The “lifestyle” puzzle

The “lifestyle” puzzle

Reading Mr. Levin’s letter made me very angry at all of my gay friends and co-workers(“They should be celibate,” April 17). I mean, I’m friendly, cordial and respectful to them. We have great conversations, enjoy a beer on occasion and yet none of them has ever let me in on the mystery of the “gay lifestyle” that, apparently, Mr. Levin has been privy to.

It made me wonder what this “lifestyle” was all about. And that got me wondering about my own and, presumably, Mr. Levin’s heterosexual lifestyles. Mr. Levin: is your lifestyle nothing but fornication? Don’t you take a break to read an occasional book, have dinner with family, go to work, get some coffee with friends or pop into the post office to buy a roll of stamps before they raise the prices again?

All of that, and more, is what I feel my lifestyle is about. And that, as far as I can see, is what the gay lifestyle is about too. I suppose gay people enjoy sex as part of their lives. But I have no reason to believe it defines their lifestyle any more than it does yours or mine.

So let’s assume for a moment that male homosexual sex is prohibited. And that same-sex marriage is prohibited by the Torah. I say we should assume, because we have done such a marvelous job of applying creativity to essentially eliminate so many other inconvenient laws from our lives with such innovations as prozbul and heter mechira that it makes me wonder why we couldn’t do the same here.

But let’s leave that for another day. Even if male homosexual sex is prohibited and same-sex marriage just can’t happen within the confines of halacha, why would you say that the lifestyle of gays can’t be permitted? Their whole lifestyle? Does the Torah ban gay post office visits and gay chats over coffee?

I grew up in an Orthodox community here in Bergen County. Throughout my childhood, I watched people who didn’t keep Shabbes, or who couldn’t complete a single sentence without speaking lashon hara, or who were just generally odious still be welcomed and embraced by the Orthodox community. Nobody declared their lifestyles impermissible. They were even called to the Torah and given various other honors in shul.

What that taught me is that the Orthodox community is more than comfortable with people whose lifestyles are prohibited. But apparently we will take a stand here and defend the ramparts from the gays. Why do you suppose that is?

Here’s what I propose. Let’s acknowledge that nobody is perfect. Let’s recognize that in the mix of our full, hectic lives that some of what each of us does is wrong. Let’s let God judge peoples’ lifestyles and focus our efforts on greeting everyone b’sever panim yafot.

And if any of you get a line on this mysterious gay lifestyle, send me a note. I’m dying to know!