The character assassination perpetrated upon Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson has straight and gay people alike defending both his freedom of speech and his right to actually believe the words of the God he professes to worship. Still, others have accused him of espousing bigotry, of hating homosexuals, of hiding behind the First Amendment to spew that bigotry and hatred.
In this wacky world of political correctness and gotcha games, facts don’t hold much weight. It matters not that there is absolutely no evidence of hateful behavior on Robertson’s part. It also doesn’t matter that he made his comments only upon being asked a specific question about sin, or even that homosexuality was just one of several sins he mentioned. Where are the adulterers, the slanderers, the greedy he mentioned? Why did they not join in the chorus of voices calling for his immediate take-down?
What is all this actually about? Are people really so offended because one man, quoting the Bible, described homosexual behavior as sin? Really? If Robertson were engaged in anti-gay violence, such intense offense would make sense. If he had a history of spray painting epithets on gay people’s cars, that, too, would make sense. But simply including homosexuality in a list of sins, then speaking well of heterosexual relationships, is no cause for accusations of homophobia.
But A&E saw it differently, suspending the eldest Robertson from its much-acclaimed reality show.
The roots of this anti-Robertson campaign are long, stemming from a lack of understanding that people can actually do two things at one time. The age-old adage, “Love the sinner, and hate the sin,” consists of two things that can, in fact, co-exist: 1) love sinner and 2) hate sin. But many of the liberal persuasion don’t believe it’s possible to do both simultaneously. They translate, “The Bible says God designed a man to be with a woman, and I believe it” into “I hate gay people.” And no matter the track record of the Bible-believer, the kind treatment he has shown people of all lifestyles, and the character of God demonstrated in his daily life, some still refuse to believe that one person’s stand for what he believes does not designate him the hater of another who doesn’t believe.
Christians can disapprove of an act while not discriminating against the actor. The “love the sinner; hate the sin” concept really isn’t so far-fetched. In fact, parents have been doing this very thing since the beginning of time. How often has a mom, for example, catching little Johnny in a lie, railed against his behavior? The idea that she now hates her child simply because she recognized his sinful nature and called out its accompanying behavior is absurd. Mom has enough tenderness of heart and clarity of mind to love the child while disapproving of his action. In other words, she can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Phil Robertson, like all Bible-believing Christians, has no choice but to acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin. Unbelievers are free to disagree, but it is unfair to tack a scarlet ‘H’ for “Hater” on his chest. On the contrary, he deserves respect as an individual who lives out his faith, and he has the right to give an honest answer for questions posed about that faith. His only alternative would be to lie. Ask Johnny where that got him.
This begs a final thought. Let us suppose the gay community, A&E, and other progressives cannot look past Mr. Robertson’s “sin”–his refusal to deny his faith. Suppose they simply cannot buy that he really does love the homosexual while hating homosexuality. Fair enough. He has, however, now afforded them a perfect opportunity to show him how it’s done. Now they get to give him the love they don’t believe he is giving them. They get to love him in spite of what they deem to be his sin–his homophobic tendencies–rather than advocating for his silencing, suspension, and professional slaying. Perfect.
This whole issue might be quite simple. Perhaps it boils down to the fact that those who disagree with Phil Robertson, those who want him to understand–and accept–their kind of love, don’t understand his kind of love, which involves disagreeing and loving simultaneously. And maybe, just maybe, that lack of understanding results from the fact that they themselves cannot attain to such heights of love–apart from the very faith they’ve chosen to shun.