Tag Archives: homophobe

You Can’t Share God’s Love With a Bigot

A distressing and especially malicious element in public discourse these days is the widespread practice of labelling people instead of discussing the issues. Let anyone betray his or her belief that homosexual behavior is defined as sin in the Bible, and immediately that person is labelled a homophobe. If someone expresses an objection to calling the union of two homosexuals a marriage, that person is labelled a bigot. If anyone suggests that every person’s life is valuable, regardless of color, that person is labelled a racist. As soon as the label is applied, the discussion ends, because calling people names shuts down every possibility that multiple viewpoints may be considered.

This practice is extremely detrimental to the citizens who want to use the right of free speech to discuss touchy topics. There are a lot of topics that should be discussed, but too much of the conversation is stifled when one side or the other begins to apply labels instead of looking at the information and various viewpoints.

It must absolutely be said that people who proclaim themselves as progressive or freethinker are no less likely to engage in this practice than someone who claims the name of conservative or Christian fundamentalist. Name-calling abounds. And wherever you find name-calling you do not find any fruitful conversations. Instead there is often competition to see who runs out of pejorative labels first. That person must slink off the field of verbal combat in disgrace, carrying the last label thrown at him with shame-faced despair, muttering diatribes and vitriol that don’t quite carry the punch of a widely-ratified insult such as islamophobe.

Our nation is being impoverished and starved by the dearth of real political conversation. It may lead to the end of the USA as it was once known. I don’t doubt there will be a country called United States of America a hundred years hence, but it will no more resemble the country we enjoy today than today’s Italy resembles the Roman Empire.

I don’t bring up this subject to beat on people who disagree with me. They have their names for me and my viewpoints, and I recognize that they take comfort from using those names. It makes them feel good about themselves. The ugly names apply to me, and in their minds, by sticking me with the labels, they look better themselves. I am bringing up the subject, however, because some people whose honest views I share have begun to use those ugly, vicious labels themselves.

Some will say that the people who promote abortion, for example, are the real racists, because more black babies than white are aborted annually. They believe that they are making a point that should be considered thoughtfully by the people who have been calling them racists for saying that all lives matter. They are not making any point at all. The person who is zinged with one of these ugly labels does not respond to the logic that led to the use of the label. The wounded party wants to rip that barb out of his flesh and plunge a spear into the enemy before him. He does not want to discuss with his enemy the rules of engagement or the topics in the declaration of war. Name-calling does not make logical points; it prevents any logical points from being discussed.

This is why I say, “You can’t share God’s love with a bigot.” You may be ever so correct in your analysis of the issues and positions when you call your honorable opponent in the conversation a bigot, but as soon as you apply that label, the issues and positions might as well not exist. That label is a personal assault, and the injured party will absolutely respond to both the pain and the anger such an assault creates. If you are a Christian who wants to discuss when human life begins with an abortion advocate, you may be semantically correct to call him a bigot, but you will be committing a serious rhetorical blunder. After you have used that word, you will not be able to say with any credibility, “God loves you.”

What is it that we all want to accomplish when we enter into these discussions, conversations, and shouting matches? I can only speak for myself. I want people to read or hear my words and recognize that I am speaking truth without malice. I may be advocating on behalf of injured parties such as aborted babies, starving families or even the fabric of our culture, but I always want to speak with words that do not have built-in barbs. I really want the points I make to be true to the teachings of Jesus, and I want Jesus to shine through my words. I want the truth, not the insult, to prick the hearts of my opponents.

That is why you may sometimes detect that I have taken a rather convoluted route to get to the truth. I want to sidestep those moments that might lead to name-calling. I never want to weaken or avoid the truth, but I may want to apply it in small bursts rather than in a salvo. I always fear that somehow one of those ugly words will break out despite my best efforts. If it comes my way, I hope to deflect it with words of truth.

My only source of courage and strength in such difficult conversations is prayer. When I know that such a conversation is coming up, I pray about it ahead of time. If the discussion takes place online, I pray as I go, and likewise with unexpected interactions. I believe that is how Paul always had such good answers when he was challenged. I believe it is the reason he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we should “pray without ceasing.”

I am no master of the art of argumentation. (Keep in mind that argumentation is very different from squabbling.) I do think that Carl Medearis is a great model for Christians engaged in the conversations that shape the culture conflict. Medearis has spent his life speaking truth to Muslims, and he has learned a great deal that is valuable to any Christian who wants to speak words of grace, seasoned with salt, whether engaged in advocacy or just sharing the good news. I recommend his book Speaking of Jesus: The art of non-evangelism. I have only just begun reading it, and already I recognize that it is a good guide to help anyone with the problem I am discussing here.

Any Christian who chooses to speak up rather than sit on the sidelines and let the deluge of secularism wipe out religious liberty and public morality will face the challenge to avoid name-calling. It is tough. Because we are human, the battle with our cultural adversaries is predictably accompanied by a battle with our emotions. It is not easy to love someone who readily abandons the battle of ideas and begins to battle with insults, but we must bathe all such conversations in prayer. It is impossible to convince someone you love him and speak as the ambassador of a loving Christ if you have just called him a bigot.

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By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the autumn of 2016

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A Homophobe is not Obeying Christ

A recent chapel speaker at Wheaton College said, “Homosexuality is a sin, but so is homophobia.” How true. Homophobia by definition is an irrational fear, hatred or contempt toward homosexuality. Christians who have such fear, hatred or contempt are not living by the teachings of Christ, and their brethren in the faith would do well to counsel with them and pray for them to be healed of such an attitude. To say this, however, does not mean that Christians consider homosexuality to be normal human behavior. It does not mean that Christians have suddenly reinterpreted the Bible. The Bible still says that homosexuality is sin, just as a lot of other behaviors, such as lying, murder and incest are all sins. Above all other things, the Bible says that humans are born with a sinful nature and need to be forgiven and cleansed of sin. Homosexuals, liars, adulterers and abortionists are all guilty of sin and need to be cleansed and forgiven. To say that is neither irrational fear nor contemptuous hatred of homosexuals. It is the truth taught by the Bible, and it applies to every human being.

To equate rejection of homosexuality with homophobia is incorrect. To equate homophobia and the Christian teaching that homosexuality is sin is a mistake. Many people who reject the contention that homosexuality is normal, innate and immutable, do so without feeling antipathy toward people who consider themselves to be homosexual. People who name homosexuality as a sin do not necessarily also feel contempt or hatred for people who claim to be homosexual. Many people who recognize that homosexuality is sin have beloved relatives who are guilty of this sin. They don’t hate their relatives. They don’t refuse to associate with their relatives. They sit down to dinner with their relatives and pray to God for forgiveness and cleansing for all.

People who consider homosexuality to be abnormal and sinful behavior do, however, strongly resist political and social activist efforts to deny them their rights to moral values growing out of Christian convictions. A Christian who calls divorce a sin does not hate divorced people. A Christian who calls murder a sin does not hate murderers. To identify sin and reject it personally is not equivalent to hatred of people enslaved by that sin. Jesus never told us to hate people who commit sin, because that would mean hating everyone. Jesus told us to love people who commit sin.

Jesus did, however, teach that we must not participate in sin. He told his disciples to shun sinful behavior. When Jesus faced down the Pharisees who wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery, he did so while retaining his teaching that adultery is sin. After the Pharisees left, he told the woman, “Sin no more.” He didn’t condone her behavior, even though he stood up for her when self-righteous Pharisees wanted Jesus to participate in their self-worship. If the person brought to his attention had been a homosexual caught in the act, there is no reason to believe that he would have done anything different. In your mind’s eye, just imagine that it was a lesbian, not an adulterous wife, caught in the act with another woman. Almost certainly the Pharisees would have brought both of them forward for judgment and stoning. You can see in your mind’s eye how they would have been silenced when Jesus said, “If you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw a stone.” Then watch in your head as he turns to the two lesbians and says, “Go, and sin no more.” He did not tell the adulterous woman that she needed to do some sort of penance or suffer more to be worthy of his love and forgiveness. He would not have done so for lesbians or gay men, either. Jesus called a forgiven woman to amendment of life, and that is what he would have asked of homosexuals if they were caught in the act.

Christians learn from the Bible that homosexuality is sin, just like theft and murder. In the Bible, Christians learn that sin can be forgiven, because Christ died to take on himself the evil of human sin. They also learn in the Bible that after a person has been forgiven of sin, amendment of life is necessary. Jesus told a story about a demon who was cast out of the person he had possessed. The person was forgiven, but the person did nothing to amend his life or grow in faith. He simply vegetated in his forgiveness. Eventually, the demon wandered back to see what had become of his former slave, and he discovered that the man was just as empty as he had ever been. The demon moved right back in and invited other demons to join him. This story explains why people need to amend their lives after they are forgiven of any sin.

Think about it. What does forgiveness do for a person? It wipes out the misery and the poison that drove sinful behavior in the first place. It does not, however, change the person’s life. A person can be forgiven by the choice of someone else, but a person’s life is only changed when he chooses to change it.

It is this need to make a change, to turn life in a new direction, that sets political and social activists for the LGBT agenda at severe odds with Christian teaching. They reject not only the need for change, but also the possibility of change. They focus on perceived failures of reparative therapy for homosexuals as evidence that homosexuality is innate and immutable. However, amendment of life in the form of converting to a heterosexual orientation might not be possible for a variety of reasons that do not invalidate the need for amendment of life.

The heterosexual person whose sin is adultery may not be able to convert from a person who is attracted to many different people besides a spouse, but that person may be able to convert to a person who does not submit to every attraction. Whether that person can ever fully and finally reject attraction to anyone but the spouse is not the issue, but the need to amend life and stop acting on every attraction is crucial. Christians discover in the Bible that the Holy Spirit, promised to every believer, can work in the life of an individual in many different ways, and one prominent way is to be the power in amendment of life.

The LGBT activists in the linked realms of society and politics reject the possibility, let alone the need, for amendment of homosexual behavior. The underlying reason is not about biology or even psychology. They reject amendment of life, because it is so hard to do that they allege that people ought not to be required to do it. Some do not reject God’s existence, but all reject his right to tell them that they are sinners. If God cannot call them sinners, then there is no need for amendment of life. Homosexuals who claim the name of Christ reject any need to confess to sin in their words, their deeds, or their lifestyle, as regards homosexuality, and having denied that homosexuality is sin, they certainly feel no need to change their lives in any way.

The activists take an additional position that stresses the fabric of a free society. They believe that they are free to advocate their viewpoint, but they reject the right of Christians to advocate their viewpoint. The activists further mount a solid and unyielding assault on political leaders to make laws that embody the LGBT agenda. It isn’t enough that they want it to be illegal to say that homosexuality is a sin; they want it to be illegal to fail to speak in lavish praise of homosexuality.

To this end, they invented the word homophobe. The exact date of the first usage of this word is somewhat in dispute, but there is general agreement that it emerged in the late fifties or early sixties. This word is used to disparage the character of anyone who disagrees with the LGBT agenda. Christians can rightly say that they are not homophobes, because their attitude is neither “irrational” nor “extreme.” The teaching of the Bible that homosexuality is a sin does not make homosexuality any worse than any other sin, and Christians know that everyone is sinful. That is a rational conclusion from the teachings of the Bible.

What’s more, Christian attitudes are not extreme. To be extreme would require aggressive behavior to suppress or destroy other people. Christians do not have that kind of attitude toward homosexuals. They don’t fear homosexuals the way they fear cancer, nor do they find homosexuals disgusting by definition. They simply reject the sin of homosexuality and teach that every sinner, even a homosexual, must repent of sin and amend his or her life. Such a position is neither irrational nor extreme. It is completely within the definition of “free exercise” of religion to permit Christians to live by their values and homosexuals to live by their values.

There are people in the world who become irrational and extreme when anyone disagrees with them. A large number of such people have become social and political activists for the LGBT agenda. That is a shame. A lot of rational, faith-centered Christians would like to talk with them about how we all might live in the USA as free citizens in a nation of laws, not men.