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Homosexuality - Sickness or Sanctioned?

Part of society classifies homosexuals and lesbians as mentally disturbed, while others consider them perfectly healthy individuals who happen to possess unusual desires. Torah ethics considers such behavioral tendencies the sickest of evils.
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That which to one sector of society is conceived of as a serious form of mental illness, is seen by another as being a perfectly legitimate inclination. Part of society classifies homosexuals and lesbians as mentally disturbed, while others consider them healthy individuals who happen to possess unusual desires. The latter claim that it is impossible to attack homosexuals on the grounds of immorality, for their inner nature is just so. The progressive stance, adopted by unprejudiced liberals states that every behavioral code is legitimate so long as it does not hurt others - no matter how warped it may appear on a personal level. Even if such behavior causes physical or spiritual damage to its follower, so long as it does not harm others, we have no right to interfere in somebody else's personal life. How, the argument goes, can we blame homosexuals for possessing the very tendencies they were born with? After all, they have no say in the matter. Why should they be made to suffer for that which they have no freedom over? And what is so bad about it anyways?

This, though, is not the Torah opinion. Torah ethics considers such behavioral tendencies the sickest of evils. This is an immoral and repugnant phenomenon which both the individual and society must go to war with.
In the same manner that an individual must struggle not to covet the belongings of his neighbor - a sickness known as kleptomania - one must do battle with the homosexual urge: through education and law; and if that does not work, through psychological and psychiatric care. If there are certain individuals who have been born with such a strong homosexual drive that they are unable to overcome it, then this is very painful and their plight certainly awakens pity, but the fact that they are unable to overcome these desires does not rectify such behavior. This is a severe mental illness. It is a perversion of the healthy human sex drive which makes reproduction and continued life a possibility. Yes, homosexuality and lesbianism pervert the healthy sex drive, and cause life forces to be wasted. The greatest joy of all - the ability to procreate and perpetuate ones life for generations - is lost. Therefore, no legitimacy is to be given to this warped tendency. It must be treated by psychiatrists and psychologists. "All of Israel," say the sages, "are responsible for one another," and just as the community reserves the right and obligation to prevent a person from harming others, so society has the obligation to help a person not to harm himself physically or spiritually.

In summary, according to the Torah, homosexuality is a severe offense. This sort of behavior is a serious illness which must be fought against, and, generally, those who are determined and receive support succeed in overcoming this drive and manage to lead healthy married lives.
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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