Homophobia among some is a failure of Christianity, a belief based on compassion and love, to concede that the same human emotions that strengthen heterosexual relationships can exist in homosexual ones too.
The attention the legislation in Arizona recently received that sought to allow certain business to refuse service to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) people is simply more of what’s been going on in this country and other nations around the world such as Russia and Uganda for some time now. It’s a concerted effort by those who find homosexuality repulsive to sustain a protective barrier between them and their fear of gays, for personal or religious reasons.
The homophobe is a product of the environment that promotes heterosexuality as a norm. I get it and so do most other people. But we have also likely been raised with the corollary that its counterpart, homosexuality, is deviant behavior for reasons that may derive from a repressive fear of being viewed as “socially broken”. The notion that somehow we could commit acts that seem to violate our anatomical makeup may indeed seem broken. What is removed from the concept of same-sex acts unfortunately is that above it all, the one emotion we all hold in high esteem is equally in play. Love.
Sexual behavior is something very private and personal and thus the creation of social mores that condemn pornography in all its various forms. But sex is a strong motivator in the human animal as it is with all species for reasons that are important to the survival of species. It is so strong that we all reach a point in our lives where sex is on our minds frequently. In fact, a recent Ohio State University study found that men think of sex in the neighborhood of 19 times a day where for women, it’s about half that amount.
A lot of this sex is absent any real emotion of love, It is purely sought out for the physical pleasure it gives us. If you ask any homophobe, the notion of heterosexual lust is itself an offensive behavior on certain levels. The Christian homophobe who is currently obsessed with banning homosexuality in all its forms, sees sex in a very constrictive manner – for purposes of procreation only. The emotional release we get from sexual intercourse is valued greatly but with orthodox Christians the sexual drive that arouses within us naturally is also viewed as one that leads us to a sense of impurity within certain theological concepts and thus an inhibitor to an eternal afterlife with their creator.
The obsession of sex can and has led many people to acts of depravity. So for Christians, like the love of money is considered the root of all evil, the love or lust of sex is considered the root of depravity. It was perhaps St. Augustine’s view of depravity that planted the seed for Christians and their general repugnance for sex but he was later enabled by the very dark and austere theology of John Calvin.
It is however the biblical references, seven I believe, that sent people like Augustine and Calvin over the edge concerning sex and that condemns same-sex behavior as an abomination or something unholy. I suppose the Christian homophobia evolved from the first biblical reference in the Genesis story (Gen. 19) of Sodom. This is where the men who gathered outside Lot’s home wanted to have sex with the male visitors who came to warn Lot about the city’s inevitable destruction. The allegory represented in this story is the evil versus good model. Sodom and its people were evil and the forced sex aimed at Lot’s guest was meant to humiliate and defeat the good.
This image of depravity led later believers to see anything between same-sex partners as something to be avoided and even condemned. Unlike heterosexual relationships the emotion of love between consenting same-sex partners is never considered. To fundamentalist Christians homosexuality is always about depravity, not a sincere affectionate relationship. It doesn’t receive the same allowances for heterosexual depravity which are equally condemned in the bible.
One only needs to recall recent comments by people like Todd Aiken or Rick Santorum, who though condemning the act of rape, still see the pregnancy of a rape victim as an act of God. Man on woman rape is seen at least then as bringing something of value to the table where consensual sex between same-sex partners brings only sexual lust into the consciousness of people of faith. A faith which also asks them to be compassionate and forgiving and where their founder himself exemplified this by bringing a social outcast prostitute into his inner circle.
This makes the entire notion of anti-gay actions by the christian-right so convoluted. The over-reaction in today’s religious fundamentalists anti-gay movement is likely the result of a bias that dismisses the emotion of love. Somehow only sexual opposites can have lasting and deep-felt concerns for each other. Not relationships between same-sex partners. How this is determined isn’t clear but in the minds of people who take in faith that the earth was created in seven days by an unseen being, despite the physical evidence to the contrary, no clarity is required. Feelings take precedence over facts in many religious matters and often those feelings have been twisted by religious apologists throughout the centuries who have and continue to prevail among the leadership.
I have been where today’s anti-gay activists have been emotionally. So also have many others, especially those who have discovered that their own children, raised in the church, are overwhelmed with strong emotions of same-sex feelings. The nature versus nurture view weighs in on the side of nature more and more. We have discovered too that our earliest feelings about homosexuality have essentially been unfounded. If there is any soul-searching that needs to be done today concerning same-sex relationships it does not automatically and solely fall to the LGBT community. It falls, I feel, more readily at the feet of those who would hide behind their faith to condemn others they simply haven’t taken the time to know more personally.