L’Observatoire des religions

"Judaism’s Sexual Revolution : Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality."

dimanche 23 mars 2008 par Dennis Prager

When Judaism demanded that all sexual activity be channeled into marriage, it changed the world. The Torah’s prohibition of non-marital sex quite simply made the creation of Western civilization possible. Societies that did not place boundaries around sexuality were stymied in their development. The subsequent dominance of the Western world can largely be attributed to the sexual revolution initiated by Judaism and later carried forward by Christianity.

This revolution consisted of forcing the sexual genie into the marital bottle. It ensured that sex no longer dominated society, heightened male-female love and sexuality (and thereby almost alone created the possibility of love and eroticism within marriage), and began the arduous task of elevating the status of women.

Author Dennis Prager (born August 2, 1948) is a Jewish American syndicated radio talk show host, columnist, author, ethicist, and public speaker. He is noted for his conservative political views and for his study of the consequences of secularism in the 20th Century.

Inventing homosexuality

The revolutionary nature of Judaism’s prohibiting all forms of non-marital sex was nowhere more radical, more challenging to the prevailing assumptions of mankind, than with regard to homosexuality. Indeed, Judaism may be said to have invented the notion of homosexuality, for in the ancient world sexuality was not divided between heterosexuality and homosexuality. That division was the Bible’s doing. Before the Bible, the world divided sexuality between penetrator (active partner) and penetrated (passive partner).

As Martha Nussbaum, professor of philosophy at Brown University, recently wrote, the ancients were no more concerned with people’s gender preference than people today are with others’ eating preferences :

Ancient categories of sexual experience differed considerably from our own... The central distinction in sexual morality was the distinction between active and passive roles. The gender of the object... is not in itself morally problematic. Boys and women are very often treated interchangeably as objects of [male] desire. What is socially important is to penetrate rather than to be penetrated. Sex is understood fundamentally not as interaction, but as a doing of some thing to someone...

Judaism changed all this. It rendered the "gender of the object" very "morally problematic" ; it declared that no one is "interchangeable" sexually. And as a result, it ensured that sex would in fact be "fundamentally interaction" and not simply "a doing of something to someone".

To appreciate the extent of the revolution wrought by Judaism’s prohibiting homosexuality and demanding that all sexual interaction be male-female, it is first necessary to appreciate just how universally accepted, valued, and practiced homosexuality has been throughout the world.

The one continuous exception was Jewish civilization — and a thousand years later, Christian civilization. Other than the Jews, "none of the archaic civilizations prohibited homosexuality per se," Dr. David E. Greenberg notes. It was Judaism alone that about 3,000 years ago declared homosexuality wrong.

And it said so in the most powerful and unambiguous language it could : "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind ; it is an abomination." "And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed an abomination." It is Judaism’s sexual morality, not homosexuality, that historically has been deviant.

Greenberg, whose The Construction of Homosexuality is the most thorough historical study of homosexuality ever written, summarizes the ubiquitous nature of homosexuality in these words : "With only a few exceptions, male homosexuality was not stigmatized or repressed so long as it conformed to norms regarding gender and the relative ages and statuses of the partners... The major exceptions to this acceptance seem to have arisen in two circumstances." Both of these circumstances were Jewish.

"Crisis" 11, no. 8 (September 1993).

Copyright © 1993 by Crisis Magazine

Copyright/Reproduction Limitations

This data file is the sole property of CRISIS MAGAZINE. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge.

All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice (i.e., "Copyright (c) 2001 by Crisis Magazine") and this Copyright/Reproduction Limitations notice.

This data file may not be used without the permission of CRISIS MAGAZINE for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold.


Accueil du site | Contact | Plan du site | En résumé | Espace privé | Statistiques | visites : 274675