Thursday, April 12, 2007

Trembling before God

Tonight I watched Trembling before God.

Trembling before God is a documentary that addresses the issue of homosexuality within the Orthodox/ Charedi community and lightly touches upon how it is dealt with in the Modern Orthodox community. It succeeds in sensitizing its audience to the plight and pain of those who are homosexuals and struggle to remain otherwise observant Jews, but it is also revolutionary in its promotion of acceptance and support for homosexuality in halakhic Judaism rather than mere tolerance.

The part that really tore me up inside was Israel Fishman's monologue.

    There was no reason in the world- the way I was treated by my family was a very abusive

    Why? Because you were different than them?

    That was only my- they may have sensed that I was different at a very early age, but even when I was- I was very observant when I was a youngster, five, six, seven, eight- I was a very good yeshiva bochur, I was much better than my brother, I know I live in my faith. I don’t know what that faith is, I don’t know what God is, I certainly know it’s not the God that tells me I shouldn’t do this, I shouldn’t do that; I’m not the God who stimulated that yeshiva bochur when I was in Ner Yisroel when I was fifteen years old to get me to confess that I had masturbated, that I had sex with my brother, and made me swear to Him that I would never do it again and drove me twelve weeks later to suicide and drove me to a mental hospital and drove me to have electric shock therapy that burnt out my brain. That’s not the God that redeemed Israel out of Egypt; that’s not the God that stood by me. You know, my sister won’t come into the house because I’m gay. Even though they won’t have anything to do with me, I know I live in my emunah. I know I live in my faith. I know and, and, and I come back here to redeem that part of me, the pintele yid that, the she’aris ha’plaita (saving remnant) within me, that part of me that should not have survived, that part of me that my father said, “What do you want? They didn’t make you a bar of soap.” You know, if my father said to me once, “You know, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I hurt you.” I wrote him a letter in 1988 was, I wrote him a letter outlining all the things, and I said, you know, I quoted from the Talmud and whatever and I heard nothing. I also took this same letter and took it to the gravesites of various people and I burnt it and I put it on the water and I did all kinds of maiasehs and I heard more from the dead than I heard from the living. More from the dead than the living!

Israel Fishman is a distinguished-looking, fascinating man whose eyes blaze when he speaks. He's passionate and outspoken and hurt, and it's the hurt more than anything else that shines through him. He was obviously made to feel very guilty about his sexual desires, and the fact that he had been involved in an incestuous relationship with his brother could only have added to that shame and guilt. It is no wonder that he became ill. Everything he says is deeply moving. He says that he wants his Daddy; he wants to have his relationship with his father back, to have him sit at the Shabbos table with him and simply allow him back into his life. During one painful conversation- it is painful for us to watch- his father explains that he is very busy with "selikhos and work and building the sukkah" so he cannot meet with his son right now. The son asks whether he can meet with his father over Chol Hamoed Sukkos, but the father simply responds by wishing him good health. Fishman states that the father "doesn't hear...he doesn't want to hear."

I also connected to Shlomo Ashkinazy. Well-spoken, ostensibly modern, cleanly dressed, he explained that he had gone to see a prominent Orthodox sage to discuss his homosexuality. The Rabbi had warned him that anal sex was absolutely prohibited by Jewish law. Ashkinazy responded that he did not practice anal sex. The Rabbi was then at a loss as to what gay activity was and Ashkinazy was the one who had to inform him of such practices as hugging, kissing, mutual masturbation, and oral sex. The Rabbi asked him, "Why would a man want to put his shmekey in another man's mouth?" and Ashkinazy responded, using clear medical terms, "Why would a man want to put his penis in a woman's vagina?"

The insinuation there, of course, is that this Rabbi who was so well-versed in halakha and Talmud and is an obviously learned man, was not up-to-date when it came to issues affecting those living in the modern world. It shows this particular Rabbi to a disadvantage, of course, but it is also deeply affecting. It is quite clear, of course, how important it is for religious leaders to be aware of issues like these within their communities, and to be able to address them clearly and responsibly in proper medical terms.

That having been said, the film was balanced, on a whole. The Rabbis who were interviewed came across as compassionate but in a halakhic bind, as they truly are; the Torah says what it says and one cannot, as Rabbi Steven Greenberg suggests, simply reinterpret the verses in question. The Rabbis on a whole explained that they felt compassion toward those who were suffering and realized that these people were in pain, but they were not at liberty to change Torah law. I believe this to be a fair approach.

The only problem with the movie was its focus. There is a difference between understanding the pain and suffering of homosexuals and between claiming that this is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle and that everyone should happily applaud it, a difference between informing Jews that there are indeed homosexuals in the Orthodox community and that they must be treated with love and kindness, as one would treat any Jew, and between passionately supporting them and their lifestyle. There are parts of the extended features that are simply unacceptable when it comes to the halakhic religious approach. Here are two examples.

    1. The director of the film explains that Rabbi Steven Greenberg met his partner because of the film's success. He makes a statement that there's an idea that after making 3 shidduchim one goes straight to Olam Haba (the World to Come). "Well, I've got one down, two to go," he says, laughing. Obviously, the intimation is that pairing Rabbi Steven Greenberg up with his male partner was a mitzvah, and that the director might actually be rewarded with a share in the World to Come for this.

    2. The film is interspersed with sections that feature silhouettes of people engaging in holy activities-keeping Shabbos, observing the holidays. The director explains that one silhouette, showing a gay couple (male) ushering in the Shabbos is a vision of a "world to come" in which this would be acceptable, and the intimation to me seemed to be, preferable.

The film is extremely successful, however, in bringing the humanity of others to the fore. Homosexuals and lesbians are people, and those who are born into Orthodox or Charedi communities are faced with an extremely difficult choice. One man, David, tried everything from reciting prayers to eating certain foods to flicking a rubberband on his wrist every time he had thoughts about another man and none of it helped him. That having been said, what is his lot in life? To remain celibate, alone, childless, to have friends as his only comfort? Is this really God's wish?

On the other hand, and infinitely more disturbing to me, were the people who, trapped within the confines of the Orthodox community and knowing they would be shunned for admitting that they were gay or lesbian, actually married others and have even raised families- people who have children. There are frank interviews in which one woman, Devorah, explains that she even broached the idea of a "platonic marriage" to her husband, who understandably, was not pleased with the idea. There's another woman who is married and is having an affair with a married woman, is completely Charedi, and who absolutely cannot "come out" to others. The community in which she lives would shun her, might take her kids away from her, hurt her...

Obviously this is not a good situation. People cannot be made to feel inferior and guilty and ashamed of something that is integral to them. Neither can they be made to feel so powerless and trapped that they submit to another's will or society's will for them to marry, as that is (in the situations mentioned in the movie) deeply unsatisfying for them and cruel to their spouse. They must have the ability to speak up without fear of being shunned and hurt. Shuls must open their doors to gay people; they must be retained, be part of the community. There is a difference, however, between tolerance and agreement. The approach that I advocate for is the tolerant approach. This is the approach that states: The Torah states that homosexuality is a sin. We cannot reinterpret the Torah or rationalize it to make it say things it does not say. You are homosexual; that does not make you bad or unworthy or unclean. It means that you are caught in a terrible, painful situation and no one but God can judge your actions. This is not a social sin- you are not hurting me. You are not stealing from me or killing others or kidnapping anybody. This is something you do in the privacy of your home, and perhaps you act on your sexuality and perhaps you do not, but either way, it is not for me to judge, because I am a human and not God. And as a human, I shall treat you as I would treat any other human being, with dignity and respect and kindness. But that does not mean that I necessarily approve or agree or believe in your ideals, and neither is that something that I ought to have to do.

The extra material on the second disc demonstrates a very fair-minded approach in that the director did not shy away from including dissenting opinions, objections, or disappointments. The spokesman for JONAH ,for example, explained that he felt the film had been one-sided in that it had not addressed the topic of change (that homosexuals could become heterosexual.) He felt that the film had actually derided the concept of change and dismissed it as laughable because of its association, in the film, with "eating figs, snapping rubberbands, or electric shock therapy," none of which is helpful.

Rabbi Meir Fund is heard in a phone conversation where he explains that he feels misled- he thought the point of the film was to demonstrate the "pain and anguish" of Jewish homosexuals but instead sees that it had an agenda and has sparked a gay-rights movement within the Jewish community, which he personally believes will fail.

So they were very good about including opinions other than their own, extremely fair-minded, in fact.

The film's ultimate importance for the Orthodox Jewish community is best expressed in a statement by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who teaches sex education at Ramaz (or did at the time.)

"...and one of them is the whole issue of how we respond to people who are gay. And I think what I'd like to say to Sandi and Naomi and Steve and everybody else who had anything to do with this film is that, the next group that I have; I will have to speak differently. When the Torah speaks about abomination, it speaks about an act; it doesn't speak about a person."

21 comments:

Jewish Atheist said...

The Rabbis who were interviewed came across as compassionate but in a halakhic bind, as they truly are; the Torah says what it says and one cannot, as Rabbi Steven Greenberg suggests, simply reinterpret the verses in question.

The Torah is wrong. I wish people could just admit that it's a document written thousands of years ago by imperfect humans much like ourselves.

That good people are prevented from being compassionate because they are "bound" to a book of stories and rules from thousands of years ago is a tragedy.

I know I haven't come here much to argue against religion, but this issue is just so sad. Israel Fishman broke my heart. What was his line? "I just want my Tatty."

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Chana: Thanks for your excellent (as usual) movie review that far surpasses the average (like what you might find in say...The Commentator).

Kudos.

Chana said...

Jewish Atheist,

Why is homosexuality any more irrational or disturbing than the idea of parents offering up their almost thirteen-year-old boy to be killed because he is a glutton/ thief/ ben sorer u'moreh?

There are many laws in the Torah that seem utterly cruel and disturb me. I am most disturbed, when it comes to homosexuality, that- if it truly is genetic- God created people who were a certain way and then almost sadistically told them to act contrary to their nature. This sounds so cruel.

I wish I could simply reinterpret or replace the words, but I can't, and neither do I personally think the answer is denying the validity of the text. I think it is normal for everyone to be pained and hurt and confused by the law and to identify with the sufferings of others, but at the same time, follow the law.

I understand your view and I think it would be easier for many if we could simply do away with the Torah. But I see those of us who cannot differently- the tragedy does not lie in the fact that we cannot be compassionate due to the book, as I think we can be compassionate regardless, but in living a life where we do not understand God's logic and so wish we could. This was Moses' question and the question of all the greats- Show me your glory, God, so that I might see how you rule your world, might understand the problem of theodicy. It's the everlasting question.

Jameel,

Thanks. However, I don't permit anything negative to be said about The Commentator's movie reviews, as they do an excellent job most times. Mine are personal reflections upon the movie and hence inappropriate for a newspaper. So, 'no hating' on the Commie. ;)

Jewish Atheist said...

the tragedy does not lie in the fact that we cannot be compassionate due to the book, as I think we can be compassionate regardless, but in living a life where we do not understand God's logic and so wish we could.

You can be compassionate to an extent, but you (as a community) will continue to raise gay children who think that gay sex is sinful and abominable in God's eyes. Compassion isn't always enough.

Anonymous said...

Torah says You shall not kill as murder
Torah says Man/Women shall not sleep with same sex
They are both negative commandments that people are not allowed to do it. Not killing makes sense, certain people thinks no homosexulaity acts make sense, jewish Astheist, you think torah is wrong, well then u are saying torah should let people kill other people as murder. Sometimes we could not understand why G-D wants to do that by following laws which is not fair or doesn't make sense. Maybe homosexuality acts is against nature. Nature is vagina had a hole so penis could go through. It tells us man into man which sounds absurd. Maybe Homosexuality is mental illness that's why people says that they have identity confusion. Who knows?

Chana said...

Jewish Atheist,

You're right. That's what the Orthodox community does. What do you want me to say? My heart goes out to those who suffer like this. But the law is the law, and it is not changeable. You and I are dealing with two different premises- mine, that God is the author of this law, yours, that man made it- hence we will never reach a happy conclusion.

Anonymous,

Your logic is flawed. Jewish Atheist is not making the claim that if he believes the Torah is untrue or wrong, it negates the value of all the commandments. Societal norms such as not killing/ not stealing are punishable under logical, rational law, and JA would completely support that. Believing the Torah is false does not mean one believes all the laws within it are ridiculous, only that they were manmade/ historically influenced/ flawed by social standards, etc. Some more than others; these being ones like homosexuality. These are the ones that disturb people like JA (might I dare say disturb most of us?)

Ezzie said...

Interesting review, thank you.

I am most disturbed, when it comes to homosexuality, that- if it truly is genetic- God created people who were a certain way and then almost sadistically told them to act contrary to their nature. This sounds so cruel.

Interesting notes: A clinical psychologist we knew (now deceased) felt that homosexuality was a choice, not an inborn genetic trait. The psychologist felt that people choose to be homosexual and convince themselves they are homosexual for any of a variety of reasons. (I have no opinion, as an accountant. :) )

You can be compassionate to an extent, but you (as a community) will continue to raise gay children who think that gay sex is sinful and abominable in God's eyes. Compassion isn't always enough.

That logic does not follow, JA. Similar to what Chana said, if one believes it is from God, compassion is the best that can be expected. If gay sex is abominable and a sin that receives the punishment of death, it's hard to reconcile that with saying it's okay.

You can be compassionate to an extent, but you (as a community) will continue to raise gay children who think that gay sex is sinful and abominable in God's eyes. Compassion isn't always enough.

Someone mentioned over the last days that this isn't necessarily true. (They may have mentioned a book about this, I can't recall.) The basic gist of their point was that without the Torah, we would NOT find "Don't kill" to be obvious at all. Murder to ensure one's dominance, to increase one's own wealth, to feed one's family... etc. It was a very fascinating discussion - our Western morality is so clearly predicated on Judeo-Christian values we don't even realize it.

Jewish Atheist said...

Chana and Ezzie:

I don't understand how you can believe in a benevolent deity who wrote that pasuk. But you already knew that. I guess I'm glad that Orthodoxy has people like you two in it, although I wish the whole movement could transcend some of its more primitive parts.

Ezzie:

The basic gist of their point was that without the Torah, we would NOT find "Don't kill" to be obvious at all. Murder to ensure one's dominance, to increase one's own wealth, to feed one's family... etc. It was a very fascinating discussion - our Western morality is so clearly predicated on Judeo-Christian values we don't even realize it.

Eastern morality, in the complete absence of the Torah, managed to come up with the idea that murder is wrong as well. Incidentally, it was Eastern morality and culture in the absence of Biblical influence that first made Chaim Potok seriously question Orthodoxy, if I remember correctly.

Erachet said...

The Torah is wrong. I wish people could just admit that it's a document written thousands of years ago by imperfect humans much like ourselves.

That good people are prevented from being compassionate because they are "bound" to a book of stories and rules from thousands of years ago is a tragedy.

I know I haven't come here much to argue against religion, but this issue is just so sad.


Jewish Atheist - The problem lies in the fact that Orthodox Jews don't believe the Torah was written by man. Since we believe it was written by God, it cannot be wrong. However, this does not mean we cannot be compassionate. I think the complexity and seriousness of this issue can allow us to be all the more compassionate, seeing as there are members of our nation who are suffering because of it.

I think what needs to be adjusted is not the law, but people's attitude towards those who are homosexual. While it is against the Torah to have gay relations, this is not saying that people who do it are doing so in order to go against the Torah, but rather because it is in their nature to do so (so scientists claim, if it is, in fact, a genetic thing). Instead of being alienated, homosexual Jews should be receiving kindness and support from their family and friends to overcome this obstacle in their lives. We're all given our obstacles and weaknesses and some are worse than others. But no one can overcome an obstacle if he is pushed away by those who used to care about him.

Jewish Atheist said...

erachet:

The problem lies in the fact that Orthodox Jews don't believe the Torah was written by man.

I agree. They also, by overwhelming majority, refuse to investigate whether this claim is reasonable in the light of the text itself, even when they admit it's a struggle to reconcile themselves to some of its moral instruction.

If nobody were harmed by the notion that the Torah was written by God, this would be merely a personal choice. However, because there are hundreds or thousands of actual, existing human beings who are being marginalized because of some of the words contained in that book, I'd argue that people have the moral responsibility to investigate whether the book is indeed divine, or whether said divinity falls apart under scrutiny.

If, upon honest investigation, they continue to believe the Torah is the word of God, so be it. But few have the courage to try, and even fewer of those remain convinced that it's God's word.

Chana wrote that the rabbis are in a bind and that is true, but what she is leaving out is that they have the ability to unbind themselves but choose not to exercise it.

Chana said...

Jewish Atheist,

I don't understand how you can believe in a benevolent deity who wrote that pasuk.

I think that perhaps we ought to focus on the operative word here, benevolent. How is God benevolent? Is he benevolent in terms of human benevolence? If so, then we can find him to be cruel.

I think it is the Rambam who writes that God can only be understood in negatives. God is NOT-Evil, NOT-Cruel, NOT-Impatient, etc. The actual words, however, evil, cruel, patient and so forth, can only be understood in terms of a human context, and there is no one who can state the words and adjectives are the same when it comes to God.

So I think I'd have to take issue with the problem of benevolence. What if God is NOT benevolent in the sense that we as humans understand the word benevolent? It is quite easy to conceive of a 'cruel' God. Not liking what he says, writes or does does not mean that he does not exist or that we mustn't follow his law.

Unless you broach the next subject, and inquire into whether it is moral to obey the dictates of a God whom you find to be cruel, even allowing for that God's existence and believing that He laid down certain laws. Ben Avuyah's been tackling that lately; it's a very interesting discussion.

Re your second point to Erachet, I find that I must disagree with your statement that the Rabbis "have the ability to unbind themselves but choose not to exercise it." You are relying, as I am, on human reason. You are claiming that if we research the historical accuracy of the text and our reason suggests that the Torah is not divine, we ought to follow our reason. Religion, however, suggests other guidelines, some which supercede reason (an uncomfortable, disturbing thought, I know and agree with you!) The Rabbis do not have to rely upon what seems appropriate to your or I with regard to rational inquiry and logical assumptions because their premise to begin with allows for beliefs that supercede reason. So a) your suggested path of discovery would not hold water for them and b) they really do not have the ability to unbind themselves.

That being said, if God grants me the time, I would be most interested in doing exactly what you suggest, that is, researching the historical documented accuracy/ evidence of the Torah, and seeing what I find. On my list of things to do... :D

Jewish Atheist said...

Unless you broach the next subject, and inquire into whether it is moral to obey the dictates of a God whom you find to be cruel, even allowing for that God's existence and believing that He laid down certain laws. Ben Avuyah's been tackling that lately; it's a very interesting discussion.

It seems obvious to me that there is no moral reason to obey a cruel God. Isn't that obvious?

Ben Avuyah has? Does he have a new place? It looks like he's hardly been blogging at all lately.

Jewish Atheist said...

Religion, however, suggests other guidelines, some which supercede reason (an uncomfortable, disturbing thought, I know and agree with you!)

I know that Christianity emphasizes faith, but where does OJ suggest other guidelines?

Anonymous said...

chana, you are right. My logic is flawed. But yes not killing/ not stealing are punishable under logical, rational law. G-d knows that was rational, same thing with homosexuality bc i believed Torah was written by G-D. Torah says you shall not sleep with same sex. It said "sleep" meaning act not thinking about it. Yes we should be compassionate people who have desire of it if we believed homo is gentic disease. People who killed someone, should we have compassionate on them or must bring justice into it. If homosexuality person actually do it, I wouldn't not be copassionate to him/her, bc he/she made a choice to do against torah. Don't bring the expression "to understand other person u need to place their shoes" bc i know u didn't kill someone and yet u want to bring justice to them who did it. I know it is hard to understand but it is same thing with homosexuality.

orthodoxmom said...

Chana, I'm with you. You present my opinion better than I could myself. I would like to add although no one has asked me, what I as an orthodox woman believe regarding Homosexuality. I think it is important for this discussion to happen and for people like Jewish Atheist to hear what Orthodox people actually think about this. We don't often talk about it. So here goes. My feeling is that there are those in the homosexual population that have a predisposition for their sexual preference. I don't know whether it is a hormonal imbalance or some other biological reason, but I believe it exists in some people. I believe that others in this population have been inluenced by life experiences that have caused them to be attracted to the same sex. I would not call them mentally ill, but I do know some homosexuals personally who have had disfunctional relationships with a parent of the same or opposite sex that affected their future relationships with those of that sex. I am not speaking of abuse, but that would be another category of disfunction that may give someone the inclination for this sexual preference. Now, all these groups--those with the genetic predisposition, those with the disfunctional issues in their past, those with both--can and are influenced by our current American society which deifies tolerance and self-expression at the cost of self-discipline and--hold onto your liberal hats--family values. Our culture tells us to be open to every god, but the G-d of religious fervor. That G-d to them is false. So if you are a homosexual Orthodox Jew, it is easy to be pulled into the notion that you have every right to act on your natural desires. I have compassion for them and I know some personally, Orthodox Jewish and others who are not. But I do not believe that it is okay to act on the preference. That said, I do not feel that it is okay to speak ill of others (Loshon Harah), but I do not presume to judge those who do, me included. I do not look down upon them at all. I know that the G-d I believe in presents all of us with challenges of all kinds, genetic and otherwise. Some of us come into this world with more challenges than others, some find challenges after birth early in life or later in life. Sh.. Happens. Doesn't it?

Orthodoxmom said...

One more really important politically incorrect thing. I mentioned "family values" before. I feel strongly that a two parent home with parents of both sexes is important for children. I feel that even if children have significant others in their lives who are of the sex that their parent (or parents) is not that this is not enough. I feel that the interplay between two parents of different sexes, the partnership between the two is important for the child. Obviously, we are not talking about homes in which the two parents do not get along. So, based on this supposition of mine (partially born of my own experience being raised in a single parent home with a wonderful mom and two really supportive uncles living nearby ) with religion playing only a bit part, I see homosexuality as a problem for creating a balanced family life for a child even with all the love that a nurturing homosexual parent(s) can give. And I do believe that homosexuals can be loving parents. I believe that establishing a family whether biologically or through adoption is an important goal for most of us and validating homosexual couples as equal to heterosexual couples is not fair to the children. What do I think of Orthodox Jewish homosexuals who marry those of the opposite sex and build families with them anyway? I don't know, but I would sure love to know how many of them are happy with this choice. Is it possible that some are?

Anonymous said...

oxthordox woman said, "are influenced by our current American society which deifies tolerance and self-expression at the cost of self-discipline and--hold onto your liberal hats--family values."
She is right, that's why Modern Orthodox are so open for homosexuality bc of American value not Jewish. Look at gay parade in Jerusalem, all raabis and priests are blocking them to enter the kotel because Torah against it. You can't really compassionate people who actually did this acts. We can't support them so it would be worthless to compassinate on them if we can't support them.

orthodoxmom said...

Anonymous, I am Modern Orthodox. You always have to be compassionate. You don't always have to be tolerant.

Anonymous said...

To orthodoxmom, if you said you always should be compassionate to everyone then u should compassionate to killer?

Charlie Hall said...

I should first mention that I have not seen "Trembling Before G-d".

'the topic of change (that homosexuals could become heterosexual)'

The folks at JONAH may wish to believe that, but as a scientist I see no evidence that this is possible. See this review:

Byrd AD, Nicolosi J. A meta-analytic review of treatment of homosexuality. Psychol Rep. 2002 Jun;90(3 Pt 2):1139-52.

Only by combining two very different types of study outcomes (pre-post and parallel arm), which the authors themselves acknowledge is methodologically questionable, were they able to see significant results and even then only for short term symptomatic change. In the authors' own words:

"To conclude that sexual reorientation is possible...is premature and inappropriate."

The authors are from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, Encino, CA 91436-1801, USA., and would therefore any bias would be toward attempting to show that change in orientation is possible. They were honest in their article and admitted that at the moment there is no evidence for that.

This creates a hashgafic problem, about which I blogged a year ago:

http://charliehall.blogspot.com/2006/03/problem-with-homosexuality-r-rated.html

I've seen nothing to change my opinion on this issue.

Two more issues: The torah says nothing directly about women having sex with women. Those who argue that it is a biblical prohibition use the arguement that it was widely practiced in ancient Egypt, which we now know is not true -- the forbidden relation that was practiced there was brother/sister marraige. Ancient Greece was the society in which homosexuality was widespread, and there is really strong evidence only for men having sex with men. The sexual activity of Alexander the Great was well known to his contemporaries, yet Chazal were not particularly unfavorable towards him.

Unfortunately, when you mention homosexuality among religous Jews, you tend to get visceral reactions rather than calm discussion.

orthodoxmom said...

Mr. Hall, I think I contributed my opinions in a calm manner. Not every Orthodox person reacts to this issue the way you describe as I'm sure you know. I don't think homosexuals who have a genetic predisposition for this preference can be "changed" much the same way that I would find it hard to believe that I would be able to change my heterosexual orientation. But, the fact remains that there are those who may be gravitating to those of the same sex for reasons other than biological. The fact also remains that those who marry and have families with an opposite sex spouse may not necessarily have undergone any transformation, but may have made a conscious and painful choice to deny themselves their natural preference in pursuit of a traditional family, a different kind of fulfillment. People make painful choices in their lives all the time. I am not minimizing in the slightest the amount of pain this must cause these people, but as I've said, we need to be open to the fact that we are not slaves to our biology, psychology, circumstance. Even in the most dire of circumstances, people can control their attitude. See Viktor Frankl's wonderful book, "Man's Search for Meaning."