A few years ago, my attention was attracted by a commenter on another blog. She was from North Carolina and she was talking about the homophobia that exists there. Her brother, who I think was in his forties, had recently come out to her as gay. She was actually very gay affirming/ accepting but said her brother couldn't tell anyone, let alone other christians, for fear of the reaction. Someone commented that surely he could tell his pastor; her response was that she thought the pastor would "punch him in the face" and might tell others in the church and then the family "wouldn't be safe" (she meant physically unsafe.) To my shame, I thought at the time that this might be an over-reaction on her part. Now I think it was more likely a healthy realism. You only have to listen to the appalling violence advocated by Pastor Sean Harris in this clip - it is horrible, but also a sobering lesson in the abuse that can be endorsed in the name of the christian faith - to be convinced of that.
Today North Carolina voted to enshrine the ban on gay marriage, or any legal recognition of gay partnerships in its constitution. On the same day, in a potentially risky move, Barack Obama has said that he supports gay marriage while in Britain the subject has been carefully dropped from the Queen's speech, some say because of Cameron's poor showing in the polls. North Carolina has been commended by NOM (the National Organisation for Marriage) for its stance, but irrespective of our views, everyone should ask themselves if it is cause for congratulation given the often hateful and violent attitudes to other human beings that at least partly underlie it?
What of this country? I know that some christians are strongly opposed to the idea of gay marriage. Not all of these people are "homophobic" - but some of them are. Sean Harris has claimed his comments were a joke ( but violence is not "funny" and at whose "expense" is such a "joke" made anyhow?) He has now said he will be "more careful what he says in the future." People in this country, where we are rather more secular and liberal have often learnt to be careful in what they say - this does not mean that some people do not harbour hatred, revulsion, fear and animosity in their hearts. Homophobia can sit under a respectable veneer.I can't help feeling that, if much of an individual's thinking about their faith revolves around issues such as deafeating gay marriage, then something has gone badly wrong.