Many have heard about “Duck Dynasty” TV star Phil Robertson who, after he expressed anti-gay comments in an interview with GQ, was suspended from cable’s top-rated reality show. Of course some have never even heard of the A&E TV show called Duck Dynasty. Well, now you have.
As a pastor, I basically never comment on this type of social and cultural event. But I am going to this time for one basic reason: Because the people who are against A&E’s suspension of Mr. Robertson say he has every right to express his religious-based belief that homosexuality is a sin and to imply that gays and lesbians are equal to murderers and bestiality because in his and their view the Bible does.
I will make this as simple and as clear as possible—and perhaps momentarily uncomfortable. The living Word of God is not racist, misogynistic, or hateful of gays or lesbians.
We would all have been rightly shocked and outraged, and agree that Mr. Robertson should have been suspended, if he had said black Africans and African-Americans are less human than whites and therefore may be enslaved and considered white people’s property. We also would have said he should have been suspended and never given any more TV money, a single voice of social support, or another moment of political fame if he had said women are the weaker sex and do not have what it takes emotionally and intellectually to be granted the right to vote.
Both of these historically accurate perspectives were also considered biblically-based views and were often expressed in the 19th and early 20th century. People who fought against viewing our African-American sisters and brothers as equal to themselves misused the Bible and Christian faith to support their racism and hatred. People who fought against women’s suffrage misused Christian scripture to support their diminishing of women and women’s fundamental value to society, and to de-legitimate their right to vote to express their political voice.
In both cases, we would never stand today for such language to be expressed as a viable, biblically-based view. We would never give such a voice social sanction. It goes against what we fundamentally hold true. Today, the Bible can’t be used to support racism or misogyny. We see this so clearly.
While you may not see the issue of homosexuality from as clear of an historical perspective, nonetheless we will not condone those who would once again turn to the Bible to support their hatred, this time of our gay brothers or lesbian sisters. We must not give such a voice a larger social sanction, no matter the reason asserted as to why such a view deserves recognition as legitimate whether one agrees with it or not.
Don’t be fooled. This is not about the Bible’s view of homosexuality or someone’s First Amendment right to speak a view contrary to a secular, non-believing world. This is about the same thing it always is: Intolerance and hatred using our culture’s most powerful language to justify its existence.
And for us this is about being on the right side of history, the side for justice, and to stand with people who once again look to America to grow large enough to see them in their God-given dignity, to show them mutual respect, and to make enough room for them to take their rightful place among God’s beloved family of humanity.