Standing Firm…

Posted on Jan 20, 2014 in Editorials, News | 0 comments

Written by Grace Howard Olstead

Marty Trillhaase leveled a swath of criticisms at Lawerence Denney in his New Year’s Day column. But the last section of his piece focused on the Secretary of State candidate’s ties with the Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson:

In his interview with GQ, Robertson went into graphic detail about his objections to homosexuals: “Everything is blurred on what’s right and wrong. … Sin becomes fine. 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.”

… But Denney has arranged for Phil Robertson and his son, Al Robertson – as well as their wives – to hold a March 29 fundraiser for his campaign at the Idaho Center in Nampa. Nothing he’s heard so far causes Denney any heartburn.
“I think there is a standard in this country now of political correctness, and certainly what Phil said was probably outside that political correctness,” Denney told Boise’s KTVB. “But at the same time, that’s his belief, and certainly that’s my belief, and he’s entitled to it.”

And why not? Raising a pile of cash for campaign commercials can’t hurt. And with four Republicans in the race splitting the vote, all Denney needs to do to win is appeal to the hard-core base of people who agree with Robertson.

Many Americans were troubled with Phil Robertson’s controversial statements published in a GQ article last month. But in analyzing Robertson’s comments, one must measure his philosophy alongside his Christian belief. Robertson is, after all, a Christian. All his beliefs are rooted in Bible verses, like this one from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11—

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Robertson is acting upon the interpretation of Scripture he deems most truthful. He labels homosexuality as “sin,” thus aligning himself with a literal interpretation of the Christian Scriptures. This is nothing new. If American Christians are surprised by what Robertson is saying, they need to return to their Bibles. They should not feel shocked. And Robertson is not alone in his beliefs: according to a June 2013 Pew Research Center survey, almost half (45 percent) of Americans believe homosexual actions are a “sin.”

When it comes to the disparity between Christianity’s traditional doctrine on homosexuality and modern attitudes toward the lifestyle, most Americans would prefer silent acquiescence. If the topic must be broached at all, modern society mandates love, compassion, and tolerance to be explicitly and repeatedly stated. Even if one does share such a message of love and tolerance, the slightest note of negativity will likely be seized upon with anger and reprimands.

The truth is that Robertson’s tone is largely what people have taken offense with (along with the fact that he said anything in the first place). Robertson’s words were neither sensitive nor gentle, neither tolerant nor moderate. But Robertson isn’t a college professor or journalist: he’s a duck hunter from Louisiana. He merely—like many average Americans—tells it like he sees it.

That being said, Robertson has since tried to add caveats to the quotes printed in GQ. He told the Daily Mail last month, “I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater.” His family’s press release, published shortly after A&E Network placed under hiatus, acknowledged that “some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse,” and they confirmed that “Phil is a godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Phil would never incite or encourage hate.”

The Daily Mail quoted pieces of a message Robertson shared with his church a few weeks ago: “I have been immoral, drunk, high. I ran with the wicked people for 28 years and I have run with the Jesus people since and the contrast is astounding … I tell people, ‘You are a sinner, we all are. Do you want to hear my story before I give you the bottom line on your story?’” These are not the words of a man speaking from selfish snobbery. He obviously can take his own medicine. He may think you’re a sinner—but he knows that he is one, as well.

In all frankness, there is little difference between Robertson’s position on sexuality and that of Pope Francis, TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year. As modern and tolerant intellectuals, we highly prefer Pope Francis’s more tacit and docile tones, but the content of their messages is not very different. As The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher wrote in a blogpost, “St. Paul’s teaching about sexual purity, which has its roots in Hebrew religion, is far more difficult to cast aside than his opinions about whether or not women should speak in church. Christianity is not just the parts we like and find easy to take. It includes the hard stuff too.”

Atlantic contributor Larry Taunton agreed in a Dec. 22 piece: “Robertson wasn’t expressing ‘his personal views,’ but principles that are intrinsic to his religion. You see, Robertson didn’t simply attack and disparage the sexual preferences of a minority, as Alec Baldwin recently did in a hateful rant. No, Robertson’s opinion—couched as it was in scriptural references that suggest he not only owns a Bible, but also reads it— reflects the teaching and practice of historic Christianity and, by extension, the opinion of a sizable portion of the American public.”

“I am just reading what was written over 2000 years ago,” Robertson told his church. “Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. All I did was quote from the scriptures, but they just didn’t know it.”

Both Robertson and Denney are standing up for their Christian faith, as it is spelled out in Scripture. And one could venture to say that when Denney continues to stand with Robertson, it is not because he agrees with Robertson on every topic, or because he plans to adopt the Robertson tone on every issue—but because by standing with Robertson, Denney is validating and confirming the basic tenets of his Christian faith. And in our postmodern, tolerance-touting culture, that is no easy decision to make. It is far easier to bow to the wishes of the media. It takes integrity and character to stand firmly for what you believe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *