Wednesday, January 26, 2011

GoProud, SoCons, The CPAC Boycott, & Homosexuality In Context

What is and should be the relationship between the conservative movement and conservative homosexuals? What should be the relationship between the conservative movement and homosexuality more generally? Those questions are implicated in the decision to invite GoProud to attend the CPAC conference and the decision by World Net Daily and the Family Research Council to boycot the event. It is also the subject of a post by Daniel Blatt of Gay Patriot. As he sees it:

While the fact that some groups are boycotting does show that that not all conservatives are willing to include their gay and lesbian confreres, overwhelmingly, conservative organizations don’t have a problem working together with gays in common purpose. And that purpose is reducing the size and scope of the federal government while standing up for basic American values, including the freedom to live our lives as we choose.

We may not agree with some of these organizations on all issues (nor they with us), but at least they welcome us into the conservative fold. And that really should be the takeaway from this kerfuffle, that the conservative movement is increasingly opening its doors to openly gay men and lesbians.

Well said and, I believe, very true.

One of the comments to Daniel's post caught my eye. It was from an Orthodox Rabbi who expounded on how he, as a social conservative, views homosexuality:

People of faith insist that homosexuality is the most serious of sins because the Bible calls it an abomination.

But the word appears approximately 122 times in the Bible. Eating nonkosher food is an abomination (Deuteronomy 14:3). A woman returning to her first husband after being married in the interim is an abomination (Deut. 24:4). And bringing a blemished sacrifice on God’s altar is an abomination (Deut. 17:1.). Proverbs goes so far as to label envy, lying and gossip as that which “the Lord hates and are an abomination to Him” (3:32, 16:22).

As an Orthodox rabbi who reveres the Bible, I do not deny the biblical prohibition on male same-sex relationships. Rather, I simply place it in context.

There are 613 commandments in the Torah. One is to refrain from gay sex. Another is for men and women to marry and have children. So when Jewish gay couples come to me for counselling and tell me they have never been attracted to the opposite sex in their entire lives and are desperately alone, I tell them, “You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy. Now, go create a kosher home with a mezuza on the door. Turn off the TV on the Sabbath and share your festive meal with many guests. Put on tefillin and pray to God three times a day, for you are His beloved children. He desires you and seeks you out.”

Once, I said to my friend Pat Robertson, whom I have always found engaging and open in our conversations, “Why can’t you simply announce to all gay men and women, ‘Come to church. Whatever relationship you’re in, God wants you to pray. He wants you to give charity. He wants you to lead a godly life.”

He answered to the effect that homosexuality is too important to overlook, seeing as it poses the most grave risk to the institution of marriage. Other Evangelical leaders have told me the same. Homosexuality is the single greatest threat to the family.

BUT WITH one of two heterosexual marriages failing, with 70 percent of the Internet dedicated to the degradation of women through pornography and with a culture that is materially insatiable even as it remains all-too spiritually content, can we straight people say with a straight face that gays are ruining our families? We’ve done a mighty fine job of it ourselves.

The extreme homophobia that is unfortunately to be found among many of my religious brothers and sisters – in many Arab countries being gay is basically a death sentence – stems from an even more fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of sin. The Ten Commandments were given on two tablets to connote two different kinds of transgression, religious and moral. The first tablet discusses religious transgressions between God and man, such as the prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy and desecrating the Sabbath. The second tablets contains the moral sins between man and his fellow man, like adultery, theft, and murder.

The mistake of so many well-meaning people of faith is to believe that homosexuality is a moral rather than a religious sin. A moral sin involves injury to an innocent party. But who is being harmed when two, unattached, consenting adults are in a relationship? Rather, homosexuality is akin to the prohibition of lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread during Passover. There is nothing immoral about it, but it violates the divine will.

For the record, I am in favor of gay civil unions rather than marriage because I am against redefining marriage.

But I hardly believe that gay marriage is the end of Western civilization.

For me the real killer is the tsunami of divorce and the untold disruption to children as they become yo-yos going from house to house on weekends.

The American religious and electoral obsession with all-gay-marriage-all- the-time has led to a values-vacuum where it is near impossible to discuss real solutions to the erosion of family life. For instance, making marital counselling tax deductible would do infinitely more to bolster the crumbling institution of marriage than any opposition to gay relationships.

Likewise, promoting a code of gentlemanly conduct for men on American college campuses and negating the prevailing hook-up culture where sex even precedes dating could spark a return to romantic and long-term commitments.

Finally, getting more families to sign up for our international “Turn Friday Night into Family Night” would give children in general, and girls in particular, greater self-esteem as they are focused on by their parents for at least two hours each week without any electronic interference. And children with self-confidence later create stronger adult relationships.

I have numerous gay friends whose greatest fear, like so many straight people, is to end up alone. Should we merely throw the book at these people? Does not the same book, the Bible, also say, “It is not good for man to be alone?” And all I’m asking from my religious brethren is this: Even as you oppose gay relationships because of your beliefs, please be tortured by your opposition. Understand that when our most deeply held beliefs conflict with our basic humanity, we should feel the tragedy of the conflict, rather than simply find convenient scapegoats upon whom to blame all of America’s ills.

The writer is the author of Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life and is founder of This World: The Values Network, a national organization that promotes universal Jewish values to heal America. Follow him on Twitter@Rabbishmuley and at Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive news updates directly to your email

I think the Rabbi has it right - and his views closely track my own. And no reader of this blog could possible characterize me as anything other than a conservative whether fiscally, socially or in matters related to defense.

That said, someone's homosexuality is not my business nor the business of the state. Homosexuality defines one's sexual preferences, not their character nor the goodness of their soul, and it is only the latter two that add up an individual's benefit to society. I welcome anyone, regardless of sexual preference, into the conservative tent if they share conservative's concern with issues of freedom, democracy, fiscal sanity and defense.

I do have some significant reservations concerning the push for "gay rights." One, as a religious person, I disagree with sanctioning gay marriage, though I support the concept of gay unions. Two, as a former infantry officer and company commander, I disagree with lifting DADT on pragmatic grounds. Three, I get absolutely livid over attempts by the radical left to normalize homosexuality in grade school. And four, I get equally livid over using the police power of the state to suppress speech critical of homosexuality. Indeed, that last is particularly outrageous, as are all "hate speech" laws and policies.

Beyond those areas of disagreement that I might have with many homosexuals, including some conservtive homosexuals on points one and two I suspect, there are thousands of other points on which we may well agree. To your average left-wing single-issue homosexual, I would no doubt be described as a raging homophobe. To a conservative homosexual, I would no doubt be described as that short, intellectualy challenged guy that likes to talk politics with them over an ice cold beer or glass of home-made mead.

In any event, I am glad GoProud has been invited to CPAC. I am disgusted with social conservatives who are boycotting CPAC on those grounds, not because of their stance against homosexuality, but because of their cowardice. If there is a debate to be had on social issues, let it be in full sunlight under the conservative tent. Taking one's chips and going home is hiding from the debate, and that is something I only expect from the left.


O Bloody Hell said...

My views track mostly with your own. I have no problems with civil unions granting gays the rights to visitation and many of the other benefits of marriage. "Marriage" itself is a religious institution and does not belong in connection with homosexuality. I've never been in the military, but as I understand it, open homosexuality is harmful to unit cohesion, and DADT is a fair balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of the collective.

As far as gays themselves, the bible is fairly clear that it's wrong and a sin, but, there's lots of things we all do, usually knowing we're not supposed to, which fit that bill. Hence that's largely between the individual and God, and is mostly none of my business.

Ex-Dissident said...

Great post, as usual. One particular item from the rabbi's viewpoints that I found very interesting:
That colleges should institute a gentlemen's code of conduct negating the ever prevalent hook-up.

Of course, this would be an impossible task if we as a society would wait until our kids are in college. We need to start much earlier, and teach our children to value themselves and each other again. That is the way forward.

RavingDave said...

Is the Rabbi familiar with what happened to the Benjamites? How about Sodom and Gomorrah?

God seems pretty intolerant of that behavior if his action are any indications. He Wiped out Sodom (where we get the word "Sodomy" from. He Wiped out Gomorrah (for unnatural sexual practices.) and the Tribes of Israel gathered together to wipe out the Benjamites.

Yeah, God seems to regard homosexuality as a minor offense meriting a slap on the wrist with a side order of DEAD.

GW said...

Dave, you read more into those accounts in the Bible than I am prepared to agree with. As to the Rabbi, his contact information is provided in the post, he can answer for himself.

As to Soddom and Gomorrah, it is far from clear that the crimes for which the city was destroyed was homosexuality. Indeed, that has long been a point of dispute among biblical scholars. Even accepting that the crimes for which S&G were destroyed were sexual in nature, what the townsfolk proposed was an act of rape.

As to the tribe of Benjamin, in Judges 20, when asked to describe the crimes of the Benjamites, the accuser states "Me they attempted to kill, and my concubine they abused so that she died." There it is even less clear than in Gen. 19.

My interpretation, to the extent that there is a clear similarity between the two events - and they both had nearly identical fact patterns - it is that the crime of rape or attempted rape occurred. Those are violent, sinful acts. To go beyond that and claim that homosexuality itself is what drew God's ire is, I think, a vast overreach.

John Doe said...

Sooooo, you wish to piss off the largest segment of the conservative movement--social and fiscal conservatives--in order to appeal to the less than 1% of the population who are faggots out there and who are fiscally conservativive. Makes zero-ZERO-sense from a political standpoint.

Makes more sense that you are just gutless, and/or want to seem cool and hip.

Or that you yourself are immoral and afraid to call a spade a spade. Homosexuality is immoral. It is no different than inviting those who practice bigamy or incest or beastiality or necrophilia to your "big tent."

OBloodyHell said...

> Sooooo, you wish to piss off the largest segment of the conservative movement--social and fiscal conservatives--in order to appeal to the less than 1% of the population who are faggots out there and who are fiscally conservativive. Makes zero-ZERO-sense from a political standpoint.

John, you presume too much upon your numbers, as do most Christian extremists. Thankfully, unlike Islamic extremists, you are a small and largely powerless group.

If God plans to smite them dead, then **God** -- not you or I -- will be the one who should and will do so.

I plan to do what Jesus would do, and that is to do whatever God allows me the power to do to bring them to see the error of their ways. I cannot do that if I hurl invective at them and suggest to them, with a verbal frontal assault, that they cannot be Saved.

*I* certainly realize I don't know this, YOU certainly SHOULD realize you don't know this, and it is not now nor ever will be Your Place to judge them for their sins.

Matthew 9:

9And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.



You cannot follow Jesus with hate, derision, or disdain for your fellow man. Not even "faggots".

That is His message: You are NO BETTER THAN THEY.

"All have sinned in the eyes of the Lord."

Your goal, in Jesus' name, is not to reject them, to spurn them, nor to deride them.

It is to make the case to them that They Do Wrong.

And you cannot do that with a frontal assault. People who Do Wrong are most often defended by 2 inch armor plate in the front. They have all sorts of reasons for why it's not wrong. All manner of reason for why it is YOU who are wrong.

You must find a better way.

God will provide you with that way, if you seek it.

GW said...

John Doe:

I am a fiscal and social conservative - and a defense hawk who spent years as a U.S. Infantry Officer. You don't know me and obviously don't follow this blog - so let me give you just 4 of my several thousand posts as examples -

Fiscal - 2011 The State Of The Economy

Social - The War On Religion

The Roots of Slavery & The Race Hustlers' Holy Grail

National Security At The End Of Obama's First Year

As to the charge that I am "gutless," that attempt to demonize me and delegitimize my position on this issue makes you no better than any of the worthless scum on the left that have spent four decades destroying this nation with the race card. And to the contrary, I am willing to stand and be counted, physically or intellectually, on everything I say or do.

Ironically, I note that Smash Mouth, the blog that your name above links to, contains a post, , that pretty much tracks with my own. So have you called Doug "gutless" yet. And if not, you sir, are one hypocritical bastard to come on my blog and accuse me of being gutless.

As to whether to welcome in conservative gays to the conservative movement, I base my opinion on what I think is right, not on who I might piss off with my reasoning. Holding one's finger up to the political wind is to see what your position should be is, I think, the epitome of gutlessness.

GW said...

OBH - I was going to included the same argument in my post above based on Matthew 9, but then decided against jumping into the biblical arguments. You have stated the argument better than I would have anyway. Thx for that. I concur in every word with your comment.