I am not entirely sure how to start off this post, because I have never quite been in this position. My last post concerning Phil Robertson and his remarks on homosexuality took off on the internet far beyond what I ever could have imagined, and I have received an incredible amount of responses. First, I want to thank all of you who respectfully offered your opinions in the comments section. Whether you agreed or disagreed with me, your voices and thoughts are valuable to all of us on this very important and relevant subject, and many of you provoked thought and questions on things I had not yet considered. Initially, I thought I would be able to reply to you all individually, but as the article’s reach expanded, I realized this was not possible. My blog partner Luke and I decided a follow-up article would be beneficial to further explain and clarify some of my points.
First off, I would like to address the main concern I think most people had with my article, that concern being that I was, wittingly or unwittingly, stifling the expression of truth that Phil Robertson made. Christians are supposed to stand for truth, and many seem to think that I am either trying to cut off the public expression of that truth or trying to water down that truth when it is uncomfortable or (yes, I’ll say it) offensive.
My response would be to point to the preface I placed at the beginning of my article, where I do acknowledge my Scripturally-based belief that homosexual activity is in fact sinful. My issue was not with Robertson publically speaking beliefs on homosexuality. As I said, “If Robertson had expressed his opinions on homosexuality concisely and respectfully, I would probably be supporting him right now. If he had paraphrased Scripture and left it at that, I might have applauded him. But he did not”. My issue was with the comments that Robertson made in addition to Scripture. His anatomical references and apparent conclusion that straight relations are superior because “she’s got more to offer” rub me the wrong way because they are not rooted in either Scripture or sound logic. Not only are they also lacking in tact and respect, but one could argue that his logic there (ironically) would actually do more to back up an argument for any number of sexual orientations or acts simply because the person sees “more to offer”. My problem with Robertson is not that he spoke his opinion, or even that he spoke truth that is inherently offensive. My problem is that he added offensive and faulty argumentation to the truth, and thus distorted it.
I acknowledge that the truth is often offensive. It truly is offensive to learn that desires we consider to be natural are in fact wrong (unbridled sexual desire, monetary greed, desire for dominance, racial prejudice, etc.). The fact that the world is not about us, but about God, is offensive. But there is a difference between a good offensive and a bad offensive. A good offensive convicts, forcing introspection and examination of one’s own heart, soul and mind. A bad offensive alienates, pushing the recipient farther from the speaker regardless of the merit of the message itself. I would argue that Robertson’s remarks that went beyond Scripture were of the bad variety rather than the good.
Another point that came up frequently in the comments concerning offensive speech was the fact that Jesus Himself used “offensive” speech towards the Pharisees to make a point, calling them “white washed tombs” and “a brood of vipers”. I do not deny that Christ spoke frankly and harshly with the Pharisees, the religious hypocrites of the day, whom He saw corrupting and distorting the faith, keeping the people away from God by saddling them with absurd legalism. But He spoke both truthfully and without crass remarks. They were rebukes soundly and solely based on the standards of truth, not personal opinions as Robertson’s vulgar comments were. Also, these rebukes were in part made possible because Christ knew their hearts truly and perfectly, a luxury we as mere humans are not afforded.
When you look to the interactions of Jesus with the “sinners” of society, you also find no crass speech. When Jesus encounters the adulterous Samaritan woman at the well He does acknowledge and point out her sin. But does He rebuke her with vulgar words? No, He invites her to drink from the well that never runs dry, and her encounter with the Savior leads not only to her salvation, but the salvation of many other Samaritans. When Jesus encounters Zacchaeus the tax collector, does he rebuke him vulgarly for his unfairness and greed? Nope. He simply says that He will be joining him at his house. Jesus became the guest of the sinner whom no one loved or showed respect to, and this act itself provoked Zacchaeus to give half his possessions to the poor and give back four times what he owed any he cheated. I would argue these are the more effective ways to minister to homosexuals, rather than rallying around inflammatory speech.
Finally, many accused me of not supporting Robertson as a brother in Christ, and that I am forsaking my Christian duty to support him. I should not be judging his words, it has been said, but instead standing with him as a fellow believer. I have several replies to these accusations. First, I never personally insulted or defamed Robertson. If I did please show me how and I will sincerely apologize! I simply have qualms with some of his words. As he is a public figure, a public representative of my Christian faith, I thought it right to speak out with my own thoughts, and make clear that I did not consider his remarks to be reflective of true Christianity. We all make mistakes, and I eagerly forgive him. In fact, I have been praying for him and his family as they wrestle with this challenging time and the fallout of his comments. I do not hate Phil Robertson. But I do have issue with some of his words. That is not forsaking a brother in Christ. That is respectfully disagreeing and engaging in a broader dialogue on a pertinent issue.
There is one final thing I would like to address. Several commenters (I will say that thankfully they are a minority, but enough to merit my notice) called into question my faith, standing with God, and understanding of grace. I’m not really sure how to respond to these accusations, as I do not know most of you personally. I do pray that I have said nothing contrary to the Gospel of Christ, and if I have, I pray it will have no impact on any of your lives and that it will be pointed out to me so I can make it right. I do, however, want to close with some words that are not my own, but rather a comment left by a sister in Christ on the first article, and then a passage of Scripture for us all to reflect on:
“My dear man, I am glad you get it. I am glad someone understands what the media is doing, and how Christian protests are hurting the world rather than loving the world. When I was a lesbian, when Christians would rally together over bashful statements because a famous christian said it, I would literally hate the Christians, church, and God so much. I thought Christians hated me, and thought less of me because of the way God made me. I knew only from what i seen through actions. It was only through personal fear of not getting to heaven because I was made gay that I gave myself over to Jesus. It was through the internet that I seen it was possible, and shown that anyone is accepted if they just believe that Jesus is savior. Every day he changes me to become more like him, and my struggles with homosexuality become less of a struggle but it still remains. This is how I was made. It kills me to see what, we as the church are showing the wrong. Jesus came to down as the “Son of God” love us until the wrong was fix. He never once protested what was wrong. He just become the the love that was missing in the wrong until it was right again.”
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” – 1 Peter 2:21-23 (ESV)
[Note from author: my own perspectives on gender, sexuality, and the LGBT community’s relationship with the church have continued to evolve since I wrote this, but I still wish to keep it up for posterity. Though I was not completely at the place where I am today (my adding an addendum here is prompted by the so-called “Nashville Statement”) I believe that the impetus of what I was trying to articulate here is the same, but more developed. On the off-chance that you are an LGBT person and reading this now, know that you are loved, accepted, and that your experiences are valid, heard, and must be respected. I am still learning, struggling, and trying to live the love that Jesus preached. – Eric Marcy, 9/2/2017]