In today’s culture, people who advocate for traditional marriage, and against homosexual marriage, are often called homophobes. But is that really true? No, it is not – on several fronts! And Christians who believe in traditional marriage should be willing to stand up to those kinds of bigoted attacks when they occur. But in order to effectively do that, we must know what we are talking about and not simply respond based on emotion. The fact is, there is very good reasoning which can be put forth by Christians to support the traditional marriage position.
What is a Homophobe?
Before we can truly get at this issue, though, it is essential to understand the word we are being called. To begin with, the suffix “phobia” means a fear of something. So literally, the term homophobe means a person who is afraid of homosexuals.
The problem is, though, when people slam Christians for being homophobic, they are generally not accusing them of being afraid of homosexuals. Rather, the inference is that we are hateful and bigoted. No Christian should ever let someone get away with using the language this way. There is a huge difference in being “for” traditional marriage, and bigoted against and afraid of homosexuals. If homosexual marriage advocates insist on using this kind of language, then they, themselves, can just as easily be accused of being Christophobes. We simply cannot allow the English language to be co-opted in this way.
The Reason Christians Are Viewed as Homophobes
The reason Christians are viewed by homosexual marriage advocates a homophobes goes back to a clash of core worldview beliefs. Homosexual marriage advocacy emerges directly out of a naturalistic worldview. Getting at this, though, can be quite a challenge.
Naturalism is the worldview system which believes that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality – it is atheistic. Since Naturalists recognize no absolute or transcendent authority, morality becomes a function of human need or desire. If the leaders in government or popular culture decide that homosexual behavior is okay, they can declare it moral by simply pronouncing it so. In modern American culture, this is exactly what has happened. While homosexual behavior used to be viewed as wrong by nearly everyone, the culture has changed and those who consider it wrong have now been labeled as homophobic.
Of course, many homosexual marriage advocates are Atheists, but there are also many who claim to believe in God. How can this be? In order to understand this, it becomes necessary to make a very important distinction. The truth is, human beings are quite capable of holding contradictory beliefs. And since American pop culture is dominated by naturalistic belief, it is not surprising that many people who grew up in a Christian environment have also accepted certain beliefs which come from Naturalism. As such, there is a contingent within the universe of people that claim to be Christians who have modified their theological beliefs in ways which attempt to justify that which the Bible specifically speaks against.
A Christian Perspective of Homosexual Marriage
Based on a Christian worldview, homosexual marriage is not simply some benign practice which allows two people who love each other to live their lives together. Rather, it is a practice which creates problems within the individual and in society. Let’s look at three areas, in particular, where this actually plays out and see how the Christian point of view runs contrary to that of Naturalism.
The Sin Problem
As Christians, we recognize the teachings of the Bible to be true. The Bible specifically teaches that homosexual behavior is sinful. This is one point where homosexual marriage advocates try to label Christians as haters. However, when it comes to this issue, the Bible does not simply single out homosexual behavior for special treatment. It is only one expression of sinful sexual behavior in the culture today which the Bible deals with.
The truth is, any sexual activity outside the marriage of one man and one woman fits into the same category. In fact, the cohabitation of two non-married heterosexuals is quite common in the culture – as are practices such as casual sex, adultery, and partner swapping. And increasingly we are seeing such practices as polygamy, polyandry, and polyamory. The fact that homosexuals, in particular, are offended when Christians point to their sexual practice as contrary to what is natural and what is taught in the Bible, is rather beside the point. The fact that Christians recognize sexual relations outside of a man-woman marriage as sinful does not make them “homophobic.”
Harm to Conscience Rights
If this issue were just a difference of opinion, that would be one thing. But homosexual marriage advocates are not content to simply win the day in the court of public opinion. They, literally, want to destroy traditional marriage advocates as a way of justifying their sexual practice. That is, nothing less than total acceptance of homosexual behavior as normative is satisfactory. To accomplish this goal, homosexual marriage advocates have taken to using the law not only to legalize their desires, but to destroy opponents. This actually goes so far as to both trample conscience rights and to destroy businesses and careers. Individuals and businesses which do not want to participate in homosexual marriage activities are, literally, being taken to court, sued for damages, fined, kicked out of their professions and, in some cases, even threatened with jail. Here are some real life examples where this is happening in America.
∙ A University of Toledo employee was fired because she wrote an opinion column for the local newspaper which university officials didn’t like. This was done on her own time and had nothing to do with anything related to the university.
∙ The chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University was put on administrative leave after signing an anti-gay marriage petition. The petition was simply calling for Maryland’s same-sex marriage law to be put to a referendum.
∙ A T-shirt vendor in Kentucky, owned by Christians, was taken before the County Human Rights Commission because they refused to print apparel which was to be used for a local gay pride festival.
∙ A church group that owns a camp facility is being forced by the state to allow same-sex couples to use its property for civil union ceremonies.
∙ The Vermont Human Rights Commission has made a Bed and Breakfast Inn pay a $10,000.00 civil penalty and place $20,000.00 in a charitable trust as a settlement because they refused to host a lesbian couple’s wedding reception.
∙ A flower shop in Washington state is being sued by the state attorney general for discrimination because the owners refused, based on their Christian convictions, to provide services for a gay wedding.
∙ The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that a Christian photographer who refused to take pictures of a gay couple’s commitment ceremony violated the state’s discrimination law. The company must pay fines totaling nearly $7,000.00.
This is only a partial list and you can expect that there will be many more going forward. But this problem is not only being seen in the private sector. We also see it happening in the military where any who dare express the view that homosexual marriage is wrong are being punished. For example:
∙ An Army Master Sergeant was punished for serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his own promotion party in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act. He was investigated, reprimanded, threatened with judicial action and given a bad efficiency report. He was told he was no longer a team player and was not performing up to standards.
∙ A senior chaplain on a major stateside military installation recently was stripped of his authority over the chapel under his charge for his insistence that the chapel not be used to celebrate “marriages” between same-sex couples. This in spite of the fact that his action was in accordance with federal law and military regulations proclaiming the chapel as a “sacred space.”
∙ A chaplain was threatened with early retirement, then was moved to an assignment where he could “be supervised,” after he forwarded an email to his subordinates that was a thoughtful reflection on the military’s former “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Again this is a very limited list, and as the new policy regarding homosexuals in the military is more fully implemented, instances of harassment and punishment of those who don’t fall into line will surely increase.
Harm to Children
One frequent argument is that two homosexuals getting married does not harm heterosexuals. Perhaps not on a personal level, but it does cause harm to society. Obviously the advocates of homosexual marriage don’t see it that way, but the evidence is that children do best with a mother and a father and there are distinct disadvantages for children who are raised in a homosexual environment. In other words, society does have an interest in promoting and strengthening institutions which will help children raised in it, and discouraging practices which hurt it.
Recently, sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin released what is now the most definitive study of children raised by homosexual parents. This study overturned the conventional academic wisdom that children raised in homosexual families suffer no disadvantages when compared to children raised by their married mother and father. Specifically, the study found that children raised by homosexual parents:
∙ Are much more likely to have received welfare
∙ Have lower educational attainment
∙ Report less safety and security in their family of origin
∙ Report more ongoing “negative impact” from their family of origin
∙ Are more likely to suffer from depression
∙ Have been arrested more often
∙ If they are female, have had more sexual partners – both male and female
∙ Are more likely to be currently cohabiting
∙ Are almost 4 times more likely to be currently on public assistance
∙ Are less likely to be currently employed full-time
∙ Are more than 3 times more likely to be unemployed
∙ Are nearly 4 times more likely to identify as something other than entirely heterosexual
∙ Are 3 times as likely to have had an affair while married or cohabiting
∙ Are 10 times more likely to have been touched sexually by a parent or other adult caregiver
∙ Are nearly 4 times as likely to have been “physically forced” to have sex against their will
∙ Are more likely to have “attachment” problems related to the ability to depend on others
∙ Use marijuana more frequently
∙ Smoke more frequently
∙ Watch TV for long periods more frequently
∙ Have more often pled guilty to a non-minor offense
The promotion of homosexual marriage is done by those who are looking to satisfy selfish adult desires, not by people looking out for the best interest of children. In spite of the massive protestation of homosexual marriage advocates, this does have a negative effect on the culture at large.
The Clash of Worldviews
So, in the homosexual marriage debate, what we have is a classic clash of worldviews. Those who accept it look at those who don’t as intolerant, bigoted crazies. Those who don’t accept it see those who do as acting contrary to God’s revelation and promoting behavior which is harmful to society.
A worldview conflict cannot be won by merely asserting a point of view. It can only be won by converting those who hold other worldviews. In the last several generations, homosexual marriage advocates have done a better job of converting people to their belief system than Christians have. The only hope for Christians is to reverse the trend.
No, Christians are not homophobes – either in the literal sense of being afraid of homosexuals, nor in the more popular sense of being haters and bigots. True Christians love those who don’t know God and seek to bring them into a personal knowledge of the truth found only in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Attempts to label them as homophobes should be actively countered by sharing the facts and by sharing Christ with the detractors. Unless Christians begin to take this task seriously, there will be no turning back.
© 2013 Freddy Davis