Saturday, September 24, 2011

Response to Rabbi Schmuley's Appeal to Governor Perry

"We straight people have done a fine job of eroding marriage ourselves."

The fault, dear Rabbi, is not in our selves as sexual beings, but in our innate yetzer hara, which has become more prominent in our hedonistic, self-absorbed society. Today, individuals feel inclined to break off their marriages as soon as one or both partners gets bored and dissatisfied with each other.

Homosexual conduct has emerged as an outlet for many in part because of individual's unending desire for self-gratification. If they cannot get their "needs" met with a partner of the opposite sex, why not run around with someone of the same sex?

The notion that the only men who want to get married are those practicing a gay lifestyle misrepresents the core issues: most homosexuals seek marriage to validate their own lifestyle, not to settled down with a mate. Most homosexuals choose not to marry, anyway!

I do concur with the notion of striving with troubled married couples to stay together. A more effective approach, I esteem, would be to do away with no-fault divorce or to require couples a mandatory six-month cooling-off period before they proceed with divorce. Why not also make divorce more costly for couples, no longer permitting them to clog up the family courts with their domestic disputes?

I do agree that we should encourage families to spend more quality time together. Yet is that a role for the state to engage in? Have we not seen how the intervention of the state disintegrates the nuclear family, from welfare checks to public housing?

Regarding economic policies, I dispute the dichotomy of Christian perfection vs. Jewish struggle. The key in both the Old and New Testaments is the quest for righteousness, which speaks to one's favor in the sight of God. Hardly a perfect man, Abraham became the friend of God by faith:

"And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:6)

This same teaching is echoed by Paul the apostle following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ:

"For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Rather than focusing on perfection or struggle, we need to promote a government which does as little as possible in the lives of its citizens, so that men would seek eternal validation from their Creator through faith, not struggling or striving for perfection in their own actions or communities.

However, I do appreciate Rabbi Schmuley's point that politicians must stop trying to cure every ill like some modern-day Messiah. Barack Obama was not the change that we needed, nor could he ever be; and the massive misplaced hopes that the frustrated electorate of 2008 had invested in him have now been further frustrated by the unshakable, avoidable obvious: Obama is just a man, as is every politician who seeks higher office.

I also appreciate the comfort that the Rabbi offers in casting the fear of public office as the eventual outing, and ousting, for hypocrisy. American voters, however, more than the politicians, are at fault for making these impossible demands on their leaders. Why? Because they believe that the state should play a vital role in shaping our daily lives, whether in enforcing conservative or liberal values.

Finally, I would challenge the exclusively Jewish nature of attributing competing good and bad impulses within man. Before His arrest by the religious authorities, Jesus declared to his disciples:

"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)

Later, the Apostle Paul penned the very fraught battle of divine and human within believers:

"I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." (Romans 7:21-23)

I cannot think of a better explication of yetzer hatov and yetzer hara than these passages in the New Testament.

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