In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

The Freedom to be Cruel

Filed under: Faith,In The News,Love,Venting — Rachel at 1:48 pm on Thursday, December 19, 2013

People are coming out in droves to support Duck Dynasty star, Phil Robertson. They see A&E’s actions to put him on an indefinite hiatus as discriminatory. Facebook was lit up this morning with angry Christians crying persecution. In case you have been busy for the last day or so, let me recap.

Robertson

Robertson did an interview with GQ magazine where he made some statements about black people and gay people. You can read the article here.  Here are the quotes about both parts:

Phil on “the blacks”…

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. 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.”

And Phil on “the homosexuals”…

“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.”

So the article came out, people read it, a lot of people were offended, some gay rights organizations urged A&E to take swift action, and, subsequently, A&E released the following statement:

“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

As a result of A&E’s decision, a lot of conservative Christians are very angry. Most people are saying that Robertson’s freedom of speech is being suppressed, and that Christians are persecuted for their beliefs. I’m not so much concerned with that. If you want to cry that his freedom of speech is being impeded, that’s your choice. It’s nonsensical, though. I have the freedom to say whatever I want, but I have the common sense to know that I shouldn’t always say it. I don’t want to deal with the consequences of it. Phil said what he wanted to say and most of us have heard it. He had that freedom. Now, he’s paying the consequences of saying something so blatantly inflammatory. His employers decided that they didn’t want those statements representing their company, and he has effectively lost his job. That is life.

Okay, so that’s what happened. Here’s my take on it.

I don’t care an awful lot about what Phil Robertson says. I am not a Duck Dynasty fan. I have seen a few episodes, and I’m just not into it. In my opinion, he doesn’t present as someone who should be known for an intelligent analysis of the human condition. I’m not going to say much about his comments about black people, because I think the ignorance there is so blatant that pretty much everyone can see it. I do have a couple things to say about what he said about gay people, though.

First off, I’m offended that so many people who call themselves Christian don’t have a problem with what he said. Even if you think homosexuality is a sin, do you really want his presentation of that belief to speak for you? It was rather crass, in my opinion, but beyond that it is very hurtful. Let me tell you why.

The more we learn scientifically about homosexuality, the more we know that it is not a choice. Besides the sheer ignorance behind the idea that being gay is just a decision about what type of sexual activity you engage in, Robertson’s comments are just mean. Robertson’s comments boil the entirety of a gay man’s existence down to a sex act. He is saying to each of them, “You are anal sex.” Homosexuality is not a sex act. Being gay means you are attracted to someone of the same sex. You don’t ever have to have sex with someone to be gay. You just are or you’re not. According to a lot of Christians, this (uncontrollable) attraction is sinful. If you believe that, have at it. However, to proclaim Christ in one breath and then be intentionally disparaging of an entire people group in the next is a bit hypocritical.

Because the heart of the matter, as I see it, is not what he said, but the effect of what he said. It is incredibly dehumanizing to have your entire relationship be boiled down to a sex act. To not be seen as a person, but as a sex act. For the kind of person you are to not matter because of the type of sex you have. It’s hurtful. It makes you want to hide from the people who make you feel that way. It makes you cry. It makes you feel like you are worthless. Hearing the statement from one redneck man in Louisiana stings. Hearing it defended by hundreds of Christians…often people you love and care about…on Facebook, Twitter, etc. cuts to the core. It is not drawing people to Christ. It is causing the already wounded to run away from the Healer.

Christianity is supposed to be about loving God and loving people. Robertson’s comments do not make gay people feel loved, even if he follows them up with the assertion that he loves everyone. That’s not love, because “Love is kind.” Love doesn’t poke fingers into the sore spots and laugh when you wince.

We all have the freedom to be cruel. I just wish we would consider the consequences of our cruelty.

8 Comments »

Comment by rob horton

December 19, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

Solid Gold!!! Well written!

Comment by Seth

December 19, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

I believe you left out one of his quotes…… “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

The statement about blacks I can see as being perceived ignorant, but he didn’t say there wasn’t any of that stuff going on in the world. He just did not see it while working side by side with blacks in his very tiny community he was involved in. You cannot take that single quote and say he meant that every black person was treated fairly or didn’t complain that they weren’t treated fairly.

And for the gay man comment, please show me the research that shows mens attraction are not influenced more by visual aspects than feelings. I get it, it somewhat sounds like he is saying every gay guy only turns gay bc he likes an asshole over a vagina. Believing that would wouldn’t make since, both men and women have one, he is just saying “from his prospective as a straight man” that a woman offers more for a man who is more moved by visual stimuli according to todays research.

For someone who “doesn’t care a whole lot what Phil Robertson says”
writing this article proves other wise. While making judgments about another mans character and opinions about how you don’t like his judgments and opinions is leaning toward hypocritical. Picking out tiny quotes and suggesting you know what exactly he meant by them as everyone has done and what was intended by the writer from GQ to get everyone stirred up and noticed bc it is his job to get the magazine read.

I just don’t like how GQ wrote the article, purposely making it so petiole are going to pick sides on this. Written differently noone would be taking about this, it would be one of his many articles about his beliefs that are already out there, as on his book and other articles. He has never said he is perfect, I don’t know why everyone acts like what he says is gold and the only truth. I like and agree with your paragraph in your post, just remember that we all have different sore spots so no matter what or how you say something you are most likely going to be hurting someone, including this post and my comment hurts different people who will read them.

Comment by Rachel

December 19, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

Seth, thanks for the comment. I quoted the comments that I was addressing, I linked to the entire article so people could read the whole thing, and I alluded to the part where he says he loves everyone in the last paragraph. I’m afraid that you may have missed the entire point.

It wasn’t about what Robertson said, specifically. It’s about the Christian response to it. I personally don’t think Robertson comes across as a very intelligent person, so that is why I don’t care that much about what he says. That stuff is a dime a dozen where I live. I hear it all the time. So, it’s not about what he said so much as people’s response to it.

If you know your words are hurting thousands of people, why say them. If you are worried about winning the lost, why not try to show them Christ’s love?

People’s reactions to this whole thing are sending a very clear message that gay people are not worthy of the kindness and respect of Christians.

Comment by James

December 19, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

Well, Rachel, the greatest argument against Christianity has always been the way Christians treat people, especially minorities and certain kinds of sinners. I don’t know why their response surprises you.

Most of the conservative Christians you’re having conflict with are cultural Christians. They haven’t read the bible, they get the snippets that their pastors give them once a week. Their pastors haven’t read it. (You can get through bible school without ever reading the entirety of the bible. You get a lot of summaries and overviews.)

These people aren’t defending Christ. They are defending their culture; which is one based on exclusivity and strict conformity. The message they send is that brown people aren’t considered people and shouldn’t expect to be treated as people, and certainly not as equals; and sinners should just go kill themselves. They lament the loss of the good old days in the fifties, when uppity brown people and gay people were sorted with a small mob and some rope.

Comment by Zack

December 19, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

I’m not the biggest fan of Duck Dynasty, either, but do I realize that most of the stupidity is simply staged and exaggerated. That’s what entertains the masses, and they seem to have fun mucking about together. The true capabilities and intelligence of the Robertson men, however, can be attested much more accurately elsewhere. If the monumental success of their business is not sufficient demonstration, then you should know that Phil has a master’s degree in education from Louisiana Tech University and that Willie has a degree in business.

Regarding his comments on black people, I do believe that the message he intended to convey was that it is entirely possibly for blacks and whites (and all others) to get along well as equals. He refers to black people whom he knew personally, not to all blacks throughout history, and suggests that before the African American subculture tendency towards feelings of entitlement, the blacks specifically where he lived were content and happy living alongside their Caucasian brethren. (I am not at all stating that all blacks behave as if entitled, but, as many African American figures have stated, it is a problem with a portion of the subculture. Caucasians have a plethora of issues as well.) His point, I think, is that his experience has proved that we can dwell together happily and contentedly as equal people if it were not for these engrained feelings. After filtering through the editors of the media, though, it becomes quite difficult to interpret a man’s message.

Now, on to the remarks of homosexuality. Science has indicated that homosexuality is not a choice but a nature? How so? Such a conclusion would be illogical in light of either the theories of evolution or Christian creationism. First, in light of creationism, why would God create in a man a desire for another man whilst condemning the actions associated with it as sinful? (The Bible does not condemn those with homosexual tendencies; rather, the actual homosexual acts are condemned.) In light of evolution, how could a sexual desire develop which, rather than benefitting an animal, would not only be completely useless biologically (procreation is quite impossible) but, as science has actually shown, causes a great tendency towards diseases and ultimately poorer longevity. That could not evolve.

If you ask for evidence for that former statement, then check out this report by LGBT news source The New York Blade (which has ceased publication):
Reports at a national conference about sexually transmitted diseases indicate that gay men are in the highest risk group for several of the most serious diseases. . . . Scientists believe that the increased number of sexually [transmitted] diseases (STD) cases is the result of an increase in risky sexual practices by a growing number of gay men who believe HIV is no longer a life-threatening illness.

Even if God deviously created homosexual desire whilst condemning homosexual action as he does, then there remains no excuse. Heterosexual men have the desire to have sex with attractive women. Are we, then, to act upon that desire with every willing (or even unwilling) beautiful woman encountered? Certainly not! Even the desires God did indeed create are not to be acted upon at will. They were created for a purpose, but they must be controlled to some degree.

If the Bible indicates that homosexual actions are sin, though, why would God create the desires? He wouldn’t. They are born of our own sinfulness. A person must choose to act upon them, and then it is sin, just like all others.
Finally, how is what Phil stated or what I have just stated disparaging of a people group? I realize that Phil’s personality is a bit rough and blatant, but even then, I fail to see the insult. He and I both realize that we are all fallen and in desperate need of our Saviour. I certainly do not hate homosexual people or anyone else, and Phil has made it clear that he does not. I love gay people! I have gay friends! I also love liars, blasphemers, adulterers, and everyone else! I fall into many categories and subcategories of sinners. The difference is that I am forgiven, and that gift of forgiveness necessitates a rejection of sin. Not an impossibly perfect lifestyle, mind you, but one following Christ.

I agree that Phil could have worded his statement better, but he was simply stating his opinion and his confusion regarding the opposite opinion. He also suggested his biblical conviction on the matter, which is elsewhere elaborated. He never stated that homosexuality should be outlawed or any such ridiculous notion. Rather than regarding him as an equal human being with a right to opinion, religious conviction, and the freedom of speech, the liberal media attacks him as a hateful bigot, something much different from the man his actions and statements reveal.

This response is not from a Conservative but from a Libertarian.

Comment by Sophia

December 20, 2013 @ 12:04 am

I have no sympathy for this guy — but I also believe that someone in a position of any power should *never* be *casual* about a decision to employ the weapon of censorship over another. Not saying that there aren’t cases where it must be done — but I *am* saying that it should only be done with *great* trepidation.

If you cheer on when someone censors something that you disagree with – even if the censored statement is a pile of ignorance that you are most definitively *correct* in disagreeing with – you need to be REALLY careful to ensure that your approval of the action isn’t setting a precedent that *tomorrow* can be used to suppress a very correct statement that you support and which really really really needs to be heard.

In short — before you employ censorship, you *really* need to make sure that someone said something that crosses a line that renders it *necessary* to invoke censorship — and I’m really not sure that a statement made to GQ being ignorant, stupid, or asshatted is enough to cross any such line.

That’s just my two cents.

Comment by Sophia

December 20, 2013 @ 12:10 am

To ZACK —- Two things to point out to you —- first of all there’s the concept of Kin Selection — that is, a trait that reduces an individual’s chance of passing on DNA can be profitable if it gives enough of an increase to the possibility of *relatives* procreating.

Second of all —- you don’t seem to get the way science works. If science empirically shows that something is a certain way — your feeling of that evidence pointing to something that “doesn’t seem right” doesn’t outweigh the scientific evidence. The fact that you can’t wrap your head around how evolution could have produced people who are biologically determined to be gay doesn’t over-ride the fact that tests and tests and tests and tests have been done converting that that’s just how it is — whether it seems “right” to you or not.

As for your comments not coming from a Conservative but a Libertarian — that rid-bit is also neither here or there. It doesn’t matter who’s making your statements —- the statements on their *own* can be demonstrated dismissible — and therefore there is no need to defer to the credentials or lack thereof of whoever made the statement.

Comment by Claire

December 20, 2013 @ 9:22 am

Rachel,

I have known you for a long time now. You have pointed one important idea here. It is not right to be cruel.

Even though I believe homosexuality was not God’s intention, I do believe that Jesus’s intention was to show love for everyone. I choose to show love to everyone and let God do the judgements. Everyone is a sinner, that is why He sent Jesus to forgive us! What a wonderful gift!!

As for the comments from Phil, he does have a right to have his beliefs and say them, but I think he was rude in the delivery. Unfortunately, any form of media seeks controversy and Phil delivered. This comes at a time of year where we should be focusing on loving one another and sharing the joy of the birth of Jesus, instead the media is trying to stir the pot.

I hope during this season, that everyone’s family conversations on Christmas day and all the other days seek to encourage each other and show Jesus’s love!

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