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From the time of its founding, Secular Humanistic Judaism has demonstrated an openness to societal change. This has included calls for the freedom, equality, and empowerment of all people with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Throughout human history, traditional religions have frequently placed human sexuality and sexual behaviors at the center of their concern. In most cases this has resulted in the creation of restrictive rules concerning human sexuality that limited or eliminated the freedom, equality, and empowerment of all human beings with regard to sexual behaviors and relationships, frequently through suppression and oppression.
In recent decades, free societies have increasingly loosened these restrictions as individuals have empowered themselves with more freedom of sexual expression. For some this has meant rejecting traditional assumptions about the connection between sexual conduct and committed relationships. For others it has led to new understandings about what constitutes committed relationships. Alongside these positive developments, our society is also exhibiting a growing awareness of the urgency to address our long history of sexual exploitation, including harassment, abuse of power, and violence.
For all of these reasons, the time has come to offer ethical guidance regarding sexual conduct and sexual relationships in our times. We are confident that core elements of our Humanistic philosophy – particularly those that speak to respecting the dignity of every person and those that underscore the necessity of personal responsibility – can provide a path to ethical decision-making in these areas.
Dignity and Consent
Freedom of Choice
As Secular Humanistic Rabbis, we take seriously any breaches of these ethical guidelines within our own institutions and are committed to addressing them responsibly, both individually and collectively.
Adopted by the Association of Humanistic Rabbis, September 2018