David Benkof spends much of his Jerusalem Post opinion article, “Ex-Gay isn't kosher,” arguing against Jewish groups who recommend JONAH and similar sexual realignment programs.
I am decidedly on his side; those programs have never seemed legit to me, largely because they seem like the product of such blatant wishful thinking. There is no way that their practitioners would ever accept proof that their methods simply do not work.
I'm also not a fan of their pushiness. If someone would approach you looking to change, I can understand – and would expect – you to help. But the in-your-face approach their spokesmen often take, condemning those who have not 'changed,' is offensive to me.
But then Benkof makes an interesting call for help. Interesting, but I'm not sure what to do with it.
At the end of his piece, Benkof invites formation of an Orthodox support group for gays who seek to conform to halachah. He writes, I would love to see a Torah-true organization for same-sex-attracted Jews who on their own seek help in following Judaism's guidelines for family and bedroom life. Alas, such an organization does not yet exist.
My initial reaction is to say, “Sure, let's go for it!” But I'm not really clear on what “it” is. What would this group do? Are we looking to offer counseling? A shoulder on which to lean? What else? It seems to me we should be offering something more substantive than friendship.
And while we're on the topic, I'd like to see friendship for same-sex attracted Jews who did not seek to follow halachah. I think it's important to recognize that people's decisions on sexual lifestyle don't have to define their entire relationship with Torah and other Jews. Of course I don't accept homosexual practice as a halachically-valid decision, but still...