able to enjoy certain legal benefits that they were not once able to do. All halacha remains the same. All our views, outlooks, and laws remains the same. Everything remains the same.
At which point I say: I just don’t care all that much.
Shwekey has just released his latest. It’s a single called I Can Be. It’s written for the children he and his wife care for at their Center in Lakewood. (I’ve been there — it’s a phenomenal place.) And the sentiment is nice, and all that is good… and I hate to be a downer… but this is far from Shwekey’s best work.
This comes from, by the way, a huge fan of Shwekey in general. I’ll listen to anything he sings in. I bought this song as soon as I got the chance without even listening to the preview. But this song is just not good. I don’t find it particularly catchy, the words in some places are cringe-worthy in their cheesiness, and I just have no desire to ever hear the song again.
And it was $1.99, twice the usual price of a song (is it going towards the Center?), so that’s saying something…
Shwekey has been, until now, I suppose, the master of english Jewish songs. Most others’ are cheesy. His have always been excellent. Not this one. (And I aw well aware that Yaakov Shwekey himself does not write (most) of his songs, but he certainly chooses and executes damn well.)
Why can’t they give us what they want and release the latest HASC concert CD, in which Shwekey and Simcha Leiner sang together? In fact, I’ve actually heard rumors that they won’t be releasing this CD at all. Which is terrible news if true. (Perhaps they decided that the world just can’t handle Shwekey and Leiner singing together?)
In short, color me disappointed. Looking forward to his next full studio album, though. Whenever that may be.