Cousin Gay is out of the closet. Cousin Messianic, still there. I often light-heartedly compare having a Messianic Jewish relative to “having that gay cousin.” Either might live an alternative lifestyle far from the family’s epicenter, and therefore far from judgment. My extended Jewish family claims both. Many extended Jewish families can. However, contemporary Jewish culture addresses gay issues in an increasingly positive light with no change in perception to messianics. Perhaps believing in Jesus is becoming less and less like being gay.
Unlike belief in Jesus, there is an overall shift in the Jewish perception of same sex preference. Even the stricter sects of Orthodox Judaism seem to have followers “coming out,” in particular via the Internet. Mordechai Levovitz, the co-founder of Jewish Queer Youth and an LGBT Coordinator found a website in the mid 1990’s that showed him he wasn’t alone. The Jewish Daily Forward tweeted their article about the recent Proposition 8 overturn, mentioning that 81% of Jews favor gay marriage. A recent Tablet article lauds “Faygele ben Miriam” as a Jewish pioneer of gay marriage over the last forty years. Additionally,Birthright Israel’s website, a free tour to the holy land for American Jewish young adults now boasts three LGBTQ trips out of the thirty in the niche category. Birthright still bans “messianic Jews or Jews for Jesus” from their trip. But that’s okay. We have other concerns.
We want to spread the message of messiah. We want every Jewish person (your gay cousin included) to have the option to accept it. Today’s Jewish Jesus-accepters just happen to be more visible, audible, and persistent than unheralded waves of Jews who have been finding Jesus now for over 2,000 years. Also, we have Web 2.0 now. Those initially convinced they were the only Jew to have ever accepted Jesus, eventually found a community-and grew in their new identity.
So, will messianic Jews begin receiving the same acceptance as the gay Jewish community? Will there be a huge uprising and protest for messianic rights? Probably not. Being messianic goes beyond the socio-political. Jesus will remain controversial until the prophecy is fulfilled and the whole Jewish community will accept him unanimously (Zechariah 12:10). Until then, there will always be a minority of believers, sadly fewer than even 10%.
Acceptance isn’t our goal-if Jesus is messiah, no amount of familial pressure can nullify it, no minority can dispossess it, and no past tragedy can rob it of its truth. Whether or not it’s trending, Jews for Jesus and the greater Jewish-believing community will continue to lift up Jesus as messiah. “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write” (John 1:45). We have found new life: forgiveness of guilt and shame, and the purpose we each seek.
Want to check this out further? You might like a free, eReader-friendly story of a progressive Jewish couple who found Jesus. Or you can always go to the Hebrew Scriptures yourself and take a look. Be open-minded, and don’t let groupthink decide whether or not Jesus is who he claimed to be.