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  1. Politics
7 April 2009

Faith and homosexuality

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

By Danny Rich

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.

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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.

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Rabbi Danny Rich is the Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism.