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Homosexuality and the Torah


I have a question based on this article I wrote a few months ago:

My understanding is that mishkav zachur (sodomy) is also prohibited for gentiles under the Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach. If so, what is the scope of enforcement for gentile governments? Specifically, are they obligated to criminalize private acts of homosexuality as well as public manifestations thereof like homosexually-themed bars and such?

I ask the question in these terms because I had occasion to discuss my article with a Chabad rabbi soon after it appeared. He described Michael Oren's promotion of homosexual tourism to Israel as a "Maisa Satan," but the rabbi compared "going into people's bedrooms" by criminalizing homosexuality to the mayor of New York City's campaign against large sodas—that is, wrongful use of state power. Likewise, in a book published in 2002, Rabbi Yosef Reinman from Lakewood notes that “The Torah forbids homosexuality, period,” subsequently writing: "I do not advocate laws against homosexuals. I do not believe secular governments should regulate sexual morality." In a related vein, a rabbi affiliated with Yeshiva University stated at the end of a recent talk on homosexual marriage: "It's a complicated discussion. Again, I'm not here to say we should or should not [oppose homosexual marriage], but I think there's a range of possibilities of how one can look at it."

While this resonates with my own classical liberal inclinations and belief in constrained political authority, I'm not sure that classical liberalism and Sheva Mitzvot enforcement duties are compatible in this case. Trying to apply the latter through the former seems to produce what might be called a hashqaphic sha'atnez.


1. I commend you on the article excoriating Michael Oren for his comments endorsing homosexuality. It is indeed a disgrace and a Hilul Hashem that a man bereft of any moral compass such as he should be appointed an ambassador of Israel to the world.

2. You are correct in thinking that homosexual relations are forbidden by the Torah for all human beings. See TB Sanhedrin 58a and Rambam’s MT Isure Biya 14:10 and M’lakhim UMilhamoth 9:7.

3. Rambam (M’lakhim UMilhamoth 9:17) goes on to explain that non-Jewish societies “are required to appoint judges and courts to try” all matters pertaining to the Seven Noahide Laws “and to inform and warn the people” regarding these laws. It is, therefore, the duty of the government and its institutions to educate the public about the Seven Noahide Laws, including the prohibition regarding homosexuality, and to treat those who transgress any of the Noahide laws as criminals.

4. A criminal act is a criminal act whether it is done in public or in private. Until recent times, most civilized (and many uncivilized) countries considered sodomy a criminal offense. (Sodomy refers to homosexual intercourse, known in Halakhic literature as Mishkav Zakhur. It is this the Torah (Wayiqra 18:22 and 20:13) refers to as To’eva (abomination). Heterosexual anal intercourse is permitted (see Rambam’s uncensored MT Isure Biya 21:10; uncensored version of Rosh Y’vamoth 3:9 (see Venice edition, or BaH’s annotation no. 6); uncensored version of Tur OH 240 and Even Ha’Ezer 25)).

5. No government is required or allowed to invade people’s privacy without extremely good cause (e.g. fighting terrorism). However, as you correctly point out, flaunting one’s perversion in public is another matter. It goes without saying that no-one has the right to advocate and defend a criminal practice. According to the Torah, so-called ‘gay’ bars, advocacy groups, and organizations furthering the LGBT agenda are engaged in a pernicious form of criminality which subverts healthy human society.

6. All of the above should be self-evident to any Torah Jew, let alone a rabbi…. or so one would think. Many today have been so bamboozled by "liberal" (read: "amoral and confused’) thinking in general and the LGBT lobby in particular that they unconsciously distort the Torah to fit their predilections. (With regards to the Lakewood rabbi who wrote: "I do not advocate laws against homosexuals. I do not believe secular governments should regulate sexual morality", I note that he speaks of secular governments. Perhaps he feels that a government and society which makes no pretense regarding its adherence to a Bible-based moral code has no right to legislate on such matters. He has a point; this is why more and more countries and states are decriminalizing homosexual relations. As Torah Jews, however, it is our duty to proclaim the truth of the Torah unambiguously.)

7. A female former Conservative "rabbi", Dr. 'Enath Rimon (or Ramon?) stated in a recent article/interview in Maqor Rishon's D'yuqan magazine (19-10-2012, no. 793, p. 21) that at one point she realized that granting the "homo-lesbian community" recognition – such as the Conservative movement's decision six years ago to sanction rabbinical ordination for homosexuals and lesbians, or legalizing same-sex marriages – inexorably led to LGBT indoctrination. She mentioned the example of a Massachusetts judge forcing kindergartens to include in their curriculum stories about a prince marrying a prince. Her conclusion: the religious freedom of those who wish to bring their children up believing that only heterosexuality is normal and healthy has been sacrificed on the altar of "liberalism". She went on to say that such recognition has led to "homo-lesbian terror", citing the original decision of the Conservative movement's Halakha Committee to grant autonomy to each community and institution regarding the question of appointing a homo-lesbian rabbi. In practice, she states, one cannot be appointed a dean in any academic institution of the movement if one opposes homo-lesbian rabbis, and some communities will not accept a rabbi who refuses to perform same-sex marriages. She goes on to predict that before long no rabbi opposed to homo-lesbian rabbis will be put up with.

8. The LGBT lobby's agenda is evil; it is diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Torah. There is a reason why sodomy is called sodomy; it is always an accepted practice in Sodom-like societies (see B'reshith 19:5). A society wishing to live and prosper is duty-bound to criminalize such behavior and those who advocate it.

22 Kislev 5773 Thursday, 6th December 2012

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