The word “homophobia” is thrown around rather recklessly these days and there does not seem to be a ready comeback against it. It is an accusation that stigmatizes people and closes conversations. A person who is labelled homophobic may lose his composure, his social status, or even his job. No one wants to be deemed homophobic.
At the same time, why would anyone fear things simply because they are the same? As the late Ralph McInerny has explained, “homophobia” is “a neologism that requires linguistic as well as moral illiteracy.” Is there anyone who is phobic about homonyms, or homogenization, or anything homologous? Christians are required to love everyone, whether they are the same in some way or different. Sameness and difference are not moral categories. Morality comes into play with regard to acts. An act may be moral or immoral. We have objections to certain acts, whether those acts are homosexual or heterosexual, because of how they relate to the natural law and how they affect human lives.
Let us put the discussion in a scientific perspective. Our immune system protects us (or immunizes us) from potentially harmful foreign substances that enter our body. We have 100 billion immunological receptors to defend us against alien substances all of which, by nature, are able to distinguish between the self and the non-self. The immune system, under normal conditions, does not attack the self, but only foreign substances (germs, viruses, and the like) that threaten the health of the self.
Now, from the viewpoint of our immune system, the semen that enters the woman’s body as a result of marital union, should be attacked and expelled, since it is, presumably, a foreign substance and not part of the self. Yet, as we all know, this does not happen. Somehow the sperm-carrying semen gets through and new life commences. How does this happen, given our prodigious network of one hundred billion immunological receptors that stand ready to attack or expel anything that is alien to the self?
The answer is quite simple, although it is something that is rarely mentioned. The semen, in addition to conveying life-initiating sperm, also carries a mild immunosuppressant. This chemical agent suppresses the immune system of the woman in the right place and at the right time just enough to allow her body to recognize the sperm not as foreign to her, but, indeed, as part of herself. Without this mild immunosuppressant, human life would never begin. On the other hand, because of it, husband and wife achieve, quite literally, a genuine two-in-one-flesh unity.
Conception of new human life is possible because of the specific and appropriate differences between egg and sperm. The sameness of sperm from two men or eggs from two women cannot initiate new life. Can we say that nature is “homophobic” because it does not allow conception to occur from gametes from of the same sexes? Nature has no political agenda. In fact, it is nature that is the basis of determining whether an action is good or bad. The science of immunology also tells us that certain homosexual acts can lead to the transmission of the HIV virus and other pathologies. We should be more attentive to the order of nature than being silenced by scare words.
Nature uses diversity to achieve unity. Consider the animal kingdom in which we find that sexual difference makes reproduction possible. Nature distinguishes between the hen and the rooster, the lion and lioness, the tiger and tigress, the gander and goose, the drake and the duck, and so on. This does not mean that nature is homophobic, but that she is resourceful enough to bring unity out of diversity.
Genesis tells us that the coming together in marriage of male and female constitutes a “two-in-one-flesh intimacy”. Politics cannot triumph over nature, nor cannot it improve on Scripture.