Faith and homosexuality

In the first of our series on the perceptions of homosexuality, the Chief Executive of Liberal Juda

Liberal Judaism’s attitude to homosexuality is rooted in its core principles: ethical monotheism, right conduct as it applies to human relations, care for the quality of community and society, and the idea that traditional texts require continual evaluation in the light of either ethical insights or factual knowledge of our own time.

Liberal Judaism – in common with traditional Judaism – affirms the idea of God as both the single Creator of the Universe and as its righteous, just, loving and compassionate Guide who requires of the human creature the self-same attributes.

Whatever is demanded of those who are in relationship with God, right conduct heads the list, above even sound belief and correct ritual. For Liberal Judaism right conduct includes an appreciation that each human being owes to another mutual respect and care by virtue of the view recorded in Genesis that the human being was created in the image of God.

Therefore, Liberal Judaism celebrates the diversity of God’s creation including the human being whether man or woman, Jew or non-Jew, black or white, straight or gay. Liberal Judaism thus rejects the harbouring of prejudice or the pursuit of discrimination against lesbian and gay men as a violation of Judaism’s most fundamental ethical teachings.

Furthermore, conscious of the history of persecution, discrimination and persecution of homosexuals, Liberal Judaism celebrates human sexuality as an opportunity for men and women whether straight or gay to demonstrate love and faithfulness and to create units in which children may be nurtured. Accordingly in 2005 Liberal Judaism was the first mainstream religious organisation in the world to produce its Brit Ahavah: Covenant of Love, Service of Commitment for Same-Sex Couples.

Liberal Judaism is, of course, cognisant of passages in the Book of Leviticus which appear – or have been used – to legitimise discrimination at least against gay men. Liberal Judaism does not accept the traditional interpretation of these texts, and, even if it were the case that the Torah sought to condemn loving, same gender relations, Liberal Judaism would take the view that the editors of the Torah were products of their time, without the benefits of modern knowledge and experience, and would affirm that lesbians and gay men ought to be able to live as God created them to be.

Rabbi Danny Rich is the Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism.

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What do Labour's lost voters make of the Labour leadership candidates?

What does Newsnight's focus group make of the Labour leadership candidates?

Tonight on Newsnight, an IpsosMori focus group of former Labour voters talks about the four Labour leadership candidates. What did they make of the four candidates?

On Andy Burnham:

“He’s the old guard, with Yvette Cooper”

“It’s the same message they were trying to portray right up to the election”​

“I thought that he acknowledged the fact that they didn’t say sorry during the time of the election, and how can you expect people to vote for you when you’re not actually acknowledging that you were part of the problem”​

“Strongish leader, and at least he’s acknowledging and saying let’s move on from here as opposed to wishy washy”

“I was surprised how long he’d been in politics if he was talking about Tony Blair years – he doesn’t look old enough”

On Jeremy Corbyn:

"“He’s the older guy with the grey hair who’s got all the policies straight out of the sixties and is a bit of a hippy as well is what he comes across as” 

“I agree with most of what he said, I must admit, but I don’t think as a country we can afford his principles”

“He was just going to be the opposite of Conservatives, but there might be policies on the Conservative side that, y’know, might be good policies”

“I’ve heard in the paper he’s the favourite to win the Labour leadership. Well, if that was him, then I won’t be voting for Labour, put it that way”

“I think he’s a very good politician but he’s unelectable as a Prime Minister”

On Yvette Cooper

“She sounds quite positive doesn’t she – for families and their everyday issues”

“Bedroom tax, working tax credits, mainly mum things as well”

“We had Margaret Thatcher obviously years ago, and then I’ve always thought about it being a man, I wanted a man, thinking they were stronger…  she was very strong and decisive as well”

“She was very clear – more so than the other guy [Burnham]”

“I think she’s trying to play down her economics background to sort of distance herself from her husband… I think she’s dumbing herself down”

On Liz Kendall

“None of it came from the heart”

“She just sounds like someone’s told her to say something, it’s not coming from the heart, she needs passion”

“Rather than saying what she’s going to do, she’s attacking”

“She reminded me of a headteacher when she was standing there, and she was quite boring. She just didn’t seem to have any sort of personality, and you can’t imagine her being a leader of a party”

“With Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham there’s a lot of rhetoric but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of direction behind what they’re saying. There seems to be a lot of words but no action.”

And, finally, a piece of advice for all four candidates, should they win the leadership election:

“Get down on your hands and knees and start praying”

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.