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Same Sex Marriage: An Oxymoron

by Rabbi Lazer Gurkow

  

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In A Nutshell:

Marriage is not a relationship between two individuals. Marriage is a divine cocoon through which members of two different sexes become one whole. If there aren’t two sexes there can be relationships, but there can’t be marriage.

In Askmoses Fashion: 

A Question of Definition

The debate on the issue of same sex marriage has focused in part on the distinction between same sex marriage and same sex unions. This distinction is dismissed by some as mere semantics but I believe it is a question of definition. Does the concept of marriage apply to members of the same gender? This is not a question of rights and freedoms but one of concept.

Proponents of the legislation will instinctively respond with a resounding yes. Opponents of the legislation will respond with an equally forceful no. The predicate of this dispute is homosexuality itself. Those who view homosexuality as a legitimate life style support same sex marriage. Those who don’t view homosexuality as a legitimate life style don't support same sex marriage.

Does the concept of marriage apply to members of the same gender?... This is not a question of homosexuality but of marriage. What is the definition of marriage?
I believe that this predication is erroneous because this is not a question of homosexuality but of marriage. What is the definition of marriage?

Why do two people who love each other marry in order to become a family? Why not simply profess their undying love and commitment and proceed to build a home and family together?1

Invitation to G-d

Jewish thought views marriage as the sanctification of a relationship. In marriage we summon G-d into our relationship and ask for His blessing. Before the marriage it was a partnership of two. The marriage ceremony introduces a third partner, namely G-d.

Geometrically a three point triangle is the strongest structure. Introducing a third point that husband and wife can look to in mutual devotion introduces a new measure of strength and consistency. Indeed, our sages taught that a thrice threaded rope is not easily undone.

On a deeper level, marriage binds man and woman on a dimension that was not accessible to them earlier. A man and woman can pledge undying commitment to each other before marriage, they can connect intellectually and emotionally before marriage, but their souls cannot connect until they invoke G-d’s name and channel His blessing into their relationship.

Indeed man and woman may even experience a spiritual connection before marriage. This is because they may be potential soul mates, but this connection cannot be consummated until the moment of marriage. Shared interest, uniform response to issues, identical personalities and easy rapport, are only external indications of spiritual connection. The inner connection is formed when the souls are bound together and that occurs at the moment of marriage.

When G-d Declines

Once we view marriage as an invitation to G-d to join the relationship it becomes obvious that marriage is only possible under circumstances sanctioned by G-d. A member of the clergy who officiates at a wedding can at most invite G-d to join a relationship but he cannot force G-d to join.

Footnotes

  • 1. Marriage offers a number of legal benefits, but that only deflects the question to the legal authorities. Why are these benefits only available to those who marry and not those who live together in love and long term commitment?

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COMMENTS

Torah's View of Marriage

Posted by: Sheila MacArthur, Newton, MA on Jul 25, 2005

The Torah does not recognize marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew. Nor a marriage between a non-Jew and another non-Jew. Yet we don't go trying to take away the term "marriage" from these unions. So why try to take that term away from gays? Clearly, the common use of the word 'marriage' is not at all equal to the Torah use of the same word. We do not impose halacha on non-Jews, nor on the secular goverment. Again, from a Torah standpoint, to begin with this issue implies a bias against homosexuals. If Torah did recognize the marriages mentioned above, then we would be in the same position as non-Jews, and able to argue "marriage is between a man and a woman ONLY". But we cannot make that arguement. Torah teaches otherwise.

If someone has a bias against homosexuals, well, s/he has that freedom. But don't try to call it Torah. It's just personal bias.

Editor's Comment

The premise of this comment is mistaken. Non-Jews certainly can get married to each other -- in fact, adultery with a non-Jewish married woman is a capital offense.

SameSex Marriage: An Oxymoron

Posted by: Anonymous, Forest Hills, NY on Sep 19, 2005

I feel compelled to respond to the insufficiant answer provided by the Rabbi. The Rabbi dismisses (in a footnote, no less!) the question of legal rights and benefits because this defers the matter to the legal authorites--as though that were not enough. The civil authorities of this country at every level--municipal, state and federal--bestow financial benefits upon mixed-gender couples. These benefits are provided with funds from persons who are prohibited by civil law from receiving those benefits. This is at the core of this "marriage debate." Whether we call it 'marriage' or 'union' or some other name, the concept is the same: Should same-gender couples be permitted to share in the benefits civil authorites provide with fund supplied from every tax paying member of society? The only answer to this is Yes. And, I hate to say this because I admire so much of your work, it is a blight on your efforts that this is not supported by you.

Editor's Comment

Rabbi Gurkow responds: Dear Anonymous, In all three of my essays on same sex marriage i affirmed my support for members of same sex relatoinships to receive the same legal benefits that members of hetero sexual marriages receive. My only issue is with calling it a marriage and I have outlined those reasons in the series of three essays. You and I agree completely. I hasten to add that as a religious Jew I do not support same sex relatoinships, whether long term or short term. These relationships are forbidden by Torah and cannot be condoned. Yet, this argument does not and should not influence the decisions of civil authorities.

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G-d
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