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By Carman Bradley


Heterosexism is the view that humankind is made up of two purposefully designed sexes - male and female.  Like a lock and key, male and female are companion sexes anatomically designed for procreative union.  Heterosexism does not imply that all males and females must mate and procreate; however, there is the reality that survival of humankind requires that some do.  In most societies marriage has been the privileged sacrament for these men and women, institutionalizing their union and legitimizing their offspring before the state.   The family consisting of a father, mother and biologically connected children is seen as the model.  Blended families by divorce and remarriage and other family variations, although common, are viewed as departures from this ideal.


Prior to the 1960s, Canadian and American societies were strongly heterosexist; for example, sodomy was illegal, a criminal offence, the psychology of the day declared the behavior aberrant and the institution of marriage was reserved exclusively for heterosexual union.  Legislation at the time drew upon the Christian values held dominant in society, until the start of the sexual liberation era.  Up to this era the heterosexist worldview of the state and Canadian society was not in question, not under assault. 


Today one will find the term heterosexist is used interchangeably with “racist,” “bigot,” and “homophobe” by the homosexual rights lobby.  “Google” the term on the internet and invariably it will be used negatively in a dissertation on diversity or homosexism.  Activists have applied these “name-calling” tactics with considerable effect to silence reasoned and public defense of the heterosexist position.  Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, Canada’s first married gay couple, coined the odious term “The Bishop of Bigotry” in reference to Bishop Henry; however, with little effect.  Bishop Henry upheld the heterosexist tenets of his faith when counseling the 400,000 members of the Catholic Diocese of Calgary during the same-sex marriage debate.  .

Contrary to the homosexist viewpoint, disagreeing with homosexuals about their rights and disapproving of their behavior does not automatically make someone a bigot, a racist or a homophobe.  The Gospel forbids Christians from “hating” other people.  We, who are saved by the grace of God, are hypocrites when we look done on others, as the self-righteous do.  Holding up a sign stating, “God hates fagots” is bigotry because of the hatred displayed.  Authentic Christian opposition to the homosexual life style and gay marriage, on the other hand, is not bigotry – not a violent hatred or exaggerated fear, rooted in unfair and irrational attitudes based on blanket preconditions.  Opposition to homosexuality need not be motivated by a prejudiced and insulting attitude.  A fair and dispassionate examination of the evidence relevant to an ethical evaluation of homosexual acts and affections can very well support a negative moral conclusion held with principled conviction.  Viewing something as immoral is not the same thing as being bigoted; for example, it is not customary to look upon a pro-life advocate as a bigot towards abortions.  No insignificant number of secularists and humanists hold opinions in common with scripture on the matter of homosexuality.  Is everyone, who firmly stands for what he or she believes, deserving of the label bigot? 

Another frequent attack on Christian fundamentalism argues that those who criticize homosexuality are guilty of having a judgmental attitude.  It has been said, “surely it is neither the Christian’s responsibility nor prerogative to judge other people’s lifestyles.”  However, to be loving of others and true to God and His Word, Christians cannot be uncritical of or neutral toward those things Scripture prohibits.  People must be warned against attitudes and behaviors that are displeasing to a holy God.  We, who have been redeemed by the mercy of God, are called to conscious separation from sin and emulation of God’s character.  This would be impossible without identifying some things as sinful and ungodly – which is patently judgmental.  The fact is Scripture does not forbid judging in itself, but judging which is ill-motivated, hasty, unfair or according to unbiblical standards.  Indeed, God in His Word requires us to judge actions[i] and to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness[ii] without partiality,[iii] hypocrisy[iv] or attempting to determine inward matters pertaining to the individual’s heart.[v]

It is the “spirit of this age” that demands the general suppression of discernment, encourages unprincipled tolerance, and criticizes anyone who would dare to criticize.  The Holy Spirit exhorts us to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good; and abstain from every form of evil.[vi]  In his Second Letter to the Thessalonians, Apostle Paul reveals what is currently at stake in this struggle between heterosexism and Homosexism:

He [Jesus] will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified…[vii]

In denial of this orthodox Christian witness, homosexual John Boswell argued two main points, in his book Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (1980).  After studying the relationships of homosexual peoples to their societies from the beginning of the Christian era to the fourteenth century, he concluded that: (1) the Christian Church has not always disapproved of homosexuality; and (2) the Bible verses assumed to condemn homosexual sex do not refer to homosexuality at all.  Of the New Testament, he wrote:

In general, only the most pressing moral questions are addressed by its authors.  Details of life appear only to illustrate larger points.  No effort is made to elaborate a comprehensive sexual ethic: Jesus and His followers simply respond to situations and questions requiring immediate attention.[viii]

Boswell’s view makes the Bible look almost incidental – a good but incomplete book, inadequate to answer the questions of life.  One must deduce that he views the Apostle Paul’s comments to the Thessalonians (above) and to Timothy (below) as falsehood or at best the musings of an unenlightened individual.  Paul said:

All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Boswell wrote of homosexuality:

The belief that they [gays, lesbians, bisexuals, queers and transexuals] constitute some sort of threat is still so widespread that an assumption to the contrary may appear partisan in some circles, and those who subscribe to the notion that gay people are in some way dangerous may argue that for this very reason they are not typical victims of intolerance.[ix]

Here Boswell goes on to explain his standard for “homophobia”:

It should be noted that whether a group actually threatens society or not is not directly relevant to the issue of intolerance unless the hostility the group experiences can be shown to stem from a rational apprehension of that threat….The claims about the precise nature of the threat posed by gay people have varied extravagantly over time, sometimes contradicting each other directly and almost invariably entailing striking internal inconsistencies.[x]

Ironic, in light of Boswell’s position, the year before his book came out, CBS did a documentary on the Buena Vista sex park in San Francisco, called Gay Power, Gay Politics.  In the film CBS reporter-producer George Crile talked with gay activist Cleve Jones.  “So, what’s the message today?’” Crile asked.  “The message is ‘Look out, here we come!’” answered Jones.[xi]  One year later the first purple lesions of Kaposi’s sarcoma (signaling AIDS) appeared on gay men in San Francisco and New York.  Within a few years hundreds of thousands of gay men would be dead.

In response to gay activism, Kristi Hamrick, Press Secretary for Family Research Council, makes an astute point:

This is why lines must be drawn, standards discussed, and battles fought.  Because when people push the envelope of morality and get away with it, they don’t sit back to enjoy the sensation.  They reach further – touching the lives of the people around them – touching the lives of your children, and someday, mine.[xii]

The gravity of the ongoing clash of worldviews goes well beyond the AIDS threat. Unfortunately, Mr. Boswell, a distinguished gay historian died of AIDS on Christmas Day in 1994, at age 47.

Copyright © 2008 StandForGod.Org

[i] Matthew 7:15-23, John 7:24.

[ii] Ephesians 5:11, Timothy 5:20, 4:2, Titus 1:13; 2:15.

[iii] 1 Timothy 5:21.

[iv] Matthew 7:1-5.

[v] 1 Samuel 16:7. 

[vi] Ezekiel 11:19-20, Romans 3:31, 6:1-7:6, 8:1-4, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Titus 2:11-14.

[vii] 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10.

[viii] John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p.117.

[ix] Ibid., p.8.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Frank Browning, The Culture of Desire (New York: Crown Publishers, 1993), p.96.

[xii] Joe Dallas, A Strong Delusion: Confronting the “Gay Christian” Movement (Eugene Oregon: Harvest House, 1996), p.37.  Quote by Kristi Hamrick, Press Secretary, Family Research Council.