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The "JONAH's" Brothers and the Jewish Holidays
© 2009 by Joe Kort. All rights reserved

There is an article in www.AISH.com which is a website on Judaism and Spirituality. I have been reading their material for years and much of it is very good.

There is an article called, The Straight Path Home: My personal struggles with homosexuality (http://www.aish.com/spirituality/odysseys/The_Straight_Path_Home.asp) . The essence of the article from the writer, "David" is that he does not feel that homosexuality is right for him nor does he see himself as a gay man. He writes:

I didn't have to "change" anything. The definition of teshuva is returning to one's true self, one's soul. The sexual attraction I felt to other men wasnot my true nature; it was an attempt driven by my yetzer hara, my baser self, to satisfy unmet needs, a symptom of missed developmental opportunities and distorted perceptions.

Most of his article is good in terms of his own personal struggle with SSA and his Judaism. I write about this very issue of straight men who have sex with men and are not gay at www.StraightGuise.com acknowledge as a therapist and gay man myself that there are men who exist who act out homosexually and are not gay.

The problem with "David's" article is that he believes that all those who struggle with SSA's are not innately of a homosexual orientation and therefore cannot lead healthy lives as gay men and lesbians. This is not true as I have seen differently in my own life and amongst my clients who ultimately come out as gay.

However, there are definitely many men who struggle with SSA's and never come out--nor should they--because either they are not gay and the SSA's are a result of other problems or they are innately homosexual but living a gay affirmative life would be fraught with problems.

The place the author, "David" is misguided--and anti-gay--is when he paints a broad brush about all men who struggled with SSA is here:

I grew up in what psychologists call a "triadic family" -- it is so common in the backgrounds of men who struggle with homosexuality that it has a name. A distant or belittling father, an emotionally smothering or needy mother, and in the center a boy with nobody to guide him on the path to manhood. A boy or whom manhood has become dangerous, threatening, distant. A boy who grows up feeling different from other boys and men, yet yearns to connect with them, with his own masculinity.

As a therapist I see many men--both gay and straight alike--coming from this type of background that are not gay at all--nor are they struggling with sexual issues of any kind.

This belief that this family dynamic is "so common in the backgrounds of men who struggle with homosexuality" is old-school thinking from the 1960's and false. In addition it doesn't address lesbianism at all. We now understand that when a gay child has a distant father and emotionally smothering mother that this is the result of having a gay child, not the production of one.

It is like the old theory that Schizophrenic children were the product of "refrigerator" cold mothers. That is, until we discovered that Schizophrenia is genetic and the mothers were detached from these babies because the babies could not attach to her. Psychiatry and Psychology had to reexamine that false dynamic created around this. I have treated straight men and women with family dynamics exactly like this and, again, their suffering does not include anything related to homosexuality.

Then the author addresses JONAH, which he feels helped him. However here is what JONAH is really about:

JONAH

Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) is a Jersey City-based Jewish "ex-gay" ministry. The organization adheres to NARTH's (http://www.aish.com/spirituality/odysseys/The_Straight_Path_Home.asp) archaic reparative therapy model and promotes the work of the International Healing Foundation's Richard Cohen, a discredited fundamentalist Christian therapist and former Moonie who was expelled for life from the American Counseling Association in 2002.

JONAH perpetuates the unwise idea that gay people should marry, even if they are not attracted to their opposite-sex spouse. According to an article by Rabbi Joel Beasley posted prominently on JONAH's site: "But even if their innermost desires remained unfulfilled, it does not matter. It may never become clear why some people do not feel predisposed to marrying someone of the opposite sex. The obligation remains.

Marriage is meant to teach people how to rise above their own selfish needs in order to give to a partner who is both psychologically and physiologically different." This idea of marriage at all costs is cruel and unfair to the gay individual struggling to accept his or her sexual orientation. But, it is just as harmful for the spouse, who will likely find an unsatisfying marriage that may end in heartbreak and divorce.

JONAH is so wedded to its interpretation of doctrine that it seems to have little regard for the feelings and legitimate needs of people - including children - who would suffer inside such catastrophic marriages. In the same article by Rabbi Beasley, crass stereotypes are used to oppose same-sex unions and promote heterosexual marriage: "Same-gender marriages might have been too easy. As one essayist put it, male couples would have been able to sit around and watch ball games all day; female couples would have been able to sit down and really talk about one another's feelings. But marriage is meant to challenge each of the partners."Perhaps, the biggest concern that most Jews have about JONAH is that it appears to be a front for converting Jews to Christianity.

While there are a few obligatory Jewish resources on the organization's website, the majority of the books recommended to readers are written by born again Christian authors. Works offered on the site by Richard Cohen, Joe Dallas, Jeff Konrad, Alan Medinger and John Paulk are deeply sectarian and consider believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior a crucial component in "overcoming" homosexuality.

JONAH even pushes a book co-written by Wheaton College's Stanton Jones and Pat Robertson University's Mark Yarhouse entitled, "Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church's Moral Debate." For Jews who attend Synagogue, not church, this reading list may seem a bit peculiar, if not downright offensive. It is debatable whether JONAH's real mission is to create ex-gays or ex-Jews. Like other ex-gay organizations, JONAH keeps no statistics and offers the promise of change without any documentation of success.

The group relies on anecdotal stories and promotes a therapeutic approach that is not supported by any mainstream medical or mental health organization.

While there is help available you must ensure that you are receiving the correct help that does not include hateful information and ways of an organization the ways in which JONAH, NARTH and any other reparative therapy organization does. There is nothing wrong with someone who has unwanted interests and behaviors toward sexual experiences with other men.

There is something very wrong with those who say that man has to be gay or could never be gay. There are many things between this and the man needs to have the right to search this out himself.

A great book on homosexuality and Judaism on this topic is Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View. The author states that there is nothing in the Torah which states that homosexuality is wrong and bad. It does state, however, that if it is not your "true" identity than you should explore the reasons for the sexual acting out of homosexual behavior http://straightguise.blogspot.com/2007/07/what-is-straight-guise.html.

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