“You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means” (Inigo Montoya from the movie The Princess Bride).
Andrew C. Schroer
It happened again recently. Another Christian celebrity was accused by the media of making “homophobic” remarks. We hear that adjective tossed around regularly in our world today. Any negative comment or sentiment expressed toward the LGBT community or about homosexuality is labeled “homophobic.”
The term “homophobia” was coined by psychologist George Weinberg in the 1960s 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.
But I am not homophobic. My church is not homophobic. My God is not homophobic.
The fact that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin does not make the Bible homophobic. The fact that my church rightly teaches it is a sin and the fact that I openly espouse the teaching does not make us homophobic. Neither God, 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 forgiveness in his Savior Jesus. 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 gave us the Ten Commandments to help us identify what sin is. When a church, pastor, or individual Christian challenge behavior contrary to God’s will, that doesn’t make them homophobic or any other “phobic” we might imagine.
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 whoever is guilty of it needs to be called to repentance. As Christians we need to be careful not to 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.
Contributing editor Andrew Schroer is pastor at Redeemer, Edna, Texas.
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Author: Andrew C. Schroer
Volume 104, Number 4
Issue: April 2017
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