THE BLOG
06/02/2010 10:26 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Gays Have a Right to Serve Their Country

Every person has a right to serve his country, gays included. All have a right to serve their country openly without hiding who they are. It's kind of odd that so many heterosexuals who are not prepared to make that kind of sacrifice, refusing to enlist in the military and preferring instead to live as armchair warriors, are condemning those with a patriotic passion to fight for freedom.

The other day a woman called my radio show on WABC 770AM in NYC to argue with me. She was adamantly against the repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.' She said a homosexual lifestyle was dirty and against the Bible. I asked her whether she had children of military age and whether they, as good, clean, heterosexuals would enlist in place of the gays whom she would ban. She responded, "They are doing other things to serve their country." I thought so.

Homosexuality is a religious sin. The Bible makes that much clear. But it is not a moral sin. Rather than being like the moral (and religious) sin of adultery, in which lying, deception, and injury to an innocent party are committed, homosexuality is an infraction between G-d and man. In that sense it is akin to lighting a fire on the Sabbath, an act strictly forbidden by the Bible. No moral sin has taken place, but it is forbidden on religious grounds.

I am a Rabbi and I take the words of the Bible seriously. But I will not call gay men and women names, I will not become a homophobe, and I will not make the error of mistaking sins that are deeply unethical, like 'Do Not Steal,' with those that are simply irreligious, like gay men living together.

On the same radio show a member of the military called in and said, having served with homosexuals in the military under 'Don't Ask Don't Tell,' he too was opposed to the reversal of the ban. 'Too many gay men hit on me in the showers and the barracks, and were pretty aggressive about it, for me to think that they should ever be allowed to serve openly in the military. It will only make things worse." To be sure, I don't agree with the sentiment. I have worked with gay men and have become very close to many of them and they have yet to hit on me even once. Granted, I am about five-foot-six, have a bushy beard, and have a monopack rather than a six-pack. But jokes aside, even if I disagree with the sentiment I respect the veteran offering the opinion because he actually served. He fought, he sacrificed, and he has earned the right to a strong opinion on the matter. I believe his opinion is flawed in that it is probably more of an argument for the complete and utter separation of men and women in the military than it is against the repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.' Still, he is a veteran and has earned the right to be strongly heard. The rest of us, however, who have, for the most part, put personal considerations like fear of injury or love of making a little bit more money that what's on offer in the military ahead of giving our country a few years of our lives, and perhaps life itself, should perhaps be a little bit more humble about elevating our opinions on a par with those who have enlisted.

In general, America has become homosexual-obsessed. In nearly every election cycle it's all-gay's-all-the-time. Rather than talking the need for values in American life, like greater spirituality and less materialism, we talking incessantly about gay marriage. We have a 50 percent divorce rate. We've got about half of all teens having heterosexual sex at ages where they are absolutely not ready for that kind of adult experience and it is deeply injurious to their ability to later create bonds of intimacy. But do ever talk about this stuff? Nope. Because the breakdown of marriage, many contend, is all due to gay marriage. But if we straight people were just a little bit more honest with ourselves we would have to confess that we've done a pretty good job of ruining marriage on our own without any outside help, thank you very much. There is no need for easy scapegoats.

The Bible uses the word 'abomination' approximately 122 times. True, it uses it for homosexual sex, but it does so also for envy, jealousy, and arrogance. Perhaps, at times, we religious heterosexuals are guilty of allowing our principles to spill over into outright homophobia, which is a sin against G-d and might just constitute something of an abomination itself. For all are G-d's children, and all try their best, amid a fallible nature, to serve G-d and country as best they can.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the founder of This World: The Values Network, has just published 'Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.' www.shmuley.com. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.