Theology of Sex

March 20th, 2007

I believe it was around ten or eleven years ago that Beth Simchat Torah made news by hosting the first same-sex marriage ceremony of two Jewish men (“God’s Creation,” The Classes, January/February). I had recently begun a position as a senior software engineer at Moody’s Investors Service where one of the men, Mark Sibley, was also in the information technology department. My boss, an Italian Catholic, showed me the New York Times article and asked, “Phil, does Judaism really allow this?” My answer was an emphatic “No!” and I proceeded to show him the verse (Leviticus 18:22) in the Torah in which G-d considers sodomy between two men to be an “abomination.”

Interestingly, the source of the word, sodomy, is from the Biblical city of S’dom, which G-d destroyed along with Amora because of its inhabitants’ moral depravity. Thus, I find it ironic that Ayelet Cohen ’96 feels “the committee missed an opportunity to demonstrate real moral leadership.” I also find it ironic that the English translation of Beth Simchat Torah, the name of an institution that wantonly defies Jewish law, is “House of Joy of Jewish Law.”

As to Cohen’s next statement, “They don’t see that sexual diversity is part of G-d’s creation,” it is only part of G-d’s creation to the extent that G-d gave people free will. Cancer, in which some of the body’s cells start “doing their own thing” and stop functioning according to rules that promote the body’s well being, is also part of G-d’s creation, but we don’t glorify it. Rather, we try to prevent and cure it. Indeed, homosexuals, like all people, are G-d’s creations, and as such we must treat them with kindness. However, in the context of a discussion of Jewish law it must be clear that their behavior is clearly forbidden and not to be condoned.

Finally, lest anyone think that I am defending the Conservative movement, the fact that their panel passed “three separate and contradictory papers” speaks for itself.

Phillip N. Jacobs ’79

Spring Valley, N.Y.

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March / April 2007