In a classic episode of “Seinfeld” entitled “The Outing,” a student reporter is convinced that Jerry and George Costanza are gay. They strenuously deny being gay, while adding “not that there's anything wrong with that.”
The phrase almost immediately became part of the way Americans talk about homosexuality.
The “Seinfeld” episode came to mind while reading recently about the brouhaha concerning Roy Hibbert of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. During a press conference, Hibbert used profanity and commented about being “stretched out” on the basketball court. And then he used the phrase “no homo.”
If you’re unfamiliar with that phrase, you’re not alone. It’s an expression from rap music asserting that “the speaker of such does not have any homosexual intent.”
If that sounds like Wikipedia, that’s because it is. I didn’t know what it meant, and I strongly suspect that 99 percent of the people in the room didn’t either. That didn’t stop news of Hibbert’s “gay slur” from becoming the biggest sports story of the weekend.
The NBA fined Hibbert $75,000, saying it was necessary to demonstrate that “such offensive comments will not be tolerated.” I think that comes out to $25,000 per syllable.
I’m not going to defend Hibbert. His profanity alone warranted a fine, and absent his “no homo” comment, I doubt that anyone would have read anything sexual into what he said.
But I can’t help but notice that what constitutes a “gay slur” is a moving target. LeBron James used the same phrase a few years back and nobody cared.
Again, I’m not defending anyone — I’m simply noting how fast the definitions of “homophobia” and “bigotry” are changing.
Take the issue of same-sex marriage. A few weeks ago, Michael Kinsley of the New Republic, commenting on the furor over Dr. Ben Carson’s opposition to same-sex marriage, rightly noted that Carson “has views on gay rights somewhat more progressive than those of the average Democratic senator 10 years ago.”
In fact, Carson’s position is about the same as President Obama’s position just two years ago! Yet, Carson’s opinion is considered beyond-the-pale in many circles today.
All of this has me wondering whether a Seinfeld episode like “The Outing” could even be produced today. The phrase “not that there's anything wrong with that” was a classic because it captured the audience’s ambivalence about homosexuality: While people aspired to be “tolerant” and “open-minded,” they certainly didn’t want others thinking that they engaged in same-sex relations.
Some commentators are displaying the same ambivalence in reaction to the new HBO film on Liberace. They confess to being put off by the homosexual content — all the while feeling guilty about being put off.
If such ambivalence isn’t already branded as “homophobia,” it will be soon. The mere suggestion that there might be something wrong with same-sex relationships will be considered “homophobia.”
So why bring this up on BreakPoint? Well, as Christians we can’t be blind-sided by the accelerating speed at which the culture is jettisoning traditional views of sexuality. Nor should we be intimidated by the hostility we’ll face for our beliefs.
It may be that the culture will soon be beyond repair — that traditional views will not be tolerated. Or maybe not. But one thing’s for certain, we must, by God’s grace, hold fast to His plan for human sexuality: marriage between one man and one woman, one time, for the couple’s mutual joy and the procreation of children.
Only then will we be able to preserve — or perhaps create anew — a culture of life, goodness, health and beauty.
And nothing is wrong with that.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: June 7, 2013