Sunday, November 8, 2009

Homophobia and the Biblioblogosphere

Roland then went on to challenge Jim as to what other medieval views he had. So I posted the following comment
the ‘problem’ with the confusion with sodomy is something that develops over time. Looking at the old penitentials ‘behaving as the sodomites’ is a term prmarily used to denote anal sex between men, other forms of sex between men are not grouped with sodomite behaviour. Peter Damian who invents the word sodomy expands the sodom reference to include all same sex behaviour amongst men, including aolo masturbation which a there is only one sex involved (as there’s only one person) could be considered a form of same sex sexual behavour

The confusion arises when sodomy gets entangled with the category of the unnatural. Aquinas is pretty clear that there are several categories of the unnatural, Sodomy, same sex eroticism, is one, bestiality is another, non-vaginal sex between men and women is another and masturbation yet another

By the Reformation we find a blurring and hence confusion of unnatural and sodomy. Bullinger terms bestiality vilest sodomy in a sexual sins list which curiously does not include same sex eroticism. Homosexuality’s unspeakability is thus used to abject bestiality.

And this blurring of sodomy and the unnatural to abject a range of other behaviours is what makes for the very confused nature of the term in the early modern period.

As for Jim’s homophobia, well that’s another story entirely. I just hope he recovers soon because it’s really not a pretty sight

To which Jim posted this reply:

michael im not afraid of homosexuals- and hence i am not homophobic.

i even have some homosexual friends. and though they are scary, its not because of that.

I answered:

Jim, you have a fear of and resulting prejudice against the homo-erotic, hence homophobia. It’s not pretty because it leads you to say odious things that sustain hatred and prejudice against a class of people to which I belong, a do most of my friends and so I am always conscious of the hurt and malice that goes with such prejudice even if you aren’t. I live with the consequence of your prejudice every day and in my long life I have seen the very great cost in lives traumatised and wounded as a result of the prejudices you promote.

I know what homophobia is even if you don’t. And it’s not a pretty sight. But the good news is that it’s not something indelible. You can educate yourself and get over it and become a more human being as a result,

Roland then put up the two statements in a separate post, The Challenge to Jim West, and asked Jim "Now Jim, what have you got to say for yourself?"

So Jim went and put up a new post on his own blog, What do I have to Say? This

First, I reject Michael’s definition of homophobia. I have neither fear of nor prejudice against any class of persons. I have now, and have always determined what I thought of persons on a case by case basis. I don’t deem all Church of Christ members shotgun toting lunatics because Mary the Murderess Winkler shot her husband in the back.

I don’t deem all Blacks murderous thugs because Lemaricus Davidson and his crew brutalized Channon and Chris.

I don’t imagine all homosexuals child molesters and murderers simply because Jeffrey Dahmer was.

In point of fact, it is Michael who prejudges and distorts- by assuming that my viewpoints deem me worthy of being lumped together with people whom he disdains merely because he disagrees with them. His hetero-phobia shines through more brightly than any presumed ‘homo-phobia’ he attributes to me.

Second, I reject his false assertion that I promote prejudice. Rather than spewing such generalities I challenge him to provide even one example of my inequality or unfairness. I am no respecter of persons. For him to accuse me of such behavior clearly displays for all to see the fact that he neither knows me, nor has he bothered to read what I’ve written on a whole range of topics. No one in all biblioblogdom is as forthright in what they say as I. And that without hiding behind the veil of anonymity or pseudonymity. So, then, Michael, show us one point where I have dealt an unfair hand.

Third, and finally, I reject Michael’s assertion that his viewpoint makes him more human than I, and that until I agree with him I am less than human. What is his attitude but hetero-phobia taken to it’s logical conclusion: the heterosexual person is less than human. And isn’t that exactly what he would ascribe to me, without merit or evidence I must add?

To which I replied:

Jim, I do not call heterosexual love, relationships, and eros distorted or depraved so I’m not heterophobic. You however call ALL homosexual love, relationships and eros a distortion and depraved. Clearly you are here not determinng what you think of “persons on a case by case basis.” I regard that as prejudice of the first order and what’s more it’s part of a history of prejudice that has wounded countless lives not to mention the loss of life that has resulted on top of that. If you want to stand in that tradition so be it, but it is a tradition hateful and odious in its history and its effects.

But it is possible for you to get out of it. Other people have, and what’s more they remain both heterosexual and even Christian. I would say better ones.

And, as one of the people who suffer as a result of the prejudices that declare my love depraved and a distortion, I have the right to call you on your prejudices and name them for what they are.

At this stage my comment is waiting in moderation. No doubt time zone differences mean Jim is still to wake up to Sunday morning.


  1. yes i've posted it. you aussies are up way too early!

  2. Thank you for being awake, even in Jim's early hours, Michael. Thank you for your postings and this one in particular!

    Doesn't denial run deep? Here's from the courageous Brennan Manning:

    "Since my childhood, prejudice, bigotry, false beliefs, racist and homophobic feelings and attitudes have been programmed into the computer of my brain along with orthodox Christian beliefs. They are all defense mechanisms against loving.

    The wounds of racism and homophobia from my childhood have not vanished through intellectual enlightenment and spiritual maturity. They are still in me, as complex and deep in my flesh as blood and nerves. I have borne them all my life with varying degrees of consciousness but always carefully, always with the most delicate consideration for the pain I would feel if I were somehow forced to acknowledge them. But now I am increasingly aware of the opposite compulsion. I want to know as fully and exactly as I can what the wounds are and how much I am suffering from them. And I want to be healed. I want to be free of the wounds myself, and I do not want to pass them on to my children.

    I have tried to deny, ignore, or repress racist and homophobic prejudices as utterly unworthy of a minister of the gospel. Moreover, I felt that to acknowledge their existence would give them power. Ironically, denial and repression are in fact what gives them power."

    (Abba's Child)

  3. JK, Sorry life has kept me busy and I completely missed your comment. Thank you for the quote from Brennan Manning. I can relate to it entirely. I was brought up in a racist and homophobic environment (and sexist an god knows what, as well) and yes I was programmed as was everyone else. As it happened I turned out to be gay so I was confronted very early on with these programmings and had to work to unravel them In many ways though that's a lifelong project. But it can be done. Hopefully Jim will be able to do it one day too.

  4. Jim's response is here

    and when I get a chance I'm going to write some more about it