Homophobia is a term used in recent years to describe an intense fear of homosexuality. The homophobic person is so revolted by the notion that persons of the same sex might relate to one another sexually that he constantly seeks to reassure himself that no such tendencies exist in himself or in his children. At the same time, he is suspicious of any behavior that bears the remotest resemblance to his personal concepts of homosexuality, and he is ready to apply the label “perversion” to anything and everything from nonconformity to gender-role stereotypes to a deep friendship between two men or two women.

In view of the Bible’s admonitions to love one another, it seems especially regrettable that so much homophobia exists among evangelicals. Some Christians consider any close friendship between members of the same sex to be suspect. And there are Christians who are afraid to enter relationships of deep caring and sharing, who carefully avoid words or gestures of affection, and who therefore bind themselves to an emotional poverty. This is not to say, of course, that a fear of homosexuality is the only reason that many people don’t relate to others. But it is often a factor in evangelical circles. And it is something that is seldom discussed, even though an open discussion of the fear could relieve a great deal of anxiety and clear up some misconceptions.

C. S. Lewis spoke of the problem in The Four Loves. In his discussion on friendship, Lewis said he regretted the need to engage first in “a very tiresome bit of demolition.” He went on to explain: “It has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual.” By using the word really, said Lewis, suspicious persons ...

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