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Reform rabbis did what we ought to do

It’s odd, isn’t it, how much we human types resist seeing reality.

Scholars tells us that the sun is the center of our galaxy, the earth is round, the world we live in miraculously evolved over eons, the Bible was written from the limited scientific perspectives of a particular time. Women point out that they, too, have brains and deserve a vote. Slaves demand freedom.

However revelation comes, we struggle against it, fight change, assuring that we will look, to generations of the future, like fools.

Thus it makes international news when Reform rabbis do what all of us, guided by God-given common sense, ought to have done: accept, recognize and bless gay unions.

All the resistance in the world will not make the earth the center of the galaxy, the earth flat, creationism the preferred scientific view, women incompetent, slaves submissive. Nor will it turn gays and lesbians into contented celibates.

Good for the rabbis who, despite thickets of entrenched customs and patterns of thought, saw clearly and declared March 29 that gay relationships are “worthy of affirmation through appropriate Jewish ritual.” Rabbis of the nation’s largest Jewish movement are now free to officiate at same-sex unions. Other U.S. religious groups that have allowed their ministers a similar liberty - namely Unitarians and the United Church of Christ - are in a tiny minority. It is now up to the larger Christian groups, including the Roman Catholic church, to realize that pronouncements against gay unions, however authoritative, however well intended, will not change human nature any more than condemnations against Galileo altered the way the galaxy works.

Similarly, men and women around the world are beginning to understand that institutional pronouncements on human sexuality, whatever their philosophical or theological guise, are often rooted in fantasy rather than clear-sightedness.

Religious institutions, above all, should be guided by reality. After all, God created it.

National Catholic Reporter, April 7, 2000