22 November 2010


by Phil Johnson

ne of the most effective tactics in the campaign to gain society's silent acquiescence to the homosexual agenda has been the use of the epithet homophobic against anyone who still believes homosexual behavior is immoral or aberrant.

That's a misnomer, of course, deliberately employed to give homosexuality an aura of normality while smearing the stigma of mental disorder on a moral standard that was virtually universal for centuries—until the tide began to turn about forty or fifty years ago.

The suffix -phobia signifies abnormal or irrational fear. But most who oppose homosexuality on moral or biblical grounds are no more driven by "fear" than those who despise pride, sloth, avarice, and adultery on similar grounds.

Yet as the rhetoric of the homosexual lobby becomes more strident and the militancy of their political activities escalates, evangelicals may in fact have good and prudent reasons to be concerned or apprehensive about what may be coming.

For one thing, practically all the arguments that have been set forth in favor of legitimizing homosexuality can be applied with equal effectiveness by advocates for any kind of perversion involving consensual partners, inanimate objects, animals, or whatever. Fair warning: Please don't let your imagination or curiosity run with this—but anyone who regularly counsels people struggling with seared or troubled consciences knows that our culture has fostered many fetishes and perversions too bizarre and too wicked even to mention in polite company (Ephesians 5:12). But if the arguments in favor of normalizing homosexuality are valid, then every kind of sexual debauchery (from pederasty to necrophilia and beyond) will ultimately be able to campaign for acceptance on those same grounds. (Actually, that process is already well underway.)

In other words, the trajectory of the so-called Gay Rights movement is clearing the way for the complete unravelling of all moral standards. If you doubt that, consider (again: with the utmost caution) the annual celebrations of "Gay Pride." These are increasingly hostile, in-your-face, unbridled attacks on whatever remnants of decency may be left in our culture.

But more ominous by far is a stack of pending legislation that in effect will make all opposition to homosexual behavior a hate crime. Such laws have already effectively silenced most biblical teaching on the subject via the airwaves or in public venues in England and Canada. Now strict legislation has been proposed in Brazil that could potentially make it a criminal offense merely to state one's opinion that homosexual behavior is sinful.

Some Christians in Brazil recently issued a manifesto on the issue, and it's worth reading. I was alerted to this by a couple of Brazilian friends—one whose father teaches in a Christian university in Brazil. My friend's father and his colleagues have been harassed, threatened with lawsuits, and showered with the vilest kinds of threats and insults.

So please keep our brothers and sisters in Brazil in your prayers—and be aware that it is most likely only a matter of time before some guardian of political correctness will attempt to make Christianity a thought-crime or hate-crime wherever you live, too. We all need to be prepared for that when it comes, and remember that the apostle Paul counted it a high privilege to suffer for Christ's sake by being imprisoned and finally put to death for his faith.

Phil's signature

An important postscript about Westboro Baptist Church and their ilk

It is unfortunate that in the media (and thus in the minds of many non-Christians) the Fred Phelps family have become the representative face of religious opposition to homosexuality. For the record, they are not Christians at all. They are gospel-corrupters who have exchanged the gospel of Jesus Christ for a twisted message of fierce, ungodly hatred.

The true gospel is good news about forgiveness and cleansing from every kind of sin—from homosexuality and heterosexual fornication to white-collar sins such as greed and fraud (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). But the Westboro Baptist heretics have exchanged the gospel for a graceless, hopeless harangue that is an embarrassment and an affront to true Christians—and a gross insult to both the Person and the work of Christ.

Such gospel-twisting is expressly condemned in Scripture as the profoundest kind of blasphemy, a desecration of the Name of Christ, and a more horrific crime against God than any sexual perversion. See Galatians 1:7-8; 2 John 7-11.

Sadly, even some evangelicals who should know better sometimes allow the gospel message to be drowned out or buried under angry and insulting rhetoric, some political agenda, or our own carnal hypocrisy. I've witnessed this tendency, for example, on my own Facebook page, where on a couple of occasions when the subject has come up, some careless brother or sister will post something purposely demeaning toward people who've been ensnared and enslaved by this sin.

Jesus didn't treat the Samaritan woman with that kind of contempt. As a matter of fact, in every incident recorded in Scripture where He encountered people held captive to immorality, He responded with compassion and a proffer of deliverance and forgiveness. He called all people everywhere to repent (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30), but His righteous indignation—His anger—was reserved for Pharisees, gospel-corrupters, and other religious miscreants. We ought to follow His example.

Also, be aware when you post comments on my blog or my Facebook page that I have real-life friends who are unbelievers, and all of them are in bondage to some sin or another. Please don't be a bad testimony to them by deliberately treating any class of sinners with deliberate disrespect.


naturgesetz said...

You are right to warn against the coming intolerance. I have often felt and occasionally said that, for its refusal to perform same-sex marriages, the Catholic Church will become "The Bob Jones University of the 21st Century" (i.e., an institution which will lose its tax exemption when it refuses to go along with what the courts decree is a fundamental human right — but in our case, less deservedly so).

And I am mightily pleased to read your denunciation of Fred Phelps. I have often lamented that he and his ilk give Christianity a bad name.

So thanks for a well-balanced post.

AndyPro said...

While the growing 'Gaygenda' on mainstream tv makes me mad, the perversion itself makes me sad. I have a few relatives who are ensnared, and what it makes this sin so devilish is it's DEMAND for mainstream acceptance.

No one would proudly march in a "I cheat on my wife" parade, or a "I'm stealing money from my employer" parade, but his particular sin is one that insists it be embraced.

From the political/social perspective, I think that congressman opposed to supposed 'gay rights' should insist that any other type of non-traditional relationship be thrown in to any pending legislation. In other words, no gay marriage unless polygamy is also included.

Of course this might backfire, as most people would fear being called a polygophobe.

BTW, Long-time listener, first-time caller, if you get my drift. (finally figured out the account thingy)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Some Christians in Brazil recently issued a manifesto on the issue, and it's worth reading."


Excerpt: "If homosexual activists intend to criminalize the posture of the Mackenzie Presbyterian University, they should also prepare to equally face the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, all of the country’s evangelical churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Jewish Congregation of Brazil and, in the last instance, to censure the Judeo-Christian Scriptures themselves."

Looks like the Brazilian equivalent of

The Manhattan Declaration.

Phil said...

Just when you think Romans 1 couldn't be any more relevant, society shifts and puts the gay agenda in your face.

And just when you are tempted to linger there and not move on to Romans 2 Phil drops the 'Westboro Baptist Church' line.

The Radical Watchman said...

In 1988 2 gay activists wrote a book called "After The Ball", which is essentially the gay manifesto. Their whole strategy is outlined in great detail. Now, in retrospect, 22 years later they have achieved much of what they set out to achieve and are right on course.

What is really disconcerting is to see how many pro-gay theologians (I use that term loosely)there are cheer leading the gay cause. L. William Countryman in his work "Dirt, Sex, and Greed" goes so far as to promote bestiality under certain circumstances, among other perversions. Marvin Ellison from the PCUSA advocates polyamory (group marriage) in his book on Christian Ethics. All of which proves that once you board the train bound for relativism you must follow the illogical, transvalued thought all the way to its terminus.

Lutzer got it right when he said "If marriage is no longer an an exclusive, lifetime union between a man and woman, who is to say it should be limited to just two people?"

What is interesting in this whole debate is that gay activists never so much as whisper a word about Islam and how gays are summarily executed in Muslim countries. Of course Islam has been just as silent, lest they lose their place at the pluralistic table of "constructive" dialogue.

Thanks for the post Phil and the reminder of the centrality of the gospel in all this. As the old saying goes Jesus is a better Savior then we are sinners--this applies to the gay community as well.

Steve Berven said...

I had the misfortune at one point to follow a link to the zombietime photo site dealing with the Foslom Street Fair. Worse kind of Sodom and Gomorrah. What was truly heartbreaking was seeing pictures of a mom pushing a stroller down the same street where gay men where openly doing their thing in doorways and right out on the sidewalks.

So much of that lifestyle is awash in emotional and physical abuse, but to suggest anything but that it's all a bed of roses make you a HATER!

I've long been rather bemused by the mental gymnastics necessary to ordain a lesbian pastor and insist that it's somehow biblical?

Anonymous said...

You've nailed one of my biggest pet peeves - the word homophobia annoys me to no end, just because it's a terriblely inaccurate descriptor of a Christian's problem with homosexuality. We're not irrationally and deeply frightened of those who practice homosexuality, but we recognize it for the sin it is. And for believing and resting in the Word of God that homosexuality is a perversion and sin, we're sneered at as simple-minded folk, blinded by our bigoted attitude and squeamish fear of "gays".

It makes me sad, but then it is only what we should expect from the world. And so while we are persecuted(either verbally, legally or physically) for speaking out against sin, we can do naught else but continue to uphold the Word and the holiness of God, while yet loving and deeply caring for all those around us. I think of the end of Luke 7(one of my all time favorite passages, by the way) - we were all such sinners, how can we help but love the One who loved us first and then share that love with those around us?

Sorry for the many words, Phil - thanks for this post.

Thomas Louw said...

It should not come to us as a surprise.
Being a “Christian” has long been out of fashion. The lines between the non-believer and believer are fast being highlighted.
We must not be discouraged or afraid but, take on this new exciting time with both hands. We not going to have lives as comfortable as the previous generation but, remember in all the times prosecution has come our way, God has used it mightily for His glory.
No question it’s going to get harder, I don’t think we fully realize how tuff it’s going to get but, then again I don’t think we realize how great and powerful our God is.

Norma said...


In fact, Brazil is a very friendly country to homosexuals. Here we christians don't have this kind of opposition Fred Phelps does, really based on hate and false christianity. But all activists continue to say we biblical christians hate homosexuals, and one of their leaders, Luiz Mott, said that "Brazil is a champion of homophobia". All those lies, and no one says one word about Islam and death penalty to homosexuals, even when president Lula shows in media all his friendship with Ahmadinejad. We see their agenda is mostly political, a question of power, and their goal is really destroy all feelings and all thoughts that oppose to homosexual lifestyle. This is very dangerous because we don't have a strong, historical concern about freedom of speech like Americans do.

I want to thank you very much for your support! Pyromaniacs is one of my favorite christian blogs on the internet.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Thanks for speaking out on the much-neglected subject of Christophobia. Christophobics everywhere need to be called out for their intolerance and oppression of Christians.

donsands said...

"..legislation that in effect will make all opposition to homosexual behavior a hate crime."

Yep. That's when we will need the boldness to preach the truth in public.

I think James White wrote how it already is a hate crime in Austrailia, and some one was arrested there for preaching the truth.

If we preach what Paul has been inspired to write to his disciple Timothy, then we may surely be charged with hate crime:

"Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted." (1 Tim. 1:8-11)

Thanks for such a well written post. We, the Body of Christ, really need to hear this.

Mr. Fosi said...

Phil said: "But most who oppose homosexuality on moral or biblical grounds are no more driven by "fear" than those who despise pride, sloth, avarice, and adultery on similar grounds." AND "In other words, the trajectory of the so-called Gay Rights movement is clearing the way for the complete unravelling of all moral standards."

First, "unravelling" is actually "unraveling" if my spell-check is correct. :D

Second, I'm seeking a clarification of the argument here. On my first read-through of this post my initial thought was "Phil is saying that Christian opposition to homo isn't fear-based, then he used a fear-based argument to support it."

Then I read through it again and I see that you are careful to correctly define "phobia" as an irrational fear, but then go on in the very next sentence to equate the term with fear in general, just as the gay lobby has done.

So... Can you please clarify your treatment of the term "homophobia" and also please explain how your argument isn't designed to around fear in the reader?

Perhaps a clearer distinction between rational and irrational fear is in order?

Word verification: ressi. Why, yes I am.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Mr. Fosi
First, I believe that "around" is actually "arouse", if my grammar is correct.

Second, it isn't fear of homosexuality that Phil is arousing, it's legitimate fear of fascist-style oppression of beliefs and free expression, using the law as a blunt instrument. As in, "'Shut up!', they explained."

Chris said...

Spot-on with every word, brother!

Thank you for the combined sentiments of warning (against the encroaching and present ideologies and principalities of Satan), admonishment (to hate the sin as God hates sin and love the sinners as Christ loves every last one of them), encouragement (to be prepared for real persecution for the sake of the true gospel and to count it a privilege, as Paul did, to suffer for our Lord), reminder (that everyone who says "Lord,Lord" or "homosexuality is a sin" is not a true disciple of Christ...or even saved in many cases), and clarification (that the very term "homophobia" was strategically designed to be on the offense, as opposed to the defensive posture in which proponents of wicked ideologies use it)!

This post makes me think of the words in that great song by the Getty's, Oh Church Arise, for several reasons. First,the title of the song speaks to the clarion call you make to believers here regarding preparing for dark days ahead. Second, there is a great line in the song that speaks to the intense love we should have for the "captive souls" as we fight against the "captors". Of course, the captors being the ideological strongtowers of political activism and rhetoric, while the captives are those people struggling (and I believe every last person ensnared by this sin suffers and struggles with it, despite the "gay" persona they try to sustain). Thank you for reminding us to love those captors fiercely, as Christ loves them fiercely, because we know the depth of our own sin and depravity...just different varieties of sin before a Holy God.

Bob Johnson said...

Terrific post and counsel, Phil. I don't have time to read all the comments so this may have been noted by others, but let it stand to exalt the beauty and mystery of the Gospel of Christ that even the ugliness of those who are hateful "in His name" can be forgiven if they will repent and confess. Let us pray toward that end, too.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

You know, when ever I see that Phelps woman (Fred's daughter), I can very plainly see the seething hatred and anger she has for all us folks who don't quite see things the Westboro way. It's just etched on her face. Her Christless religiosity is overwhelmingly obvious as well.

The Phelps folks seem to have comforted themselves with the delusion of their own righteousness. Lord help them.

Ken said...

Thanks Phil for an excellent post on this subject.

If our government passes the repeal of "don't ask don't tell" so that homosexuals can be open about it in the military - will it be a crime or punishable offense if a fellow Christian soldiers tells them that "homosexuality is a sin" ??

Does anyone know the answer to this question?

Fred Butler said...

Knowing the peverse wickedness that takes place among many elements in the homosexual community (Folsom Street Fair, for example), and the extreme, violent behavior many of them display against religious faithful, any fear I may have of homosexuals I believe is profoundly rational and hardly irrational.

Phil Johnson said...

Mr. Fosi: Perhaps a clearer distinction between rational and irrational fear is in order?

First, try a more careful reading of the whole post. I think the argument I made is sufficiently clear:

My opening point is that the once-nearly-universal belief that homosexual activity is sinful is not rooted in any fear of the practice per se.

Then there's a transition, signified by the words, "Yet as the rhetoric of the homosexual lobby becomes more strident and the militancy of their political activities escalates, evangelicals may in fact have good and prudent reasons to be concerned or apprehensive about what may be coming."

. . . the point being that while we don't "fear" homosexuality any more than we "fear" avarice or any other kind of lust, we have good reason for dismay regarding the blackshirt political tactics by which the engineers of social change are trying to silence those who believe homosexuality is immoral.

Truth Unites . . . and Divides: "Looks like the Brazilian equivalent of The Manhattan Declaration."

Once again you demonstrate that you don't understand why we object to The Manhattan Declaration. Where in the Brazilian manifesto do you find language declaring (or assuming) that all these groups are brethren, committed to the same gospel?

Brad Williams said...

I could have gone my entire life without finding out about the Folsom Street Fair.

My first thought: "And people make fun of Alabamians who like NASCAR?!"

Paula Bolyard said...

We need to consider that government benefits = government control, including control of speech. I think perhaps that will be the grounds on which our government will enforce hate speech codes in the future. No need for messy legislative battles - just use the all-powerful 4th arm of government....the unelected regulatory branch.

We've become accustomed to free speech bans over the years in many other circumstances. For example, church food pantries that buy food from a USDA subsidized food banks generally give up their free speech rights to share the gospel or pray with food recipients.

Very soon, we should anticipate that Christian colleges will lose control over what is taught if they continue to take government aid (in the form of Pell grants and Federal student loans).

Another battle, I think, will be in refusal to accredit schools that are not teaching the proper government-approved views on this issue.

Finally, they could threaten to pull the tax-exempt status of churches that are teaching so-called hate speech.

How many schools and churches would stand against this? How many para-church ministries would still be around? How many would just compromise their message to "stay in business?"

Mr. Fosi said...

Phil: I see what you're saying. Thanks for the clarification, even though it was already fairly clear. :D

Anonymous said...


Churches and Christian colleges should, if they're watching the news at all, be planning and getting plans in place so that they can opt out of those government programs on their own terms.

By the way, why would any church food bank even consider buying food from someone who will make them stop sharing the gospel with recipients?

Makes no sense.

Paula Bolyard said...

Daryl said, "By the way, why would any church food bank even consider buying food from someone who will make them stop sharing the gospel with recipients?

Short answer: Chicken @.15/lb.

Veering OT here, but I volunteer at such a food pantry (mixed feelings about this) that serves 300 families a month. People do pick up tracts and take free Bibles (permitted as long as we are not handing them out or offering them). And a number of them have started attending the church. If they ask questions or ask for prayer, we are allowed to respond. If we offered a couple cans of soup instead of a whole wagon full of groceries, I doubt 300 families a month would show up, so there's a trade-off.

Bottom line: There is always a trade off and almost always a loss of freedom when the government is involved.

Rachael Starke said...

Me too on offensively obufscatory terminology (not sure if that's a word, but it's more honest and accurate than 'homophobia').

And I really, really appreciated the postscript. It almost seems it should go without saying that Phelps and his ilk are the absolute worst kind apostates, but, sadly, it can't. Thanks for the reminder.

FX Turk said...

I'm gonna ban TUAD if he brings up the Manhattan Declaration again.

Just saying'. Fair Warning.

DJP said...

What if it's finally to admit that he's seen the obvious and wants to do the overdue?

one busy mom said...

The intolerance against "homophobia" is even worse on college campuses. Unfortunately this has really hit my family. One of my daughters is a freshman at a secular university and was put with a lesbian roommate. The situation is horrible, but she can't get switched to a different room - even though rooms are vacant. Homosexuality of a roommate is not grounds for switching rooms. She can't move off campus as it is required to live in the dorms as a freshman. She recently confided that she has been so freaked out she hasn't been sleeping in her room anymore. She stays up studying all night or sleeps in study lounges. This is a nightmare - yet when she speaks up she is the one with the "problem". I can only imagine there will be more and more young people running into this.

Please keep my daughter in prayer - and the rest of us - as we are going to try to interceed in this without getting her kicked out of college.

Rachael Starke said...

One Busy Mom,

I was going to try to email you to ask a couple questions and not derails things here, but I couldn't see an email contact on your profile.

I'll acknowledge up front that my girls are way younger than yours. So, you're far ahead of me when it comes to navigating the waters of how to help our children be in the world but not of it. But is your daughter's roommate actively either harrassing or making advances toward your daughter? Or is it just the general way she talks and acts?Is your daughter a genuine believer? And if so, has she thought about things like God's sovereignty and providence in, perhaps for the first time, bringing this young woman into contact with a genuine Christian for the first time? Has she thought about what it might do to Jesus' reputation if she fights so hard to leave? Again, you know the particulars and perhaps they're truly bad in general, or bad in particular for your daughter. Or, perhaps, your daughter is getting a very real look at what Jesus really took on when he emptied himself of his glory and took on the form of a servant.

Again, I'm years away from having a daughter in college (praise God), so I may be talking out of inexperience. But you do raise the challenge many of us have - we believe in the reality of the depth of sin, and the power of the gospel in abstract, but it's only in tough situations like this that what we really believer gets tested.

Will Marks said...

When dealing with homosexuals I always ask myself the question 'How would I treat my son if he was gay?'

Would I tell him it was sin? Yes. Would I constantly lecture him about it? I would exercise restraint, but make sure it never became something 'I had objections to at first'.

Would I love him anyway? 100% yes I would.

Maybe you feel differently.

Anonymous said...

That Shirley Phelps Roper guy is easily the ugliest drag queen I've ever seen. Dude, seriously, far as I can tell you're not even trying to look like a chick. Who's gonna put you in a pride parade looking like that?!? Duh!

Anonymous said...

Forgot to subscribe to follow-ups. Disregard.

Unknown said...

Please help me. I know that many Christian groups have called Westboro Baptist Church a cult,But I never understand how they are violating The Scriptures. Sometimes I fear that they may be right. Does anyone have some clear scriptures that denounce what they do because if that's what being a Christian is like I do not want a part of it.

naturgesetz said...

@ Chris — For starters, there's Matthew 7:1-3 and 1 John 4:16, 20. I'm sure Dan can give more.

Unknown said...

On 1 John 4:16, I've often heard that that verse only applies to the Elect(I'm not sure I understand Common Grace. Doesn't blessing the unelect with a long life just store up more wrath from God.) Also, I've heard it argued by Westboro that they only do their protests out of love because they want to warn people about going to hell.

Of course I do think that their general name calling of people who do not agree with them could be construed as hateful,but old testament prophets even sometimes call people names when denouncing their sins.


Nash Equilibrium said...

Chris - what part of what they are doing do you think might be Scriptural, and we can start there?

Unknown said...

Some of it just seems scriptural because they seem to have a grip on some scriptural stuff(The God Hates has some backing in Psalms 5:5). Also,they seem to have a decent understanding of Calvinism and some of their teachings seem in line with the old testament and the way people talked in some of the psalms(The wishing of vengeance on their enemies.)

Chris said...

Phil, I follow your valid argumentation. I made the same argument in a college class a couple of years ago, but the professor pointed out that my argument was fallacious labeling it as a "slippery slope" argument. We were debating this very issue and my argument was that someone must determine the objective standard in which case I argued that God determines the standard, but anything goes once he has been removed.

Chris said...

I just left the previous comment, but don't confuse me with the Chris before that.

Eric said...

Chris (with the question),

Two things are glaringly missing from the Westboro message, both of which are Biblical imperatives: Gospel and Love.

Kevin DeYoung recently wrote a blog entry that might be helpful to you. Although he makes no attempt to address all theological errors and shortcomings of the Westboro folks, his analysis should give you further insight into some of the areas where they have gone wrong.


Nash Equilibrium said...

Chris (not Texas Chris): Read the Sermon on the Mount... does Phelpsism adhere to that teaching? (Matthew Chapters 5-7) Emphasis on "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

But the biggest tip-off that Phelpsism is a twisted pseudo-Gospel is the attitude they have towards themselves and their own sins... that is, that they are righteous and therefore justified in haranguing others mercilessly.

Blue Collar Todd said...

Yeah, I'm a little late this post but some news out of New Jersey relates to this. They just passed one of the strictest anti-bullying bills in the country. Using the recent rash of gay suicides as justification, this could have impact for Christians down the line. We already have Christians being forced to get "re-educated" if they want to graduate as counselors. I do think the attempt to normalize the sin of homosexuality will have serious impact on Christians in this country. Real persecution is not that far fetched.

bbqjason said...

One busy mom's post about her daughter's situation got me thinking. Is it okay for me to think that maybe we should now have restrooms for men, for women, and for homosexuals in public places? Or is that just a silly thought? A homophobic thought? A sensible thought? Seems like a respectful thing to do.

Robert said...


What is really scary is that there is a movement to allow transgender people to go into the public bathroom of their choosing. There are so many horrible implications that would come from that, but people are worried about their felt needs so much that it just doesn't matter.

Coram Deo said...

I was alerted to this by a couple of Brazilian friends

Wow, that's amazing! I'll bet your inbox was seriously overloaded!

How many is a brazilian anyway?


In Him,