On to the next controversy… so I’m a little late on this one, but holidays. Anyway, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame has recently been embroiled in controversy. Here’s a quick review: the controversy was sparked by a comment or two Robertson made regarding his views of gays as recorded in a GQ magazine article about him. Not surprisingly, some in the GLBT community weren’t pleased and expressed as much. (See here for one response.) This may well have blown mostly under the radar if it had gone no further than this. But A&E, the network who produces Duck Dynasty, announced they were suspending Phil for his remarks.
So we have another Christian verses gays controversy. This brings up the question, is Phil Robertson a bigot who deserves to be condemned, or is A&E being intolerant in the name of tolerance as some claim? I was uncertain what to think until I read through the article and considered what Robertson had said.
I am un-accepting of those who suggest mistreating or abusing others. I am also un-accepting of the idea that certain people are innately inferior or superior to others. However I don’t believe Robertson falls into either of these categories.
What leads me to say this when many likely view him as unquestionably guilty? It’s fairly simple really. Phil believes homosexuality is a sin. And he believes—along with most Christians—that sins are certain actions that a person can turn from. Sins are actions we can choose not to do. By believing that homosexuality is a sin, it specifically means that most anyone who holds this belief also holds that therefore homosexuality can’t be an integral part of a person’s being. So Robertson isn’t saying that some people are innately better than others.
I believe it’s important to note that while Robertson believe homosexuality is a sin, you can’t find any condemnation in his comments. It’s likewise important to recognize that Robertson never advocates for mistreating homosexuals.
Some may feel that there is little or no difference between believing homosexuality is wrong and promoting the mistreatment of homosexuals, and that one invariably leads to the other. I can appreciate that, but I still hold that there is an important distinction. I believe the disagreement in part comes from disagreeing on whether homosexuality is an action which can be changed or an innate part of a person which cannot be changed. I think the evidence points to orientation as mostly unchangeable, but people who believe it’s a sin almost have to believe it’s can be changed, as described above. And believing the latter allows the possibility of loving homosexuals rather than mistreating them. (Granted, certainly not all people take this route; many condemn homosexuals as well.)
I believe that since Robertson isn’t calling for the mistreatment of others, his comments fall into the category of his own beliefs and opinions—ones that he ought to have the right to hold. So I do think the negative reaction to Robertson’s comments has been unfair. They may have been rough, and you may not like them nor agree, but isn’t he entitled to his beliefs? In this way I have to lean toward agreeing that some who claim the need for tolerance weren’t practicing what they preach.