A LGBTI Perspective of Religion and its Teachings Part 8: Procreation - Is That All We Are Here For?

By Gary Konecky In the last installment, I discussed the story of Adam and Eve, and how Adam had been created with male and female attributes. With this thought in mind, we will take a look at Genesis 2:24: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8166 Furthermore, Genesis 1:28 states: “And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth." http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8165/showrashi/true (See What is the Meaning of Genesis 1:28?) The religious right and the Roman Catholic Church claim that the only purpose for sex is reproduction. These verses bring up a host of questions. If the purpose of the exercise is reproduction, then why did G-d create gays, lesbians, infertile couples, as well as allow married couples to live past their childbearing years? Are single people committing a sin by dating instead of being married and having children? How can single people be committing another sin by dating and having children out of wedlock? It seems multiple wives and concubines do not conform to Genesis 2:24, yet some of the most righteous men in the Bible had multiple wives and concubines. What about the gays and lesbians who marry people of the opposite sex before they come to terms with their sexual orientation or because of societal pressure? Does G-d want marriage so bad that He demands unhappy ones? Does G-d want marriage so bad, that he will settle for ones lacking love? If G-d is so big on heterosexual marriage, why did he have Moses divorce his wife (as discussed in Rashi’s commentary to Numbers 12:1)? We were told in Genesis 1:27: “And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8165 If this is so, how can LGBTI people, people made in the image of G-d, be a sin? We also come to an interesting interpretation of Genesis 2:21-22: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon man, and he slept, and He took one of his sides, and He closed the flesh in its place. And the Lord God built the side that He had taken from man into a woman, and He brought her to man.” http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8166 For this verse teaches us: If man and woman had been created simultaneously, it might have been thought that a human being’s main purpose was to have children, just like all the other animals. This is certainly not true; man is in this world only

to serve G-d. Man and woman were created separately, so they would know they are different from all other creatures. (note 1) Lastly, we come to Genesis 6:9: “These are the generations of Noah, Noah was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noah walked with God.” http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8171 This verse can also be stated as: “These are Noah’s offspring: Noah was a righteous man.” (note 2) This verse means that Noah’s true offspring are his good deeds and observance of G-d’s commandments and that nobody’s children can be better than one’s good deeds and observance of G-d’s commandments. Whether one has children or not, a person’s righteousness is his or her offspring. May this be a consolation to all those who want children and are childless. (note 2) Those who use the Bible and religion to demonize the LGBTI community claim that sex is about pro-creation. Yet, this is clearly not the case. Incest is procreative, yet is banned in Leviticus. Adultery is also procreative and banned. Meanwhile, nowhere in the Bible nor in the rabbinic tradition is there a ban on non-procreative sex (note 3). Are we to believe the G-d who is so compassionate as to clothe the naked, visit the sick, comfort mourners, and bury the dead (as discussed in the Talmud, Sotah 14a) is so petty, vengeful and cruel as to make LGBTI people as a sick joke, or is it more likely that organized religion is making a mistake in their interpretation of G-d’s word? In the next installment, the generation of the flood. Note 1: The quote is from page 258 of The Torah Anthology / Me’am Lo’ez, Book One, Genesis I, Beginnings, by Rabbi Yaakov Culi, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Moznaim Publishing Corp., copyright 1988. Note 2: The quote is from page 338 of The Torah Anthology / Me’am Lo’ez, Book One, Genesis I, Beginnings, by Rabbi Yaakov Culi, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Moznaim Publishing Corp., copyright 1988. The discussion of this teaching runs from page 337 through page 340. Note 3: For additional discussion of this subject, see page 206 of Jacob’s Wound, Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., copyright 2005, published by Continiuum

What is the Meaning of Genesis 1:28? By Gary Konecky Genesis 1:28 states: “And G-d blessed them, and G-d said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth. " What does this verse mean? Does it give us license to hunt animals to extinction? Does it permit us to engage in wonton environmental destruction? Are we allowed to exploit natural resources with no thought given to the consequences (including destruction of creation itself)? When we went over how to interpret the Bible, I said that historical content matters. At the time the Bible was written, women were treated as property. If a single woman was raped, the law required the rapist to pay a fine to her father. Furthermore, the rapist would be required to marry her and would not be allowed to divorce her. (See note) Men had dominion over women. Rashi, the great Torah commentator, in his explanation of the meaning of this verse says: “and subdue it: The’vav’ [in ‫ וכבשה‬is missing, ָ ׁ ְְִ ֻ [allowing the word to be read ‫ ,וכבשה‬the masculine singular imperative] to teach you that ָ ׁ ְְִ the male subdues the female that she should not be a gadabout (Gen. Rabbah 8:12), and it is also meant to teach you that the man, whose way it is to subdue, is commanded to propagate, but not the woman (Yev. Yev. 65b).” http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8165/showrashi/true This is a perfect example of the way male and female sexual and social roles were structured. Not only were male and female roles radically different then they are today, male-male relationships were also radically different then they are today. It is also important to note, that the subdue it phrase refers not to creation, but to men’s control over women. This verse is not about dominating the earth. For we are taught in Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13: “When God created the first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said: Look at my works! See how beautiful they are, how excellent! For your sake I created them all. Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Note: For additional discussion of this point, see page 204 of Wrestling With G-d & Man, Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, copyright 2004, published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

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