Being Christian is no excuse for being homophobic

June is LGBTQIA+ Pride Month. While this is a time of celebration for LGBTQIA+ Americans, it’s important to remember that there are still politicians who are fighting against equal rights for the LGBTQIA+ community. Many of these politicians use Christianity as a catalyst for inequality, perpetuating outdated anti-LGBTQIA+ beliefs.

In a study conducted by The Center for American Progress, 91% of religiously affiliated Republicans are in support of anti-LGBTQ ideas. Republican legislators are currently supporting “30 bills in 21 states that would ban transgender students from participating on sports teams that conform to their gender identity.” 

Similarly, there are a number of religious groups who have been at war with LGBTQIA+ equal rights legislation, such as The Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on sexual identity and sexual orientation.

Now, in understanding the Christian homophobia, it’s essential to understand the foundations of these hurtful ideas in the religion. In the Bible, homophobia occurs as early as the book of Genesis. One of the most poignant verses condemning homosexuality comes from Leviticus 20:13, which states that if a man were to have a sexual relationship with another man, “… both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death.” 

According to Insight for Living Ministries, holy laws such as these were most likely written around 1446 B.C. Although LGBTQIA+ people are not criminalized for their sexuality and gender identity in America, to this day, many LGBTQIA+ Christians have been encouraged to “treat” their sexuality with conversion therapy. 

According to author Eve Tushnet, Catholic doctor Joseph Nicolisi states in an interview that if a teenage boy admits he is homosexual to a priest, that priest should respond, “You have a choice; if you don’t want to be gay, there are things that you can do.” 

This perpetuates the belief that God does not accept those that identify as LGBTQIA+. It plants the idea that one’s sexuality is wrong, and should be changed. This belief that homosexuality is a sin not only promotes hate, but it also has influenced the dangerous practice of conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy includes a wide range of practices. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims explains that in extreme cases conversion therapy can include “…treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy, aversive treatments using electric shocks or vomit-inducing drugs, and exorcism or ritual cleansing (often involving violence while reciting religious verses).” These practices can be highly traumatizing, causing lasting adverse mental and physical effects. 

Currently, there are 18 states in the U.S  that allow religious exemption laws directed toward the LGBTQIA+ community. These laws include giving adoption agencies the right to denying same-sex couples to adopt, business refusing to service customers based on gender or sexual identity, and allowing medical professionals to deny members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Similarly, in June of  2020, the Trump Administration finalized a healthcare rule that would not protect people from discrimination via sexual orientation or gender identity.

These regressive laws do real harm and are at odds with Christianity. Kindness and love are the backbone of the Christian faith. While there are eleven Bible verses that condemn homosexuality in the Bible, hundreds of verses exist that promote God’s love and acceptance for all. 

For example, in Ephesians 4:32, we are instructed to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” This idea sharply contrasts with the hateful behavior directed toward members of the LGBTQIA+ community by Christians. 

Rather than being cruel to the LGBTQIA+ community, Christians should accept and love them for who they are, just as God loves and accepts everyone. For a religion founded on forgiveness and love, it’s disappointing to witness fellow Christians judging, rejecting and harming non-cisgender people. Quite simply, many Christians could be “more Christian.”