Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"I did not choose to be what I am....."

As I wrote in the previous posting, over this past year I have met some wonderful people. One person who has been corresponding with me recently told me that he wrote an article about himself. He has permitted me to publish some excerpts. This article was published in The Jewish Press Magazine on Friday, December 1, 2006 as a response to Rachel, who writes "Chronicles of Crises in Our Community."

As a man who has struggled with homosexuality and frumkeit for many years, I take exception to your consistent championing of change being possible and of asserting that there is no such thing as gay. I'd like to offer another perspective.

Let me start by saying that I believe fully in Torah M'Sinai and consider myself to be a fully committed Orthodox Jew whose tafkid in life is to do my best to keep ALL of the Taryag Mitzvot. I am fully versed in both Halachah and Hashkafah and have no issues whatsoever with the philosophical underpinnings of our belief system. I truly believe that the very word of the Chamisha Chumshai Torah was given directly from Hashem to Moshe, and that along with those words, Moshe received Torah SheBa'al Peh.

What I do not fathom is how the prohibition of a very specific behaviour translates into Hashem not making people whose sexual orientation is homosexual.

From a Hashkafik perspective: The mistzvot revolving around Arayot in the Torah address one thing and one thing only - behavior. There is no discussion of desire, of motivation, of what's normal desire and deviant desire. Even if one translates "To'avah" in the pasuk of Mishkav Zachar as "abomination" - which is by no means a definitive definition based on Chazal - it still refers to the action, not the desire.

Your writers say that Hashem wouldn't or couldn't give an orientation to a person and then prohibit him from acting on it. They say that a person's desire must be able to change if the Torah prohibits an action. In my opinion, this is putting a very Pollyanish spin on the very nature of nisayon in Olam Ha'Zeh. The fact is that many times Hashem puts people in adverse circumstances that will not change.

I would argue that in those circumstances the definition of success with the nisayon is first accepting the circumstances and then living as rich a life as possible within those circumstances. Would you, for example, tell a person with medically incurable deafness not to accept that diagnosis? That Hashem would not do that to him because there are so many mitzvot, such as shofar, that involve hearing? That his focus in life should center on searching for a cure? Could you imagine a crueler and less productive way to deal with this most challenging nisayon?

My own struggle with homosexuality has come at enormous cost for me. I ruined a marriage and a successful career. Though I have been to the best "SSA Therapists", one thing that did not change is my basic desire.
Some may say I didn't try hard enough. Which believer in Torah M'Sinai would not want to "change"? Certainly one who lost as much as I did would have more than enough motivation.

But all the motivation in the world has not changed reality for me. When I think of the enormous pain men like me go through, I wish that the hope of change could be there. But I also know that at this point I'd rather face reality than embrace false hope.

I did not choose to be what I am.

Saul David

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. It's almost surreal to read those words in a different context and see that two years have passed since they were published. I am not the person I was when I wrote it, but I certainly still stand by the sentiment.

'I Did Not Choose'