Although the Supreme Court has so far declined to intervene in Yeshiva University’s dispute with a group of students who want recognition for an LGBT campus organization, the legal battle is likely to continue for some time. The constitutional issues at stake are both significant and complex, but Mark Gottlieb stresses the need for the school, one of the flagship institutions of Orthodox Jewry in the U.S., not to lose sight of questions that are even more important:
It is up to the leadership of Yeshiva University—the heads of the yeshiva, rabbis, educators, and administrators—to make the case for what the Torah has to say about the human person, the complementarity of male and female, and the communion of persons that constitutes Jewish marriage. The question of homosexuality in a community of traditional faith is arguably the question of our generation. How do men and women of faith respond to this question? Yeshiva ought to be leading the way for Orthodox Jews—and others of faith—through this vexed, painful issue, providing both clarity and compassion for its students and alumni seeking guidance. It can, and must, do more.
“Torah values” need to be thoughtfully, lovingly—but fully and unapologetically—articulated if the phrase is to be more than a platitudinous cliché or bureaucratized buzzword. Simply repeating “Torah values,” like “family values,” is not enough to preserve and defend the rich, deep, and sacred theological anthropology that animates the Torah’s account of the human person. Merely invoking this phrase—without explicating both the publicly reasoned relationships Jewish tradition proscribes, and painting a compelling portrait of the sexual lives championed by the Torah—feels wholly inadequate for today’s culture, maybe any culture. It’s certainly not a sufficient form of education for acculturated men and women bombarded daily by counter-narratives of sexual normativity dramatically at odds with tradition.
In The Fractured Republic, Yuval Levin laments how often contemporary political discourse emphasizes attacking one’s rivals rather than presenting what is true, good, and beautiful about one’s own account. What’s true in political culture is even more vital when it comes to theological teachings.