Really fascinating article about a rabbi who as a matchmaker between gay men and lesbian women in order to help them have children. Some excerpts and a few thoughts below:
“Rabbi Harel introduced us and there was a good initial click,” wrote Sari and Avi, a couple Harel set up, in a testimonial on Kamoha’s site. “It’s not love. It’s chemistry, a sense of understanding and partnership, trust and appreciation.”
I thought this was a really interesting quote — a lot of asexual people, or people with a different understanding of “love” might disagree with this characterization. Understanding, partnership, trust, appreciation, and chemistry all seem like important elements in making a long-term relationship work. Sexual attraction is for many people, crucial, but not to everyone.
Harel was unable to persuade the couples he has already wed to speak to the media. But Kamoha referred The Associated Press to a man who has applied for Harel’s services, a 35-year-old Orthodox Jew in the closet…He said he was willing to forgo love if it means being able to have children. He wants to try to refrain from seeing men when he is married but would discuss the issue with his wife if that changed, he said… Harel said as long as both parties are aware the other is dating, it would not be adultery in such a union. He said the same would not be true for a straight couple because they are sexually compatible and have no reason to look elsewhere. Jewish law forbids adultery
The double standard here — straight couples cannot have outside relationships because they are “sexually compatible”, but a gay/straight pairing is not compatible and so they can — is based on a really narrow understanding of “compatible.” What if one partner in a heterosexual couple wants/needs anal sex? Kink? Sex more/less frequently than the other? The compatibility in question can’t be biological, since for both couples, we’re talking about a cisgender man and woman, presumably one with a penis and one with a vagina (having children is the goal here). What makes sexual orientation the key distinction between allowable incompatibilities? And why not allow polyamory for both with consent?
The liberal religious gay group Havruta opposes Harel’s approach, saying it seeks to “erase” homosexuals from the Orthodox community.
“They are saying, ‘Changing them isn’t possible, but how else can we hide their existence? If we can’t fix them then let’s set them up with lesbians,’” said the group’s spokesman, Daniel Jonas.
The response from liberals is expected. Since the norm is that cismale/cisfemale pairings are heterosexual, when gay men and lesbian women are married, their identities are erased. But what if that weren’t the norm? What if gays and lesbians who wanted children and, for their own reasons, wanted to conceive them with one another, could partner for that reason and have open marriages? I, personally, think that it is irrational religious views which keep them from simply partnering with the person that they desire, but plenty of our reasons are irrational. These couples are acting on reasons that, to a large extent, are their own (though I do think that there are some strong psychological factors that may keep them from seeing some of the irrationality in question).
Rabbis have criticized Harel’s method because it doesn’t try to discourage gays and lesbians from seeking to change their sexual orientation.
Maybe more unexpectedly, conservatives are unhappy because this does not go far enough. There is now a property of human beings called “sexual orientation” which must be “changed.” This way of classifying humans is not ahistorical (we haven’t always classed people in this way), and not part of the Hebrew scriptures, as I understand them. What would constitute acceptable “change”? If the couples in question are having procreative sex and (setting aside outside relationships, let’s say) being faithful to one another, what more is required?
Lots of really interesting stuff going on here.