The Problem is Repentaphobia Not Homophobia

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Much debate as ensued in the current push to redefine marriage as accepting same-sex couples. This redefinition of marriage is touted as a “homosexual rights” issue. Within this current climate of said debate a new mile stone for homosexual rights activists has come to pass – the first active male professional athlete has come out admitting he is gay. That athlete would be, of course, NBA player Jason Collins.

OK, great! Now let’s play ball, right?

Not so fast because – for some reason – the conversation quickly turned to religion. It appears that Collins claims to be a homosexual Christian. In a TV interview, ESPN sports analyst Chris Broussard, a Christian, said it was the right time for Collins to come out. However, when asked about Collins profession of faith, Broussard also said he does not believe one can live an openly homosexual lifestyle and be considered a Christian.

Broussard recently defended his position well on a morning radio show. In his defense, Broussard explained the difference between professing Christians who sin and repent vs. those who are unrepentant and openly live in and seek out sin regardless of sexuality. He is right and points to the very important issue of repentance for those claiming the name of Christ.

Of course, Broussard has since been called homophobic. But I think the bigger issue may be called repentophobia. Repentophobia happens when theology is ultimately replaced with meology. That is, when God is replaced with self.

The love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ is often passed as the baton of acceptance. Yet, what is really happening is sin is passed over and repentance ignored. Repentance is an important part of this conversation no matter one’s sexual orientation. For example:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

This Scripture describes unrepentant people whose life reflects the listed sins including those who “practice homosexuality.” These sins are part of the identity and lifestyles of the people written about. Also note that there are some Christians  who used to live the same way, but Jesus has washed them of that former way of life. Those Christians have repented, or turned away from, practicing those sins.

Some Christians may struggle with certain sins for a while or even most of their life. Yet, with struggle being the key word, they continuously repent and strive to find their identity in Jesus rather than in past sinful ways of life.

The issue for Christians (like Broussard) is not homophobia. We do not fear homosexuals; we fear God. The real issue is those who profess Christianity alongside homosexuality (like Collins) do not seem to fear God. They fear repenting of their sins so they may continue satisfying the flesh which is simply – repentaphobia.



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David NAS Rogers May 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm

“Repentophobia” sounds like a good response to the homophobia charge. One could also reply that it is an issue of “metanoephobia”(me-tuh-no-uh-foh-bee-uh) which would invite the person to inquire as to what that is. One could then engage with explanation about the moral approach of the Gospel and the core issue of repentance (noun metanoia; verb metanoeo) being at the center of understanding what Christianity is. One repents and pledges to live under the rule of God’s messiah. (“Repent for the kingdom of God is near.”) Someone who refuses to repent of what the kingdom would call sin is “afraid of metanoia, afraid of repentance” and thus has metanoephobia.

While I think “repentophobia” is certainly acceptable as a response, it may for some immediately invite dismissal due to caricatures of drawling sweaty preachers shouting “reeeee-pent-uh!” By using the strange term “metanoephobia” one may be able to extend the conversation with explanation of why one says repentance is of crucial importance before one reveals what it means. 
Just a suggestion. I haven’t actually tried it.

2 krinks May 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Great article. I think what exposes the larger issue is 1 Corinthians 5. Paul spoke to the church that allowed as members a man who had his father’s wife. He ordered them to repent or be cast out. Today’s church accepts those who are in relations that God doesn’t condone without a word said. They have whitewashed God’s laws regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage.  The answer to this is to get back to God’s laws concerning relations. Of course to do this one runs the risk of not being popular.

3 Bennett Willis June 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm

“Broussard also said he does not believe one can live an openly homosexual lifestyle and be considered a Christian.”
This reasonably cuts a lot of us who have sinful behaviors, that we persist in, out of being considered Christians.  The specification of “openly” also bothers me.  Collins is the same person and doing the same behaviors that he has always done.  We believe that God knows.  I suppose that this has added “defiance” to the list of sins.

4 Mark Lamprecht June 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Bennett Willis I don’t follow how Broussard’s comment “reasonably cuts a lot of us who have sinful behaviors.” I understand his position to be that a Christian’s identity should not be found in the sin which is homosexuality in this situation. However, it could be any sin. How many Christians openly live and identify proudly as an adulterer, a pornography user, a child molester, a thief, a liar, etc.? 
It is one thing to struggle with same-sex attraction (or any sin) and be repentant when acting on it. It is another thing to identify proudly and unrepentant with that sin.

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