Fear will be the death of me. That's what I hear denominations trying to tell us, "Fear will be the death of me." Until today, I've restrained from calling people "homophobic." I've called their laws homophobic, their ideas homophobic, their words homophobic, but never them. So, today I'm coming out as a person who calls other people homophobic.
Why? Well, because they are. Homophobia is the fear of homosexuality. At this point, it is impossible for me to believe that most people who hide behind the Bible or denominational polity haven't had more than ample time to recognize that those two things simply don't support their belief that homosexuality is a sin.
I've written on the topic from time to time and have produced what many say is the one of the best resources online to combat biblical gay bashing (there are plenty of other equally good resources). There are also some exceptional books on the topic that go into much greater depth about the very few places the Bible makes any mention of same-sex relationships. All of them show clearly that using the Bible to condemn homosexuality is an act of misreading the Bible. For anyone who has been exposed to this very clear research, using the Bible to condemn homosexuality is a willful misuse of the Bible and, as I point out in my piece on the "clobber verses," it is also exactly what the Bible considers "using God's name in vain to be."
For me, the final nail in the "you're being homophobic coffin" is this video from Matthew Vines. It is a must watch. Yes, it is and hour long. Yes, it is just a guy giving a lecture -- but it is so much more than that. It is brilliant. It is well-researched. It is precisely presented. It is emotional. It is personal. Everyone needs to watch this.
From his talk:
"It's still commonplace for straight Christians to say, 'Yes, I believe that homosexuality is a sin, but don't blame me -- I'm just reading the Bible. That's just what it says.' Well, first of all, no, you are not just reading the Bible. You are taking a few verses out of context and extracting from them an absolute condemnation that was never intended. But you are also striking to the very core of another human being and gutting them of their sense of dignity and of self-worth. You are reinforcing the message that gay people have heard for centuries: You will always be alone. You come from a family, but you'll never form one of your own. You are uniquely unworthy of loving and being loved by another person, and all because you're different, because you're gay."
My denomination, the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, at its national gathering this year voted against marriage equality. Some of those who opposed recognizing marriage equality stood up and basically equated same-sex relationships with bestiality (among other things). They equated a loving, consenting relationship with something that is clearly not about either. These are intelligent people. So why are they willing to make such fallacious leaps in logic on top of using God's name in vain? Fear. Fear works some mighty mojo on the intellect.
"The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear." --Gandhi
People are homophobic, not because they hate, but because they fear. The people who voted against recognizing marriage equality which serves only to lead our denomination further down the road to certain demise as we demonstrate clearly to younger generations that the PC(USA) prefers exclusion over inclusion and polity over people, believe it or not, are mostly loving people. They just happen to fear what they don't understand. Homophobia is the fear of homosexuality. I'm not saying they're homophobic in a hateful kind of way; I'm just saying they're homophobic in a fearful kind of way.
Being that it will be another two years before the PC(USA) can again address this issue, I'm afraid society will have already passed us by (in many ways it already is doing so); we've relegated ourselves to further irrelevance when it comes to contemporary topics. While I know I'll get plenty of PC(USA)ers taking issue with that point, the reality is this kind of behavior is built into the system. Until the system changes, we will continue to see this kind of behavior just like we did with slavery, just like we did with ordination for women and LGBT folk -- and the younger generations will observe it, take note, and continue to walk away from institutionalized religion and specifically from the PC(USA).
So, what can we do about it? Karl Augustus Menninger, author of "The Human Mind" and "Love Against Hate," once said, "Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out." We need to educate folks, educate the fear out of them. So, please share this post. Share the video from Matthew Vines and help expose the fear behind the homophobia.
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