A new Web initiative seeking to match religious homosexuals and lesbians has sparked a row in the religious world. Although it has gained the support of a series of dignified rabbis, not everyone is pleased. One leading rabbi opposes these marriages due to a lack of love between spouses. But he laso thinks a widely discredited therapy cures homosexuality.
'No happiness in gay-lesbian shidduch'
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner refuses to back marriage between homosexuals and lesbians, says 'a child needs parents who love each other.' Gay religious groups say new initiative 'implies there is no room for homosexuals in the religious community'
Ari Galahar • Ynet
A new Web initiative seeking to match religious homosexuals and lesbians has sparked a row in the religious world. Although it has gained the support of a series of dignified rabbis, not everyone is pleased with the solution suggested by Rabbi Arale Harel and the Kamoha organization for Orthodox homosexuals.
"This initiative is unfair toward the children who'll be born as a result," senior Religious Zionism Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, an avid supporter conversion therapy, told Ynet. "In order to have a healthy upbringing, a child needs parents who love each other, not parents who don't know each other.
"The idea to match homosexuals and lesbians was raised in the past and did not bear fruits of happiness – not among the couples and not among the children."
Rabbi Aviner clarifies that he is against the proposed "shidduch", adding: "This problem must be solved differently. A new method for treating homosexuals and lesbians, called 'the reparative method', has recently arrived in Israel. Thousands have been freed in the United States. It's new in Israel and I recommend this method, which solves most of the problems.
"A while ago I met a woman with two babies in her arms, and she told me that her husband got over it and they love each other, and after a while I met her again with a third child."
According to Rabbi Aviner, there were many conversion therapies in the past "which did not bring a blessing" and were therefore opposed by many, but "the new method is based on the assumption that even a person with a different orientation has the natural orientation within, and if he can be released from the other inclination stemming from identity issues caused during his childhood, the hidden natural inclination emerges.
"We know hundreds of people in Israel who have managed to get over it, and have built good homes."
'Family unit is not just male and female'
Gay religious organizations, most of which are against conversion therapy and present studies on the possible damages of the "reparative method", have expressed their reservations as well, arguing that the initiative harms religious homosexuals as a public.
Daniel Jonas, a spokesman for the Havruta organization, explains that the objection to the initiative is not directed against individual homosexuals and lesbians who get married, but against the idea itself.
"Such initiatives are basically aimed at denying our existence, and saying that there is no such thing as homosexuals and lesbians and no room for them in the religious society," he says.
Jonas adds that the new initiative will cause people to live a lie and fail to fulfill themselves. "What they're saying is that this is the only way to start a family, but giving 'exclusivity' to this option when it comes to starting a family may cause real damage to the couple, their children and the entire society.
"It would be better if gays and lesbians would just be accepted for who they are, and this process is already in its midst. We have people who raise children in a different way and in joint custody.
"Although a child of a gay and lesbian couple will technically grow up with a mother and father, this isn't the family unit I want to see. We don't believe that a family unit is just male and female – it's also a matter of love and living together. There are other halachic solutions for having children, like artificial insemination.
Rabbi Ron Yosef, head of the Hod organization, objects to the new initiative as well, although he does see a positive element in it.
"What they did is problematic," he says. "Presenting it as the main option is wrong. It must be stressed that they are several solutions, and that each person should find the suitable way for himself. However, the initiative does include a positive aspect – that finally people are not trying to conceal and ignore the issue."
The conversion therapy Aviner supports has widely been exposed as a failure. Homosexuals sometimes modify their behavior for a period of time, but end up returning, often secretly, to homosexuality while at the same time having serious psychological issues caused by their "failure" to remain straight.
This therapy has been widely discredited and has never shown to be useful by any peer reviewed study.
None of this, however, stops Rabbi Aviner from endorsing it.
He does so because he is willfully ignorant and, I think, because if he admitted that homosexuality is simply a normal human variant, it would call into question a Torah that forbids it and a God who created men and women that way, and then punishes them for it. And that cognitive dissonance is too much for him.