A Different Kind of Gay Marriage

This is very interesting. Does it really work? Would it work for Christians? Is it the right way to approach the question?

Source: Hareetz.com | HT: Cranach: The Blog of Veith

Ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel have come up with an acceptable form of gay marriage: gay men marry lesbians.

Rabbis from the religious Zionist community have launched an initiative to marry gay men to lesbian women – with some surprising successes.

So far, 11 marriages have been performed. Haaretz conducted an email interview with one such couple, Etti and Roni (not their real names ).

Etti and Roni, both religious, were married five years ago. Though they were honest with each other about their sexual orientations from their first meeting, to the outside world, they portray themselves as a normal heterosexual couple. Today, they have two children, and are thrilled with the results.

“It’s incredible,” they wrote. “Six years ago, we didn’t think we would ever be this happy. We thought everything was black, that we’d lost our chance of a normal life. But today, things are good for us. There are gaps, but that’s true in every case. And we fill them with the great love we give to and receive from our children, and also enjoy the simple human love we give each other, such as any two people can give and receive.”


All the matches were arranged by Rabbi Areleh Harel of the West Bank settlement of Shilo. He teaches at a yeshiva in Elon Moreh and has a name in religious circles as the go-to rabbi for homosexuals.

Harel said all his couples receive close support from a team of psychologists, marriage counselors and social workers. They also consult frequently with rabbis, including Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein of the Har Etzion Yeshiva, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan Yaakov Ariel, and especially Rabbi Menachem Burstein, head of the Puah Institute, which specializes in halakhic solutions to fertility problems.

His 12th couple has just announced their engagement, Harel said, and he has a list of another 30 gays and 20 lesbians seeking matches. They don’t deny their sexual identity, he stressed, but “they want to establish a home, whether for the sake of becoming parents or for the social recognition. A family isn’t just sex and love. It’s an instrumental partnership, though not just a technical one.”

As a result, he and his colleagues have now decided to institutionalize the venture, including working with a well-known religious matchmaking organization.

Gay-lesbian marriages have long been practiced among the ultra-Orthodox, but the current initiative is different in that it stems not from an effort to sweep the issue under the carpet, but from a growing acknowledgment of homosexuality, prompted in part by four organizations for religious homosexuals: Havruta, Bat Kol, Hod and Kamocha.

Harel explained that while secular homosexuals see gay marriage as the solution, religious homosexuals are often unwilling to violate the halakhic prohibition on homosexual sex, and are thus seeking other solutions.

“Most of the couples agree not to have relationships with members of their own sex, but if there are ‘lapses’ once every few years, they don’t see this as a betrayal,” he said. “Generally, it’s between them and their Creator.”

He said each couple decides for itself how its marriage should work, and he is not involved in that decision. Rather, he deals mainly with halakhic issues like artificial insemination.

Roni, 35, owns a business; Etti, 30, is a paramedic. Roni tried conversion therapy to change his sexual orientation, with no success. He said he also had relationships with various other men, “until I decided this isn’t for me; I want a family and children.”

Etti said her family still doesn’t know she’s a lesbian. She had one “serious” lesbian relationship, but “realized it was more important to me to raise children and live in a normal family.”

Both said that upholding the religious prohibition on homosexual sex was “very important” to them, as was their desire for “more or less normal parenthood,” and both factors had influenced their decision.

Harel introduced them, and as the first of his gay-lesbian couples, they term themselves “guinea pigs.” They are careful to keep up normal appearances before the children and the outside world, even sleeping in the same room, though they don’t sleep together. Their children were born through artificial insemination.

“Most of the time, it’s good for us together, like business partners. Of course we have quarrels and tensions, but who doesn’t? … Like good friends, we have a great deal of mutual respect and a great deal of platonic love.”

via Israeli rabbis launch initiative to marry gay men to lesbian women ­ – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.


  1. I do not believe a gay man marrying a lesbian woman will result in a long-lasting marriage. After all, gay men are attracted to other men, and lesbians are attracted to women.

    This kind of marriage may last for a year or two, but I just cannot picture it lasting longer. In fact, I can almost certainly predict a lot of unfaithfulness in this kind of marriage, as the gay husband will most likely cheat with a gay man, while the lesbian wife will very likely cheat with another lesbian woman.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      George, you may be right, but emotional bonds that can develop between the couple in question may overcome temptations. After all, the polygamous imperative among all males is a passion to be overcome regardless of the sexual proclivity in question. Yet those of us who are straight realize that we must at least make the effort. Let’s not forget, society itself places sanctions against the natural male drive to inseminate as many females as possible (as do our wives). We all regard this as necessary for society to function, why then not offer a modification of the natural sanction for homosexuals?

    • Aren’t most heterosexual men attracted to people other than their wives? The fact of sexual temptation and the risk of adultery don’t make us suggest that heterosexual marriage is impractical; instead we teach men how to cut off thoughts before they become temptations.

      Single men are expected to practice continence until or unless they marry. And married men find themselves practicing continence whether they want to or not during late pregnancy, or when the wife is not in the mood …or the 51% of the year we’re fasting. So it’s hard to believe that a marriage is bound to fail only because it doesn’t provide a venue for sexual activity.

      It’s strange that we teach our children that marriage is a sacrament and a place to work out our salvation, not just a license for sex – and then we look at a marriage without a sexual component and say “It’ll never work.”

      • Would you say that a devotional life without taking communion would work?

        Lovemaking in a marriage is not just an added option: where do you think all those children which are refered to repeatedly in the marriage rite come from?

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Keep in mind here is that the spouses are committed to the Jewish moral law as well. Those attractions are there, but they are obeying the law in spite of them.

  3. It’s disconcerting to me that childbearing is being removed from human sexuality in these gay-lesbian marriages. I can’t help but see this as being an ultra-orthodox Jewish way of saying that they’ll help gays and lesbians perform sham marriages so they don’t have to come out in the community, but they can theoretically lead a *wink wink* sort of clandestine homosexual life.

    I suppose it could work, but an article where we read that they can have “lapses” without thinking of them as betrayals, they bring children into the world in a laboratory, and they describe the relationship as “business partners” with a “great deal of platonic love” doesn’t indicate to me that it’s going to work.

    This doesn’t strike me as much different from a situation that a high school teacher of mine told me about, where some friends he had in the navy took wives so they wouldn’t be expelled from the military, and their wives understood that they were free to carry on extra-marital relationships while the men loved each other, but they all got the social, financial, and professional security of heterosexual marriage and family life.

    The case here may not be quite as cynical, and it may even be somewhat wholesome for now, but I suspect it will devolve into something vicious. I don’t have a wholly romantic outlook on marriage, and tend to think it can be virtuous and healthy even where there are these kinds of special hurdles to overcome, but I would have to know much, much more about this situation before I could espouse the idea that it’s more than a sham. I certainly wouldn’t want to see it replicated in Christian communities anytime soon.

  4. If these marriages are a “sham”, why do we bother telling same-sex oriented believers that they should reject their inclinations and marry a heterosexual of the opposite sex? What I think you’re suggesting is that the only option for gay men and women is total and complete celibacy until death whether they’ve taken clerical vows or not.

  5. What is understood about psychology in general is “stone knives and bear skins” compared to what we understand about most all other medicine, science, technology and so forth. This seems like a worthy experimental attempt at happiness regarding something we choose to put under one name but might have many forms, reasons and origins. The people involved seem to have chosen this freely and I wish them well.

    I know a couple from college who did this, still married these 25 years, happy kids. He’s “Mr. Mom”, staying home raising the kids. She’s got a professional career, advanced degrees and so on. Christian family. Would that work for everyone? I have no idea, but I’m happy for them.


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