Rabbi Barr talks about the orthodox sex guru.
Rabbi Barr talks about the orthodox sex guru.
College basketball season is over, but Brittney Griner is still making news. Griner was a Baylor basketball star and now plays in the WNBA. Apparently Griner’s coaches at Baylor told her to keep quiet about her homosexuality. It makes me so sad to think that she was forced to hide part of her identity.
Here is Baylor’s statement on human sexuality – the bold font is my way of drawing emphasis to parts:
Baylor University welcomes all students into a safe and supportive environment in which to discuss and learn about a variety of issues, including those of human sexuality. The University affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God. Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.
The University encourages students struggling with these issues to avail themselves of opportunities for serious, confidential discussion, and support through the Spiritual Life Office … or through the Baylor University Counseling Center….
Okay – so, Baylor affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality and therefore concludes that single people shouldn’t have sex and marriage should only be between a faithful husband and wife. If the folks at Baylor are such fans of following the Bible closely, shouldn’t men have multiple wives? Shouldn’t daughters get their father drunk and have sex with them? Shouldn’t a father put his daughters out to be gang-raped? Because these things happen in the Bible as well.
And based on the Bible, shouldn’t children be sold into slavery? Shouldn’t people be punished for mixing different fabrics? Shouldn’t men be prohibited from shaving the corners of their beards? Shouldn’t children who curse their parents be put to death? Shouldn’t one be cut off from the community for working on Saturday? Because the Bible says all these things too.
Baylor, if you want to be homophobic, own it. But don’t blame it on the Bible.
And if you do continue to be homophobic, I hope talented student-athletes and students choose schools other than Baylor, schools that will appreciate them for all that they are.
My guess is that if you spend anytime on Facebook, you’ve already seen this amazing video of Zach Wahls. Zach was raised by two moms and he spoke passionately and eloquently at the Iowa House chambers in his testimony in support of gay marriage.
Zach’s testimony is powerful and inspiring – so much so that I watched it a few times. A few days after I saw the testimony, I saw this article that Zach wrote about how his testimony was influenced by his religious background. Zach is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist. And here’s some of what he shared in his article:
“My church in Iowa City is a forward-thinking congregation by any standard and has officially been a Welcoming Congregation since the mid ’90s. In our religious education program, I learned the importance of thinking outside the box, considering all possibilities and putting others before yourself…”
“…From the get-go, it was clear that we were to approach everything with an open mind and to consider as best we could the benefits and drawbacks of all the religions we studied. It was in my RE program, and through the Seven Principles, that I was endowed with some of my most guiding and persistent values: To bring an open mind to the world, to let my light shine and not attempt to extinguish the light of others, to fight for what I believe to be true while remembering that I am fully capable of being (and often am) wrong, to live freely and love openly.”
This is the power of how education in a church or synagogue can be so significant in the life of a developing child. At Congregation Beth Adam and OurJewishCommunity.org we hope to engage in conversations with our students that help them think about who they are as humans and as Jews. We don’t provide black-and-white answers to many questions – but we do encourage them to think about their personal values and to have open minds to explore the best of what is around them in their decision making process.
Zach’s religious identity does not appear to be about dogma. Instead it is about 7 principles of Unitarian Universalists.
The 7 principles are a refreshing approach to what it means to be human. How lucky Zach is to have been exposed to such a strong community and to have been strengthened by his religious education as well.
Here, at OurJewishCommunity.org we have our own set of values, values which I think provide a great framework for being human and for being Jewish:
• We value learning opportunities that support participants’ connection with their Jewish heritage
• We value open-mindedness and respect for differing views
• We value discerning intellectual inquiry that thoughtfully questions and explores Jewish texts and other sources of wisdom
• We value acknowledgment of each person’s religious and spiritual journey supported through our unique liturgy
• We value principles of responsibility and origin of authority that rests with each individual
• We value evolving to meet the needs of our growing online congregation and a changing Jewish community
• We value nurturing connection and building community with each other as Jews and with all humanity
• We value community engagement and social justice that is responsive to the ever-changing world
I’m one of those people who checks Facebook multiple times a day, and I often find that my friends have posted interesting news stories. My jaw dropped today when a colleague posted this article from Time Magazine to his Facebook Page: “The Orthodox Rabbi Helping Gay Men Marry Lesbians.” It couldn’t be true, I thought. So I read the article – and it turns out it is true. True and horrifying.
The story is that Areleh Harel, an Orthodox Rabbi, has been matching Orthodox gay men with Orthodox lesbians so that they can have a “traditional family.” How troubling. Dishonest. Repressive. Not consistent with my view of Judaism.
Harel will be launching a website and charging $430 per match made.
Gays and lesbians should be able to marry people they love and are attracted to. Men can marry men, and women can marry women. A Judaism that does not recognize this and that uses ancient texts to say homosexuality is wrong is not a Judaism for me. A Judaism that doesn’t realize there are lots of different ways to have families – with or without children btw – is not a Judaism for me. And, yes, you can be gay and have children. Welcome to modernity!
One of the gay men featured in the story says he has had an extramarital affair with a man while married to his lesbian Orthodox wife. Cheating on one’s spouse is generally wrong. So, to the Orthodox gays and lesbians, I boldly say I think you’re better off marrying the person you want to marry in the first place. And if the Orthodox community can’t deal with that, then come spend time with us online. We value all people – regardless of their sexual preference.