It had been many years since I worked with Bob, but his impact on my life never left me. From time to time I would try to work out my dilemma of how God can create people He hates. Since Judaism believes in analysis and accepts that there can be more than one perspective, I was free to explore all of this, but always privately.
This would likely have been the end of it. Every so often I spent a bit of time trying to figure out the religious dilemma. Feeling compassion, yet never doing anything about it. But my kids would not let that happen.
By this time a number of my kids were in college and the family was getting to that point where individuality starts showing more. I knew as my kids became young adults, they would potentially start drifting apart. I really didn’t want that to happen. I knew I couldn’t keep their individuality from growing, nor did I want to, but I did want to keep it from causing a divide in the family.
One day when the whole family was together, I had a simple discussion with them. I let them all know that as they grew up they were going to change and become more of who they are. I told them that was wonderful but it also meant that they would become different than they were growing up. I explained to them that I didn’t want this to become a divide in the family. So I told them no matter how they change as they grow up my wife and I will always love them, unconditionally. They may change but that will not change our love for them. And I encouraged each of them to be accepting of each other.
It was a short time after that when my wife informed me that one of our kids came out to her as LGBT. That instantly moved my dilemma from theoretical to very much real world. Since all of my kids were Jewish, there was no way of saying they were not sinning. They had all gone through the conversion, so they were accountable for following the Torah.
But that didn’t change anything we had told our kids, my wife and I both knew we were NOT going to reject our child. We assured them that we loved them and that they were accepted. Then we studied.
At this point in time, my wife and I had learned a little about LGBT, I think we knew what each of the letters stood for. Much more importantly we had both come to a place in our life where we, to a large degree, just saw them as people who were different. But there was still the religious issue to deal with.
From our journey that lead us to Judaism, we had learned that it is incredibly easy to read into the text what you have been taught and never really hear what it says. We also learned that the best way to prevent that is to honestly look at multiple contrasting views giving full equal consideration to each.
So we started researching this from every angle we could find. We looked at the traditional Orthodox Jewish perspective. We also considered the Reform and Conservative perspective. We looked at the Christian perspective since we have friends and family in this faith. And we looked at various LGBT perspectives. But mostly we looked at what the Torah actually said.
While there are some passages that seem to say homosexuality is wrong, when you dig into the actual word and then consider the broader context in which these passages are set, it isn’t nearly as straight forward as I had been taught. In many cases, the LGBT perspective fits the words and context much better than the traditional view.
At this point let me deal with the obvious rebuttal to all of this, “You were just trying to justify your kid’s change“. That couldn’t be further from the truth. First off we had already decided to love our kids unconditionally. Nothing we found out here was going to change that. We did it to understand them and the world they live in. We all live in a world of various religions that impact our lives. We wanted to know how it impacted our kid’s lives. For sure had the evidence pointed in the other direction, it would have been very painful. But it would not have changed our relationship with our kids.
This was far from the end of our researching. I had been raised to believe these kinds of things were a sickness of some sort. Because of Bob and other events in my life in the past few years, I had mostly grown past that. But I still had a need to understand what science and medicine had to say about it. So we studied that too.
This led to an amazing discovery, all major U.S. (and most other) medical associations have for decades seen LGBT as perfectly natural. For them, this debate was finished many years ago. So much so that it would be very hard to find a recent scholarly study on the legitimacy of homosexuality. Just like you cannot find current research on the shape of the planet, even though for many centuries it was considered an established fact that the world was flat.
This revelation led us to other studying. If scientifically this is so clear and within the Torah textually there are multiple valid interpretations, why the long-standing belief that anything beyond cis heteronormative was wrong. So my wife got to jump into one of her favorite topics, history. The simple answer is that the current view is not nearly as old and established as we are led to believe. As is true with the rest of society over the decades and centuries views change, but the focus seems to always be on the current view as if it always was.
The simple truth is that this is a cultural prejudice that has been passed down over the years. Just like beliefs that left-handed people were of the devil and people of a certain color were less than human. For all of these cultural prejudges people found passages in the Bible that could be made to support them. It was one thing to say ‘I don’t like…’, it is quite another if you feel you can say ‘God doesn’t like…’. As humanity has slowly grown past other cultural prejudices, so must we grow past this one.
All of this was amazing. It gave us the strength to come out publicly on FaceBook in support of our LGBT kids. It gave us such great pride in our kids. It all also gave me something to think about.