Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, host of 'Shalom in the Home' and author of 'Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy', is a Republican who is running for Congress. He won New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District's Republican primary earlier this month.
At first glance, his campaign message might sound like just about any other GOP candidate:
Washington is broken. We spend too much, borrow too much, tax too much — but come on, more money isn't going to fix any of these problems. Better values will.
The Rabbi sat down with Newsweek and The Daily Beast's John Avlon to discuss his views on gay marriage, contraceptives, and abortion — as well as why he's throwing his yarmulke in the ring. "There just isn't enough sex in politics," he joked with Avlon in explaining why he is running for Congress. More seriously, he said that it was about time that he took some of his ideas and translated them into policy. "Ideas are wonderful, but they have to be grounded in something real," he said.
According to Boteach, America needs new values, citing the obsession with social sexual issues such as gay marriage, abortion and contraceptives in political debates. More important issues are excluded because of this and he suggests that it's time to "put some of these away."
"Does anyone really believe that if we stop gay marriage, we're going to enhance or save heterosexual marriage which is 95 percent of the population with a 50 percent divorce rate?" he asked. "I never hear the word 'divorce' ever uttered by a presidential candidate. Sex and contraception still being debated? You know, even for religious people, the Bible is clear in Genesis 2:24 that the purpose of sex is intimacy — therefore should a man leave his father, leave his mother, he shall cleave onto his wife — which is sexual — and they shall become one flesh. It's about oneness. Why are we still debating this procreative nature of sexuality? And the reason this is significant is the United States has so many challenges that it has to confront, but how can it if it's mired in these social sexual issues?"
The "Kosher Sex" author has a gay brother. "I've seen him suffer and I would use that word, suffer. Some of the ostracization that he can have at the hands of religious people — and I am deeply religious — and I'm a great believer that if you are a gay man or woman, God loves you. And even if your lifestyle is not completely in accordance with the dictates of the Bible — you know, the Bible is very broad, why are we focused on one or two issues? You know, my Christian friends say to me, the word 'abomination' is used in reference to homosexuality and therefore, it is so more serious or severe than other prohibitions. And then I say to them, how many times does the word 'abomination' appear in the Bible? And they're a bit stumped. It's 104 times."
The Rabbi says that in the New Testament, there is no prohibition of homosexuality.
"When gay men come to me as a Rabbi and they say to me, how should we live our life, given that we are in a relationship, I say our Torah, the Jewish Torah, consists of 613 separate, independent, autonomous commandments. You have 611 left to keep. That will keep you very busy. How has this become the dominant debate in American culture?"
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