On Phil Robertson: Some Further Thoughts and Clarifications

phil-robertson-p11I 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]

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17 thoughts on “On Phil Robertson: Some Further Thoughts and Clarifications

  1. Jon December 23, 2013 / 12:21 AM

    Perfect.

  2. Roger December 23, 2013 / 7:54 AM

    Eric – thanks for your Phil Robertson comments. I agree with everything you said. The only thing I don’t agree with are several things the former lesbian said. She said “I was made gay”. God never created anyone to be homosexuals – nor did He create alcoholics, drug addicts or murders. She chose that lifestyle – I praise God she asked Christ to change her heart. No one should ever blame their sin on “this is the way God made me”!!!
    With the exception of that comment, I applaud your article.

    • Aaron Andrus December 23, 2013 / 10:59 AM

      Roger,
      I don’t think we actually know why people are gay. To say that God didn’t make them that way could be like saying God doesn’t make people down syndrome. Alcoholism is, in fact, an inheritable trait. We live in a fallen world and that fallen-ness extends to genetics. I’m not saying homosexuality IS genetic. I don’t know, but I think the church really needs to reflect on this point a bit. If science does in fact prove a “gay gene” exists, then what will be our response? To reject science? What I think we should say, however, is that regardless of whether or not homosexuality is genetic – is that it is outside of God’s will for His people – just as adultery and fornication. Therefore, followers of Jesus are called to lay down their desires (homo or hetero) for the sake of the kingdom. Because loving Jesus means so much more than having a sexual relationship. Nothing – not money, not food, not sex, not status, etc. – is worth more than living a life surrendered to Christ. And the Holy Spirit empowers us to rise above any shortcomings we may have – genetic, psychological, or emotional.

      Just my thoughts.

      Peace and all good,
      Aaron

      • Forever21 December 27, 2013 / 8:54 AM

        Hey there,
        I’m hoping that you wouldn’t mind a response to your question. I think you were saying, that God does allow the possibility of the genetic conception of, what the world calls Down Syndrome. But when you implied ” who are we to argue with the science” …..unfortunately that’s what the Christian faith has been doing for many generations. The words Science, Faith, and Scripture, do not seem to fit too neatly on the same page. My response would be: what does my bible say…Down syndrome and other similar disorders weren’t specifically called out by The Lord to be an abomination, but the act of what we call homosexuality, was. God is pretty clear on that subject. The truth is our response to whatever the world gives as a explanation, will always be guided by what our Bible says about it.

    • drewix December 23, 2013 / 11:40 AM

      Roger, I would like you to try, for a day, to find men attractive. Try really hard for one day. Chances are, you won’t succeed. You might say that you were born straight, and can’t change that. This is because we don’t get to choose our sexual preference. I know there are exceptions, with people losing trust in a gender, and lots of other psychological issues. But the research, science, and witnesses are there. The act of homosexuality, granted, is not something you are born with. But don’t call sexuality a choice. We are ALL born into sin. Otherwise we wouldn’t need Jesus. The lust or participation of homosexuality is the issue. Not the person themselves. God bless.

    • Parker Johnson December 23, 2013 / 12:00 PM

      With regards to being “born this way” I feel like biblically speaking, it can be true. Here is why:

      1) Mankind is inherently sinful.

      We (or as Paul would say, our “flesh”) desires to sin. It’s part of being human.
      Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)
      “2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b]”

      Romans 7:18 (ESV) also explains what the flesh desires:
      “18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”

      2) Homosexuality is a sin.

      3) Therefore, if by nature, mankind is inclined to sin, then by nature mankind could have homosexual desires.

      This is similar to how many men lust after women. While it is certainly not right, it is natural.
      I would further argue that different people struggle with different sins. I truly doubt little kids struggle with lust, though they seem to often struggle with lying. I would imagine the same applies to mankind in the sense that some may struggle with pornography, others with theft, others with coveting, and still others with homosexuality.

      Although that is my understanding, I would love to know why you think homosexuality is not the way we’re created?

    • William December 23, 2013 / 2:17 PM

      Roger – I resist the “she chose that lifestyle” line of thinking strongly, because I think that that way leads condemnation, which is ALWAYS antithetical to following Christ. I think perhaps it is better to stick to the analogy of an alcoholic. We wouldn’t say that a drunk CHOSE to be an alcoholic, really, would we? Wouldn’t we be more likely to say that alcohol is her vice, that that is her weakness, against which she must struggle daily to become closer to God? And isn’t that perspective actually more helpful (for both the sinner and the wannabe judges, you and me)? I should stress that I think alcoholism definitely absolutely has a personal-choice element (as does homosexuality), but also that it is reductive and harmful to say that alcoholism just IS a matter of personal choice, as though the propensity toward it is not at all affected by genetics, childhood experiences, etc. etc. all of which sum up to create a personal vice.

      • Forever21 December 27, 2013 / 2:36 AM

        William, would it be more acceptable to say;
        she may have been born with certain genetic characteristics and traits that made her more attracted to a person from the same gender. And maybe her desires to please her flesh were much stronger than her desire to follow Jesus…?

    • Forever21 December 27, 2013 / 8:22 AM

      Roger,
      I agree on the perfection of Eric’s article, and his choice of words. I also praise God for this woman’s desire to overcome her sin. And, I stand with you again, that her statement of
      ” the way God made me” might have implied, as you said, that she was blaming her sin on God, but, I think she was stating how she felt about it before she met Jesus. I say that because she nailed it in on the redemption part! Literally, nailed it to the cross, when she said, ” everyday he changes me to be more like him” and that she struggles with her flesh everyday. Clearly, she gets it 🙂 I just want to hold her up to the Father and plead for His blessings upon her life, so that her testimony will show others that change, for any and all of us, may not be easy, but possible with Jesus.

  3. Aaron Andrus December 23, 2013 / 10:12 AM

    I am right there with you Eric. Thanks for standing up for grace. True love is costly.

  4. Erika December 23, 2013 / 6:58 PM

    Amen.

  5. Dave Sackett December 25, 2013 / 1:56 PM

    Eric, I think a key distinction should be made between the woman at the well and Zacheus, and homosexuals. Law to the proud, grace to the humble. To people who considered themselves to be good people, Jesus let them have it. But to those people who already knew they were bad people, he gave them grace. I think 50 years ago you could say that homosexuals were in the same category as tax collectors and prostitutes in Jesus’ day. Today I think the only people in that category would probably be pedophiles. Everyone else considers themselves to be a “good” person. But hey, I could be wrong. I think you’re being a little too sensitive here, since the prophets speak mockingly of people, say for example, idol worshipers. Remember the part about the guy chopping down the tree, using half of it for firewood and half of it for fashioning an idol and bowing down to it? Besides, I don’t even think this guy was trying to mock them derisively, he’s talking about how illogical it seems to his understanding of the design and function of the two body parts. I think he was crass, and I wouldn’t talk like that to a reporter, but pointing out the insanity of sin that way doesn’t sound so crazy to me.

  6. Michael Jacobs December 26, 2013 / 1:54 PM

    If more Christians thought, spoke, and acted like you, I think there would be far more people who come to faith because of the great love and mercy that God shows through you. But sadly, history is filled with far more of the Phil Robertson, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz kind of “believers” (think the Crusades and Inquisition, as well as numerous others, like the missionary efforts among Native North Americans, which wanted to “kill the Indian to save the man”). At any rate, I applaud you and commend you for being Christ to the people around you…

  7. enness December 28, 2013 / 10:19 PM

    I am interpreting those particular remarks as Phil’s attempt to bring a bit of levity to the subject, although I would certainly not call them knee-slapping, laugh-out-loud funny. I do not believe Christians are called to absolute seriousness at all times. So, I understand they were not to everyone’s taste, but what is so vulgar about using correct terms for parts that our Lord made, when many crude slang terms were in fact available? I am not suggesting we talk about such things lightly or often, but it’s not irrelevant to the topic at hand. This has a whiff of squeamishness, actual prudery, and the anti-Incarnational idea that our bodies are shameful. Perhaps I’m showing my hand as to what theology I subscribe to.
    Also, homosexuality *is* illogical and I see nothing wrong with saying so if one is prepared to elaborate. Sin dulls the intellect; it makes us twist logic into pretzels to justify our actions to ourselves and others.

    The bottom line, though, is that if A&E cared more about principle than money they’d have cancelled the show because the apple tends not to fall far from the tree. This is about trying to have the money and still keep up appearances.

    Thanks for entertaining input from other viewpoints.

    Also, sorry if this posts more than once – commenting seems unnecessarily complicated from my phone.

  8. beny January 5, 2014 / 12:39 PM

    You are an impressive young man Eric. Obviously thoughtful and deliberate. It is the clear to me that your God given gifts make you a leader, therefore teacher of men. Like it or not. It is because of these gifts that I would like you to consider public and private admonishments. One aspect of being a leader/manager, like a father, is responsible to nurture, council, guide, teach, etc. A good leader, again, like a caring father, “doesn’t air dirty laundry” publicly. Imagine yourself a Boss with employees. One of your subordinate managers, whose loyalty to the company has never been questioned, makes a basically sound decision, w/out seeking prior advice from you. Though the decision was within his purview of authority, and doesn’t compromise his company loyalty you would have done it differently. Additionally, you, being a sound and capable leader question whether it will return dividends to the company in the long run. Now…what do you do? Publicly admonish this good employee? Or, being the caring and concerned Christian leader who wants to nurture spiritual as well as secular growth, you call him into your office and privately council him?
    Based on what I have read of your writing’s you have a clear picture of spiritual maturity. Like chronological maturity, everyone is either older, younger or the same age. A good leader, esp spiritual, is motivated to ‘lead’ (i.e. aids the growth of a ‘younger’) brother/sister. I will add here with respect to cost efficiency but it not an overriding priority.
    In a world that moves farther away from God daily. We need to consider who we publicly support and deny. Your opening title of 19 December; “Why I Can’t Stand with Phil Robertson”. Like Jesus said, we are either with Him or again Him. You publicly published your declaration to stand against another Christian. In standing against Phil you stood with the non Christians opposing him. Accept it or not. Evil will use any and all things to divide us with the sole intent to conquering and eliminating God’s influence in this world. They will use the fact that, “even other Christians” stood against him.” Ensuring that any message is guaranteed to be erased. We are told as Christs’ followers that we receive spiritual gifts to serve Him.
    Because the recipients of Phil’s message weren’t obvious to you and his delivery made you squeamish, that your spiritually enlightened superiority demanded you take a public stand against a fellow Christian who took a public stand for God and against sin.
    As an obviously intelligent young man you are well ahead of your peers in getting a foot in the door of this world. I believe you will spend a life serving God and bringing joy to your parents hearts. Consider the negative effects of pride (It lives a life close to and parallel to superiority), the appropriateness of public & private admonishments and when to use each.
    blessings, benson

  9. brose22 January 21, 2014 / 1:49 AM

    Yes we are all born in to sin. No a person can’t help their feelings or attractions. I do believe that each person has their own struggle that makes his or her walk with Christ stronger or weaker depending on the CHOICE he or she makes daily to surrender that struggle or sin. Gods power trumps genetics. So in the grand scheme, we need to be telling, living and showing the Gospel as clear as we can. This way each sinner inluding me and you can CHOOSE Jesus.

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