Monday, 2 June 2014

What is homophobia?

I think the stem of homophobia is the belief that homosexuality is a choice. Some even believe that there is a ‘gay agenda’ which gay people use in an attempt to ‘convert’ people. If anyone has an agenda, it is the people who are trying to ‘reform’ gay people. As being gay is often discriminated against, society has made it easier to be a straight relationship. I don’t believe it is a choice, because why would someone choose to be gay when the consequence is the hardships that society imposes upon gay people? This argument also doesn't make sense, because if all the gays were trying to make other people gay, there would be nobody left in the world to procreate. Why would anybody want that? However, I don’t believe in reform because I don’t think that anyone should even be expected to do this. It’s extremely dangerous.

I think homophobia is difficult to define. 'Phobia' suggests fear, but in this case I don't think it's literal fear of gay people, just fear of change. Some people say they don’t agree with homosexual relationships, but don’t judge them. Directly, homosexuals don’t suffer as a consequence, but as long as society condemns homosexuality directly or indirectly then homosexuals will be discriminated against and suffer for it. Unfortunately it isn't possible to fully ignore others’ opinions, as they are attempting to prevent the happiness of others by protesting against homosexuality and gay marriage. This has caused many people in the world to become depressed and sometimes suicidal. It sickens and upsets me that the ignorance of others is capable of damaging people in this way. Many people don’t realise how dangerous and hurtful their actions that intend to ‘exorcise’ someone really are. I respect a difference in opinion, but I will not respect it when it hurts somebody. Therefore, I cannot and will not ignore these harmful consequences of homophobia as long as they affect anybody else's lives.

To my shame I also disagreed with homosexuality in the past. However, I did my own research and took some time out from church and I feel that this allowed me to accept that there is nothing wrong homosexuality. I totally understand that many people don’t intend their opinions to give any offence at all, but that doesn't mean that people won't take it. I don’t believe that I am prime specimen of a Christian, but other Christians’ interpretations of the Bible just seem ridiculous to me. Consequently, my current struggle with Christianity is simply a matter of trust issues due to general Christian attitudes on many things, including homosexuality. I believe that Christians who gay bash and gays who Christian bash are just as bad as each other and hypocritical if they act unkindly but still expect the other to accept them.

If someone homophobic was close to somebody who came out as in a committed homosexual relationship, I would hope that they wouldn't maintain their viewpoint. Some Christians believe homosexuality threatens family. I personally think the biggest attacks on family are adultery, disloyalty, dishonesty and selfishness, which often results in single parent families. Whilst there is nothing wrong with single parent families, homosexuals are still able to provide a stable family for children with two parents. As they are of the same gender, the concern is often that a parent of the opposite gender is 'absent', but how is this absence different from single parent families? As they are unable to have biological children together, they may also be likely to adopt. How can there be anything bad about that?

I don’t feel that anybody has the right to try to determine God’s intentions for somebody else. Liberty and equality cannot be exclusive. It’s scary how some people think they are superior beings and fully understand God. None of us fully understand God. I think the Bible has a good overall message, but it should be read within context. How applicable is such an old text to today's society? We can learn many lessons from it but I really think people need to spend less time analysing it and more time applying its message to their lives - love! I also think it’s unfair for people to expect gay people to live life in isolation, as people were not created to be alone. Frankly, it disgusts me that people are able to get married for the wrong reasons but this ‘privilege’ is not permitted to all gay people. Many people, often Christian, choose to marry whilst very young, or shortly after meeting each other and I can only think of one reason why they would do so in such a hurry. They then assume they know everything there is to know about marriage despite having been in the relationship for a short while. In my opinion, this is immature and irresponsible and I don’t believe people should feel pressured to marry too soon. It’s difficult enough to maintain a marriage as it is nowadays, let alone if you don’t take the time to get to know each other beforehand. Only last century interracial marriage was considered a crime, but in most of the developed world today this seems ridiculous.

It’s fantastic that Christianity has finally come to terms with the mistake of discriminating against black people in the past, but being discriminated against is still affecting many black people today, or people of any other race that aren't white for that matter. The damage has already been done. Some black people are encouraged to bleach their skin to make themselves 'whiter' to be perceived as more beautiful.  Some Asians will wear autumn clothes in summer just so they don't get tanned. When will people realise that this discrimination can have/is having the same effect on gay people? Everybody should be able to be proud of what they look like and who they are. Ultimately, being gay is not hurting anyone. Despite this, gays in some parts of the world are being criminalised and punished more severely than rapists, murderers and corrupt leaders, who are often left unchallenged.

The reality is people will always disagree and have their own interpretations of the Bible. It is open to so many interpretations, especially considering the context in which it was written, that I believe it is almost impossible to try and imagine what God thinks about a certain issue. Therefore, it is impossible to judge others and gives God the only right to judge. In all honesty it hasn't been that long since the Bible has been used to justify sexism, racism and slavery. Although we have surpassed or are even still surpassing most of these, the damaging effects still exist today. Now the same is happening with homophobia.





3 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this post!
    I am also a Christian who has lost my way with the Church - that isn't to say I love Jesus any less, but that I have issues with how higher powered people have manipulated a belief into a man-made religion - I studied Religious Studies at school and found it difficult to believe that there are so many "lost books of the bible". That is to say that Mary Magdeline herself supposedly wrote a book to be published; yet for some reason or another - either because they did not want a female disciple or because it suggests that she had a romantic relationship with him - her book was unpublished. I find it hard to deal with the fact that the bible was a mix and match decision by the Early Church. I believe that Jesus came to do the things he did on purpose, not for us to decide what was right and what was acceptable to be omitted. (But i'm straying off topic)

    I accept homosexuality. Although I don't fully understand it (I'd be happy to learn more), I don't believe it is my right to judge anyone else's happiness. I understand that due to our human fallibility, it's hard to always be non-judgemental but at very least we should keep these feelings to ourselves so that is does not cause any direct or indirect harm onto others. "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Mathew 7:1. after all!

    What I can't accept is Christians trying to change God's plan for us and believing that they know what's best or what that plan might be. God is omnipotent and we will never understand the complexity of his doing. Just because someone may be homosexual doesn't mean that anyone has the right to try and change them, it's not a mental illness, and it's not a choice.. instead maybe these people need to reflect on themselves and realize that reforming, judging and trying to change God's creation is in fact more of a sin. Making people outcasts was just one thing that Jesus came to abolish (that and man-made and manipulated religions). Furthermore, on the more extreme side, the bible also says thou shalt not kill. It is a very firm commandment in no way of being changed. Yet those who cast judgement on others can cause the consequence of suicide – indirect killing.

    Yes the old testament does state that there are many sins, yet in the New testament, we see that despite some people going against these rules, Jesus still loves them and does not judge them (as we see in the story of the woman caught in adultery) What I want to say here is that even if there are passages in the Bible that some might consider are against homosexuality, Jesus will still love and forgive anyone.
    The bible has many controversial things in it that, as we develop in society, we understand needs a slight update. For example: women being seen and not heard, the rules stated in Leviticus ... i.e. being denounced "unclean" in front of the town for a skin condition and quarantined for 7 days. / slaughtering bulls every time a priest unintentionally sins. We can't just choose what we change and what we don't. We just need to learn to respect and love one another despite our differences.

    All in all we must remember that Jesus died on the cross for us to save humanity from their sins. I don't believe I have ever read anywhere "except for homosexual people". God is benevolent and he loves us all equally so no one should act as if they are more loved by God than anyone else.

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  2. I agree with much of what is written, but I’d like to clarify a few points. I’d also like to broaden the discussion slightly, as I firmly believe that our treatment of homosexuality is not simply about discrimination and prejudice. It is the consequence of a skewed notion of the nature of sexuality itself, certainly within a Christian context.
    First of all, a note about the bible/holy scripture: The only words that we know that flowed from the mouth of God are the sayings of Jesus, the most famous of which are collected within the gospels. Everything else in the New Testament is a documentation of events and revelations which the early church was already experiencing. The final Canon of the New Testament was not fixed until the 4th century. Most of what was included in the New Testament were books which were already being read in churches for the support and teaching of believers. Incidentally, to respond to Amy’s comments about St Mary Magdalene, the church has never believed that she was somehow Jesus’ ‘mistress’. This is very much an anachronistic 21th century view, and one which in 1st century Palestine would have simply been unthinkable. St Mary Magdalene is honoured by the church as the most important female disciple. It is noteworthy to mention that she holds a place of such high esteem since it was to her that Jesus chose to appear first after his resurrection.
    So what did Jesus say about homosexuality? Nothing. We do know, however, that he did recognise and honour the sanctity of marriage (more on this later). Is it clear from the sayings of Jesus how we should respond to homosexual people within our communities? I would suggest that it is very clear. A key highlight of Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom was the showing of compassion and love towards the outcast, the destitute, the persecuted, the marginalised and the unloved. Oppressed and victimised homosexual people would certainly correspond to this, and in many ways are still persecuted and marginalised.
    In Luke 6:42, Jesus says, “How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” This brings me on to the broader concept of contemporary sexual norms and Christianity. I believe this is the crux of the matter, and reaches far beyond mere discrimination against homosexuality. Within it there is a sense of ‘heterosexism’ – the idea that heterosexual behaviour is always somehow ‘better’ or ‘more acceptable’ than homosexual behaviour. The church actually teaches that this is not the case.
    The church’s teaching on sexual expression is very clear. Sexual activity of any sort outside of marriage is unacceptable. That’s it. Within our more liberal and permissive societies, the decision whether or not to have sex outside of marriage is seen as a relative life-style choice and of no concern to anyone other than the adults involved. As Christians we do not hold to this view. ALL sexual expression outside of marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is sinful. As Christians we are called to lives of purity, holiness, continence and chastity (note, this is different to celibacy). What is discriminatory is how many church communities respond to unmarried couples, depending on their sexuality. In most instances, unmarried heterosexual couples go unchallenged since their relationship is seen as ‘normal’ within the context of current societal norms. However, homosexual couples are not afforded the same liberty. To reiterate, ALL sexual behaviour outside of marriage is considered sinful by the church. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a homosexual or a heterosexual couple. The scandal is that we respond to these situations differently, and I would say hypocritically. Before berating our homosexual neighbours for the spec in their eyes, unmarried heterosexual couples should first take out the planks in their own eyes…

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    Replies
    1. Thanks sharing your opinions, it has really helped me to understand the issue more deeply. I definitely agree that what happens between two adults is nobody else's business and that Jesus was the only direct deliverer of God's words. I also believe it is difficult to interpret the Bible accurately as many points are written by man, and no man is flawless. Things may also have been added/ lost in translation.

      I disagree that sex outside of marriage is sinful. In the context of the Bible I understand that people were married very young. These days I don't think it's really practical to pressure young people to get married before having sex. As I mentioned in my post, this can lead people to dealing with sexual frustration in an unhealthy way or rushing into a marriage. For me, I think as long as sex within a loving and committed relationship, there isn't a problem. In my opinion the Church has much bigger fish to fry, such as climate change, poverty, homelessness etc.

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