|Dan Ryenolds of Imagine Dragons (Jewish Journal)|
In a Jewish Journal article, Rabbi Eli Fink spoke about lead singer Dan Reynolds conflict between his views on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender) issues - and those of his Mormon Church.
Although not being a homosexual himself Reynolds says that he has come to understand the pain LGBT Mormons feel about their (and his) church’s rejection of them. However, Reynolds also loves his church and wants to change their attitude about this issue because the pain of ‘rejection, hate, and disgust’ felt by these otherwise devout Mormons. Pain that has caused an epidemic of suicide which many of them see as the only way out.
Rabbi Fink draws a parallel to modern Orthodox Jews whose values and lifestyle are very similar to those of their Mormon counterparts. Many modern Orthodox Jews struggle with their sense of compassion for LGBT people and the forbidden nature of their circumstances based on their religious beliefs. Rabbi Fink admits that he too struggles with them.
After listening a bit more carefully to the song, I thought about its message.
Can pain be a motivator towards observance? Can one be ‘beaten’ into belief and obedience? And is that worth anything? Pain might force someone to comply in the moment. But it will in the end do the opposite. Forcing adherence to a code of behavior through the implementation of pain will do the opposite once that pain is no longer there.
Once someone leaves the environment of pain, they will run in the opposite direction of the source of that pain. So that if one is taught that the reason for their pain (whether physical or mental) is the Torah, they will almost surely run as far away as they can from anything to do with the Torah. The evidence for that is clear in the many cases of people that have gone OTD as a result of dysfunctional families or having suffered abuse. Whether it was physical, mental, or sexual.
In the case of being a homosexual, the emotional pain they might feel once they ‘come out of the closet’ and being rejected by their religious community could easily make them run away from their religion.
There is also pain as a matter of fear about what happens to your soul after death when your life gets judged and ‘pays for its sins’. There is no getting around that. If you believe in the hereafter you believe that you will be judged on whether or not you were a faithful servant of God and followed His laws.
But should that be used as a motivator? Aside from acknowledging that Divine punishment in the hereafter is indeed part of our theology, using that as a motivator is just another way to inflict pain. Which is what those that have a same sex attraction feel by the rejection that often results when they ‘come out’.
As I have said many times, we are not now in any position to judge how others feel or act in the privacy of their own homes. That is between them and God. It is our duty however to treat every individual the way God intends us to. With, the love, dignity, and compassion for their struggles. They should be treated no differently than anyone else who might be acting any sinful way in private. All human beings are created in God’s image. We are required to treat them that way. This is something I have repeatedly advocated.
At the same time compassion only goes so far. It does not extend to condoning a lifestyle that is conducive to sin. It’s one thing to have compassion for those that have feelings like that. And to even have compassion to those that might act on those feelings in sinful ways.
What we cannot do is celebrate it as an alternative lifestyle. Which is why for example I am opposed to gay marriage and believe the current government policy endorsing it is wrong. A document that legalizes a lifestyle conducive to sin is a document that says there is nothing wrong with it and everything right with it. That one may take pride in living a sinful life and even celebrate it if they choose.
That’s where compassion ends and endorsing sin begins. And that is the crux of what’s wrong with current societal attitudes about being LGBT. It isn’t about live and let live. It’s about saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with behavior that the bible clearly says is sinful. Go right ahead and we’ll cheer you on! Which turns the bible into an archaic document that is counter to our modern sensitives.Which are based on solid scientific research. The bible’s views are therefore wrong, irrelevant, and should be ignored. As should any other biblical dictates that our modern sensibilities don't agree with.
That makes a mockery of the Torah’s eternal truths and it implies that anyone believing in the Torah is an ignorant bigot. Which is of course the furthest thing from the truth.
There is a way to honor the Torah and the dignity of LGBT people. The key - as I have always said - is to love the sinner but to hate the sin – which of course means that one must have love and compassion for those whose inclinations might nevertheless be conducive to sin and to avoid inflicting any pain on them -whether it be physical or emotional. I don't know if this was Dan Reynolds’ message. But it sure is mine.