Posted by: stpowen | May 21, 2013

Homophobia (and other Silly, Made-up Words)

Ezekiel 2::6. ‘And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briars and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house.’

I was browsing through the April edition of Christian Voice {1} and read a report which stated, “Indeed, the current climate is such that we fear people are being bullied into accepting a position they do not hold [on same-sex ‘marriage’] because they are afraid of being labelled homophobic.” I have no doubt that this is right. People seem to be paralyzed with fear at the prospect of having the dread epithet ‘homophobe’ applied to them. It is never pleasant to be called names, but I can’t help wondering why this word, and one or two other words ending in ‘-phobe’ should cause people to be intimidated.

Now, let’s be quite clear before we start; if there’s anyone reading this who has hatred or contempt in his heart towards homosexuals, he needs to repent, and to do so quickly, because that is not a Christian attitude. Christians should have love in their hearts towards homosexuals, mingled with sorrow and pity. Our Lord wept over the sinners of Jerusalem and had compassion on the multitudes who were like sheep without a shepherd. His attitude should be ours {2}. Yes, homosexual activity is described in the Bible as an abomination to God (Lev. 18:22), but so are several other sins (cf. Proverbs 6:16-20). Let us beware of hypocrisy. The huge majority of homosexuals are trapped in their sin and are lost and miserable, but have been told the monstrous falsehood that homosexuality is genetic and that they cannot change. We need to point them to the Saviour who alone can cleanse them from their sin and give them a new heart and a new spirit and a life changed for the better.

But we also need to engage with the homosexual lobby which is driving the mad rush towards Same-sex ‘Marriage,’ and to do so peacefully, but also firmly and without fear. ‘For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

I have two copies of the Oxford Concise Dictionary, one dated 1979, the other 1996 (yes, I know I should keep up to date more, but I don’t, so there!). The earlier edition has no reference to homophobe or homophobia, while the later one does. We may deduce therefore that the words are of not great vintage, having come into use somewhere between these two dates. Their origin lies, I think, in another word. At some time in the 1980s, someone decided that it would be clever to accuse anyone who had doubts about the wisdom of unlimited immigration into Britain of Xenophobia. Now xenophobia is a real and distressing mental illness; sufferers have an involuntary fear of strangers and can often end up being entirely housebound, but the condition has nothing whatsoever to do with people who have concerns about immigration. It was simply a stick which supporters of immigration picked up in order to beat their opponents into silence.

Homophobia, however, is a condition which was unknown to medical science until someone made it up. It is not even etymologically sound. The Greek word homos means ‘the same,’ so homophobia would logically mean fear of the same thing, perhaps a restless desire for change. If there were a word that meant an unreasoning hatred of homosexuals (and there isn’t) it would be something like misarsenokoitia {3}. Once again, the word homophobia is used by the homosexual lobby to close down debate. If one’s opponents can be dismissed as having a mental illness, what need is there to make a reasoned case? Anyone who thinks homosexuality is in any way unacceptable can be automatically smeared as being both mad and bad simply by trotting out this silly, meaningless word.

Hot on the heels of homophobia came Islamophobia. Following the destruction of the World Trade Centre by Moslem extremists, adherents of Islam found it helpful to suggest that anyone who did not agree that Islam was indeed the ‘religion of peace’ was ‘Islamophobic,’ and so cowed have our politicians become by this word that no matter how many Moslems are arrested for terrorist offences, however illiberal Moslem states may be and however horrendous the human rights violations of those countries, especially against Christians, almost no one will dare to state publicly that Islam is anything else but entirely benign and peaceful.

Perhaps it’s time for Christians to coin some new words of our own. As soon as Richard Dawkins or his ilk start up, we could accuse them of Christophobia– an unreasoning hatred of the Lord Jesus, or maybe Christianophobia– a mindless antipathy towards Christians. As for the homosexual lobby, well, they clearly suffer from Aretophobia– a hatred of virtue or righteousness, and the Secular Society, who want to curtail the teaching of Christianity are obviously Dikaiophobic– they want to suppress truth and justice. Never heard of these words? It’s not surprising, because I’ve just made them up!

One other thing which I believe that is important in the great Same-sex Marriage Debate, is that Christians should stop calling homosexuals ‘gay.’ This is the word that they have invented for themselves to present themselves positively to the public. Until the 1980s, ‘Gay’ had the meaning of blithe, happy and frolicsome, as in the 19th Century song by Franz Lehar, ‘A bachelor gay am I!’ We need to demand that the word be restored to its original meaning {4}, and we should call homosexuals, not of course by any rude or unkind names, but as what they are- homosexuals.

Finally, there is one phobia of which I will readily admit that I am a sufferer. I am without question Phobophobic. I have an extreme aversion to silly, made-up words ending in –phobia when used to cow or intimidate people and as an alternative to sensible, grown-up discussion.


{1} www.
{2} I had one dear relation who died some years ago from an AIDS-related illness, and have another who is currently involved in this sin. For me, hatred or rejection is not an option.
{3} From the Greek word for homosexual, arsenokoites
{4} Interestingly, in the patois of many young people today, ‘Gay’ now has the meaning of ‘useless,’ ‘pathetic’ or ‘rubbish,’ as in “That’s a bit gay, innit?” The former Radio 1 DJ, Chris Moyles, got himself into hot water a year or two back for using the word in that sense.


  1. Dear Martin,

    This is a very good and timely piece of writing. Thank you,


  2. Thanks for the effort- for us who need someone who cares. Cares for both sides, but is not intimidated. So grateful. What some may not realize when they use those words-homophobia, etc, is that it is implying that it is a psych. or mental illness which means, that it would be a natural occurrence which happens within-which would imply that we need some kind of therapy or phsyc. treatment of some kind to even “help us” to change our mind. If we can change our mind about something so easily, which no doubt lots have as soon as the word homophobia became popularly used-then it can’t be an illness. And if those who insist that even a discomfort or dislike of something is a phobia, then we would have a lot of phobias-it kind of minimizes and yet exaggerates the word at the same time-making all phobias seem like an illness, or making them seem as if they can be changed by some sort of awareness of them (like saying: fight agoraphobia! Would that make sense?). Weird. Normally a phobia is used to explain a more panic-state fear-even if people can argue it can be a definition such as discomfort-that is really spreading things very far- I have a bit of claustrophobia, so if there is a low ceiling I feel a bit panicky. I don’t “dislike” it or just feel “uncomfortable”-I am worried in that circumstance about something happening which most likely wouldn’t, like the ceiling crashing on me. So having a strong dislike/disgust of something, is not a phobia. Like I stated earlier, that’s ends up with a looooooot of phobias form everyone, doesn’t it?

  3. Also, it implies lastly, that everyone with this supposed “condition” would distance themselves from homosexuals-which is not always the case. It is an insult to those who actually respect them (homosexuals), regardless of their choice, saying that all who fall under this term (homophobic) have the same aversion and dislike for them-taking away each specific individual’s stances and positions/reasons and uniting all on the other side who do not condone homosexuality as having some phyc. illness/issue. I was a friend with someone at a workplace for a while, who was a homosexual, and did not feel afraid, disdain, or discomfort around him.

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