Rabbi Gil Student writes: When I mentioned in an earlier post (link) that I had received a copy of Light In The Closet: Torah, Homosexuality and the Power to Change by Arthur Goldberg, there was an almost immediate negative reaction to the book by some commenters who had not even read it. I attributed this closure of so many minds to the politically correct atmosphere in which we live. However, after going through the book, I understand better why they so strongly oppose the approach advocated by the author.
The book can be divided into four parts — Jewish attitudes to homosexual acts, the concept of repentance, the homosexual agenda and therapeutic methods of changing sexual orientations. This is a very long book and I can’t remember every detail. However, from what I recall, the discussions of Judaism regarding homosexual acts and repentance are accurate. The author rebuts many of the false arguments that have been proposed to permit different aspects of homosexual acts. Again, there might be a point here or there where I disagree, but overall I think he is right.
TH POSTS: 1)the study that one cannot change their orientation under any circumstances is widely touted by the gay community, but is almost 20 years old and has been conclusively proven false.
2)The prevalent thinking in the academic world is that their is a spectrum with seven levels, one end being purely homosexual and one end being purely heterosexual. Most people *naturally* fall somewhere in the middle. One can move up and down the spectrum.
STEVE BRIZEL POSTS: One has to keep in mind that the DSM, which in its earliest editions, included many mental ailments including homosexuality , etc, delisted any such references as the gay rights movement grew in power. For these reasons, I tend to doubt that a book of this nature would be published by a mainstream academic publisher.
ARI POSTS: This might be worth a read:
Suffice it to say that there is hand waving, convincing through intimidation, and black and white presentations on BOTH sides of this debate.
According to many in the gay community, it is absolutely impossible for a person to be "cured" of homosexuality. To disprove this claim, all that needs to be brought is one counterexample. I think this is a foolish position for the gay activists to take.
Now, if I were to guess (and it’s only a guess) I would say that treating homosexuality would be akin to treating an addiction in many ways. And just as the treatment of addiction has many failures, few would say that the pursuit is not worthwhile. But that’s just my guess.
Frankly, I think the facts are much more complex than activists on both sides make it out to be.
I’m not really sure the question "can homosexuality be cured?" is relevant to living a halachic life.
I think three other questions are more relevant.
1) Can a person who would otherwise prefer homosexual contact live a reasonably fulfilled life were he not to ever be able to attain such contact?
I imagine the answer to this question would be yes more often than many would think. The reason being that men are not, by nature, particularly monogamous. And most men can be reasonably fulfilled in a marriage.
2) Can a person with a primarily homosexual preference become accustomed to and derive satisfaction from heterosexual contact long term?
Again, I would guess that the answer is yes in many cases. The reason being that the exact opposite occurred in ancient societies such as Sparta. In Sparta, homosexual conduct was nearly universal. So much so that birth rates plummeted. Presumably, many Spartans would have chosen heterosexual contact were they brought up in a different society. (Unless you can argue that Spartans were a biological anomaly, my argument holds up). Despite their biology, the Spartans did become accustomed to homosexual conduct. I can see no reason why the opposite should be impossible.
3) Is it practical for a person with homosexual urges to experiment with his life and the life of his future family by attempting a marriage?
I don’t know. I would imagine decisions could only be made on a case-by-case basis.
I think this analysis helps to cut the problem down to size. It is still a problem for those who want to live an orthodox Jewish life, but to deal with a problem we must know its actual dimensions.
LUKE SAYS: I once dated a lesbian and in just a few dates, I cured her of her queer tendencies.