Getting straight to the point, these (NSFW) two articles raised some pretty serious questions for me. As a big proponent of personalizing religion (that is, participating in traditions or rituals that have meaning to oneself), it’s challenging to see someone else doing something with aspects of Judaism that I find almost offensive (i.e. it runs sharply contrary to some of the ways I practice). And as a young man who’s written about the ethics of Jewish dating before, it’s also legitimately disconcerting to see someone else sexualizing the religion as it relates to dating to this extent.
The traditional argument for the legitimacy of pornography holds here: that it’s an act between consenting adults, and there is no reason that other consenting adults shouldn’t be able to see it.
So consider this: one of the best ways to test your own, or someone else’s, philosophy or morals on any subject is to stretch them to the extreme. When I’m arguing for a public option in health care, I ask my opponents to justify axing Medicaid. When I’m arguing at the Brown Hillel for the inclusion of prayer alternatives in our Friday night programming, I ask my opponents to justify removing one of the existing services so that other ones won’t have to worry about getting a minyan. And so on.
Is this really any different? If we believe that people have a right to do what they will with their perception of their religion, can we oppose its sexualization in such a context? I don’t believe so. Our religious experience (and that means the way we relate to the religion as a person, not just how we pray, for example) is the sum total of everything we’ve ever learned about it, everything we’ve ever experienced, and all of the influences on our personal beliefs that come from outside the religion.
If someone feels that using or relating to their Judaism in this way is right for them, we have no right to protest. Let’s welcome the definition of new ways of practicing Judaism, new ways for the rest of the world to perceive it, and new ways to offend the status quo. And, both in ourselves and others, let’s welcome the discomfort that this will cause.