Shmuley Boteach is an American Orthodox rabbi, radio and television host, and author. He rose to prominence with the publication of his international bestseller Kosher Sex. He received his rabbinic ordination in 1988 from the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement in New York City, as a disciple of its leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. He frequently appears as a guest on television and radio discussing politics, religion, society and morality. He also now hosts a reality television program entitled Shalom in the Home which involves facilitating conflicts between family members. He has authored many books since Kosher Sex, the latest of which is The Broken American Male.
Question: How should we address these issues?
Shmuley Boteach: We’ve barely made a dent in the divorce rate in the United States. We continue to talk about, you know . . . So many of my religious friends tell me, “Oh, gay marriage . . . These gays are gonna ruin heterosexual marriage.” And I say to them, “Oh don’t worry about that. There’s nothing left to ruin. We straight people have done a fine job of destroying marriage already.”
I know that religion needs rules, because without rules religion becomes a mockery; but the love and the rules have to co-exist. So for example here in the United States, the two great religious battlegrounds have been abortion and have been gay marriage. There are so many ways to make those issues inclusive without religion compromising its stance. For example, you can tell gay men and women that because the Bible says that homosexuality is unacceptable that we can’t necessarily condone homosexuality. Having said that we love you. You’re equally God’s child, and there are so many other virtues that you have that we probably don’t have. Come to church and pray. We love you. Come to synagogue and pray. No one’s going to judge you by your lesbianism. We’re not even going to talk about it. Instead we say, “If you’re gay, should you be coming to church?” That’s terrible. I mean that’s terrible to exclude people based on any kind of choice like that. Or abortion. Why have we made abortion into such a profoundly divisive issue which is a debate on the origin of life? We really should have made it an inclusive issue, which is a debate about feminine dignity. Ninety-nine percent of all abortions are women who are bedded by men who don’t love them, who impregnate them, and then shedding any kind of responsibility, just leave them by themselves. That’s not a religious issue; that’s an issue of social responsibility. Radical left-wing feminists and right-wing Catholics should be on the same page about this one. Again not about abortion, but in telling women don’t let men take advantage of you. Value yourself. Go into a relationship where you demand and expect real intimacy, real love, and real commitment.
Recorded on: 09/05/2007