Tuesday, April 05, 2016

"Homophobia" in the church

The Desiring God website recently did a post on "homophobia" in the church:

It was by a "worship pastor" (whatever that means) named Nick Roen. One question is how much editorial control Piper has over material posted at the website. Be that as it may, let's comment on some of Roen's statements:

Some may object to my use of the word homophobia. It can sometimes be used as a politically loaded term wielded to silence any and all opposition to same-sex sexual activity. 

That's an understatement! When is it not used that way?

However, this is not the root definition of the term. Simply put, homophobia means a fear of homosexuality and, more specifically, homosexual people. 

That's a classic semantic fallacy. The meaning of a word isn't based on etymology, but usage and connotations. 

Is your opposition to so-called same-sex marriage based on a principled biblical definition of marriage? Or is it more influenced by a fear that same-sex couples might signal the unraveling of comfortable cultural norms and usher in the end of a once-pristine “Judeo-Christian society”? 

i) False dichotomy, as if opposing the homosexual agenda due to its social consequences is unbiblical, or contrary to opposing the homosexual agenda because it contradicts a principled biblical definition of marriage.

ii) Opposing the homosexual/transgender agenda isn't due to fear over the unraveling of "comfortable" cultural norms. That utterly trivializes the issue. This is about protecting children from harm. Protecting minors from coercive indoctrination. Protecting straight students from persecution by administrators. Protecting women and underage youth from sexual predators. Preserving parental rights. Preserving religious freedom. Protecting Christian (and Jewish) employers or employees from state persecution. 

Does your opposition to homosexual practice include the ability to lovingly welcome LGBT people into a Sunday service or other gathering with other Christians? Or does opposition for you mean that you wish they would just stay away so you aren’t made uncomfortable by their very presence?

That's a classic example of projection. Homosexual inclination is not a visible condition. Because homosexuals may be very self-conscious about their identity, they assume other people are acutely conscious of their identity. But there's nothing about homosexual inclination, in itself, that signals that identity to observers. It's like asking whether acrophobes will be welcomed into a Sunday service. There's no reason congregants would even be aware of their acrophobia. 

A homosexual must do something to make their inclination apparent to others. For instance, introduce yourself as a homosexual. But why would you do that? Would I introduce myself as an acrophobe? If I suffer from acrophobia, that's not something I normally have occasion to discuss with strangers or mere acquaintances. My friends might not even be aware of it. 

And not because I'm ashamed of my acrophobia (assuming I have that phobia), but because it's nobody's business. 

I think part of Roen's problem is the loss of privacy. It's my impression that many younger people, raised on YouTube, social media, texting, and tabloid talk shows, have no sense of keeping things to yourself. 

Or does standing for biblical sexuality mean that they can come to church, but they can’t grow in influence or serve the body through teaching, and they should probably stay away from the youth group?

Given the homosexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church, is it not prudent for them to stay away from the youth group? 

He wasn’t threatened or repelled by us; he wasn’t afraid to enter a relationship with us, sinners that we were (and still are).

i) Jesus never ordained a homosexual to be the youth pastor, or authorized homosexual adults to take minors on retreats. 

ii) Jesus could not be harmed unless he allowed himself to be harmed. That hardly sets an example for the rest of us. Should a woman walk down a dark alley at night because Jesus could do so with impunity? Jesus could get away with things that would be utterly reckless for most of us. 


  1. Steve,

    Spot on.

    I found it odd that he placed "Judeo-Christian society” in scare quotes as if America's tradition has not been a Judeo-Christian society.

  2. Just guessing here, but "Pastor Nick" is possibly a closeted homosexual, or possibly he has a closeted homosexual family member.

    Of course I could be off-base here.

    Nick should read "This Momentary Marriage" by Piper to help act as a corrective to his apparent moral confusion.

    1. Maybe the radically chic and oh-so-open-minded Pr Nick would be equally open to the embezzler being church treasurer, or the serial adulterer leading the married couples' retreat? He wouldn't want anyone to feel unwelcome, now, would he?

  3. To further Steve's point about meaning and usage, a phobia is an irrational fear and can be quite disabling, as in agoraphobics who can't leave their houses. I see the use of the "phobia" suffix as medicalizing dissent and recasting it as mental illness to delegitimize political opponents, which was a technique employed by the Stalinists. It's another way the Left has of "winning" arguments by not allowing arguments in the first place.

    1. The reds more than delegitimized their opponents: they were diagnosed with "sluggish schizophrenia," hospitalized/incarcerated, and forcibly drugged. One wonders what our libs might be thinking...

  4. I wonder if Nick would approve of hosting a LGBT "Pig-Sex" party in his home. After all, hospitality is one of the Biblical requirements for Elders. He wouldn't want to be typecast as a Pharisaical moralizer, would he?

    He doesn't need to agree with nor approve of it, he just needs to be tolerant and welcoming.

  5. There isn't any correlation at all between homosexuality and sexual abuse of children. There is a strong correlation between pedophilia and sexual abuse of children. Given that, it's a bit weird to speak of the "homosexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church". It's not even limited to abuse of boys, anyway.

    Homosexuality and pedophilia are different sexual orientations, one toward those of one's own sex and one toward children. The latter can sometimes manifest itself toward children of one's own sex and sometimes toward children of the opposite sex. It's a different condition from homosexuality, though. Having a same-sex orientation isn't any more likely to lead to abuse of children than having an opposite-sex orientation.

    There is a reason not to have someone living in a same-sex relationship involved with leading the youth group, because that would constitute putting an unrepentant sinner in a leadership position over children. But there's no reason to keep a celibate person with same-sex desires (or a person with same-sex desires who is married to someone of the opposite sex) in such a position, as long as there's the same level of accountability that you might have with a heterosexual youth leader who might just as easily have attraction toward the kids of the opposite sex in that group.

    I loathe the term "homophobia," but there's no reason to resist it by taking positions that ignore the facts and rely on false stereotypes and confuse distinct categories.

    1. On a related note, the American College of Pediatricians does argue homosexual marriages are harmful to children.

    2. I wouldn't question that. What Steve is calling the "homosexual abuse scandal" within the Catholic church is really a pedophilia scandal.

    3. I've not seen the statistics, but many in this thread seem to have a much better understanding of the RCC sex scandal than I do, how many heterosexual abuses were uncovered? How many girls were abused?

      It seems like all I ever heard or read about was homosexual, NAMBLA-style abuse.

    4. As I understand it, something like 20% of the victims were girls, and a much larger percentage of the offenders victimized children of both sexes. The reality is that multiple sins were involved in many of these cases, but the most important one to highlight is that authority figures were abusing children. The fact that the majority of them were same-sex is not the main issue anyone should be focusing on, because it's certainly not the most serious of the sins being committed even in those cases.

    5. I suppose I should add that what might be going on here is the sense of outrage parents might have at the thought that some authority figure might "make their kid gay" is somehow stronger than the mere fact that they abused them, and that shows their priorities and values to be way out of proportion. That's something that might rightly be called a fear of homosexuality, a fear that is out of proportion in comparison to the more serious offense going on here, one that generates less outrage (and hence the lower level of outrage at the girls being abused). I do think that's a problem among social conservatives. There is a fear of homosexuality, of one's children perhaps turning out gay, and so on, and that fear is way out of proportion to how serious it is, even if it's a genuine thing Christians should be cautious about. You don't see the same sort of fear that your kid might turn out to be disobedient to parents, which is found in NT lists of the most serious sins and warranted stoning in the OT. We simply don't place our sense of the seriousness of sins according to how the Bible does things, and that's so even with sexual sins being given very serious language. We place it even higher than the Bible does on our lists, and we ignore far more serious sins to do so.

    6. "Jeremy,

      The Catholic sex scandal is overwhelmingly male on male. Adult homosexual (male) priests molesting underage boys.

      Technically, I believe pedophilia involves prepubescent victims, not adolescent victims. It's a well-documented fact that homosexual men generally prefer youthful male sex partners."

    7. "As I understand it, something like 20% of the victims were girls, and a much larger percentage of the offenders victimized children of both sexes."

      A basic problem with that statistic is that the abuse scandal included nuns molesting girls. You're failing to properly separate and coordinate the groups. There are lesbian nuns as well as gay priests.

  6. "I wouldn't question that. What Steve is calling the "homosexual abuse scandal" within the Catholic church is really a pedophilia scandal."

    It's homosexually oriented as we have daily proof. It's doubly perverted if there can be such a thing.

  7. "You're failing to properly separate and coordinate the groups."