Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Orthodox attitudes to gay people shift" Guardian.UK

"If you think the Christian world has a problem with gay people, you should try orthodox Judaism. For centuries homosexuality has been taboo; it's not what nice Jewish boys or girls do. The biblical proscription against "men lying with men as though with a woman" (Leviticus 20:13) is considered the very bedrock of Jewish morality. For traditional Judaism marriage is the highest state of social bonding – a true union of body and soul. Despite some odd exceptions in biblical and rabbinical literature, (Jeremiah is told by God to stay single, Ben Azzai, one of the greatest of the Mishnaic teachers, remains a bachelor by choice), even celibacy was frowned upon. Part of this opposition was no doubt based on a response to the cultural environment – pagan in the biblical era, Christian in the rabbinic one. But despite major shifts in sociological contexts, the ban against homosexuality was rigidly enforced throughout the centuries. Whilst in other areas the rabbis often showed great flexibility and understanding, this particular area remained off-limits" 

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