20 Dec 2013

Much Ado About Ducks, the Church,…and Anuses?

Phil Robertson from A&E's Duck Dynasty

As usual I’ll be late to the party in my writing about Phil Robertson’s recent interview with GQ, in which he discussed homosexuality and race in not so PC terms, and his subsequent suspension from A&E show Duck Dynasty.

 

If you live under some sort of rock or don’t have any social network accounts whatsoever and you don’t know what Phil said I’ll give you a refresher:

 

Regarding Homosexuality:

 

It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

 

and

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

And regarding African-Americans prior to Civil Rights:

 

I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

To me the offensiveness behind these comments is fairly obvious. I mean – Phil is making arguments that many of us in the South hear rather frequently from homoantagonists (a word I’m using for people that I don’t believe are fearful of homosexuals or homosexuality, but antagonize them just the same. Morgan Freeman once tweeted something to the effect of “You aren’t a homophobe, you are just an asshole” and I think homoantagonist is a word that covers that.) regarding the perceived slippery slope that is homosexuality. I have to wonder how many homosexuals Phil Robertson knows, and furthermore how many he knows that also have sex with dogs, cats, and sheep. A local Christian blogger has a take on this I really thought was insightful – over at Square Watermelons.
I don’t know that I even need to touch on his comments regarding “blacks”…to me its even worse and its pretty embarrassing as a Southerner.
Robertson’s defenders were quick to rush to Facebook and other social media outlets to praise him as “Standing up for the Bible and Christianity”  or to claim that he was being persecuted because he was expressing his freedom of speech. Now, I’m no expert on Constitutional Law…but the last time I checked – while the Constitution does indeed guarantee the right to free speech it does NOT guarantee the right to a multi-year reality TV contract. I think we call what A&E did to Phil Robertson “business”, not persecution.

I still haven’t fully figured out why the persecution complex amongst Christians is so serious, especially this day and age – and especially over the right to say things that can be absolutely devastating to people – and this is where I get into the meat of this post.

 

Grasp, for a moment, what people are defending here:

 

A straight white male is claiming that homosexuality is illogical because vaginas look better to him and then he is claiming that homosexuality inevitably leads to bestiality because…just…because.  Oh, then he tops it off by telling homosexuals plus a bunch of other sinners they won’t make it to heaven because of something Paul said.

Dear Church,

Put yourself in the position, Dear Church, as I’ve asked you to do before – of the LGBT community – especially here in the South – and as I appeal to you I’m going to put on my Christian hat do to so:

 

LGBT people are often alone in their communities with few people who understand their daily struggles and who care deeply about what they go through or have been through since they recognized that they were “different” than everyone else. They’ve asked god to take this away from them, to purge from them what they don’t know how to control.   Imagine sitting in the church Youth Group as a young pastor talks about how the inclinations you feel toward the same sex are disgusting and immoral and vile leading  you to believe that you are evil and hell-bound…and nothing you do, nothing you say, no prayer you recite can change the way you feel. This doesn’t just go on for a week or a day – this goes on for a lifetime for many.  Try to stand in that place. Try to be that broken, hurting person. Empathize.

Then answer these questions:

 

Do the words of Phil Robertson and your defense of them exhibit love to that person?

 

Do the words of Phil Robertson and your defense of them exhibit grace to that person?

 

or

 

Do the words of Phil Robertson and your defense of them further alienate that person?

 

Do the words of Phil Robertson and your defense of them feel like hate to that person?

 

 

Answering these questions should lead you to a fairly simple conclusion, a revelation maybe:

That the common Christian response to this whole thing hasn’t been at all what it should, and that rather than crying “Persecution!” every time people disagree with your opinion on something that doesn’t concern you in the least you should attempt to understand why it is that people don’t agree with your opinion. Maybe, just maybe – these words cut deeply. Maybe what you believe about homosexuality doesn’t matter and exposing the world to your  malformed and hurtful opinion is doing more harm than good.

 

Most importantly, what you should be recognizing is that what the Phil camp is so upset about is the wrong thing entirely – they should be upset that this stanchion of Christianity led such a terrible example of how to be a loving person in word and deed. The critique from the Church should be directed at Phil, not A&E and not the LGBT community – they should be examining their own as they are instructed to do in the Bible – they should be telling Phil that  when he speaks in disgust he can’t possibly speak in love too because you can’t love someone who’s life and deeds you are examining closely enough to be disgusted by.

 

Phil Robertson’s mistake isn’t having his convictions, it’s thinking that they are more important than loving people exactly where they are.

 

Taking up the cross on the “gay issue” is almost like the Church’s soup du jour for believers that don’t want to live it the rest of the time. They’ll flail their arms around anytime a deeply offensive opinion gets someone in trouble like the rest of us are supposed to believe like they love Jesus every other day of the week.  I think most of us know better by now. You can stop pretending to love Jesus when homosexuality comes up, when the atheists are taking Christ out of Christmas (where you never put him in the first place), and when “Freedom of Speech” is threatened because Jesus – from the Gospels I’ve read, had bigger fish to fry – and he wasn’t into religions of convenience…assuming he did exist of course.

 

In the end of all this I just want my Christian friends to not say hateful things that hurt my gay friends. I hate seeing them hurt. I feel like they’ve hurt enough and it drives me insane that somehow it’s still OK to stomp all over their emotions because of the perception that someone tried to silence an unpopular opinion. If your words are potentially harmful to someone – stop talking. Censor yourself because you want to be a beacon of love, then no one will need to do it for you when you ruin their platform.

 

 

 

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Matt is a former Christian who, through facing his own doubts found a life without faith. Now atheist he dedicates his life to helping people transition through stages of belief via private counseling. Matt is currently working on his first book - Embracing Doubt, and contributing to the dialogue between atheists, Christians, and skeptics.
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4 Responses to “Much Ado About Ducks, the Church,…and Anuses?”

  1. Reply Ben says:

    My question is why are Phil Robertson’s views newsworthy? Does it surprise you that a Christian would express views that homosexuality is a sin? Is this a new idea in Christendom? No. His comments were very crude and he probably regrets some of the things he said. A theologian or public speaker Phil Robertson is not. He is an entertainer with a TV show.

  2. Reply Alan says:

    You summed the situation up in the most clear, sensible and honest manner I have come across thus far. As a gay man, I can recall many instances in my church youth group that eerily paralleled the examples you cited. I can still feel the utter devastation and hopelessness I felt with the realization that all my endless, pleading prayers were never going to change my attraction to people of the same gender. This lead to an awkward adolescent retreat into loneliness. I made it through, and I credit this and all the subsequent struggles with family opposition, loss of long-time friends and then the liberating and empowering experience of being true to myself, for making me a better person than I would’ve been otherwise been. Thanks for presenting your viewpoint in such an eloquent way.

    • Reply Matt Oxley says:

      Thank you Alan, I appreciate your input. I’m glad you made it and that you are an example of how it gets better. I’m sorry for the struggles you endured, but I hope you’ll be an example of goodness and happiness to those in need of it.

  3. Reply Name says:

    Matt, I must say, it’s a good appeal to Christians. The quick cry of “persecution” in the Western world gets a little less meaningful when you know joyful folks who’ve been kicked out of their homes, beaten, and must sneak out to worship corporately. I guess it’s all perspective, but I’d appreciate a little more joy, turning of cheeks, and love from our people. We’ve got enough people in the world treating each other crappily…

    As a Christian, I DO believe what the Bible say on the issue, but I apologize for each of us (Phil included) who have said it in an unChristlike manner.

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