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Q&A: Rainbow Flags, and Friends from Other Schools

July 3, 2015

Question: Why do you oppose people using the rainbow flag app for their online avatars and facebook pictures?

Answer: Because of what it stands for.

Questioner: I did it to show support for my gay friend.

Answer: Everyone deserves support, but for the right reasons and the right purposes.

Questioner: I support his right to equal rights.

Answer: Last I checked, every American had a right to marry someone of the opposite sex. What has happened now is something altogether new: now anyone can even marry members of the same sex. But equality existed before that. I shudder to think what may happen next.

Question: So what do you really think?

Answer: Chief Justice Roberts did not note that certain cultures did have a tradition of same-sex marriage: the Ancient Egyptians and Canaanites. Moses connected their heinous “marital” practices to all the other sexual wrongs, bestiality, Molech worship, and ultimately, the utter failure of those civilizations. Yes, people who feel homosexual urges deserve sympathy, and they have rights, but like every other human being, it is their own responsibility to avoid sinning. Some of us feel that God made us with urges to steal, or speak slanderously of others, or miss shacharis. That does not give us permission to act on those urges. The flag does not stand for their rights as human beings. They had those already. The flag stands for something that is destructive to both Jewish and Gentile society. The flag represents the repudiation of a number of known prohibitions. The flag and its related symbols are used to express one’s disdain for God’s Torah, and it is therefore prohibited for one to make use of it.

Question: You can’t show me a source for it being prohibited.

Answer: A Jew’s very being is dedicated to representing God’s word in this world. Jews keep the Torah, and were bidden to appear physically different from others. Jews are to bear the signs of the covenant on their heads and their arms, and to wear reminders of the commandments on their clothes. It goes without saying that they should not display signs of rejecting parts of God’s law.

Also, you should put your Facebook picture back to normal before your parents see it and have a heart attack.

Question: What do you think about Shmuly Yanklowitz?

Answer: I disagree with almost everything he says. I think it is telling that he has a frequent refrain, “as an Orthodox rabbi.” If his positions would be more, for lack of a better euphemism, typical of observant Jews, he would not need to remind us of that all the time… I am happy that this blogger, with whom I mostly agree, has been taking him to task for some things. I would too, but I do not have the time. By the way, I do not agree with the way Mr. Farber writes and his tone. If only he wrote more like Rabbi Shmuly…

Question: What about the rest of the Open Orthodox Rabbis?

Answer: Some of my best friends are graduates of YCT, and I see eye to eye with them on most issues. More importantly, I have learned much from them and, despite the fact that I officially studied in other institutions, in my limited exposure to Rabbis Avi Weiss and Dov Linzer, I have also learned much, especially in the bein adam lahaveiro department. Yanklowitz, like other alumnae, does not speak for YCT or any of his colleagues, and they are all entitled to their opinions. I also don’t usually agree with anything Rabbi Ysocher (why does he spell his name like that?) Katz has to say. 

Question: Who do you normally agree with?

Answer: I survey all the usual blogs, starting with Hirhurim and Dovbear, whom I also don’t always agree with, but I have found, that among them, Rabbi Josh Yuter has only written one thing that I ever disagreed with.

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5 Comments
  1. You are mixing your personal beliefs of homosexuality with the actual purpose and drive of the federal acceptance of gay marriage. You claim that homosexuals had equal rights before the Supreme Court decisions but they most certainly did not. Here is a list of some of those rights: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/pages/from-why-marriage-matters-appendix-b-by-evan-wolfson

    Every American had the right to marry someone of the opposite sex. Now they also have the right to marry someone of the same sex. That is all. Whatever “sexual wrongs” that you compare homosexuality to are just as close or as far from social acceptance in modern day society as they were before this decision.

    This decision was about the core fundamentals of what many believe is the key to modern day existence; the separation of church and state and equal rights for all. Other than religious (and even there I would question it), there is no justification for inequality for homosexuals in any situation. The backlash against homosexual marriage has been reminiscent of the other historical reactions to bigotry. We fought a war over slavery, and continue to deal with the cultural race and women oppression and yet the initial reactions to these atrocities were nearly identical to the arguments we hear now from opponents of same-sex marriage.

    Those who changed their profile picture, as I did, did so to celebrate a long overdue shift to equality. It’s to celebrate the win over bigotry. It is not a celebration of homosexuality. This is a celebration of equal rights and the power of our democracy to continually strive for equality.

    For those that believe homosexuality is a sin, I would quote Voltaire, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    And for those that feel government should be based on religious beliefs, I provide to you this brilliant scene from the West Wing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD52OlkKfNs

    Responding with the same on Facebook as I think this is an important discussion

    • 1. I made a semantical argument: Gays had all those rights in your link, as long as they married someone of the opposite sex. That’s the point. The Court has created a new form of marriage for everyone. But before that, all were equal. You could marry a woman of your choice, and so could Ben Gay. 2. To me, thisis not a church-state issue. Society needs to define its terms, and now some terms have just been redefined. Marriage meant something because of historical development, which included religious components,now it means something else. 3. The important factor in this “struggle” was its attempt to legitimize something wrong. Do you feel that our society discriminates against or treats thieves and rapists wrongly? Last I checked, we throw them in jail. Who is standing up for their rights to live in their own houses and walk the streets? it is an insult to the civil rights movement to make this comparison, and also a fallacious reductio ad hitlerum argument. 4. Thought question: Should siblings have the right to marry? What about three women and two men altogether?

  2. Thanks for the response.

    1. It all depends on how you look at it. Would you argue that if the US banned Jewish prayer it would go against our Freedom of Religion? After all, you don’t have to pray to be Jewish and therefore you don’t lose your right to be Jewish if the government bans prayer. Also, I COULD pray with a Christian prayer book, so everyone is still equal, right? I would argue that it does go against my freedom of religion for the fact that by allowing prayer for some religions and not others it is discriminating one religion from the other.

    So to make my point, homosexuality is 100% legal and yet we have laws that discriminated against homosexual marriage. Just because they COULD get married to a woman doesn’t mean it’s not discriminatory. It’s very similar to asking you or I to use a Koran to pray.

    2. Agreed. Marriage has become more inclusive to match modern day acceptance of homosexuality.

    3. Comparing homosexuals to rapists is what is insulting. The only difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality is gender. Rape has nothing to do with love, it has to do with power. It’s not consensual. It’s an attack. Might as well compare homosexuality to murder. The only slippery slope argument you can make here is between other groups where two people of various genders want to also marry. This was already covered in the court case I believe by not allowing exclusions (transgenders or however people self identify).

    When comparing the civil rights movement I am comparing the reactions that at the time seemed normal to many and in retrospect seem completely racist. I believe we are in a similar situation whereby in 25 years from now we’ll look back and be embarrassed by the anti-gay rhetoric that is coming out.

    4. This court case shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion on siblings or polygamy or anything. The same opinions people felt beforehand, they should feel the same way now. Did this put who should people be allowed to marry discussion into the spotlight? Yeah, probably. But you can’t compare gay marriage to any other type of marriage because it’s apples and oranges and each with its own pros and cons. My personal opinion is irrelevant. What’s more important is that this decision doesn’t change anything. All it did was change the gender limitation. You’re talking about changing the number of married people and rapists (as mentioned previously, an entirely different and ugly conversation). Entirely different conversation.

  3. 1. Perhaps it was mistaken, but the US had laws that did not discriminate against gay-marriage. It only had laws that defined marriage differently. As justice Roberts wrote, there are very good reason why western society has traditionally kept to the definition of marriage. I guess that it the essence of what ever disagreement we may have: to you, there is nothing inherently wrong with homo-relationships, and therefore, people in those relationships should have their relationships recognized like everyone else’s. However, I believe that no one in the world should encourage or engage in such relationships, let alone receive government recognition. Yes, this attitude is reminiscent of mistaken attitudes towards race that have were once prominent in our societies, but what I can? I am fully convinced that it is wrong, and hope that the world will come to its senses. Yes, my belief may be informed by my religion, but so are many of our shared beliefs. BTW, I think that the greater damage to American society was done when the courts stopped doing a thing about adultery…
    3. The limit of comparison between homosexuality and rape is that they are both crimes. Nothing else in common. like I said, racism was never part of my belief system (See my post from a few weeks) ago, and although western society has come a long way and refined its values, I can not say my own system has had anything major to learn, or has had anything major to learn. In Judaism, he have learned every few centuries that just because something is permissible, it does not mean that it is desirable (in chronological order: capital punishment, animal sacrifice, polygamy, indentured servitude, and soon, meat consumption), the forbidden has ever become strictly permissible.
    4. As Roberts wrote, I can compare gay marriage to all those other unions. As long as a union is not 1 man-1 woman, it does not fit the model that has been shown to most benefit humanity and society. That includes polygamy, which, for good reason, has been slowly phased out in both Jewish and western society. (For those following at home, the sages had what to say about the ideal of monogamy and the dangers of polygamy for all but the most wealthy and powerful.)

    • 1. By defining marriage between a man and a woman you are, by definition, discriminating against any other marriages. Whenever you define something you are discriminating against any alternative definitions of that word.

      The conservative side of the bench, I believe, was firmly making the argument that the federal government shouldn’t be defining marriage. It should be left to the States. That’s still State government. It’s just that it’s not a federal issue. I understand that argument even if I don’t agree in this instance since it was a civil rights issue, not a marriage license issue. Personally I don’t think the government should be in the marriage business at all. Civil unions for managing couple rights is fine. I’ts just a contract and should be presented that way. Definition of “marriage” which has religious connotations should be left to each individual to decide what they want to do and how they want to religiously define their union.

      Consequences of adultery (since you felt that was a big mistake by the courts) could be built into a civil union document. It could be legally binding but it would have to be something that individual chooses and not something forced upon them. That’s part of the freedoms and rights we have as individuals to make our own choices.

      3. They are not both crimes. Only religion defines them as crimes. Modern society has evolved to accept homosecuality and heterosexuality as equals in the eyes of the law.

      4. The 1 man 1 woman argument only works if you speak about reproduction which would limit marriage to fertile heterosexual couples, which is ridiculous. Research has shown that children brought up in same sex parent families are just as successful on every metric (at least that I’ve read) as children from heterosexual parent families. That’s a hollow argument.

      Polygamy is entirely different. No one is born a polygamist and therefore there is no comparison here.

      —————————————————-

      We obviously disagree on some core principles that won’t be resolved. Here is what I know:

      – All available research has shown people are born gay (or bi or hetero or everything in between)
      – All research that I’ve seen says society is only benefited by giving gay couples equal rights
      – The only argument I’ve heard against gay marriage is based on religious beliefs and to me, that’s not a good reason to create law or discriminate.

      I think most people who are against gay marriage believe homosexuality to be a sin and therefore are acting accordingly to minimize its acceptance in the world. That’s a religious argument for a religious country. America is not one of those countries (even Israel is barely a religious country). So, I think we should celebrate the freedoms religious people like ourselves have in these non-denominational countries even if it sometimes disagrees with our own religious belief system (even if for me, this doesn’t).

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