How I overcame ‘homophobia’
I admit it. I used to be, what society would call, “homophobic.” In my college years – to my regret and shame – I even wrote a public letter “coming out of the closet as homophobic,” in a mocking way and was copy-catting and parroting the (bad) example of a radically fundamentalist pastor.
Today, by God’s grace and by following the example of good pastors, I am no longer afraid of homosexuals. This does not mean, however, I am not afraid for homosexuals. Let me explain.
As a Christian who believes in the Bible and God’s standard for sexual behavior, I cannot take part personally or approve of sex outside of the male-female, one-flesh union of marriage.
This standard does not just leave out homosexual relations. It leaves no room for adultery, pre-marital sex, cohabitation, pornography, prostitution, polygamy and more.*
Throughout history and especially these days, this timeless standard that God Himself set down for our own good, does not win us friends. C.S. Lewis said this of the Christian moral standard of sexuality**:
“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, `Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong.”
In the Christian worldview, anyone who lives outside of these standards not only risks the fearful wrath of God in the Judgment Day, they risk the effects of a self-destructive behavior.
That, in the end, is my fear for homosexuals and others living in sexual brokenness and sin. I fear for their well-being in the here and the hereafter.
Asserting and defending this viewpoint is increasingly hard today, but if we take this viewpoint as Gospel-truth then we must, for the sake of truth and the good of others.
Real love, as the saying goes, warns of dangers ahead. Only a person who doesn’t truly care for you would not speak the truth in a gracious way.
Yet that last element, loving grace, was what I was missing in my sinful, homophobic attitude. I was trying to defend what I saw as right but in the totally wrong way. God, by His grace, is changing my attitude on this issue, but without changing my “latitude.”
In other words, I cannot change my – or rather our – principles, because they are not mine to change. I will, however, year by year, change and improve my approach and hopefully grow.
If you are reading this and self-identify as a homosexual, know that Jesus loves you and died to pay for your sins (and mine), all to reconcile us to God and make us whole and His.
Yes, Jesus loves you and wants to make you more like He is.
Please forgive my former homophobic attitude. Because of Jesus, I love you too, and I strive to become more like Him day by day.
*In Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6 and other places in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul clearly lists various sexual sins, which includes homosexual acts. While some rightly point out that Jesus did not address homosexuality, our Lord did affirm the entire moral code of the Old Covenant and also challenged the divorce culture and polygamy and inherently the notion of same-sex unions by teaching that God’s plan for marriage is displayed in the pre-fallen Garden of Eden Union of Adam and Eve.
**Quote taken from Lewis’ masterpiece, Mere Christianity.
Great work Brian!
You are still homophobic. Wearing a smile does not make bigotry any less unchristian.
To declare that another person’s sexual orientation is sin is to declare that God made a mistake in creating that person. Such a declaration is the essence of homophobia. Even if you do not personally engage in violent behavior against lgbt people, when you say that homosexuality is sin, you are promoting an attitude which almost certainly will lead others to engage in violent behavior towards lgbt people, and will lead some young lgbt people growing up in religiously conservative environments to experience fear, emotional isolation, and hopelessness. Please stop it.
Dear James… How did you come to that conclusion?
I came to that conclusion by reading what you wrote. The morality that Jesus taught is the Golden Rule. Any part of the Bible (and there are numerous parts) that contradicts the Golden Rule is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ.
James, can you please explain what you mean (i.e. your understanding) by the Gospel of Christ? Also, what specific words did I write that are incompatible with the Golden Rule and how so?
The Golden Rule is the heart of the Gospel of Christ. Your declaring that gay and lesbian couples are outside of “God’s standard” for sexual relationships is incompatible with the Golden Rule. You are misusing the Bible for the purpose of trying to exclude some of your fellow humans from your world. That is unchristian. Please stop.
James, I am still trying to understand your frame of reference when you say “Gospel of Christ.” What do you mean by that? And from where do you derive your definition of this and other theological concepts? The Bible, elsewhere? If not the Bible, from what authority? It is hard to have a discussion without defining our terms. Thanks…
As I said, the Golden Rule is the heart of the Gospel of Christ. It provides a foundational principle for ethical behavior toward fellow human beings.
Murder violates the Golden Rule, and is therefore unchristian. Stealing violates the Golden Rule, and is therefore unchristian. Marital infidelity violates the Golden Rule, and is therefore unchristian. Rape and child abuse violate the Golden Rule, and are therefore unchristian. Lying violates the Golden Rule, and is therefore unchristian. Slavery violates the Golden Rule, and is therefore unchristian. Racism violates the Golden Rule, and is therefore unchristian. Spouse abuse violates the Golden Rule, and is therefore unchristian. Subordination of women to men violates the Golden Rule, and is therefore unchristian. Homophobia (including, for example, opposition to marriage equality) violates the Golden Rule, and is therefore unchristian.
James, I now see how you apply the Golden Rule, but would you agree those actions (e.g. murder, rape, racism) are sins? Also, who is to say which actions do or do not violate the Golden Rule? e.g. You yourself, or society, or the Bible, or God? Also, again I really want to know what you mean by the “Gospel of Christ.” Please define or expound in a statement or definition? Thank you…
To live in a civil society, there must be agreement on the part of the citizens regarding behavior toward each other. The Golden Rule is a very good starting place for discussions about such agreement. Ask yourself how you would you like to be treated by fellow humans. The Golden Rule, in some form, may be found in many different religious traditions – evidence that many societies over the millennia have found this to be a valuable guide for harmonious living among humans. According to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said that the Golden Rule sums up the Law and the Prophets (which meant the entirety of the Jewish scriptures).
OK good… Now, would you say the things we know by this standard are wrong (e.g. murder, rape, racism, homophobia, to use a few you mentioned) are a sin against God (not merely a disservice to others)?
You asked about the my perspective on the Gospel of Christ. I gave you what I consider to be the important part for people to give consideration to – how to treat fellow human beings. As for the future, it is in good hands – God’s hands, and I am content to leave it there. Sufficient unto the day are the troubles thereof.
Fair enough, James. 1 Cor. 15:1-11 is a great definition of the Gospel, which underscores our sin and need of a Savior. I would agree with you that “homophobia” (properly understood) is wrong and that was my original intent in writing the piece.
Your own homophobia (which you still cling to) is also wrong, and wrong from the perspective of the morality that Jesus taught. (BTW, I spent the first couple of decades of my life in a Southern Baptist environment; it is a nightmare for any gay person growing up in that kind of hostile environment, but I survived and escaped.) It took the Southern Baptist Convention about 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation to apologize for the part that Southern Baptists played in slavery and Jim Crow. I hope that it will not take that long for the Southern Baptist Convention to come to understand the harm done to generations of lgbt young people by the kind of religious homophobia practiced, both then and now, by the church. I have said what I have to say. Goodbye.
I would encourage anyone to view the videos from this (http://www.bgco.org/bgco-conference) recent conference I was part of to see what our Southern Baptist convictions are and what our attitude is like. Not a caricature of our convictions/attitudes, but our real ones… Thank you! God bless