There are many definitions of homophobia. Many people think of homophobia as just a fear of gay people. There is more to homophobia than a fear of homosexuals and homosexuality. A good working definition is that homophobia is disgust, prejudice, discrimination, hatred or violence against gay and lesbian people that is caused by an irrational fear of homosexuality. Homophobia is not always blatant to a person who is afraid of homosexuality. In fact, homophobia can be a subtle fear. Some people have an unconscious fear of gay people.
There are many forms of homophobia. Two major avenues where homophobia is seen and encouraged in society are religious and political.
While evangelism and teaching are major roles of the church, they are not the only roles of the church. The church of Jesus Christ is called to stand against injustice against people. The call is to stand against political, religious and social injustice and to help make the world a better place in which to live.. Indicating a group of people are beyond God's grace is really stating Jesus Christ did not pay the price for the sins of humanity, because some sins are too big for Christ's atoning blood. John 3:16 indicates whosoever believeth can be saved. The verse does not state whosoever is heterosexual may be saved. Gay people can and are being saved.
Unfortunately, some churches do not fulfill their full Christian calling. They focus on evangelism and teaching and do not make much effort to look after the weak and powerless members of society. To make a bad situation worse, a few churches have pastors and Sunday school teachers who publicly teach, model, engage in and promote homophobia.
Anti-Family Comments are Homophobic
When churches try to portray gay people as enemies of the family, they are engaging in homophobia. The reality is that gay people have families. Encouraging strong families is in the best interest of homosexuals. Marriage was starting to run into trouble long before we heard very much about gay rights. Marital break down can be due to many causes. To state homosexuals are anti-family, is to imply homosexuals are to blame for divorce and family breakdown.
Many gay men and lesbian women have been cut off from their families. No longer are they welcome in their own homes. Gay people do not want to be cut off from their families, thrown out of home and disowned by their families. Homosexuals want to be part of their families.
Gay people want the right to be married. They are striving to have families and to have families that are legally recognized. Fighting for the ability to get married and to have a stable long-term relationship is not opposing families. In fact, that is supporting families. How many straight Christians do you know who have gone to court to be able to get married and have a long-term relationship?
Some gay people are lobbying for the right to adopt children. Adopting children is forming a family. When gay people are willing to lobby to be able to adopt children, they are demonstrating a commitment to the family that goes beyond the level of commitment seen by some straight people.
Many pastors teach that the salvation of gay people is in question. Some pastors and churches go as far as to indicate gay people will not be saved. From the pulpits, gay people are taught to fear God and to fear themselves.
Portraying homosexuals as being beyond God's grace one of the worst forms of religious-based homophobia. Nobody is too evil for God's grace. When churches explicitly or implicitly teach gay people cannot be saved, they engage in theological and emotional terrorism. Gay church members and adherents are spiritually and emotionally terrorized from pulpits and Sunday school podiums, and in church publications in far too many churches.
Theological homophobia is based on a poor understanding of the gospel
A few political figures are attempting to gain political power at the expense of gay people. Campaigning by promoting fear and hatred of gay people is wrong! That is morally wrong, ethically incorrect and is a sin. These morally bankrupt political figures are sinning against gay people and against God by their actions.
Christian Response to Homophobia
God is calling Christians to speak out against all types and forms of homophobia. Discrimination, prejudice, hatred and violence against gay people is wrong. As people of God, Christians are called to stand in opposition to homophobia when it is demonstrated in society, in the church and in political circles.
Churches and church leaders are not all powerful. They can be brought into line with the gospel through spiritual protests that are aimed ensuring church leaders adequately represent God's love to the gay community. Weak points where churches can be pressured into doing what God wants them to include the offering plate, attendance and the processes for choosing pastors and denominational administrators.
Work with God to bring the gospel to gay people, by voting your pocket book and your feet. After homophobic sermons are given, withhold offerings. Give those offerings to churches that are attempting to show God's love to the gay community. Should homophobic sermons continue, withdraw your membership and find another church to attend. Leaving and providing a reason why you are leaving makes an impact.
Ask candidates to be pastors and church administrators hard questions about their position on homosexuality and how they plan to carry the good news that God loves gay people to the gay community. Do not support pastors and church leaders who are not able to demonstrate that God loves gay people and wants them included in the church of Jesus Christ. Vote against homophobic pastors and church leaders. Defeat them, so they cannot get or continue to hold church-based jobs that give them the ability hurt gay people in the name of God.
When politicians demonstrate homophobia, take decisive action. Phone their offices to voice concern and write letters of protest. Withhold financial support for candidates and political parties that engage in verbal gay bashing. Vote against candidates and political parties that are attempting to gain political power on the backs of gay and lesbian citizens. Join action groups that lobby for the protection of gay people and for gay rights. Links to some Christian lobby groups can be found on the gay Christian web links of this site. Links to some secular lobby groups are on the gay resource links.
People wanting to get involved in God's struggle to end homophobia are encouraged to contact Soulforce.
Action and Love
Christians are to love their enemies. Even homophobic church leaders and political leaders are to be loved. When Christians lobby against church and political leaders who engage in homophobic acts and who promote homophobia, they are protest in love. Respect is to be shown, even when there is strong disagreement. There is little need for insults, profane language or yelling. Many times a soft, respectful voice is much more effective.