View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Confessions of a homophobe

Hi. My name is Lee, and I’m a homophobe.

At least that’s what I’ve been called.

Never mind that one of my oldest friends is gay, or that over the years I’ve had good relationships with gay co-workers and members of groups that I belong to, or that I defended a gay employee of a school where I worked, or that when some people wanted to fire a gay musician at church I spoke up to say it would be wrong, or that I have publicly stated that I oppose refusing a gay person a job or an apartment just because he or she is gay.

Nope. I’m a homophobe – a term that literally means “fear of men,” but which has morphed into a pejorative term meaning hater and bigot.

All because I say I believe homosexual acts to be morally wrong, and I oppose gay marriage.

Homophobe.

Well in that case –

I believe stealing is morally wrong. I am a larcenophobe.

I believe terrorism is morally wrong. I am a terrophobe.

I believe pornography is morally wrong. I am a pornophobe.

I believe some Democratic Party positions are morally wrong. I am a demophobe.

I believe some Republican Party positions are morally wrong. I am a republiphobe.

I believe lying is morally wrong. I am a fibophobe.

I believe spreading malicious rumors about people is morally wrong. I am a gossiphobe.

I believe unfairly and inaccurately labeling people is morally wrong. I am a stigmaphobe.

I guess I’m just a phobic kind of guy.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dad,

The difference between homosexual acts and most of the other things you listed is that homosexual acts hurt no one, and most of those other things do. As far as I know, there are only two places in the bible that homosexuality is specifically listed as a sin: Leviticus and Paul.

In Leviticus homosexuality is listed amongst numerous other sins including :sleeping in the same bed with a woman who has her period, wearing clothing made from two different fibers, and using the same fields for two different crops. Now I somehow doubt you make Nancy sleep on the couch when she has her period, I don’t think you strive to only wear 100% cotton clothing, and I know you have a garden with ever changing crops. Do you really God is looking down and going “Oh that Lee, planting those jalapenos next to the brussel sprouts again. That’s it, he has forsaken his faith.” No? Sound silly? I don’t think that any sane person today (or at least, anyone raised Catholic) would look at these as sins. Leviticus was writing laws for ritual purity to try to allow the Jews to prosper in a very difficult situation. He was trying to weed out anything that could possibly keep the population from growing or cause sickness. Now, I don’t know how that would affect women with their periods or clothing made from multiple fibers, but they didn’t have our scientific knowledge back then. My point here though is, we don’t follow any of those other laws, why do we pick out this one to point to as a sin?

In Paul homosexuality is listed as a sin along with wives not obeying their husbands. Now I know that you are a feminist. Do you really want Nancy to sit back and obey your every command? Do you want me to just do anything Matt tells me to do? No, you want us to think for ourselves. If Matt were to just up and tell me one day “Clare, I want to be the man of the house! Quit your job and I will support you on my Dibella’s income, while you stay home and cook for me and clean the house.” I don’t think you would think I was sinning if I told him no.

Now to my point. The reason that views that homosexuality is a sin and that they shouldn’t be allowed to be married are considered homophobia is that it has been held over as a sin when none of the rest of these sins are payed any attention to any more. There is ample proof that it is “natural” as witnessed by penguins, some species of monkeys (bonobos are the most commonly cited species), some dolphins, and more. No one is hurt by homosexual activity.* The only barrier left are the societal conceptions of what a “couple” is supposed to be. The phobia comes in because the reaction of “but that’s just not right!” is a visceral reaction of fear of change to our well established gender roles in relationships. This can be seen in the reaction that many gay couples get “so which one is the man and which one is the woman?” Even some straight couples feel the sting of this when a husband is teased by his peers for having a strong wife. (“well, we know who wears the pants in that relationship!”) That fear is backed up by the laws in the bible that are picked out from among the other, now ignored laws. Those laws are then used to fortify the fear in to a full blown societal rule. So, that is why your views are considered homophobic. You may not have any actual reaction of fear regarding them, but generally speaking, the reaction that homosexuality is a “sin” is based in fear.

*If you want to get in to the children argument, there was a study done in Canada that found that children of homosexual couples actually come out more well adjusted with regard to gender identity because the homosexual couples put more of an effort in to making sure they got a balanced view of both genders, knowing that they weren’t getting it at home.

Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to make my point.
Clare

10:03 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Putting asside for a moment the Biblical issue - or tradition, Church law, or widespread social and cultural norms - my point here is that "homophobe" does not just means fear of homosexuality.

It is used as an powerful insult.

It is a way of silencing discussion.

It is a way of demonizing others.

It has the same rhetrical effect as labeling people fags or niggers or bitches.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would more compare it to calling someone a racist or a sexist (or a misogynist) than the words you listed. And yes, words like that are used to shut down discussions, which is a shame. If people wouldn't throw around words like that, dialogue might go a little further. People go on the defensive when words of that sort are used, and are much less likely to be open to new ideas. In the end, we find ourselves discussing the words used rather than the ideas behind them.

Clare

1:07 PM  
Anonymous BP said...

I'm a phobophobe. (Really like 'fibophobe'.)

Clare, a sin doesn't have to hurt anyone else to be a sin. The damage to one soul, or two, is more than enough. One of the purposes of revelation is to heal the wounds of sin, especially those we refuse to look at because we deny they could possibly hurt us.

5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You compare gays to terrorists, declare their love for each other sinful, and oppose their civil rights.

But you don't want to be called a homophobe, cause that's such a mean thing to call someone.

Poor little bigot.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous bp said...

Quite a work of sophistry, anonymous at that.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Anonymous - thank you for illustrating my point.

Did you read what I actually wrote?

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Auntie D said...

Dear Anon,

Bonobos are apes, not monkeys.

The rest of your stuff is wrong, too.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Don Kenner said...

anonymous,

The study from Canada is a joke, and was derided as such. There are literally hundreds of reputable studies that show the presence of a mother and a father are essential to a child's proper, healthy upbringing. That doesn't mean we don't care about children of same-sex couples or one-parent families. These be the facts, ma'am.

Bigotry? Puhleeze! Lee Strong is a Catholic and the Church has a completely rational position position consistent with natural law and biblically-based faith. Spare him the psuedo arguments you would use on Pat Robertson.

There is no civil right to have the state recognize your co-habitation. You understand the constitution almost as well as you understand the bible.

Lee is not a homophobe. I am. Allow me to illustrate:

The homosexual culture is one of narcisism beyond the bounds of reason and morality. Yes, some gays trancend this with personal behavior modification. I know some and they are my friends.

The homosexual culture places an inordinate emphasis on youth and "beauty," which explains the higher percentage of perverts in that community, and (most important) the LACK OF COMMUNITY CENSURE for those perversions.

NAMBLA marches in the Gay Rights parade, unmolested. Hetro paedophiles would be beaten senseless if they tried to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade.

Congressman Foley is despised by Christians for preying on young pages. Gay liberal politicians are praised for their "courage" when they do the same.

Public obscenity is condemned by most hetrosexuals; gay organizations deliberately display such obscenity without public censure from "the mainstream gay community."

Gay organizations frequently declare that those whose politics they disagree with (but who are gay) will be "outed" and exposed, whatever the cost to that person's career or family.

I could go on and on. Because, you know, I'm a homophobe.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Clare said...

I've broken my response into two posts, due to the length.

Part 1:

>>“Bonobos are apes, not monkeys.

The rest of your stuff is wrong, too.”

Yes, you are right they are apes, my mistake. The point still stands though, and you did nothing to actually refute it.

If the rest of “my stuff” is wrong, please do tell me how. I would hate to think that I’d been failing to keep kosher all my life and that I was suppose to be all along.

>>“The study from Canada is a joke, and was derided as such. There are literally hundreds of reputable studies that show the presence of a mother and a father are essential to a child's proper, healthy upbringing. That doesn't mean we don't care about children of same-sex couples or one-parent families. These be the facts, ma'am.”

The problem with all of these studies (the Canadian one included) is that they are all extremely subjective. I brought up the Canadian study just to point out that there is no absolute agreement within the psychology community as to what is necessary to raise healthy children. There are so many political, religious and emotional factors that go in to analyzing the results of these studies that I don’t think that any of them can be viewed as absolute proof one way or another. Healthy kids can come from all sorts of parenting situations, as can really messed up kids. I think that the secret is really just safety and love, no matter the exact combination of people providing it

>>“Bigotry? Puhleeze Lee Strong is a Catholic and the Church has a completely rational position position consistent with natural law and biblically-based faith. Spare him the psuedo arguments you would use on Pat Robertson.”

Trust me, I would be having an entirely different conversation with Pat Robertson. I have never said that my dad is a bigot, nor would I categorizing him as such. I realize that the other anon poster said that he was, but as far as I’m concerned, he isn’t. He holds views that are based on religion and society that are not based in hate, but with which I disagree.

And anon, seriously, stop posting, you’re only making the rest of us look bad. (See my second post above about using words to cut off dialogue.)

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Clare said...

Part 2:

>>“There is no civil right to have the state recognize your co-habitation. You understand the constitution almost as well as you understand the bible.”

I never brought up civil rights or the constitution. I was addressing the “sin” aspect of the original post. There was no discussion of law there. Not that this matters, but I am the daughter who got married last year, so this isn’t about my co-habitation.

If you want to get in to a discussion on Constitutional Law, however, I’m more than happy to.

The precedent for cases of this kind was set by Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), a case on laws banning interracial marriages, which concludes:

“These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized
as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

“Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.” (Full case: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=388&invol=1)

While this decision was addressing racial discrimination specifically, it was based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (Full text: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment14/)

The 14th Amendment was also used to declare anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas (02-102) 539 U.S. 558 (2003). In that case, Justice Kennedy wrote:

“The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter. The case does involve two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle. The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. “It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.” Casey, supra, at 847. The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.” (Full text: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=02-102)

This opinion makes homosexuals, as a group, a recognized, protected class under the 14th amendment, saying that we cannot have laws that specifically discriminate against a person based on their sexual preference. If we then look at this opinion, in combination with the opinion in Loving v. Virginia - which made marriage a fundamental civil right protected by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment - I would argue that laws limiting marriage to heterosexual couples are a violation of the civil rights of homosexual couples, who are protected by the Due Process Clause according to Lawrence v. Texas.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous BP said...

Clare, I'd be rather surprised if Lawrence survived in unmitigated form for the next twenty years, much less as a firmly established precedent in any significant amount of time. The fundamental reason for this is the way in which it is being construed already: that it guarantees a right to marriage, even though the text you quote states explicitly that it doesn't address that. Now, I think Justice Kennedy would be okay with that, and I'm not so deluded as to think he didn't know what he was doing when he wrote the decision. But what Lawrence leaves open, by its pure subjectivistic, arbitrary silence, is the rationale I saw pursued in the NY State Supreme Court regarding the eventual recognition of all other deviant sexual practices. It's not a slippery slope, it's a loophole. In any case, that's just on the practical level of politics.

On the higher level of politics, and on the level of truth, what the Supreme Court says doesn't matter. A hundred bad decisions have come from the court, a dozen ignored ones--but, no matter what, when they legislate against natural law, they step outside of their bounds. Earlier you had said that natural law doesn't argue against homosexuality because we have gay seagulls and the sort. However, that's not natural law. It's a common misconception, but a fundamental and problematic one.

The natural law question in the matter of homosexuality is: what is sex? If sex is merely the excitation and discharging of sexual organs, then homosexuality is a-okay. However, is that what sex is? Those organs are used for a reason, sex has a purpose, and that purpose is new life. That's natural. On its most fundamental level, sex has little to do even with gratification--it has to do, rather, with conception. Then comes the question, though--what about human sex? Human beings have certain attributes, like personhood and emotion, which bring us beyond that bare level. We then gather that human sex should not be forced, and other such things, because we take into consideration the human being. Part of that consideration is their sex ('gender'), because human regeneration requires the complementarity of a man and a woman in sexual union.

Gender, as we haphazardly call it, has everything to do with sexual identity. It is only by destroying gender that we can claim that sex is unattached to it, and that is why along with the homosexual movement we have the androgyny and transgender movements. The fundamental shift required, whether conscious or not, results in a degradation of man and woman, because such distinctions (rather, identities) have only the meaning assigned to it by the new ideology, which posits--ideologically, not necessarily consciously--that they are nothing but insignificant cells, able to be rearranged and used at the will of some sexless being. However, this assertion has no basis in natural law, only in the slippery grounds of felt desire. Not only does desire fluctuate, not only can it be formed--it can be malformed. I won't do you the disservice of listing the ways in which a desire can be malformed--rather, I call your attention to the fact that this is always the basis on which the homosexual rights movement rests, and point out that such a basis can quite literally be the foundation for anything, healthy or unhealthy, laudible or monstrous. Natural law, though the name may sound strange, is precisely that thing which we appeal to when we oppose mere desire, it's what we cite when we say something plainly isn't right, it's not what we were made for, and that's why it's so vital in the discussion of homosexuality.

1:09 AM  
Anonymous bp said...

Me and my addiction to the word it. That should read "it's what we cite when we say something plainly isn't right, that's not what we were made for..."

1:38 AM  
Blogger Talmida said...

I question this comment:

Those organs are used for a reason, sex has a purpose, and that purpose is new life.

Which organs? It seems to me that women have TWO separate sex organs.

What is the purpose of the clitoris?

Pleasure. Not new life. In fact some barbaric societies remove women's clitorises in order to make sure that they ONLY have sex for new life, and not for pleasure. Would you consider that those women are "having sex"?

If a lesbian sexual experience is purely clitoral, and the result is physical pleasure ... aren't the organs being used for EXACTLY the purpose they were designed for?

To a male, "sex" seems to mean only one thing, because orgasm and the reproductive act are simultaneous, and occur in the same organ.

To a female, sex can mean 2 different and separate things:

1. reproduction, which requires no act, only the possession of a receptacle organ (as any rape victim can attest) and

2. pleasure, which occurs primarily in the clitoris (a separate organ) and may or may not include reproductive activity.

The Bible reflects a male dominated society, so the rules about sex tend to reflect the male point of view.

Some rabbis contend that the reason lesbianism is not considered an abomination in the Old Testament is that with polygamy, one might well have had more than one wife in bed with a man and that it would be unreasonable to expect them not to touch each other.

Natural law seems to ignore this basic difference between male and female sexual experiences. Does that mean there is a moral distinction between male & female homosexuality?

(and by the way, doesn't homophobe mean "fear of humans?" Fear of men should be "virophobe." ;) )

11:47 AM  
Blogger Richard Grabman said...

The homosexual culture is one of narcisism beyond the bounds of reason and morality.

Pray-tell, what's "homosexual culture"? What do the lesbian couple I know who run a feed store in Alabama have to do with the black gay male nurse from Guyana I also know? How is it that people marrying for some reason (anything from insurance discounts to loooove) narcisistic.

NAMBLA doesn't seem to have any existence outside a website and a non-functional post office box. What gay rights parades has this organization (which at it's peak had maybe 1000 members -- and, as its name suggests, was probably Canadian, not U.S.) marched in over the last 20 years? It's a myth.


And, I realize this is a relgious website. What difference does it make to your practice of faith and morals what the State does or does not do? No one is forcing a priest to marry Jews, or gays or Baptists. If people still want to be bigots in their hearts, there's no law on earth stopping them.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous BP said...

Talmida, the only real distinction you make is between receptivity and activity in coitus proper. This may shock you--I'll bet it won't--but men do abuse the pleasure aspect of sex completely separately from the procreative aspect. It is, in fact, one of our more notable gender-specific neuroses.

In both sexes, the pleasure aspect is there to facilitate and complement reproduction. Very similar to taste, touch, and other sensations, when you think about it. Pleasantness doesn't exist for itself, no matter how good the pleasure derived therefrom may be.

4:18 AM  

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