Does Christianity give rise to so-called homophobia?
Christianity and so-called homophobia
In the West, major opposition to the demands of homosexuals comes from organized Christianity. Homosexual activists often blame Christians for creating a so-called homophobic environment that results in their victimization and increases the prevalence of mental problems among homosexuals. On the one hand, Christianity certainly does not look favorably upon homosexual behavior. On the other hand, in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, homosexuals enjoy the best societal acceptance anywhere in the world. In addition, Scandinavian or Dutch Christians who publicly criticize homosexuals or oppose their demands, face prison. However, Dutch homosexuals manifest elevated mental problems, like their American counterparts.1 Likewise, homosexual Norwegian adolescents manifest elevated suicidality compared to their heterosexual counterparts, which can hardly be blamed upon a homophobic environment.2 Surely, it would be premature to conclude that the elevated mental problems of homosexuals entirely result from so-called homophobia.
Christians often make atheists miserable. Yet, atheists do not manifest the range of unusual sexual behaviors and elevated mental problems characteristic of the homosexual community. A brief examination of the sexuality and mental health aspects of homosexuals casts serious doubts on the claim that so-called homophobia is the major factor behind the mental problems of homosexuals (see this page in particular).
It is curious as to why a number of homosexuals and homophiles fail to see the obvious in that people typically dislike homosexuals because of their sexual behavior, not because the Bible tells them to dislike homosexuals. In a debate on homosexual issues, a Christian may quote the Bible in an attempt to offer a rational argument as to why he or she opposes some demands of homosexuals. However, in almost all such cases, Biblical quotations are simply masking the true reason for opposing various demands of homosexuals, i.e., extreme disgust at their sexual behavior. Rarely would one come across a lifetime-exclusive heterosexual Christian who started out not disgusted in the very least by the sexual behavior of homosexuals, but acquired a strong dislike of homosexuals and ended up opposing their demands solely as a result of coming across the relevant Biblical passages.
One may come across an atheist who happens to be a former Christian and claims that his animosity toward homosexuals has lessened or disappeared after he gave up Christianity. Does this prove that Christianity is responsible for hatred of homosexuality in some individuals? Someone who gives up his Christian beliefs and becomes an atheist likely harbors a grudge against Christianity, and is probably open to ideologies that are opposed to the Christian worldview, i.e., such an individual will likely adopt a favorable stance toward several un-Christian or anti-Christian beliefs. This would not mean that his prior beliefs were solely conditioned by his Christian upbringing. Christian upbringing or not, one likely finds hypocrisy disgusting. The Bible condemns hypocrisy with greater authority than it condemns homosexual behavior; yet would an ex-Christian somehow find hypocrisy more palatable after giving up his Christian beliefs?
An individual with a mildly unfavorable attitude toward homosexuality but nevertheless no clear attitude toward various demands of homosexual activists, if a Christian, will incline toward the expected stances after coming across the relevant Biblical passages. Yet, if this individual were to give up his Christian beliefs, given that individuals that are undecided on several social issues are easier to sway than those with hard-set attitudes, he may adopt an un-Christian or anti-Christian stance toward homosexuality, and perhaps delude himself into believing that he harbored a more negative view of homosexuals when he was a Christian than his actual view of homosexuals then.
On a more formal note, let us consider some studies that have attempted to address the determinants of so-called homophobia. For instance, in a national survey of adolescent heterosexual men, 15- to 19-years-old, 89% found the sexual behavior of homosexual men “disgusting,” 59.2% could not even be friends with a male homosexuals, 28.6% had low confidence that they could befriend a male homosexual, and only 12% were certain they could befriend an openly homosexual male.3 In this sample, age, ethnicity, geographical residence, quality of residential neighborhood, parental education, religiosity, religious affiliation, school grades, worry about AIDS, and attitudes toward sex-roles could collectively explain less than 8% of the variance in intolerance of befriending a male homosexual, and almost no variation in disgust at homosexual activity (see Table 1).
|Table 1: Bivariate and Regression Analysis of the Intolerance of Befriending a Male Homosexual, Displayed by 1,297 Heterosexual Men Aged 15-19.3|
|Worry about AIDS***||-.01||-.01||.02|
|Traditional male role attitudes***||.06**||.20||.24**|
|intercept = 3.22, adjusted r-squared value = .075|
|Notes: *p < .05, **p < .01, ***the only significant predictors of greater likelihood of finding homosexual behavior disgusting were: those who reported more traditional male role attitudes (p < .01) and less worry about AIDS (p < .05). Note that although the correlations are in the expected direction, they hardly explain the outcome.|
In another study examining the attitude of a national probability sample of 1,335 heterosexual adults toward bisexual men and women, most had a negative attitude toward bisexuals, but more interestingly, several social, demographic, and attitudinal variables combined accounted for only about one-seventh of the variance in attitude toward bisexuals.4 The authors of both these studies failed to mention or even consider that innate factors could largely account for why most individuals find homosexual behavior disgusting.
The typical reason behind the unfortunate incidents of violent acts against homosexuals for being homosexual is overpowering disgust at their behavior, not a homophobic environment created by Christianity. Any Christian with half a brain knows that to assault homosexuals is to provide homosexual activists with what they are eagerly looking for...victims that they can use to urge the passage of punitive laws in their favor.
One need also mention another significant reason why a number of Christians seem compelled to oppose various demands of homosexuals. The Bible talks about a lot of sins. Generally speaking, sinners such as adulterers, incest offenders, rapists, muggers, shoplifters, and the greedy do not take out "pride parades" to celebrate their lifestyle or demand that others accept their behavior. In addition, although adulterers do not choose to be attracted to someone other than their spouse, they don't attempt to use this lack of choice over their attractions to justify adultery because they know that they had the choice to not be adulterous. Of the few sinners other than practicing homosexuals who celebrate their lifestyle, none come anywhere close to homosexuals. For instance, even though the number of obese individuals considerably exceeds the number of homosexuals, only a miniscule number of obese individuals celebrate gluttony and insist that others accept it. In fact, it is worth noting that a number of gluttons that insist on the acceptance of obesity are feminists, who are often both obese and practicing homosexuals. Therefore, practicing homosexuals appear to be especially unique sinners from a Christian standpoint.
- ^ Sandfort TG, de Graaf R, Bijl RV, et al. Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders: findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS). Arch Gen Psychiatry 2001;58(1):85-91.
- ^ Wichstrom L, Hegna K. Sexual orientation and suicide attempt: a longitudinal study of the general Norwegian adolescent population. J Abnorm Psychol 2003;112(1):144-51.
- ^ Marsiglio W. Attitudes toward homosexual activity and gays as friends: a national survey of heterosexual 15-to-19-year-old males. J Sex Res 1993;30:12-7.
- ^ Herek GM. Heterosexuals attitudes toward bisexual men and women in the United States. J Sex Res 2002;39(4):264-74.