Nestled in the hills outside of Jerusalem is a Messianic communal village founded nearly 40 years ago by Finnish Christians who believed in the biblical restoration of Israel to the Jewish people. Today, some 150 Israeli believers and evangelical Christians live and work there while providing a “living testimony” as Israeli believers in Jesus Christ.
But now the faith-based community of Yad Hashmonah may be forced to shut its doors after being ordered by an Israeli court to compensate two lesbians who were not allowed to hold their “gay” wedding at the banquet hall and biblical gardens.
“We do not hate homosexuals or lesbians. We love them. We simply told the court that it is God’s word in the Bible that calls homosexuality an abomination,” Ayelet Ronen, general secretary for the village, told Israel Today.
The women, who were married in England, where same-sex unions are legal, wanted to renew their vows and hold a reception at the Messianic Israeli moshav, or settlement. When the receptionist explained “the owners are believers in the Bible and cannot perform a ceremony of this nature here,” the women filed a lawsuit.
A judge ruled in favor of the lesbian couple and awarded them $20,000 in “damages.” And now that lower court ruling has been upheld by the Jerusalem District Court.
Judge Moshe Yoad Cohen determined the village violated a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and that the village cannot refuse to host a same-sex wedding reception despite religious objections.
During the trial, representatives of the moshav quoted from both Old and New Testaments.
“As a faith-based community we need to be able to refuse events that blatantly oppose our religious beliefs. We explained to the judge that a same-sex celebration would ruin our business. The majority of our clientele are Christians who vigorously oppose gay marriage,” said Ronen.
The lesbians’ lawyer also accused the village of “homophobia” after the moshav published an announcement that “no homosexual or lesbian organization will be allowed to rent space for functions on our premises.”
As Bible believers, the community also refuses services for abortion activists and yoga enthusiasts.
“We have already received phone calls from many more homosexual groups and couples saying they want to get married here. To avoid another legal problem, for now, we simply cannot book anything at all,” said Ronen.
The moshav has now completely shuttered its banquet facility, resulting in huge financial losses.
“We used to host an average of 35-50 weddings a year over the past 12 years. Israelis from all over the country, religious and secular, loved to come here. Now there are none,” added Ronen.