“Homophobia” is an interesting term. It is an entire lecture in a word.
“Homophobia” decides the issue before you can open your mouth to offer your opinion. It short-circuits the conversation. It presumes the conclusion. It declares preemptively that anyone who has a reservation about homosexuality has a problem: a phobia. A phobia, in turn, is “a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear” of some object or person. Hence, you who say the homosexual lifestyle is wrong have a psychological condition, and you had better attend to it.
Some of you tolerant readers perhaps think you are not homophobic. That’s where you’re wrong. You have been thinking it is enough to be kind to homosexuals, to invite a homosexual to your home, to pray for a homosexual, to share the gospel. You have thought you are not homophobic because you are not afraid of homosexuals and hence do not fit the strict textbook qualification of irrational fear. But you are still a homophobe, for all that, and Dorothy Riddle can prove it.
Riddle, a psychologist from Tucson, Ariz., developed in the 1970s what’s known as the Riddle Scale, an index of attitudes with respect to homosexuality by which you can gauge your OK-ness as a social being. The following are homophobic attitudes, listed in order of most-to-least egregious:
Did you think you were a good citizen because you expressed “acceptance” of gays? Think again. “Acceptance” is merely the least despicable form of homophobia. Riddle files such statements as, “You’re not lesbian to me, you’re a person,” or, “What you do in bed is your own business,” as homophobic. “Tolerance”? Well, you may have school banners and bumper stickers that still say that old thing, but we have moved way beyond that, baby.
Here are the positive attitudes toward homosexuality you must aspire to, according to the professor:
Nurturance, according to Riddle, “assumes that gay/lesbian people are indispensable in our society.”
I wonder if the Riddle would employ the same litmus test to society’s attitudes about Christians. It would be nice to feel a little support, admiration, appreciation, and nurturance. But failing that, I would settle for some tolerance.