Is Israel returning to the pagan practices that God hates?
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” Leviticus 18:22-25
Israel is in a funny place right now. Since May 14th, 1948, they have been restored physically to the Land of the fathers, as the bible has prophesied they would be in the last days. But they have not been restored spiritually, as this story shows. Levitcal law clearly forbids same sex relations, as it does bestiality (interesting how it puts the two together in the same context, yes?). So seeing the dramatic and swift rise of the LGBT in Judaism is unsettling on one hand, but reassuring on the other to students of bible prophecy in these end times.
Gil Steinlauf, a nationally prominent Conservative rabbi, made headlines this month when he announced to his large Washington, D.C., synagogue that he is gay, and that he and his wife of 20 years would divorce. As surprised as his congregants at Adas Israel may have been by the news, it was Steinlauf, the congregation’s senior rabbi, who found himself stunned by the response to it.
In fact, Steinlauf and some of his congregants said the response within the congregation has been exclusively positive, including a supportive letter from the synagogue’s president, Arnie Podgorsky. Posts on Steinlauf’s Facebook page have come from as far as Israel and South Africa, and have included posts from Conservative movement officials.
“Overnight, you have also become a role model to LGBT Jews everywhere, in particular within the Conservative Movement,” wrote Aimee Close, the transformation specialist for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the movement’s congregational arm. “On behalf of all of us, thank you for your courage and your leadership.”
Steinlauf’s proclamation marked the culmination of a long, painful personal journey that included being bullied as a child, years denying his sexuality and a struggle to maintain a loving but ultimately unsustainable marriage. The reaction to his announcement is a culmination for the Conservative movement itself.
Fewer than eight years ago, Conservative doctrine stated that homosexual behavior was antithetical to Jewish law, that gays could not marry or serve as clergy and that a rabbi could be forced from the pulpit for coming out as gay. At Conservative congregations, gays and lesbians were welcome “as individual members.”
Then came the movement’s controversial December 2006 adoption of a responsum declaring that homosexuality was permissible under its interpretation of halachah, or traditional Jewish law. The ruling paved the way for the ordination of openly gay rabbis at American seminaries and for Conservative rabbis to officiate at same-sex weddings.
These changes in the Conservative movement also opened the door for widespread and open acceptance of gays and lesbians within the movement. Coupled with a sea change in American attitudes toward vastly greater support for gay and lesbians, such shifts transformed Conservative Judaism from a realm in which homosexuality was ignored or denounced to one in which, for many younger Conservative Jews, being gay is utterly unremarkable.