I encounter homophobia in writings, speeches etc. on a fairly frequent basis and, when I do, wonder how I should react. Obviously I disagree with the content of these statements, but what attitude should I take towards the authors behind them? Should I fight fire with fire and approach these individuals with a searing hatred to match their bigotry? Should I take the high road and ignore them, pitying their unfortunate closed mindedness?
I recently realized that, to answer this question, I must distinguish between the different types of homophobes: those who argue about the existence of homosexuality in an honest but misguided attempt to find G-d’s truth (example) and those who loathe homosexuals because they lack any productive hobby (more on this later). The former I can respect, I appreciate their search for truth. For the latter, those misguided souls with nothing better to do than spread malice, I have no patience.
Those individuals who honestly seek a higher truth travel on a road we all must take at some point in our lives. In searching for a theological certainty, these rabbis—and their equivalent in other faiths—interpret the bible consistent with their religious training and leave little room for anything other than the explanation bestowed upon them. Challenging what one believes to be sacred is an immensely difficult task, especially when the challenging force comes from something other than your own conscious or experiences. I respect them men and women until the point where they descend into depths of hatred, vice a search for meaning. Note the difference between attempting to understand a religious tenet and wielding religion as a tool of bigotry.
The Westboro Baptist Church remains the most public example of the latter category. Made famous for picketing the funerals of dead service-members with signs like these, the congregants of this church have long since shed any valid claim to represent G-d and now subject themselves only to the ridicule and scorn of even very devout theologians. But I do not need to go so far from home to breach this unfortunate topic, such small minded intolerance is present even in the world of orthodox Judaism.
For quite some time, a man deep in denial of homosexuality has subjected many members of JQY and gay Jewish bloggers such as myself to an endless, unsolicited barrage of e-mails meant to rebuke us for our sinful ways. He uses pseudonyms to mask his identity and has gone so far as to create e-mail addresses under the names of some of our more vocal group members. His unrelenting attempts to permeate our tight knit support group have left some shaken, but have strengthened others to decry his actions. Him I loathe, for him I silently wish nothing but ill will. No god would delegate a mission of hate and to claim as much disrespects His wisdom.