Gay feelings and the Torah

Dear Rabbi,

I have an Orthodox friend, a married man who confided that he is attracted to another man. I became upset with him and told him he is deemed a sinner in the eyes of Judaism and he is being unfaithful to his wife and untrue to himself by remaining married to her. He told me I was being judgmental and I now hardly speak to him. Am I not right? Graham

Dear Graham,

No, you’re not right, for all sorts of reasons.

First, it is important to note the Torah only prohibits homosexual acts, but does not in any way condemn a person for having homosexual feelings. On the contrary, most people are born with desires or inclinations for things which are prohibited to them. Are married people being unfaithful when they might desire to engage in extra-marital relationships? Certainly not, as long as they don’t act upon it. Of course, it means one has to take a long hard look at one’s own marriage to consider what might be wrong in that unhealthy feelings are being harboured.

Then again, it could be nothing more than base animalistic tendencies. Having an inclination to follow our passions is not inherently evil. On the contrary, God gave us an evil inclination to help us to reach our potential fully in this world. The challenge is to rise above it. Even if your friend were to act, it is also important for you to understand you have no right to judge anyone else and think you are better than someone who gives in to his or her desires whatever they may be. We need to be respectful and loving to all, even if they don’t practise religion the same way we do.