More than 7,000 Israelis marched in the Jerusalem Pride Parade last week, celebrating the LGBTQ+ lifestyle and advocating for more rights for Israel’s gay community.
On Friday, Tel Aviv will hold its annual Pride Parade during a week-long series of events, which attracts people from all over the world.
Tel Aviv Pride is one of the city’s biggest events each year.
In 2019, just before COVID, more than 250,000 attended.
While such events are evidence of a vibrant Israeli democracy that allows freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to everyone, they are also a sign of just how far Israel has strayed from its biblical foundations.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH?
In the very first pages of the Bible – Genesis chapters 1 and 2 – Moses explains that God created men and women in His image, that He specifically created the institution of marriage to be between men and women, and that God specifically designed sexual intimacy as a beautiful blessing between men and women.
· “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’….God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” (Gen. 1:26-28, 31)
· “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. ’Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” (Gen. 2:18-23)
· “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Gen. 2:24-25)
The Bible does not avoid the topic of same sex attraction.
Rather, it describes homosexuality as sin.
Because it goes against God’s specific and intentional design and plan to bless the very men and women that He created and with whom He wants to be in close fellowship.
ISRAEL’S POLITICAL CULTURE LARGELY IGNORES THE BIBLE
Yet few Israelis view the LGBTQ+ lifestyle as a rebellion against the God of Israel.
Indeed, Israeli’s political culture has largely embraced the gay community and ignored the teachings of the Hebrew Bible.
As ALL ISRAEL NEWS reported last week, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy told participants in the Jerusalem Pride Parade, “You are entitled to love who you want, you are entitled to marry who you love, you are entitled to raise a family like anyone else. These are not privileges; these are basic rights for every citizen in the country.”
The Yesh Atid party – led by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid – is the second largest political party in the country with 19 seats in the Knesset and boasts that it is the most-gay-supportive party in Israel.
“Yesh Atid has fought for the LGBT community more than any other party in the past six years,” said former MK Yael German.
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll – a member of Knesset from the Yesh Atid party – is gay, married to a man and the father of two children.
Israel’s Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is the first openly gay leader of an Israeli political party, emerging as the head of the left-wing Meretz party in 2019.
But the first openly gay minister appointed to the Cabinet was Amir Ohana from the right-wing Likud party in 2019.
Very few Israeli Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe in and seek to follow the Torah discuss the topic much, or seek to engage the issue in the Knesset.
FEW PRO-ISRAEL CHRISTIANS DISCUSS THE SUBJECT
Very few pro-Israel Christians tend to discuss the topic either.
There are a range of reasons. Many who hold to biblical values don’t want to appear as intolerant.
But the issue here should not be tolerance.
In a democracy, the LGBTQ+ community has every right to advocate for their views and values.
Followers of Jesus living in a democracy should be “tolerant” of people’s right to make their case.
Yet Jews and Christians – and conservative Muslims – who hold different views and values should not be afraid to express their views and values.
Bible believers should never be afraid to teach the Word of God, doing so with love and compassion for those who disagree.
Silence is not helpful.
The God of Israel commands us to preach and teach the Word of God because how, then, can people follow God’s precepts for life if they don’t know them?
Leaving the discussion of God’s plan for marriage and sexuality to bitter lunatics and extremists who are hateful and vicious against homosexuals is wrong.
CHRISTIANS MUST ALWAYS REJECT HATRED AND VIOLENT EXTREMISM
Hatred, cruelty and extremism should always be denounced and rejected.
Christians must firmly and consistently denounce and reject every form of physical violence, threats, intimidation and other illegal acts against the gay community as wrong, immoral and reprehensible.
Those who engage in such violent activity should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
To be honest, I am deeply saddened to see Israelis proudly marching in the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in defiance of the God of Israel and the scriptures that He gave us as an instruction book for healthy, joyful, godly lives.
At the same time, I am grateful that the Israeli government deploys so many police officers to prevent violence.
“In 2015, an Israeli man stabbed 16-year-old Shira Banki to death and wounded several others at the Jerusalem Pride Parade.” The Washington Post reported last week that the assailant “had recently been released for a similar attack on parade participants in 2005.”
The Post added that last Thursday Israeli police “apprehended a 21-year-old European citizen residing in Jerusalem on suspicion of sending threats to an organizer of the parade and to several members of parliament who support LGBTQ rights.”
Violence has no place in a free society.
I thank God – and the police – that there was no violence last week and I pray no attacks occur in the weeks ahead.
SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE
Last point: In the New Testament, followers of Jesus are commanded to “speak the truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15)
Teaching biblical principles of marriage and sexuality may not be popular in this day and age.
But we must do so anyway – teaching the truth with kindness, respect and unconditional love.
That’s what Jesus modeled for us.
Let us follow His lead.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.