(Iñigo Montoya from the movie The Princess Bride)
It happened again this last week. Another Christian celebrity was accused of making “homophobic” remarks by the media. We hear that adjective tossed around regularly in our world today. Any negative comments or sentiments expressed toward the LGBT community or in regards to homosexuality are labeled “homophobic.”
The term homophobia was coined by psychologist George Weinberg in the 1960’s to describe “a fear of homosexuals which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion, a fear of reducing the things one fought for – home and family.”
Homophobia is an irrational fear or hatred of homosexuals based on the fear that you or someone you love might somehow be infected by their homosexuality or that others may think you are homosexual if you associate with them. That fear often manifests itself in cruelty or violence toward homosexuals.
Homophobia is real. Men especially are susceptible to such feelings of anger or hatred as they deal with their own insecurities. Many homosexuals around the world have suffered discrimination, abuse and even violence due to homophobia.
I, however, am not homophobic. My church is not homophobic. My God is not homophobic.
The fact that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin, the fact that my church rightly teaches so and the fact that I openly espouse the teaching does not make us homophobic. Neither God nor my church nor I have an irrational fear or hatred toward homosexuals.
We love them. We want them to be with us forever in heaven. Just because I say something is wrong or sinful, does not mean I hate the person who commits the sin.
When I, for example, confront my young son with his stubbornness, I am not being “obstinaphobic.” I am not acting out of an irrational fear or hatred of my son’s stubbornness.
I love him. I know God does not want him to act that way. I know his sin, like every sin, deserves God’s punishment in hell. I know my son needs to repent and find in his Savior Jesus forgiveness. So I openly confront him with his stubbornness.
God calls us as Christians to lovingly and firmly confront others with their sins so that they repent and find in Jesus the forgiveness they so desperately need. He gives us the Ten Commandments to help us identify what sin is. When a church, pastor or individual Christian challenges behavior contrary to God’s will, that doesn’t make them homophobic or any other “phobic.”
Do some Christians fall into the trap of homophobia and act out of irrational fear and hatred? Of course. Such behavior is just as sinful in God’s eyes as the sin of homosexuality and needs to be called to repentance. As Christians we need to be careful to not let fear or hatred taint our conversations about homosexuality.
If you are not a Christian, however, or do not agree with what God says in the Bible about homosexuality, the one thing I ask is that you be fair. Stop accusing all those who disagree with you of being hateful, ignorant or irrational.
And please, stop calling us homophobic. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.