25 February 2013

The Image of God Problem for Same-Sex Couples II: Chief Rabbi of France Agrees With Me

Last week, while using the elliptical machine, I read Rabbi Gilles Bernheim's essay that was translated as "Homosexual Marriage, Parenting, and Adoption" for First Things.  It was a fascinating essay, for sure.  It is really interesting.
Anyways, I am bringing it up here because he actually echoes a thought of mine about which I wrote in June that Genesis 1:27 describes the Image of God to be Male and Female.  Rabbi Bernheim writes not so dissimilarly from my thoughts that "It is significant that, in the Bible, sexual difference is mentioned just after the affirmation of the fact that man is in the image of G-d. This means that sexual difference is embedded in this image and thus blessed by G-d."  He also writes
The biblical account grounds sexual difference in the act of creation. The polarity of masculine–feminine pervades all that exists, from clay to G-d. It is part of what is given primordially and what guides the respective vocations—the being and the agency—of man and woman. The duality of the sexes is part of the anthropological constitution of humanity.

Thus, every person is brought sooner or later to recognize that he possesses only one of the two fundamental versions of humanity and that the other will remain forever inaccessible. Sexual difference is thus a mark of our finitude. I am not the whole of humanity. A sexed being is not the totality of the species; it needs a being of the other sex to produce its likeness.
Although I am glad to have my ideas ratified by the Chief Rabbi of France, I am happier that he wrote them eloquently :)  Here are a couple further paragraphs from the piece about this topic:
Genesis finds the similarity of the human being with G-d only in the association of the man and the woman and not in each one taken separately. This suggests that the definition of a human being is perceptible only in the conjunction of the two sexes. Because of his sexual identity, each person is referred beyond himself. From the moment a person becomes conscious of his sexual identity, he is thus confronted with a kind of transcendence. The person is required to think beyond himself and to acknowledge the independent existence of an inaccessible other—that is, of one who is essentially related to himself and desirable yet never wholly comprehensible.

The experience of sexual difference thus becomes the model for all experiences of transcendence; it designates an indissoluble relation with an absolutely inaccessible reality. On this basis we can understand why the Bible so readily uses the relation between man and woman as a metaphor for the relation between G-d and man: not because G-d is masculine and man is feminine but because it is man’s sexual duality that most clearly manifests an unsurpassable otherness within the closest relation.

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