Homophobia Versus "Apostaphobia"
The allegation has been made that we are homophobic. I prefer to counter that we might rather be apostaphobic, but with a slight change of definition.
Apostaphobia may be defined as a consuming, well-founded fear of loss of adherents, which manifests primarily as zealous, uncompromising repression and denial of fundamental liberties -- in particular the right to convert -- by violent and subversive means. --Christianity Today
The present definition implies the leadership's fear of losing it's congregants. I would suggest it is just as accurate to say that it can be the congregations fear of the leadership becoming apostate against Christ.
Is a New Definition is Needed Nowadays?
One example of many:
There should be no doubt that the issue of gay rights has been a contentious one in many communities. Nowhere has this been more pronounced than in our local churches and at the head of their various denominations. Some churches have even split over the issue in part. Congregants have even left their denominational affiliations on these lines. What is behind this alarming trend?
It would not be truthful for anyone to declare that in every case of contention in the modern church that these internal quarrels are due to large amounts of congregant homophobia. It is too easy for combatants simply to label their opposition with slanderous insults such as this is, ignoring the actual argument that the opposition is attempting to discuss. Might I suggest more accurately, it is not predominately the fear of homosexuals nor homosexual rights that is raising our immediate objection, it is our fear for the Modern Church as it exhibits so many signs from it's leadership of their apostasy away from Christ. Let me better explain by an illustration:
Recently, I observed a confrontation in the front of a small town large denomination church between the lead church pastor and a traveling evangelist. The names of participants and their respective churches and denominations are for this illustration to remain anonymous. This public spectical has helped to clarify my present position. The pastor was asked to explain why it was that there was a rainbow banner above the main entry way. His response was along the lines of the church being called by Jesus to be "all inclusive". When asked what scriptures could he give to back his decision he professed kjv@John:3:16. That would have been a fine scripture for the two to openly discuss in this regard had it not been for the immediate accusation leveled on the evangelist by the pastor that any other interpretation of that verse would be inappropriate and in this case profusely homophobic. Insult aside, what followed in their exchange became most alarming.
In his own defense the evangelist then began reciting various other scriptures. His scriptures were callously rebuffed by the repeating phrase "that is your own private interpretation". When asked what further evidence would better be appropriate, the pastor responded that only an argument based upon the red letter quotations of Jesus would suffice. What about the remainder of all other scripture? Well it became obvious that the pastor objected to the Old Testament as being dead and depicting an angry vengeful God, the 13 Epistles of Paul as being "Pauline", the epistles of the remaining Apostles as being the words of disciples of Jesus and not the actual words of Jesus himself. The pastor's position thus became more and more clear.
As I watched on, my own thoughts gathered around the fact that this pastor had been approved by the denomination leaders above him and that he was making such widespread separations from his own denominational creeds and distinctives and historical confessions in order to justify that rainbow banner proudly flown in obvious defiance to his own denomination; at least as his denomination once historically stood.
By watching and later considering this event more fully I became more concerned not about the many repentant sinners welcomed openly into this church, rather gravely concerned for apostate sinner there on the podium parading his apostasy in front of them all to emulate. Even more still, the dagger is sharply felt that the denominational oversight above him, that is there to protect the flock there below him, stands firmly to this day behind him, despite his own congregants' repeated formal complaints to their attention (and by a few other evangelists I have since found out).
Inclusion is one thing, we certainly can discuss that. Inclusion bred by clear cut apostasy is quite another thing. This said, I have to ask anyone truly seeking a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, gay or not, why you would want to be "included" in any church or denomination where this Jesus Christ and the very scriptures that HE so unselfishly fulfilled is so obtusely dismissed and all better doctrinal sense rejected? Is this faith in Christ Jesus on the pastor's behalf or merely activism toward a current political agenda?
Conclusion? or Starting Point?
With any phobia the emphasis is always given to the idea of the fear being "overly" or "irrationally" exhibited. Both homophobia and this redefined apostaphobia suffer from the same insistence upon irrationality. At what level does concern in either case equate to irrationality? Who can rightly determine?
In the case of our newly re-purposed phobia, we too must become more rational with our concerns. If any of these leaders were more of the mind to show us biblically where we are being irrationally phobic, perhaps our minds would be more of ease. However, every current evidence being that scripture is being disregarded and another's agenda is being crammed down our throats by our leadership, I must wonder just how much of this issue can be attributed to my own apostaphobia and how much to an actual present and developing apostasy.
Also it must be asked that if to error on either side of the irrational extremes, is it not better to error on the side of apostaphobia?
I fear that by giving it this name I may well have given the insincere combatant another insult to slander us with or worse the sympathetic fanatic justification to be even more irrational. However, I proceed confident that somewhere in-between the two irrational extremes there is a suitable place for the majority of good Christians to stand and make strong defense of our Lord's wondrous Gospel.
Let us not overlook the apparent validity of such claims of homophobia. In the same regard let us not neglect the substantive evidences of scriptural apostasy becoming prevalent among modern churches; for it is the poor and repentant sinner is likely caught unknowingly on our part in the middle. Unless the issue can be calmly discussed by knowledgeable men/women of scripture without having to neglect nearly all written cannon and historic doctrine in order for one's point to be made, unless slander and accusation be avoided, unless honest repentance and regeneration be made the inclusion entry point for all types of sinners into the church, then this church will be nothing other than what it already quite possibly is: apostate and chewing up/spitting out sinners caught in between.
My hope is that any gay person truly making inquiry of Jesus Christ at any or our church entryways be sensitive the many deep matters at hand and not take this dispute personally to misjudge it. In every generation the faithful have had to contend for the true faith and the very soul of the Church. It is healthy that each generation has to learn to fight for the cause of truth even though often we go into it not at first knowing precisely where the truth longingly awaits. Until this generation comes into that place I suggest that you and I both individually and together deeply search for that truth by the Holy Scriptures, as it affects our own souls as well.
Brethren... May God and our lone Savior always be Glorified!