It seems that some people need some clarification as to what the following commonly used words mean:
“Homophobia” and “homophobic” today are usually used as derogatory terms, often it seems toward anyone who does not fully embrace the political ideology of the offender. Etymologically the word originates from the Latin and Greek roots “homo-” and “-phobia” referring respectively to homosexuality and irrational fear. It is interesting to see how this word has evolved to gain its current meaning. Upon hearing the word I often think to myself “What? I’m not scared of homosexuality.”
Interestingly enough, even given its current definition from the NOAD “an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people,” it is still often used incorrectly. For example, I personally believe that homosexual acts are sinful and go against God’s plan for His children, yet calling me homophobic wouldn’t be correct because my aversion is rational, and it is to only the actions, not the people. Everyone on earth is a child of God and should be treated as such, no matter what they declare their sexual orientation to be or even how they act. I strongly believe that homosexual acts are detrimental to families and society as a whole which is why I support ideals such as traditional marriage (which encourages appropriate heterosexual acts and discourages homosexual acts). I do not hate homosexual people at all. I have befriended several people who I know are homosexual and quite likely several more without even knowing it. I may not agree with some of their beliefs and opinions but I try to notice the areas of their lives that have nothing to do with sexual orientation and appreciate them as human beings. Sometimes it’s hard to be friends with people who strongly differ in opinion on a topic so sensitive and personally important (whether those people identify as homosexual or not), but I try my best as yet another imperfect child of God.
Now, I’m sure someone became alarmed when I said my aversion to homosexuality was rational. Rational is defined as “based on or in accordance with reason or logic.” My reasoning stems from my religious beliefs, which teach that homosexual actions are immoral. My logic is simple: homosexual acts cannot perpetuate families (they cannot produce children).
According to the NOAD, hypocrisy is defined as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.” The irony here is that all too often users of this word make themselves demonstrators of this word also. We all need to check ourselves to ensure we don’t exemplify the very behavior we condemn. It is far better to hold our tongues, listen, and remain calm than to immediately lash out against those who offend us, be they friends, acquaintances, or strangers.
The NOAD defines bigotry as “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.” I find it especially urgent to note two things: having differing opinions, even strong opinions, does not immediately define a bigot, and quite often those who are quick to call others bigots quickly become hypocrites.
The term is generally used with an intended negative connotation.
I would recommend using all previously defined words sparingly.
Perhaps it would help to clarify what it means to tolerate: “allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.” There is still some ambiguity here, as quite a few things could be deemed “interference,” although I scarcely think having a different opinion should be entitled as such. However, here we may mistake tolerance as being the ultimate virtue of humanity. Quite wrong. Tolerance, when taken too far, may become a vice.
Should we tolerate terrorists? Robbers? Rapists? Thieves? Liars? No, we shouldn’t. We don’t. Usually, we judge them according to their morally incorrect actions and reward them with the appropriate legal consequences. We recognize that they do something that is morally wrong then civilly react to it for the betterment of society and even the inpiduals who are disciplined. Sometimes we disagree on what is considered a crime and what punishments are appropriate, and when that happens, we take a vote and enact new rules and laws.
Right now there is a dilemma: is it morally correct for two people of the same gender to marry? Many different opinions will form. Many people will argue and speak out for what they believe in. Laws will be enacted by the voice of the people. Punishment will be delivered to those who do not follow the law. Is this intolerance toward those who hold different opinions? Yes, on the part of both sides.
Apparently, we’re all bigots.
Opposition is a natural part of life. Entertaining the idea that you can believe whatever you want to believe and act however you’d like to act without upsetting anyone is simply a waste of time. No matter what you think or say or do, chances are you’ll end up offending somebody. The goal isn’t to offend no one or even the least amount of people. The goal is to do what one personally and morally believes is right and best for the inpidual and society.
Whenever discussing sensitive issues such as this, I find it’s best to be civil, which simply means “courteous and polite.” That doesn’t mean you have to agree. It does mean you don’t lose your temper.I believe it’s perfectly fine to explain the reasoning behind one’s beliefs and to even point out flaws in the arguments of opponents. However, this should all be done without insults, profanity, or other hurtful language.Civility, as it were, is the basis of civilization. There will always be disagreement and conflict, but the least we can do is be civil about it.