Patrick, clearly the use of the word homophobe to describe those who hate or disapprove of homosexuals is literally inaccurate. While certainly there may be some fear in involved in some cases a better word would be “homothropy.” However who ever coined the word in the first place decided to use “phobe” instead of “throp.” In spite of the problems about the root meaning of the word, the Merriam Webter dictionary defines homophobia as being “the irrational fear of. aversion to, or discrimination of homosexuals.” So in spite of what is might have been meant originally by “homophobia” the word now more commonly means the dislike or hatred of homosexuals. Thus there is in fact little that is wrong with how the homosexual community uses the word.
That said I think it is a mistake to even get into an argument on how words are used. The issue is about how society should respond to homosexuality. Clearly Christian traditionalism believes that homosexuality is biblically wrong. The homosexual community believes other wise. Part of Christian traditionalism’s argument is that homosexuality is only a behavior or sin such as hatred, great, adultery, etc. Homosexuals however argue that it is more than that. That their sexual orientation is hardwired into their very being. If that is the case they can not change that orientation. I believe that they have the best of that argument.
Of course even if homosexuality is the manifestation of a genetic predisposition it is still possible for fundimentalist Christians to argue that it is still a sin and should be opposed. However, I really have to wonder why homosexuality is the sin that members of the Christian Right commonly love to hate. Because it is a threat to the family? But look there are many threats that are more dangerous to the family than is homosexuality, which to me hardly seems like a threat at all. What about adultery and the weak divorce laws. Why is not a strong national campaign raised against the evils of divorce and adultery. No it is always to homosexuals who are hit.
I will end this on the subject of the Bible. The Bible recognizes slavery and the domination of woman by their husbands. Yet most modern Christians understand that all forms of slavery are wrong and most if not all believe in the equality of men and women. They believe this in part because what ever the biblical practice the ultimate principles of love and compassion manifested in the bible seemed to ultimately in principle to oppose both slavery and female subordination as social institutions.
I would argue the same in the case of homosexuality. Actually the Bible
says little about homosexuality. Jesus does not even mention it. So why the rage over it? Well there are obviously other non biblical reasons. All that being the case it seems to me that certainly a biblical case can be made that love and compassion should be shown homosexuals rather than the dislike and hatred that the Christian right manifests. At a minimum American society should have laws to protect the rights of homosexuals to civil union and all of the economic and political benefits of society.