There has been some discussion here on First Thoughs on the use of the term anti-abortion instead of pro-life in the mainstream media to refer to the view that abortion is murder. Terms are important. However, while Ryan Sayre Patrico and Nicholas Frankovich disagree as to whether we should fight the term anti-abortion or not, overall, those opposed to abortion have done a good job pushing the media to use its self-defined designation to refer to its position.
I am not so sure this is the case with respect to the issue of gay rights. Here, gays and lesbians have largely defined the terms of the argument. Take the terms gay and lesbian themselves, for example. These are almost unquestioningly used today to refer to particular categories of people. They make the tacit argument that someone who engages in homosexual relations is a different kind of person from those who engage in heterosexual relations. R. V. Young rightly argues that this is a distinctly twentieth century meaning of the term. However, alternative terms have rarely been
proposed, and none have stuck. Another example is the term homophobia. While it is a mental health term that should be used to denote an irrational fear of homosexuals, it is used by gay activists, as Chris Kempling argues in his fascinating article at the Catholic Education Resource Center, to refer to “the unwillingness to approve of homosexuality.” Kempling continues: “Even toleration without approval is defined as homophobic. So if you have a moral objection to homosexuality, you are ‘mentally ill’ and require re-education.”
One of the reasons that opponents of abortion have developed terms to refer to their own position is that it is a battle over innocent lives, and can be understood as following the divine command to protect the poor and the helpless. This is not the case in opposing those who engage in homosexual activity. Yet, as Kempling goes on to point out, gay activists are increasingly focusing on “re-educating children in public schools.” And Carson Holloway argues in today’s “On the Square” piece that the success of the same-sex
marriage movement would constitute a “complete repudiation not only of the traditional definition of marriage, but of the social authority of tradition as such.”
While still showing respect to all people as beings created in the image of God, to what extent should those who view homosexual relations as wrong and harmful, develop alternative terms to refer to those who engage in such relations and to the issues surrounding so-called gay rights? For example, to what extent should we use the phrase “men who engage in homosexual relations,” or some much more concise phrase, instead of the term gay or homosexual? What other terms or arguments should be redefined?