NEW YORK (Jan. 25)
A leading Orthodox rabbinical scholar has charged that contemporary Christianity “is reverting to its pre-Judaic roots” and showing signs of a “resurrection of a long-repressed pagan past” in the growing questioning by church leaders of the ancient Judaeo-Christian doctrine that homosexuality is morally wrong.
The charge was made by Rabbi Norman Lamm of New York, founder-editor of “Tradition,” the rabbinical periodical, and professor of philosophy at Yeshiva University. Writing in the current issue of “Jewish Life,” the publication of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Rabbi Lamm cited the recent report on homosexuality to the British Council of Churches, a meeting on the problem in New York last November 28 attended by 90 Episcopalian bishops, and a variety of similar pronouncements by Swedish and German church spokesmen.
Rabbi Lamm summarized the “new thinking” on the Christian view on homosexuality, as expressed in those reports, as holding that such acts should not be dismissed as wrong, per se; that when performed by “consenting adults,” they should be judged “by the same criterion as a heterosexual marriage – whether it is intended to foster a permanent relation of love- ” and that such acts are “morally neutral” and even, at times, “a good thing.”
Judaism, Rabbi Lamm said, condemns homosexuality as an abomination and the Torah legislates on it in the context of other sexual vices, such as adultery, incest and bestiality. Capital punishment is ordained in Leviticus for such acts. Homosexuality, whether male or female, “can never be legitimized in the eyes of Judaism,” he stressed.
This does not mean, the rabbinical scholar emphasized, that “Jews who live by Judaism” lack compassion for the person “trapped by this dreadful disease” or that a case cannot be made, within a Jewish religious context, for treating homosexuals as sick, rather than evil, but authentic Judaism can never agree “to the current campaign in this country and in Europe to declare homosexuality a matter of personal taste within the range of normality.”
He warned that Jews must view “this new tendency in Christianity with dismay and profound regret,” adding that “this change in direction in Christian opinion” would “undoubtedly have its effect on non-Christian citizens as well.”