Whoever coined the phrase “birds of a feather flock together” must not have heard Phil Robertson’s take on birds of the same feather flocking together. There were several stories that captured America’s attention in 2013, but this one just won’t go away. At first I couldn’t figure out why people were reacting with such surprise to his views.
After all, I’m an avid viewer of “Duck Dynasty” and I’ve never once thought, ‘Gee, I bet they’re Democrats,’ or, ‘Their church probably has a really open interpretation of Scripture.’ I thought he had simply said he did not think homosexuality was consistent with Biblical teaching. And then I read the article.
The outrage seems to come more from how he delivered his message. Phil did not take a “we all fall short” approach to the matter. He went on to say that homosexuality is the basis of our problems and that all others “morph” from there. He also compared homosexual behavior to bestiality.
Yes, Phil, because consensual adult behavior is just like bestiality. At first I thought that maybe Phil had just fallen victim to a very skilled journalist. We all say things we wish we could take back, right?
I was almost willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Almost. Until a sermon from 2010 surfaced where Phil said homosexuals are “full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.” Ah, so Phil didn’t misspeak at all. He really is that ignorant.
Further in the realm of the absurd is Alabama State Sen. Jerry Fielding (R-Sylacauga). Fielding has announced he will introduce a resolution in the Alabama Senate commending Phil Robertson saying, “Phil Robertson’s family values are shared by the vast majority of Alabamians, who are rightfully concerned by the vitriol aimed at his Christian stance.” And, “There’s a clear double standard in the media favoring a liberal worldview. When it’s used to silence and punish Christians for stating their beliefs, that’s when we must defend the rights of individuals to exercise their free speech without fear of politically-motivated repercussion.”
This is just another example of the religion-baiting that goes on in Alabama on a daily basis. If the day comes when the media attacks people that cite their Christian faith as their motivation for feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and advocating for the oppressed, I will be the first one to cite a double standard.
But the media is not known for criticizing people who use their religion to spread love and charity. Case-in-point being Time’s selection of Pope Francis as their 2013 “Person of the Year.” When Christians get criticized, it is when they use their religion to oppress and exclude.
What truly defies logic is the level of cognitive dissonance present in so many when discussing issues like homosexuality. Jesus himself never talked about homosexuality. We do not even really know what Jesus’ views on the institution of marriage are, if he had any.
But, He did have a few things to say about divorce. And of course there are legitimate Biblical grounds for divorce, but how many divorcees today actually meet that standard? Divorce is discussed in red letters – the words of Christ. Why don’t we hear anyone in the public eye railing against divorcees? Now that’s a double standard, Sen. Fielding.
In a separate tangent, Phil equated being “white trash” to being black. He said, “I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field … they’re singing and happy.” The first of many problems with his characterization is that – white trash or not – Phil could go to restaurants, movie theaters, and walk in the front door of buildings. His African American friends could not.
To suggest that African Americans were happier in Jim Crow-era Louisiana is insulting at best. I’m sure a lot of the African Americans Phil knew growing up were upbeat and made the best of things, but that does not mean they did not want things to be better. What Phil is forgetting about is that during that very time people of color were lynched for attempting to vote. Phil didn’t have to worry about things like that, so I guess he just thought African Americans were happy not being able to vote or to have equal access to jobs, education or housing.
Luckily, things are changing in America for the better. A Washington Post/ABC News poll from March 2013 reported that 81% of adults ages 18-29, regardless of their political affiliations, supported freedom for same-sex couples to marry. Not only do younger people see the irony of politicians and “family values” advocates defending the sanctity of an institution that has just over a 50% success rate, a vast majority of them believe that when we include same-sex couples in legal marriage, it makes the institution stronger and our families and communities tighter.
Will I keep watching “Duck Dynasty?” You bet. But that does not mean I will take life advice from reality TV stars like the Robertsons any more than I would from the Kardashians or the real housewives.