Progress, Law, and Continuing the Conversation on Male Homosex
God created the first true man and man hit the ground running. Adam the First and his lady invented work and gardening (Genesis 3); their sons became farmers, shepherds and city-builders (Genesis 4). Their sons and grandsons invented musical instruments, nomadic herding, metal-forming and tool-making (Genesis 4:20-22). The ancient Fertile Crescent could have used a Patent Office. Man, the Bible teaches, is a born inventor, tinkerer and improver of things.
That means that the natural drift of human history tends upwards. And look at all we’ve got. Instead of being tortured by insects, for instance, we’ve got screened windows and doors; instead of freezing or sweltering we’ve got steam heat and air conditioning; instead of being hungry almost all the time we’ve got more than enough to eat; instead of ending our lives toothless and blind we’ve got glasses and eye-care and miracles of dentistry, and even the human life span’s been extended.
The days of our years are three-score years and ten [i.e., 70], or even by reason of strength four-score  years…. (“A Prayer of Moses, the man of God,” Psalms 90:1, 10)
With God’s help, thank God, most of us live longer nowadays.
Given a chance, people will always tend to better themselves. Redemption’s a cumulative process. Often, in a world that God Himself declares to be not merely good but very good, tov me’od (Genesis 1:31), success follows honest efforts. Success is frequently collective. This applies to all kinds of progress: not just technological and scientific, but also economic, and progress in law.
Law is not, contrary to popular belief, something that shoots down from above - in a burst of details that form their own perfect guide to their proper application.
Even when God entrusted His Holy Torah to His beloved servant Israel, he gave it, in a sense, as raw material: as wheat to make flour and as flax to make cloth, through the Torah’s own appointed methods of logical interpretation. (Midrash, Seder Eliyahu Zuta, 2)
… if you cry after intelligence, and lift up your voice for understanding; if you seek it as silver, and search for it as hidden treasure…. (Proverbs 2:3-4)
You shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for the home-born…. (Leviticus 24:22)
According to the law which they shall teach you, and according to the judgment which they shall tell you…. (Deuteronomy 17:11)
… before the priests and the judges that shall be in those days…. (Deuteronomy 19:17)
We’re involved with this process now, in the different conversations that we’ve had here. We’ve come a long way in trying to understand the Seven Universal Laws – the Noahide Code. When we started the study, more people were still wrestling with horribly grotesque ideas about “eating a limb torn from a living animal” and punishing transgressors of every law and ordinance with “decapitation by a sword.” Right now, we’re trying to ascertain the exact parameters of the Seven Universal Laws’ precept against homosex: male-male sex.
Rabbi Michael Katz spoke in the last issue. The conversation continues. We thank you for bearing with us through it. It’s not necessarily an easy conversation but, obviously, we consider it important.
We spoke before of completely consensual sex relations between sober adult males, in private, and asked, “Where’s the harm?” We couldn’t see how such activity could rise – or perhaps we should say, fall – to the level of a true Seven Laws violation, a crime so heinous, so contrary to the truth that God has taught man that every person radiates Divine light, that every person exists “in His image,” that pretty nearly everyone in every culture everywhere should know enough to want, at least, to ban it.
Since then, we spent some time asking questions of men who know more than we or Rabbi Katz know about actual male homosexual practice. The answers we got were that domination and submission often – very often - form a part of it, and that what begins consensually doesn’t necessarily finish up that way. Sodomy can be physically very dirty but, even beyond that, it can also be inhumanly cruel, heedless, and very seriously harmful.
We also heard, in its favor, that it doesn’t have to be that way. “But what if it is,” we asked, “in some specific instance?” “That needs to be punished. It shouldn’t EVER be allowed.” We asked, “Everybody should know better than to want to do anything but ban that sort of cruel, heedlessly dominating, physically damaging stuff?” “Yes, absolutely.”
This is just another installment in the larger conversation on this topic.
By Michael Dallen