JERUSALEM, Israel -- An Israeli court ruled in favor of a Lesbian couple over a Messianic moshav on the outskirts of Jerusalem, awarding the women 80,000 shekels (more than $20,000) in "damages."
Yad Hashmona is a Messianic Israeli moshav nestled in the Jerusalem foothills. It was founded nearly 40 years ago by Finnish Christians who believed in the biblical restoration of Israel to the Jewish people. Today, about 150 Israeli believers and Christian volunteers live and work there.
Among its attractions are a guesthouse, restaurant and biblical gardens where various gatherings, including wedding receptions, are held. And that's where the problem with these two women began.
The two were "married" in England, where same-sex unions are legal, but they wanted to hold a lesbian ceremony and reception at the moshav. When the receptionist explained "the owners are believers in the Bible and cannot perform a ceremony of this nature here," the women sued the moshav.
"The receptionist spoke so gently and respectfully," Yad Hashmona spokeswoman Ayelet Ronen told CBN News.
At the initial hearing, the judge allowed Ronen to explain the moshav's perspective at length. But when it came time to issue the ruling, the judge "trampled on our faith and identity," she said.
"I was totally shocked by the severity of what the judge wrote," Ronen said. "What shocked me even more -- and really made the people here hurt -- was the accusation of 'sexual harassment,'" she continued.
Ronen said she could understand a charge of sexual discrimination, but to charge the moshav with sexual harassment was a "slap in the face by the system," which she found "very difficult."
"And mainly," she continued, "I feel God's name was put to shame. They mocked Him in court, calling the Bible 'a dangerous book with dangerous standards."
One of Yad Hashmona's goals is to be a living testimony as Israeli believers in Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus).
The moshav must now decide on the future of the guesthouse. As Bible believers, they do not want to host conferences for the gay rights movement, abortion rights activists or even yoga seminars.
"Biblical, moral principles, which we feel we should be able to stand upon within our home, are now jeopardized," Ronen said.
"On the one hand, we want to be open and hospital to our [Israeli] brothers and sisters, to be a good living testimony. This is our goal in living here," she said.
"On the other hand, neither the religious authorities nor the secular justice system is on our side, and over the years we suffer pressure and hard times by both," she continued.
"If God wants to do something new on this special hilltop, we are willing to do what it takes to change and think again and bring His plan about," Ronen said.