I’d never heard of him or his show, until this past week. The controversy exposes a deep rift in American culture… which has always been there, I realize. Those of use who are forward looking, progressive, like to think the reactionaries are a dwindling minority, but perhaps not.
I already Facebooked this:
In one America, it’s OK to say this of gays and lesbians: “They’re 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.” In the other America, you’re not supposed to say that.
Have the “love the sinner, hate the sin” folks noticed this quote?
Here is Andrew Sullivan [again, a nominally conservative, Catholic, blogger].
In that last round-up of sins, Robertson puts homosexuality first, then adultery, then lying. The last two are actually in the Ten Commandments – and yet “homosexuality” is on their level, along with the view that somehow homosexual orientation can be prayed away (something that the largest Christian denomination on earth, the Catholic Church, denies). And this fundamentalist psychology then deepens:
If you break one sin you may as well break them all. If we lose our morality, we will lose our country. It will happen.
Again, as Christian doctrine, this is bonkers. There are obvious levels of sinfulness; the smallest white lie is not the same as a rape, and committing one does not mean committing them all. But you can hear the rhythms of the terrified fundamentalist psyche behind all these words. It is not enough for sins to occur (because that would make our time no different than any other); it is always the case that we are confronting a crisis of sinfulness, and that crisis is always spinning out of control into apocalyptic scenarios. So you give in to the gays, you give in to everything evil, because “if you break one sin you may as well break them all.” And if you break them all, America ceases to exist.
To recap: fundamentalism is not the same as Christianity. It has certain psychological tropes. The first is to see sexual sin as far the worst of them and the root of all of them. The second is to see gays – whose very being represents sexual sin – as an enemy class within a society bringing about its destruction if they are not stopped or converted (see: Jews, Europe, circa 1300 – 1945). The third is to see these gays as opening the door to every other sin and evil. The fourth is to “lose our country.”
Meanwhile, Slate wonders Does the Bible Say What Phil Robertson Thinks It Says About Homosexuality?
Only sorta, the author writes. The Sodom story is widely misinterpreted, not just by the Duck guy. The author makes this point:
Sin is an offense against God. It has no meaning and no relevance if you don’t believe in God—except when religious believers impose their worldview on others by writing into civil law prohibitions or obligations rooted in their religious faith, the most basic violation of religious freedom. This is one reason it’s so preposterous when conservative Christians complain that not being allowed to impose their religious faith on others violates their religious freedom.
And one more, at Business Insider: When You Defend Phil Robertson, Here’s What You’re Really Defending.
3. Robertson hates gay people. Robertson in 2010: “Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They’re 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.”
This last one is key. My inbox is full of “love the sinner, hate the sin” defenses of Robertson’s 2013 remarks. But Robertson doesn’t love gay people. He thinks they’re, well, “full of murder.” His views on gays are hateful, inasmuch as they are full of hate.
My own position, of course, is that whatever the Bible says is irrelevant to any modern society; it is a relic of primitive cultures whose standards are no longer applicable.