Stop Homophobia


Editorial 29 - July 2006 - Authoritarian Churches & Homophobia

Amnesty International is an excellent source of information for people concerned about hate crimes against gay, bisexual and trans people and queer human rights. An Amnesty International publication, Sex, Love and Homophobia, makes an interesting point. There is a tendency for countries that have an authoritarian form of government to be more homophobic. We will use that observation as a point to start discussions. The discussion will take a very different route than the Amnesty International book.

In the opinion of this author, authoritarian religions and faith traditions also tend to be more homophobic. An authoritarian pastor, church administrator or church denomination is afraid of diverse opinions or expressions of the faith. Any way of living out the faith that does not match what the pastor feels is appropriate is seen as a threat to the pastor's authority and power. Authoritarian pastors cling to power by making people think they are the only people who can speak for God, who can interpret the Bible. Any sign people might not think and act like the pastor may imply the pastor is not speaking for God. Should people discover that pastor is not the only person who can read the Bible, can think through the Scriptures and can interpret them, the pastor's position, power and prestige are significantly reduced.

This is one reason why gay Christians are such a threat to authoritarian pastors. The homophobic, authoritarian pastor stands up and says that gay people are an abomination. Then people notice there are gay people serving God in Christian churches. To their surprise, they may even discover there are gay churches, churches where most of the members are gay. This is a real threat to the authoritarian pastor. An authoritarian, homophobic pastor may resort to extreme methods to ensure nobody thinks gay people can be Christians and that nobody actually has a chance to see gay people living out the Christian faith in church. An easy way to solve the problem is to impose extreme, harsh and severe church discipline against anybody who identifies as gay, regardless of their life style. The sooner gay and bisexual people are humiliated, disgraced, degraded, dehumanized and thrown out of church, the more intact the pastor's power and position.

When pastors, church administrators, and church denominations forget their role, they see power as the quest. The actual calling is to serve God and humanity. People can serve God very powerfully when they are in positions of weakness. The most significant act of service recorded in the Bible is when Jesus chose to give up His life on the cross. Church-based homophobia, transphobia and biphobia are signs that key people in churches are not living a Christ-like life of service. Instead, they are trying to serve from a power position, which is not serving people at all.