What I Learned From Phil Robertson: Christians and LGBT Need to Stop Fighting Each Other

 

Listen, I don’t want to talk about this. Bringing up divisive issues like this causes a lot of problems without hope for any solutions.

And yet I’m still here.

I woke up at 5am this morning, ready to write everything. I didn’t realize that everything would involve an article about a guy who hunts ducks – the guy who, as of yesterday, has been the centerpiece of a disastrous debate with disgusting battle lines being drawn.

Christians versus LGBT.

A battle that shouldn’t even be happening, but it is. Phil Robertson is at the center of it now, and I don’t really know or care how he feels about it. It’s happening.

We’re going to breakdown the ideology at play here.

GQ interviewed Phil Robertson, star of A&E’s (massive) hit show “Duck Dynasty.” During the interview, Phil made some comments about homosexuality that sparked headlines…and his eventual dismissal from the show.

His remarks:

“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…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 that’s not all.

“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.”

Hold on, he’s not done.

“The Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

Shortly after these comments went public, Wilson Cruz of GLADD came out with  this statement:

“Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”

Afterward, Robertson shot back.

“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

I read this story all at once and was instantly curious. How are people reacting to what just went down? As I stated earlier, Robertson has been dismissed from A&E indefinitely. I wondered how everyone would react.

Yikes.

I took to Facebook first. I had a feeling that after a day of processing this, people would have thoughtful, insightful opinions. Not really.

Most of the comments were divided. Sure enough, my LGBT friends were celebrating A&E’s decision. My religious friends, on the other hand, were strictly standing with Robertson.

Interestingly, my Christian friends who are either LGBT or support LGBT rights were split down the middle. I wondered why.

I then moved on to Twitter. After all, no news story is complete until you read the wittiest comments about it. Again, the Tweets were split down the middle. Half of the Tweets I saw supported Robertson while the other Tweets were deriding him.

And almost every single person bringing this issue up mentioned this: “Freedom of speech.”

Oh and: “Everyone has a right to their opinion.”

Some people even took it a balanced step forward: “Everyone has a right to their opinion, including who they hire and fire.”

I liked that approach (at first) because it was fair — not that word again — and could be the solution to this Christian vs. LGBT nonsense that’s been blasted since Chick-Fil-A. But something didn’t add up.

You see, my initial response to this entire situation was quite opinionated: Great, if I say something about this, the thought police might get me too.

I thought this because after reading Robertson’s comments, I didn’t interpret them as hateful at all. I didn’t even think of this as freedom of speech, just freedom of religion. Why would your religion cost you your job?

Thinking further, I couldn’t find anything Phil mentioned about equality or condemning people who are LGBT. Just a man’s perspective on a question he was asked. A man who has always purported himself as Christian.

He even clarified that he would never treat or disrespect someone for being different. He just doesn’t agree with the lifestyle because it conflicts with his religion.

One of my friends is a gay Christian named Brandon Ambrosino. He’s a great writer who went to the same university as me, and he made a statement that went viral recently about how being against gay marriage doesn’t make you a homophobe.

As a result, there was a significant backlash against him, with people calling him a homophobe. It was remarkable.

Christians vs. LGBT. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. And it goes both ways (no pun intended).

Why are Christians mad, then? Why are they siding with Robertson? I think it has less to do with  freedom of speech and more to do with freedom of religion.

They’re mad because a man lost his job over his faith, which wouldn’t be acceptable in almost any other context. Can you imagine if a man was fired for being Muslim? Or an Orthodox Jew? Both religions speak out against homosexuality, so where does it end?

Of course, the LGBT community would say that it doesn’t matter what religion you are, and they’d be right. But would this have been news if the religion was different?

Let’s be fair. Christian organizations have been pretty notorious for firing individuals over their religion, citing the same thing as A&E. Businesses don’t want to be associated with beliefs and opinions that don’t align with their own.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean “freedom from consequences.” Just look at all of these people who got fired for something they said on Twitter.

But there’s a line between hiring practices and discrimination. A&E isn’t firing someone over insensitive remarks. They’re firing someone who is outspoken about their religion, and that’s what has Christians ticked off right now.

Hold on though. If you’re a Christian, and you’re angry about this issue, calm down. The LGBT community has every right to celebrate this. Phil’s comments may not have been inflammatory to you, but they fly in the face of individuals who fight every day for equality in their lives.

Do I believe Phil deserves this backlash? Let’s do an experiment. Let’s switch around the words in these statements:

“Start with Christian behavior and just morph out from there. Talking to imaginary friends, trying to brainwash this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…Don’t be deceived. Neither the bigots, the zealots, the hypocrites, the liars, the greedy, the extremists, the fanatics, the deceivers — they won’t inherit a good life. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

“It seems like, to me, science would be more desirable than faith. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! Science has got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, religion: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

That would offend a lot of Christians, wouldn’t it? Guess what. It happens every day. People berate Christians all the time, but who loses their job over it?

Now, if someone added that Christians should be harmed or considered unequal to others, then they would rightfully come under fire for those comments. But we hold the LGBT phenomenon to a different standard, and it’s just not honest. 

You can say that it’s OK because the LGBT have been marginalized for years, while Christians have been the majority for a long time, but that’s not honest either.

It’s not intellectually honest or even morally honest. If you really want equality, then you have to be held to equal standards.

Again, I have no problem with someone who is happy about Phil Robertson losing his job over this. I would be happy too if a person who disagreed with my lifestyle was taken down a notch. But I’ve had enough of people throwing words like “bigot” and “intolerant” around to anyone who doesn’t perfectly agree with their opinions (or what’s politically correct).

Let people be. Christians and LGBT need to be the communities that get along, and this petty bickering and media circus needs to end.

Dan Cathy doesn’t like homosexuals? Move on. Gay people don’t like the chicken restaurant you frequent? Get over it.

Save the energy for issues that are actually affecting people, like how homosexuals are banned in Iran, and how people are killed for their religion all over the world.

It’s just not logical for us to fight anymore, my man.

Thanks for reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the left sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

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20 thoughts

  1. It’s nice to read such an honest opinion. This whole thing has bothered me for a very long time. Thank you for pointing out what I try to say to people, and then get verbally attacked for saying.

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    1. It’s difficult because good folks who disagree with you are just trying to defend themselves from the vitriol and hate coming from others. It’s reverse intolerance, and it will stop when both groups stop being prejudiced against each other.

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  2. Great article. Christians need to be able to express their opinions and beliefs without being called bigots. Societal open homosexuality is here to stay. As Christians we need to find a way to show acceptance while maintaining our individual beliefs. As a marketing move, they will be bigger than ever. The community is going to make the same mistake with them as they did Chick Fil A. Just like Christians did in promoting the DaVinci Code for Dan Brown by protesting it. Controversy sells, and this outrage on behalf of the LGBT is going to make them bigger richer and give them a louder voice. all with FREE publicity.

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  3. Thank you for this well-written and thought-out response. I have to say that the implication that homosexuality is ‘a lifestyle’ jarred with me, but other than that I really appreciated an approach that doesn’t condemn Christians and the LGBT community as implacably and irrevocably opposed.

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      1. At first I thought that in this instance I would use “sexual orientation”, but having come back to it this morning I realise that in that particular sentence you were making a wider point about feeling satisfied with the remonstration of someone disagreeing with any specific aspect of your life, not restricted to the gender you are sexually attracted to. So now I’m not sure!

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  4. Thank you for saying exactly what I wanted to say but just couldn’t quite get right. I consider myself a spiritual and religious person and although I have not found any religious group that is exactly “right” with me there are a few religious sayings that I live my life by. I often wished others felt the same. Even though they say they do, I do not see them practicing it.
    1. Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
    If you are prepared to point out what you see as someones faults then be prepared to have your own pointed out. If you do not want to be bullied, don’t bully someone else.

    2. Judge not lest ye be judged yourself.
    We are not here to judge each other. That is not our job but if you decide to take that job upon yourself then take a long, hard look in the mirror. Not the outer shell but the inner substance. Judge yourself first.

    3. Love, tolerance, and compassion in every thing I do, say, and think.
    That is the most important message we should learn and share. Love is what we need to spread. Tolerance is what we should show to everyone and everything, in every situation. Always speak, act, and think with compassion.

    Once again, thank you for your column. It was beautifully done and I couldn’t agree more. Live and let live. Help where you are needed. Leave where you are not.

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    1. I didn’t “dismiss” it . I chose not to mention it because A&E was pressured by GLAAD (a gay rights organization) not the NAACP, and his comments on African Americans were starkly different.

      My opinion, however, is that a lot of people are misinterpreting what he said. His comments are being construed as African Americans being better off without civil rights.

      He did not say or imply this.

      He merely made an observation that the African Americans that he interacted with when he was a child seemed perfectly happy without welfare and other entitlement programs.

      Can you see why I left this out? Totally different issue that has nothing to do with race, but rather an opinion based on observation. As a minority myself, I wasn’t offended, especially when you have the man outright saying that he’s white trash and shouldn’t treat anyone differently.

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  5. Good to read a balanced view on all this. Social media often whips up little storms so that people can be indignant about something.

    I’d add a point about equality – which is that equality is indivisible. The very nature of being equal means that folks should be treated the same. This is why I have issues with fundamental types on all sides of these debates. People need to approach life with an open mind…that’s my view anyway…

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    1. I agree. What inspired me to write the post was some of the nasty content I was reading on Facebook and Twitter. It makes no sense to me that some of the most intolerant people are people from both sides, but Christians and LGBT should be the most tolerant communities out there, at least in my opinion.

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  6. I like what you wrote. As a transgender person who is actively sorting out my views on Christianity specifically, I can’t help but recognize that all three of the religions you mentioned arguably inherited their beliefs about homosexuality from Judaism. Judaism is at least a few thousand years old. The LGBT movement didn’t really gain traction until the last 40 years or so. I find it slightly arrogant to completely ignore wisdom that has transcended several generations and cultures in favor of modern “enlightenment.” Generally I would acknowledge that the advantage of modernity is to utilize all past knowledge and come out with the /best/, most relevant solutions to life’s conundrums, but I fear present western society regularly dismisses possibly important bits of ancient wisdom just because it is hard to reconcile with the very recent definitions of what is logical, acceptable behavior.
    Sexuality, orientation, and gender are all fundamental aspects of human development. Heteronormative society often misunderstands how incredibly sensitive and intimately integrated this whole hot topic is for anyone slightly “different.” Heteronormative society also misunderstands that much of their /gut instincts/ and good “sense” and general hateful prejudices are born out of insecurity more than anything else including religios beliefs. It seems nominal people misrepresent both Christian and LGBT communities in the extension of their core values.
    Another time and place would it be appropriate to discuss the merits of homosexuality and how it might even fit into Christianity. I just wanted to add a different perspective about the camps at play here.

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    1. Hmm…there’s actually another level here…about God and Christ..and how interpretation of faith traditions make religion a “bad” or “touchy” thing too…but it’s too complicated and I’m still trying to figure out how to say it properly…I will say though that I’m beginning to realise that God and Jesus, Buddha and all the other prophets…they all held to the same Universal ideal which was Love. That’s all there is…but Love has such great power, not the type of power we envision but an all pervading goodness…and it would do us all well to respect each other and to remember that in the end…we truly are all One.

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