People with deep concerns about the legalization of same-gender marriage regularly hear themselves labeled “homophobes.” This insult aims at silencing debate. “The Supreme Court has already decided this issue. Let’s just move on.” But this tactic can never still the voice of a true disciple. In 1973, the same court legalized abortion. All these years later, we’re still debating that decision. And public opinion is turning against it.
The word “homophobia” denotes an irrational fear of homosexuality. Christians don’t have an irrational fear of homosexuals; they have a very rational fear of the Lord. In the beginning God created them “male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife'” (Matt. 19:4-5). This relationship, the union of a man and a woman, is the only marriage God’s people can recognize. Furthermore, the practice of homosexuality is inherently sinful. Some pagan women of Paul’s day “exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error” (Rom. 1:26-27).
The accusation that Christians are guilty of an unreasonable hostility toward homosexuals can’t be factually sustained. True disciples of Christ treat homosexuals with respect and kindness—the same way they deal with adulterers, drunks, or gossips. Same-gender marriage generates so much heat because of its negative social consequences. It’s self-evident, for example, that a small child needs a father and a mother, not two men both calling themselves “daddy.”
If airline pilots ever sued the government for the “right” to fly drunk, should outspoken opponents of such foolishness be labeled “methyphobes”? Jesus doesn’t really want us to worry about insulting names. “Blessed are you when men hate you,” he says, “and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:22-23).