Virtual Talmud

One of the core precepts of Reconstructionist thought is that Judaism is always evolving in response to times and circumstances–and thank God for that!

If Judaism had remained static, then our religion would have died out 1,900 years ago when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and we could no longer offer sacrifice. It is precisely Judaism’s ability to adapt and evolve that has kept it living and vibrant, rather than becoming stagnant. Whatever our attempts to convince ourselves to the contrary, Judaism was not handed to us in fixed and final form; rather, Judaism continues to evolve as successive generations of the Jewish people try to understand their obligations to God and to the world.

Homosexuality is one area where Judaism must change, as it has organically in so many other areas down the millennia. Certainly there are verses (two of them) in Torah that condemn homosexual behavior; but many of the standards of ancient Israelite society that we no longer would countenance are likewise enshrined in Torah. Slavery, stoning, vengeance killing–all of these practices are accepted or even promoted by the Torah. And yet we have no problem categorically rejecting them, saying that they no longer conform to a Jewish vision of a just and well-ordered society. Why should homosexuality be different?

It is clear to me that what many people think about gays and lesbians informs the way they read the Bible, rather than the Bible informing what people think about gays and lesbians. In other words, a general societal bias has emphasized–and politicized–this particular prohibition when so many others have, appropriately, been either discarded or reinterpreted.

Judaism provides a framework for formalizing and celebrating loving relationships through kiddushin, marriage. Gay and lesbian couples deserve to be affirmed both civilly and religiously, acknowledging the couple’s legal rights and also the holiness that exists in nurturing and mutually supportive relationships.

A growing number of rabbis see celebrating same-sex marriage as supporting core Jewish values and extending their promise to those who have been unfairly marginalized. It is through simple steps in the name of justice and love that the next chapter in the unfolding narrative of the Jewish people may be written.

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