In Nathaniel Hawthorns’ novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is marked with a Scarlet “A” as a sign of shame. She was an adulterous. And the community was made well aware of it. Mark and avoid this woman.
Do we have such a mark today? In a culture that is increasingly losing its Christian, moral footing we might think there simply isn’t a mark of shame to be found. I disagree. Morality isn’t disappearing. One morality is supplanting another and that new morality does indeed place shame upon others.
I contend that the Scarlet Letter today is not an “A” but an “H.” Homophobic is the pejorative that should cause the anti-gay bigot to slink away in shame. It seems to me that the term is meant to put an end to all debate on homosexual issues. The word itself can actually be used to replace debate. Weak minds don’t need to consider, weigh, and form a rational argument when they can simply mark another with the dreaded “H.”
No one wants to be thought of as homophobic, but we Christians better be able to embrace the label. Embrace it? Absolutely! To do anything less is to allow ourselves to be shamed. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating we go around calling ourselves homophobic. But we better be able to stand tall when someone wants to mark us with it. We must be able to bear under the Scarlet Letter without feeling shame nor slinking away from those who hate us.
What is homophobia? Homophobia, according to Webster, is the “irrational fear, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.” It matters little if a person makes rational arguments supporting natural, biblical, marriage you’re still homophobic. If you truly love sinners, including homosexual sinners, and proclaim God’s Word of Law and Gospel to the homosexual your homophobic. If you are a faithful Christian who honors God’s creative design for marriage – one man, one woman, bond together in holy love for a lifetime, you are homophobic.
I had the occasion where I announced to the congregation that I was going to preach two sermons on homosexuality. One theme was taken from the book “Unchristian.” Can I be a faithful Christian and be faithful to my homosexual friend? The other sermon spoke to natural, biblical marriage verses homosexual marriage. I was confronted with the Scarlet H even though I had only announced the topics not the content. One person derisively asks me, “Are you a homophobe?” It was a rhetorical question. The answer was imbedded in the question just as surely if you were to ask someone, “Are you nuts?”
Am I homophobic? If homophobia means fearing gay people, then I am not that. If it entails hating the LGBT community that doesn’t apply either. I don’t hate. I am grateful for the love and forgiveness that God give to me a, “poor, miserable sinner.” Jesus died for my sin how can I then turn around and hate other sinners?
Am I homophobic? If it is homophobic to believe that homosexual conduct is outside of God’s design for humanity and is indeed sin, then I will gladly bear the Scarlet H. If it is bigotry to call heterosexual sinners and homosexual sinners to repentance, then I won’t shrink from being labeled.
Dear God help your people to remain faithful to You. May we love Your praises more than we fear the derision of the world. By the power of the Holy Spirit let us cherish the name You give us more than we dread the labels of unbelievers.