Homosexuality is hardly dealt with in the Torah, but between the lines, there is enough to go by.
The Rabbis teach us that what sealed the verdict of a catastrophic Flood was rampant homosexuality. (Don’t blame homosexuals for it, though.)
Interestingly enough, Rashi (Genesis 6:18) comments on the strange order of mentioning the people entering the Ark that the men and their women were to live there separately, in what turned out to be a solar year-long (Rashi on Genesis 8:14). This made me think.
It is one thing for heterosexual married men refrain from homosexuality totally, but what about when you have no alternative – for a year? This, while in the presence of animals who lived like – uh – animals. Because most of them entered the Ark in pairs of both genders (Genesis 6:19-20, 7:2-3, 7:9) and left as families (Genesis 8:19)! No virgin births here!
(Talking about numbers, the animals were supposed to come in pairs to survive (Genesis 6:20). But how about snails that are hermaphrodites? Well, it says to come by two, male and female (Genesis 7:9). They must have been each male and female. But then why two? Maybe because being on one’s own is not called alive. Compare that to the following 3 situations. 1. G^d saw that it was not good for Man to be alone and made the Woman (Genesis 2:18). Adam called her Mother of all (also his) life (Genesis 3:20). (Every good parashah discussion should have a reference to Parashat Bereishit!) 2. Not even one Egyptian survived the Closing of the Sea (Exodus 14:28, Morning Prayers) – but Pharaoh did. 3. Choni Hamagel slept so long that there were no friends left alive when he woke up. That was not livable (Talmud, Taanis 23a).
Also, the “pure” beast and birds came seven by seven (Genesis 7:2-3). (Noach did not need to learn which animals were pure as they came to him. He only needed to be told why they came in greater numbers. From them appearing he learned which ones were “pure.”) That must have been seven couples each, or it would have been cruel – especially for pure birds that are life-long monogamous, like doves. And pictures should have 14, not just two giraffes – which is hard to draw – surely.)
This people separating by gender works in different ways. It shows that they were worthy of being saved. Compare what G^d says to Abraham at passing his greatest test: Now I know that you’re righteous (Genesis 22:12), which must mean: Now I have shown your righteousness.
It also distances them from the wicked. And it makes it understandable (though not the reason) why Judaism teaches that situational pseudo-homosexuality between males is forbidden to heterosexual Gentiles too.
However, this sat differently for the different sons of Noach. Cham goes wrong here as soon as they leave the Ark (Genesis 9:22). Japheth (Greece) later will become infamous for its Greek (!) ways. Only Shem has a descendant that will become renowned for its propensity to stay away from homosexuality, the Jews. We now know: as long as they have a heterosexual proclivity. (Other Semites are known for the opposite.) So we see that specialness in a People can have very long roots.
No wonder Jacob goes to learn Torah from Shem and ‘Ever (the Sages calculate: for 14 years) who were on the straight (!) path already then. Sexual behavior is the bottleneck of our conduct. We can be full of high norms and lofty principles, but does it hold up in our intimacy too?
Early leaders of Reform Judaism often admitted that what attracted them to leave Orthodoxy was non-Orthodox sexuality. Kosher sex may be, at times, tough to go by – but in the end, is the most rewarding for most people still – so I believe that the rabbis are right sticking with it.
The Injunction for heterosexual men to stay away from homosexuality does not stand on its own. Together with the Ban on masturbation, it belongs to doing with sexuality what it’s meant for: connecting deeply to one person of the other gender forever, pleasing one’s wife, having children, enjoying life, and staying healthy emotionally and physically.