A correspondent has asked me to comment on the “sin of homophobia.” What is my take on that?
In order to address this, we have to ask some questions first. If someone asked us about the sin of eating pork, our follow-up question would be to ask what religion they were concerned with. Judaism? Isalm? If they said they were asking about Presbyterians, then the reply would be that eating pork is not a sin. Sins are always defined in relation to a God, and the form of worship and life He requires. False sins are, correspondingly, defined in relation to a false god, and the way of life and worship that flows out of that commitment.
In some faiths, sodomy is holy. In the Christian faith it is unholy — primarily because it is an assault on the image of God. God created us male and female, in the image of God He created us (Gen. 1:27). Those theologians who say they are all about the Trinity, who at the same time say the homosexual heresy is no big deal, are missing one of the central places where God has decided to reveal His nature and character. Nicea was important, but the great confession was long before Nicea. The foundational creed about the Trinity is a sexual one, and it was first confessed when Adam first knew his wife. The foundational confession about the Incarnation is also a sexual one (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23).
There is a difference between knowledge of triune God, and being adept with trinitarian jargon. In the ranks of the latter are a number who are, in my view, drifting toward what I like to call a perichoretic atheism. More on that some other time perhaps.
Now when I say that in some faiths, sodomy is holy and in the Christian faith it is not, does this mean “to each his own?” No — we then have to raise the question (an old-fashioned one, I know) of which faith is correct. Which one is right? Christians confess that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Those who want every faith to be a different path winding up the same mountain are overlooking the fact that Jesus actually prayed about that possibility. He asked the Father to spare Him the passion if there was any other way to do this. The fact that the Father said no, and sent His Son to the cross means that there is no other way. The death of Jesus was not an add-on extra. It was the stone the builders rejected, the cornerstone of the new humanity.
But practitioners of these other faiths will certainly accuse the Christians (who call unholy what they have deemed holy) and say that they are full of “hate.” Some of this reaction is understandable (although not defensible). We have said that their holy things are unholy. We maintain said that their gods are wood and stone. This means that they will want to call our rejection of homosexual behavior a name that is pejorative. Hence, we find ourselves dealing with charges of “hate,” which is a moral failing, or “homophobia,” which indicates we have a condition or a pathology that needs to be looked at — by an ordained priest in their faith tradition. He, having conducted the investigation, will likely say something like, “Yep. Homophobic to the bone. Let’s try the electric shock treatments.” But for a Christian who knows His Lord, and his Bible, charges of homophobia will distress him about as much as Islam’s view of his last ham sandwich.
Now having dealt with the central issue, we should conclude with a few observations about the ways in which professing Christians can and do sin against homosexuals. But it is crucial to note that the sin, in order to be sin, must be against what God told us in His Word. The Christian serves the true God, and he sins against homosexuals if he treats homosexuals in ways that God prohibits. This means, for example, that Christians sin against homosexuals if they treat them with malice (Eph. 4:31), guile (1 Pet. 2:1), railing (1 Pet. 3:9), or anything like that. In short, when God said we were to love our neighbors, not to mention our enemies, this would seem to cover everybody. Christians therefore sin against homosexuals when they do not love them, as God defines and gives that love. But this is not homophobia, a fear of homosexuals. It is actually a lack of fear — not fearing God.