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In the world, and not of the world 

The recent Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage in the United States has a good many people up in arms. I would like to present a Messianic Jewish perspective that gleans from our experience in history.

As we are in the midst of the 3 weeks, our minds and collective memories are drawn to the remembrance of the destruction of the Temple. In a short period of time we went from being a self determined nation to being a conquered people. 90% of us were carried off to Babylon, the other 10% left for Egypt. Thus, we began the 1st period of the Jewish people in the Diaspora. In Babylon, we were faced with the decision of simply allowing our relationship with Hashem to dissipate or to find a way to connect and relate to Hashem without the Temple. We were thrust into the midst of a foreign culture, with foreign practices, foreign gods, with foreign people. Indeed, we were again, strangers in a strange land. We had made poor choices in our history, but this time we made the right choice. We chose HaShem. Instead of dissipating into the dominant culture, we made a choice to settle together and form a community within the Babylonian community that was completely Jewish. The Anshei Knesset HaGdola, that is, the men of the great assembly, helped guide our people through a very treacherous and difficult time. Institutions were created and strengthened. The Beit Knesset (synagogue), and the Beit Midrash (school), were founded. And we, the children of Israel, continued our own faith and our own culture, smack dab in the middle of Babylonian culture.

The Babylonian exile is our model for our current day situation. Indeed, we see that today, perhaps more than at any other time in American history, we truly exist in a Diaspora. Powerful governments, throughout history, have always insisted in trying to elevate themselves above Hashem. Pharaoh was considered divine, Nevukadrezzar was considered divine, Alexander was considered divine, Caesar was considered divine, the Communist Party was considered divine. All this was an effort to consolidate power in human government. Not to worry, we have the model for how to exist in the world and yet not be of the world.

Torah very clearly states that homosexuality is a violation. If the United States government chooses to accept gay marriage, fine, but does not mean that we have to accept gay marriage. We can be in the world, and not of the world. This does not mean we should treat gay people badly. One of the great tasks of Yeshua on earth was to point out that we need to love one another. We fail at it time after time after time and yet this is one of the great commandments emphasized by our Messiah.

One of the tools of nonbelievers is to equate disagreement with hate. Understand there is a huge difference between disagreement and hate. I’ve met most of the Messianic Rabbis in the world today, and I assure you, I disagree about something with every single one, and yet, not only do I not hate any of them, I love every single one of them. For the record, I disagree strongly with gay marriage, and I love gay people.

So, be in the world, and not of the world. Love Hashem, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do not be concerned that human culture turns away from Hashem. We have seen this over and over in history, simply follow the model of the Babylonian exile and follow Torah.

R. Steven Bernstein

  • All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be overwhelmed by fear.” Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Thu, May 30 2024 22 Iyyar 5784