trembling before G-D

I just watched a fascinating documentary called:
“Trembling Before G-D”
This movie is built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian. The film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma - how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality.
The subjects of the film responded in vastly different ways to the struggle between their faith, tradition, and culture, and their homosexuality. The responses ranged from, “Aaww f-ck it, I’m here, I’m queer, get over it”, to “I am celibate and I’ve devoted my life to the reading of the Torah, and prayers” and everything in-between.

David is an Orthodox gay man who has tried to change his homosexuality, through therapy, and prayer for more than a decade. In one of the most poignant scenes in the film David travels to Jerusalem to re-unite with the Rabbi that he came out to over twenty years ago. He tearfully tells the Rabbi that he has given up on changing, and asks if he is destined to live a life without love.

Devorah, is an ultra-Orthodox lesbian in Israel, who has been married for more than twenty years with several children and grandchildren. She says that the only way she has been able to hide her persuasion and stay in her marriage is the fact that Jewish laws prohibit the husband and wife having sexual activity during certain times of the month and after certain religious rituals. She has repeatedly asked her husband to make their relationship platonic.

Mark is the son of an Orthodox rabbi and was kicked out of numerous yeshivas in England and Israel for homosexual activity and had abandoned Orthodoxy. His is the story of the prodigal son. After years of rejecting his faith and living with wild abandon the film follows Mark’s journey back to the Orthodox faith. Mark is HIV positive, and celibate.

Israel has been in a monogamous relationship for more than 25 years. When Israel came out he was shunned by his family and his congregation. In a very moving scene, Israel writes his 98 year old father a note, hoping for reconciliation. He receives a phone call shortly thereafter and hears his father’s voice for the first time in more than twenty years.

Shlomo is in a monogamous relationship with another man. He and his partner do not engage in anal sex, as the Torah strictly forbids this form of sexual contact. He said that they find fulfillment in other expressions of love, and that they can live without sexual intercourse in order to maintain harmony with their faith.

Malka and Leah met in an Orthodox Jewish all girls high school and have been in a monogamous relationship for 12 years. In one scene you see the devotion to their faith as they prepare for the Passover, and follow the rituals, sing the songs, and pray the prayers.

It was fascinating to put a face with the story. You could sense the struggle that these people were dealing with every day of their lives. This was a very moving film. Click on the banner above, or HERE to see the trailer.

Watching this, several questions came to mind. I’ll pose a few of them here.

Are all sins the same… or are some worse than others? We’ve all heard the saying, “sin is sin” but do we really believe that?

Is the compulsion to do a sinful act, sin in itself, or is it the actual completion of the act that makes it a sin?

Is there any thing that holds such a power over you that you cannot say no?


Anonymous said...

You wrote: "Is the compulsion to do a sinful act, sin in itself, or is it the actual completion of the act that makes it a sin?"
I've been wondering about this for awhile. At what point does temptation turn into compulsion and at what point do either of them turn into sin? For some reason I feel like I'm playing with fire by even letting myself ask. Am I truly trying to please God or am I trying to figure out how much is okay or not? While I want to please God, I don't want to draw a definite line on some things when I just don't know. I'm afraid that I will be more prone to look badly on others who have different lines and that I will become a religious-everything's-black-and-white-freak. Right about now is when I focus on loving others, saying "I don't know", and leaving the rest to God. Difficult subject. Great post, Jimmy.

ben said...

I saw that movie too bro, it was a real eye-opener, very refreshing, great post.

For me, SIN is a constant...I was born a sinner, I've been a sinner my whole life and I'll die a sinner...the only redemption from sin that I have is the salvation from sin that I've found in a relationship with Christ...the way I see it, I'll only be free from sin when my soul leaves this body behind...
So, in that way of thinking sin is ABSOLUTE and not RELATIVE...It's not tiered or ranked, it just is...
To me, snorting a line of crack is just as much of a sin as taking change from your grandmother’s cookie jar without asking...
It's whether or not you acknowledge YOUR SIN and seek forgiveness for the sin in your life that makes the difference...we should not live in fear of a vengeful God with an iron fist, we should live in acceptance of a jealous God with open arms.

lee said...

i've always said that sin has no hierarchy, it's just that i tend to forget it...i mean, i've got to constantly remind myself of this because of my unlimited ability of rationalization when it comes to me & my sin...i want justification of my percieved lesser wrongs in regards to someone who i see as worse off than myself...

to me sin is more than fleeting thoughts of wrong, but something that dominates my whole thought process & remains uncaptured, leading to an unhealthy obsession of whatever act, whether it lead to consumation in reality or rather it remain in my imagination...

Thomas Costello said...

Let me take a stab at one of those questions - Is all sin the same? No. All sins have something in common in that they separate you from God, and have the ability to do so permanently, but thats about it. I have always heard it taught that all sins are the same, but I don't see that anywhere in scripture. We know from living in the world that there is definite ranking of sins. The worst are things like child molestation, murder, rape, and the list goes on. We know that each of these sins carries different concequences. Because scripture is silent on wether or not all sin is the same, I have to use what I see in the natural world and say that they are not.