Sunday, 20 June 2010

Do you object to being labelled 'homophobic' when you are actually just 'homosceptic'?

Last month’s election threw up some interesting results as a variety of issues took prominence in different constituencies.

In particular we saw strong reactions to four conservative parliamentary candidates who had, either during the campaign or previously, held views which were judged as being ‘homophobic’.

Philip Lardner lost his candidacy for saying that homosexuality was 'not normal behaviour' – sacked by party leader David Cameron. The uproar surrounding Philippa Stroud’s Christian beliefs about the issue was a major factor in her failing to take Sutton and Cheam for the Tories. Chris Grayling’s comments about Christians offering ‘bed and breakfast’ being justified in denying double beds to gay couples staying in their homes almost certainly cost him a cabinet post.

Theresa May managed to hold on as Equality Minister after the election, despite over 70,000 people joining a Facebook group asking for her to be sacked on the basis of her past ‘homophobic’ voting record, when she said her views on homosexuality had now changed.

Being judged ‘homophobic’ can cost you dearly.

I’ve always been puzzled by the term ‘homophobia’. In the minds of most people it means being prejudiced against, or even hating, people who are homosexual.

Wikipedia defines it as ‘a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality and people identified or perceived as being homosexual’.

In keeping with this view, author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King in a 1998 address, equated homophobia to ‘racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry’ on the grounds that ‘it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood’.

It is therefore understandable that 'homophobic' is a label that no one wants to have.

However when the term was first used it actually meant something quite different.

The word homophobia first appeared in print in an article written for the 23 May 1969 edition of the American tabloid Screw, in which it was used to refer to heterosexual men's fear that others might think they are gay. It has also been used to describe a fear of people who ‘come out’ as homosexual.

These definitions are much more in keeping with the literal meaning. After all, a phobia is a fear: claustrophobia, arachnophobia and acrophobia being fears of closed spaces, spiders and heights respectively.

For many people 'homophobia' is actually about ‘having a fear of being accused of being bigoted, prejudiced or discriminating against homosexual people’.

This fear, which is increasingly common, causes people to take a defensive posture in order to avoid attracting disapproval or adverse publicity. This may take the form of changing ones public position, pretending to adopt views in accordance with the prevailing liberal consensus, actively denying ones real beliefs or simply abstaining from expressing an opinion when the matter is discussed.

This kind of ‘homophobia’ is becoming increasingly common amongst those who belong to religious faiths which teach that sex outside marriage is wrong (ie. most world faiths) and it is not difficult to come up with examples of (often) prominent people in whom the condition is well advanced.

For people who don’t hate, dislike or fear gay people, but simply believe that sex between people who are not married (including all sex between those of the same sex) is morally wrong, we need a new term.

I’d like to propose the term ‘homosceptic’ - a term that is not yet in common use and hence arguably open to (re)definition. My Microsoft Word spell-check rejects it as an unknown word and a Google search for it throws up only 1,830 examples of its use in any context.

The Urban dictionary defines a 'homosceptic' as ‘a member of society who does not hate homosexuals, but generally does not agree with the principle of homosexuality in moral and ethical terms’.

I’d like to broaden this definition to include ‘being sceptical about the key presuppositions of the gay rights movement’ such as the beliefs that:

• Homosexuality is genetically determined
• Homosexual orientation is always fixed
• Sexual orientation is a biological characteristic like race, sex or skin colour
• Feelings of same sex attraction should be welcomed and acted upon
• Offering help to those who wish to resist or eradicate these feelings is always wrong


Of course if you accept these ‘key presuppositions’ you may well believe people who don’t to be ignorant, bigoted, prejudiced or even immoral. You might even feel that such people should not hold public office, publicly express their views or hold any job which involves having to condone, promote or facilitate same-sex intimacy.

But if you have some doubts about the truth of some or all of these beliefs – and suspect that they might be more ‘ideology-driven’ than ‘evidence-based’ – then perhaps you could argue that you are not ‘homophobic’ but rather ‘homosceptic’.

40 comments:

  1. "My Microsoft Word spell-check rejects it as a known word" should presumably read "My Microsoft Word spell-check rejects it as an unknown word".

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    1. Depends whether you're saying "It's been rejected and therefore it is an unknown word" or "On deliberating whether it is a known word it has rejected this suggestion". I think he meant the latter.

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    2. Surely bothering about grammatical nuance is irrelevant here? We know what the writer means.

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  2. Well said. I have long felt that "homophobic" is almost diffamatory. Most Bible-reading Christians are not fearful of homosexuality any more than they are scared of adultery, pride, boasting, greed or swearing.

    Ironically, many British people are Europhobic. "Euroceptic" doesn't express strongly enough the animosity and irrational fear many self proclained Eurosceptics have towards all things continental.

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  3. Excellent article, thank you.

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  4. Homophobic is a word used by the homosexual lobby to brand those who do not believe that homosexuality right and do not subsrcibe to their beliefs. Thus transfereng the abomination to the non-homosexual.

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  5. I think the article, overall, provides a balanced view. Presumably Homophobics would therefore be viewed as a subset of Homosceptics?

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  6. First of all:
    "that sex between people who are not married (including all sex between those of the same sex) is morally wrong"

    In countries where gay marriage in a christian church is perfectly doable, then, would the supposed "homosceptics" say: "Oh, hey, that's all right then, this is a national morality"? Or would they say "The laws of that nation are incompatible with morality - a moral Swede, say, is not currently conceivable"? Regardless - if premarital sex is all it comes down to, why not look for a euphemism that emphasizes *that*, and let the homosexuality bit be inferred? Really, they would just comprise about 10% of the sinners. Also; if this is the problem, then what about homosexuals who does not have sex, but are simply in love: in a relation, perhaps adopting a child, but not having sex? Unless the premarital sex bit is just a convenient *excuse* for the real problem you're having, then using a label that has anything to do with homosexuality seems really misleading. It would be analogous to saying: "I'm anti-homeopathy, but hey, I may just re-label that to anti-american, because some americans are into homeopathy?" They may be - *but it's completely peripheral to the issue at hand*.

    Moving on, I doubt the colloquial use of the term ever is in a manner of being afraid of homosexuals, the way an arachnophobic is afraid of spiders. I don't see the point in dwelling on historical pragmatics of the term, just as we have not abandoned words like "hysteria" or "melancholy" because of their historical connotations. If you want to argue against the term, argue against what the term *really* conveys.

    Having said that; what on earth makes you derive these five points as central to the gay rights morality? you could argue that it is consensus in the gay rights movement that homosexuality is partially biologically determined, and that it is fixed. I'm not sure it is consensus, but I'm completely sure that it's not a *key presupposition*. If it were completely and utterly proved that homosexuality is not to any extent affected by biology - that it is well nigh unique in our behavior in being a product solely of our social context - do you think that *ANY* gay rights activist would say "Oh, hey, turns out this is a social factor, so that means I don't think it's morally defensible any more". If they don't change their minds when faced with that fact, then to what extent must everybody else agree with it to be able to think that what grown ups do in bed at night is nobody's business but their own? This is a straw man argument, and it poses a false dichotomy at that.

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  7. It seems to me that this (small - latest figures suggest 1% of the population, I believe) minority has a totally disproportionate influence on public policy (the Catholic population is, I believe about 10%, so considerably larger and yet they are not allowed freedom of conscience).

    If homosexual behaviour were the norm, rather than abnormal (for saying which a Conservative candidate got into trouble) would any of us be here? Given that a homosexual act is inherently sterile, wouldn't its being normal have resulted in the extinction of the human race long since?

    I remember the arguements presented by the lobbyists when the decriminalization of homosexuality was being discussed (though I am not old enough to remember the Wolfenden Report). The arguement (in answer to those who described homosexuality as unnatural, in the commonly accepted usage of that word) was that just as heterosexual activity was natural to most of us, homosexual activity was natural to those so inclined and it should therefore be permitted.

    Given that their arguement rested on what was natural to them, why do they then not accept the equally natural consequence that they should not have children? Absence of children is the natural outcome of a homosexual relationship, yet they demand the right to adopt, thus acting against the 'natural' which for them justifies their actions. That is inconsistent.

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    1. "Absence of children is the natural outcome of a homosexual relationship, yet they demand the right to adopt, thus acting against the 'natural' which for them justifies their actions."

      It is also a natural outcome of a relationship in which one of the partners is incapable of conceiving, yet I presume you would not argue against adoption by sterile heterosexual couples?

      At any rate, natural is a concept with very poorly defined boundaries, and something being natural does not of itself constitute a moral statement, as I think you will agree if you consider 2 Peter 2:12.

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  8. Hi....
    Sexual problems include impaired sexual functioning, impaired emotions, compulsive sexual behaviour(s), gender identity conflicts, sexual violence and victimisation, sexually transmitted infections, problems with reproduction and any sexual problems secondary to other medical/health conditions.
    Thanks...
    lela

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  9. I accept that, according to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin. What I find harder to accept are Christians who feel they have a prerogative to condemn homosexual behaviour on the basis of their own personal faith. Surely the imperative is to live according to one's own principles and not impose them on other people who do not share that faith.

    When all is said and done, same-sex attraction is a fact of life, and the existence of God is mere conjecture.

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. "But if you have some doubts about the truth of some or all of these beliefs – and suspect that they might be more ‘ideology-driven’ than ‘evidence-based’ – then perhaps you could argue that you are not a ‘Christian’ but rather an ‘Atheist/similar’... :P

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  12. @Stephen,
    Christians are not being allowed to live their lives according to their principles, that's the point! They are told they have to allow gay couples in their bed and breakfast's, tell young children in their care something that goes against their faith and are being pushed to allow them to be married in their churches etc. How can they live by their principles if they are being discriminated against for doing so within their own homes and churches?

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  13. I enjoyed this article. Very balanced. I hate being viewed by people as homophobic because I am a Christian.

    I believe in equal opportunities for all and dont discriminate against people.I wish they would treat minorities such as Christians the same.

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  14. Christians who say that they do not believe homosexual acts per se are sinful, but merely that they are sinful as a special case of sex outside marriage, which they define as marriage in the eyes of the government, are not delivering a teaching that is faithful to the bible by any stretch of the imagination.

    The bible says almost NOTHING about what a heterosexual couple have to do to become "married". There is no comparison between sodomy and the sin, real or imagined, of the millions of poor heterosexual couples in exclusive, lifelong, publicly declared relationships that the government doesn't count as marriages, thus saving the poor serious financial penalties.

    The Johns, the Bulls, Christian Concern and Peter Saunders are compromising the truth, by pretending that it is merely the UNMARRIEDNESS (in English law) of the two men that makes it an "abomination" in God's eyes one of them to "lie" with the other, "as with a woman."

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    1. I think I understand what you're saying. I advocate the removal of the word marriage from the state system altogether, as I believe the Bible doesn't envisage the state being involved with it.

      However I don't think the couple with the B&B, for example, are using the legal definition of marriage, ratehr the Biblical one. So I don;t think they are saying that if the state approved gay marriage and a married gay couple came they would give them a double bed. I think thsoe people are trying to be faithful to the Bible's teaching. If anything they're just saying that it is the sexual immorality they don't want to facilitate (whether homosexual or heterosexual), rather than ranking which sins are worst.

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  15. It is understandable that 'homophobic' is a label that no one wants to have. However when the term was first used it actually meant something quite different.

    It is understandable that 'sodomite' is a label that no one wants to have. However when the term was first used it actually meant something quite different.

    It is understandable that 'arsenokoitai' is a label that no one wants to have. However when the term was first used it actually meant something quite different.

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  16. It is understandable that 'christian' is a label that someone wants to have. However when the term was first used it actually meant something quite different.

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  17. Whilst I understand your leaning towards more 'scientific' language you must also be careful to convey, accurately, the biblical viewpoint of sin and, in consequence and in particular, a believer's view of homosexuality AND homosexuals. Psalm 139 v 21, 22.

    To be called, 'homophobic' is the unbeliever's expression of hatred towards those who confront this sin. I know it's difficult, but maybe we should, 'endure the cross, despising its shame'rather than trying to engage these reprobates in semantic discussion.

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  18. Excellent post. I search for a word that meant what really I felt about gay people. I found in your blog.
    Homosexuals are my confused brothers and sisters,but not my enemies and I don´t feel "phobia" to them. But it is not the same about the ideas that some of them (those who have power curiously)want to make us to swallow.

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  19. If the issue is truly only a lack of being married then neither homophobia or homosceptic is appropriate

    I do not understand the marriage argument made here. Are two atheists after a civil marriage still married in the eyes of the Abrahamic god and therefore sex not morally wrong? How about two Hindus or Buddhists, they have a faith but not in the same god?
    I hear a lot about attempting to deny gay people rights due to religious belief however I struggle to see how am unmarried gay couple is different to an unmarried heterosexual couple or even a married couple who are not of a different faith as far as morals/sin goes.
    If homosexuals are then singled out of this group of people not married in the eyes of the Christian god as a different issue then homophobia would be an appropriate word to use as the issue is not longer about sexual sin which all these groups could be considered to be committing but about this specific minority group.

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  20. I particularly enjoyed the use of the term "evidence base". Ironic.
    My favourite bible quote has got to be, "love thy neighbour, except of course if (s)he's gay, in that case never ever let them stay in your B&B"

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  21. What concerns me is the 'persecution' and I do believe that is the correct word, who do not adhere to the pro-homosexual viewpoint, will be increasingly marginalised, shut-out and shut down. Where will this lead? It will become illegal to preach the gospel. What then?

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  22. It has basically been scientifically proven that people who are homosexual cannot help that they are so, any more than someone can help that they have diabetes or breast cancer. I hate to equate it to diseases, but my point is that it is polygenic - so not entirely genetic, but also not entirely environmental, and if you are a certain way, you cannot change this.

    This cannot be denied now. So God made them that way. And the whole history of it making people uneasy is just because they are different, a minority, and yes, they don't produce children.

    Some women are born infertile and cannot have children. Is it going against "nature" for them to adopt?

    You cannot deny that any person may have paternal or maternal feelings. Gay people have them, and many of them would make better parents than some parents already out there.

    Not accepting gay people is akin to racism. Just because they find different things attractive doesn't make them evil.

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    1. Be careful not to confuse people with facts when they are trying to find biblical justification for their bigotry, forcing their religious views on others by law whilst claiming an attack on religious freedom, whining about being called homophobic whilst throwing round the word "sodomite", and pretending to be concerned with the truth whilst clinging to dogna to back up their hypocrisy.

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  23. It would be easy for Mr Saunders or regular readers to get the impression that gays are a bunch of whining sinnners whom none of you actually ‘fear’.

    Lest there be confusion about this, let me make one thing clear. Me calling you homophobic here or you self-defining as homosceptic is a comfortable pursuit made from our rather groovy swivel chairs. In contrast the reality lived by a gay person is sometimes a matter of life and death for no other reason than being gay.

    Recent news report on HOMOPHOBIC attack in London: "There is evidence that the female defendants then began putting the boot into Mr Baynham, who was still prone on his back, clearly unconscious and in distress. Shocked onlookers saw repeated stamping to his chest and forceful kicks to his head. A witness described the attack as like a scene from the film A Clockwork Orange. Police later found Mr Baynham's blood on Thomas's handbag and shoes.”

    That’s why I’m angry. Your reasons? Did someone spoil your day by the word ‘homophobe’? Show me a situation in the UK were the life of a christian is threatened by a gay one. Go on.

    Please go ahead and indulge your empty hypothetical rhetoric here whilst the rest of us try and make the world a better place to be gay.

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  24. The attack on Mr Baynham was appalling and his attackers have quite rightly been punished. But I'm not sure I understand what point you are trying to make here.

    Are you suggesting that his attackers were Christians or implying that the lives of homosexual people are in some way threatened by Christians in the UK?

    Can you clarify this for me?

    I know many Christians but I have yet to meet one who hates homosexuals, has been violent towards them or would condone violence against them.

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  25. You are all mad, and you can dress your bigotry in any pretty new words you like, it doesn't change your hateful, despicable views.

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  26. That’s why Iแทงบอล’m angry. Your reasons? Did someone spoil your day by the word ‘homophobe’? Show me a situation in the UK were the life of บาคาร่าa christian is threatened by a gay one. Go on.

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  27. Interesting post sorry i haven't read the comments so forgive me if I repeat anyone. But I have a problem with this statement:

    'generally does not agree with the principle of homosexuality in moral and ethical terms'

    I think disagreeing with the principle of homosexuality on moral grounds is homophobic. Whether or not sexual orientation is innate, fixed, fluid or a choice, there is still nothing morally wrong with any orientation in my view. It is possibly morally wrong to suggest otherwise.

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  28. Elly,

    Yes I would agree with you.

    The Urban dictionary definition is a little clumsily worded and I would want to distinguish between homosexual orientation (which I agree is not morally wrong) and homosexual behaviour (which in my view is morally wrong)

    For a fuller consideration see http://bit.ly/rHDMNw

    Peter

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  29. 'does not agree with the principle of homosexuality in moral and ethical terms"

    Here we go again: the basic test for homophobia. Replace 'homosexuality' in that sentence with 'femininity'/'being black'/ 'being (cauc)asian' / 'youth' /'age' / 'intelligence' / 'ill-health'...

    and ask yourself if the sentence is really as mindbogglingly intolerant and ignorant of the basic facts of life as it seems.

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    1. This is a completely false analogy. Homosexual orientation is a predominant desire and and homosexual erotic activity is a choice.

      Sex, race, age and health are neither desires nor choices.

      You have made a mindbogglingly naive category mistake, but sadly you are not alone in this.

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    2. What makes you think it is a choice? Where is your evidence other than wishful thinking?

      I never chose to be gay. Why would I choose a sexual orientation that would cause me so much grief in life? Why would anyone want to engender such hate towards themselves.

      I was born white and I had no choice. I was born in Britain and I had no choice. I have blue eyes and I had no choice. I have blonde hair and I had no choice.

      I am gay and I had no choice.

      I am a Christian and I am Gay and for my sins my Lord will judge me, and forgive, but you most certainly won't have any bearing on that at all and you'd do well to remember your place in the order of things.

      "Let he without sin cast the first stone".

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    3. You have misunderstood me.

      Homosexual orientation is a predominant desire. It is sometimes a choice but often not.

      Homosexual erotic activity however is virtually always a choice.

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    4. "Homosexual orientation is a predominant desire. It is sometimes a choice but often not.

      Homosexual erotic activity however is virtually always a choice."

      Great. Totally agreed. Exactly the same as Heterosexual orientation and activity. We agree!

      So, on that note: I'm not a Christian and I'm going to do whatever I like with my life and body.

      I respect your path in life, that you chose to be guided by a religion. Fantastic.

      You should totally be able to live your life according to your beliefs, and I should be allowed to live my life according to mine.

      So that means, for me, that I don't care if anyone's living together married, unmarried, having sex, not living together, whatever. Their life and choices are up to them, and they are none of my business.

      If your decision, and your path in life, (and I'm sorry, but I don't know anything about you, and don't mean this to cause any offence) was to wait until you found the right woman who you loved, and then not live together or have sex until after you'd married, then that's great. Again it's none of my business, it's your life. I would certainly never organise a petition to stop you getting married to the person you loved!

      So, the thing now I'd ask, is that you let me have my life. I don't care what you think about me living with my boyfriend, or having sex when we're not married... what I do with my life should be none of your business.

      Should churches be forced to marry gay couples? Of course not. A church is (for comparison's sake) a club. There are rules and codes of conduct. But I don't want to be a part of the club. It's our governments role to supply basic equal rights to all of us.

      I'm guessing a Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim couple couldn't get married in a Catholic church? But they could go down to the local council hall and have a civil marriage ceremony? Great, thanks, I'll have one of those.

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  30. When it comes to homosexual activity: it is still an action between my God and I.

    You are not his enforcer. Live your life and I'll live mine and above that "Love one another as I have loved you".

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  31. JohnT2012 - if in quoting John 13:34 you are attempting to justify same sex erotic love, you've failed. Those cunning Greeks in whose language the New Testament was written have many words for love and the word for love in that verse is 'agape' love which is nothing to do with the sexual 'eros' love you are implying.

    You won't find any commendation of same sex 'eros' love in Jesus words or the remainder of the New Testament.

    Of course if you could mean some other 'god' entirely given the equivocal nature of the term...

    UE

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