The Canard of ‘Homophobia’ and How to Combat it
A “canard” is an unfounded story or accusation, often repeated enough that it is preceded by the adjective “old canard,” meaning that it has been fully debunked by all those but people with an impenetrable disinterest in making better arguments.
I was approached by a young person from my congregation who wanted to know how to best handle being called “homophobic” by certain of his peers. I did my best from my phone to explain the apologetic approach to debunk this canard and counter it with science, religion, and reason. But from the moment he asked, I felt compelled to put my arguments in writing to best convey them for the reader because (A) he is surely not the only person who is bullied with the canard and (B) therefore, others might benefit from it.
As a polemicist-pastor, I’m not averse to argumentation nor opposed to it. We are instructed, after all, to give a defense for our beliefs when asked (1 Peter 3:15). This is the part of “disputation” that St. Paul engaged in time after time in the New Testament, and is simply a part of living in world of unfathomably dumb people when our minds have been renewed by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5).
Bigot. Homophobe. Transphobe. Misogynist. Sexist. Fundamentalist.
The first thing a Christian must do when called such terms is to realize that these are insults, designed into bullying one to silence. An insult is meant to shame; it is meant to embarrass, to silence. There are certain cases that name-calling is not insulting, but only when used as a descriptor. For example, if I call the director of the Montana Public Employees Union a communist I’m not insulting her. I’m describing her (she’s an actual Wobbly). If I call a schismatic man a heretic (αἵρεσις), I’m not insulting him – I’m describing him. If I describe a man who just robbed a convenience store as black, it is not an insult; it is a description.
The words, bigot, homophobe, transphobe, misogynist, sexist, etc., are not descriptors the vast majority of the time. They are insults. And, APOLOGETIC 1, insults are not arguments.
For example, if protestors call Ben Shapiro a “fascist” at a university speaking event – shouting down his words so he cannot speak – they are not describing him. They’re insulting him. He’s using his First Amendment rights on public property and politely takes opposing views from the microphone. Those stopping his speech are by definition the actual fascists. Antifa is a group of fascists because they fit the definition of “forcibly silencing the opposition.”
Let’s look at the word “homophobia” for a moment. The suffix of the word, phobia, is Latin, and originates in the Greek, φόβος. While it’s quite possible that online dictionaries may change the definition of this word before I’m done writing the article, the suffix means fear.
I do not fear homosexuals. Online dictionaries have already changed the definition from “fear” or “terror” to “aversion,” but I am using the 1954 Webster’s Dictionary sitting on my desk.* But even that looser definition does not fit. I do not have an aversion to homosexuals. I’ve never changed my seat on a bus, for example, because a homosexual sat next to me.
I do have aversions, however. Even phobias. I am afraid of snakes. I would not sit next to one on the bus. I am ophiophobic. Yet I am not, in any way, homophobic. That is unless one is bleeding, considering their exponentially higher rates of being disease-ridden. But that’s called hemophobia, not homophobia.
The notion of individuals name-calling and insulting others is bigoted in and of itself. I am guilty of this. I am bigoted against men in skinny jeans, men with man-buns, people who rely on public transportation, and unkind people. I recently called a woman, “the rhinoceros lesbian” because, thrice my girth, she got into my face and told me to go to hell. I’m human, with feet of clay. I told her, “You are ugly, and your behavior is making yourself uglier.”
My insult was not an argument and fell short of making a salient point. Living on gas station food and a sedentary lifestyle had nothing to do with her spittle sprinkling across my brow, nor did it refute any points she felt that she was making with her screaming insults.
The truth is that many lesbians are ugly women. Knowing they cannot compete aesthetically – and being of shallow character – they refuse to invest in qualifies like work ethic, parenting, cooking, or a sense of humor (things appealing to a man) and instead settle for being rhinoceros lesbians. Yet I’ll be the first to admit my insult made no point.
Those who use the term “homophobia” need to understand the insult, that it doesn’t apply, and that even if it did it would fail to make a salient point. It makes no more a point than the term “rhinoceros lesbian.” The Christian should explain that they fear God, and do not fear people different from them.
*The term phobia comes from Latin in the 1800s, originated in Greek nearly three thousand years ago, and will probably be changed by digital dictionaries to mean, “dislike.” Ignore fake dictionaries. Use ones printed on paper. Words are representations of immutable things or ideas – they don’t change.
WHAT’S YOUR POINT?
This is where the argument gets fun if your opponent stops screaming. It goes like this:
Worldling: “You’re a homophobe.”
Christian: “What’s your point?”
It usually results either in silence, astonishment that you admitted to being a homophobe (notice, you did not), or celebration that you admitted to being a homophobe (again, you did not).
Once their shock or celebration is over, explain that you did not admit to anything but simply asked, “What is your point?” hoping they had a point other than an insult. The point of the exercise is to make them think (and that’s no easy task) what is wrong with being a homophobe, exactly?
In order to admit something is wrong, they must subscribe to a set of moral values or ethics determined by someone (themselves or someone else). After all, the concepts of “right and wrong” are not derived from a naturalistic worldview. They are fundamentally metaphysical, religious ideas.
“Why is it wrong to be a homophobe?” will invoke ponderance (that’s what we’re after). Ultimately, the only answer is that it’s wrong to tell people how to live their lives. This answer is Satanic, but Satan is the basis of their morality (or lack thereof).
The Christian then asks, “Why is it wrong to tell people how to live their lives?“ or “Why is it wrong to judge?” Again, from the worldling will come more ponderance (or screaming, it depends).
The Christian follows with, “Is it wrong to live my life as a homophobe?”
The answer will be immediate, guffawing “YES! Of course!”
The Christian should then ask them for a few moments – a breather – to consider their words and think it through to see if they are right. The worldling will be perplexed and perhaps enthused, possibly thinking they won a convert.
When the time is right, respond, “Here’s the thing. You just told me how to live my life and you judged me.” Follow this up with this phrase, “Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument. Your argument, logically, seems to fail.“
At this point, the worldling will either completely disengage (knowing they’ve been bested by a better mind), or they will argue against their original point…it’s wrong to judge homosexuality as wrong, but it’s not wrong to judge your judging as wrong. This is usually followed by a string of invectives. Hang in there.
This is the lesson. They judge just as much as you do, but they judge homosexuality as moral and you judge homosexuality as immoral. Congratulations, you both judge. Now, ask them (since they quoted the Bible) if they would be interested in hearing the Bible. They will say no. Ignore them.
As you prepare to cite your standard for judgment, you must ask them what their standard of judgment is. You might run across someone particularly stupid enough (that’s a description) to cite a partial Bible verse, “thou shalt not judge” (Matthew 7:1) and you must ask them – since they quoted the Bible (for fun, ask them what verse that is) – if they would be interested in hearing the Bible. They will say no. Again – ignore them.
Bombard them with Matthew 7:1-5, John 7:24, Romans 16:17-18, and 1 Corinthians 6:5. Point out that Jesus is the ultimate judge (2 Timothy 4:1) and has condemned homosexuality already. You, therefore, are not judging. You are merely repeating God’s judgment.
Should the conversation continue, you must now ask them for empathy. Place them in your shoes. Surely hating me for my religious convictions is religion-phobia (theophobia), and makes them a bigot. If their argument is that it’s okay to have a belief but not share it; this makes them a fascist. Ask them to consider for a moment that (A) hell is real (2) homosexuality is a sign one is headed there. Would it not be – at least hypothetically – loving to persuade them away from it? Ask them, “What if I am wrong? Does it make me any less loving? Don’t my intentions matter?”
If you have come thus far without progress, the Holy Spirit is likely not at work. So get blunt. Homosexuality is a disease-ridden, child-molesting, scat-smothering, disgusting and gross habit. You, as a human being have a right to preferences. You can choose Coke over Pepsi, Chevy over Ford, and the correct orifice over the wrong one. Only a bigot would say otherwise. You believe gayness is grossness. Do you have a right to that opinion? Absolutely.
So say it.