So Duck Dynasty dude Phil Robertson gave an interview to GQ, and though it’s pretty clear from the writer’s comments that he doesn’t accept Phil’s worldview, I’m just going to take the quotations at their word since Phil hasn’t claimed they are false. The hubbub has all been around Phil’s comments about homosexuality, in particular in how they relate to Christianity. They’ve been called “anti-gay” and “gay bashing”. And whatever Phi’s intent, they’ve sparked a flurry of lash from GLAAD, and A&E has suspended him from the show. I didn’t want to get in the middle of a societal battle, and I’m not interested in getting in debates about whether A&E should or should not suspend the show, but it’s so relevant to the project and nothing anyone is talking about is promoting understanding or healing. Instead, I see people drawing battle lines with “Christians” on one side and “gays” on the other, and the Biblical truth is people are not the enemy. So here goes:
First off, out of the way, is this a free speech issue?
No, the 1st amendment to the U.S. of A. Federal Constitution prohibits the Federal government from stoping A&E from not hiring Phil just as it prohibits the Federal government from passing ENDA. Phil is totally free to continue repeating his statements at his many speaking gigs around the country without government interference.
What did Phil do that is considered so hateful?
As you read this, if you’re not intimately familiar with what causes eroticized same-sex attractions, keep in mind that eroticized same-sex attractions are caused by 1) needs for love that haven’t been met, and 2) emotional wounds that haven’t been healed.
I hesitate to quote this, but here goes:
“It seems like, to me, a v[jayjay]—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s [component]. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Phil implies that erotic same-sex attractions are caused by a person’s own sin choice. While that can happen, it’s not common now-a-days. David Bowie is one example of someone who actually chose to participate in erotic sexual activities with men despite not feeling an erotic attraction to them, precisely for the purpose of flying in the face of Biblical morality, but today admits he is erotically attracted only to women and always has been. Simply put, most people who identify as ‘gay’ didn’t choose to feel eroticized same-sex attractions. So Phil’s statements are just plain uninformed, perhaps a little arrogant for thinking he understood it in the first place. It’s something every person in the gay lifestyle knows is false, and hearing Phil imply it and then associate it with sin results in believing that they as a person are a sin. It is critical to note that that is not Biblical morality. God loves all people, designed us in His image, and Jesus died so that we might be saved.
Then Phil goes on,
“Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Thanks, Phil, for correctly separating “homosexual” from “offender”, many people forget to. Of course, he added “It’s not right” to the end of the Bible quote, not sure why. So what’s wrong with that? Well simply put, when it comes to meeting people’s love needs, it’s really tough to start from “you’re going to hell”. Bottom line is this: for pre-Oedipal disorder, the love needs they had are needs which arrive before the concept of right and wrong are understood. i.e. you can’t meet their love needs with lists of ways to die. For post-Oedipal disorder, their concept of the opposite sex is bound to grief, you can’t tell someone that not loving something which repeatedly wounds them is a sin worthy of going to hell, they are simply defending themselves. For those who believe that they ‘are gay’ because they were homosexually abused and enjoyed it erotically, this doesn’t tell them that it’s not their fault, and that all men are fully-functional erotically, sometimes even in their sleep (Ahem, Lot’s daughters, and Ham and Noah). Since it’s also a confrontation with The Word of The Almighty, there really isn’t much of an opportunity to take back their adult assertiveness, defend their abused inner child and in so doing feel more powerful than their abuser. It’s emotionally associating their abuser with God. Not a good therapy plan, and not a way to draw people into the Church. Actually, a great way to drive people from the Church, not kicking and screaming, but buckling their seat belt and keeping their beliefs to themselves: it’s a defense mechanism: so they can’t be abused again.
Is his Bible quote inaccurate? not really. Does it drive people who experience eroticized same-sex attractions out of the Church? Yep. Why? Because it doesn’t meet them where they are, because it opens emotional memories of wounds from other Church members who have shamed, ridiculed, exasperated, abandoned, and abused them… hey that sounds like a quote from somewhere.
Ok, so Phil made even more comments:
“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
And here the Christians are cheering, the ‘gays’ are revolting, and I’m face palming because they’re both making the same fundamental mistake. The word “homosexuals”. It’s a word in English. It has a very poor definition. It refers to both people who engage in erotic activities with members of the same sex, and to people who are attracted sexually to members of the same sex. But, it turns out, there aren’t any of those. What? Yes, every human being’s erotic drive always, always points to what they find to be their “other”, their “complement”, the completion of who they are. It’s underlying concept of the “self”, and of the “other” which have 1) not grown completely because of love needs which haven’t been met and 2) emotional wounds that haven’t healed. But people who experience eroticized same-sex attractions don’t know it’s not a “kind of person they are” because they are looking for an “identity” to fill the need for one which wasn’t entirely formed because of the unmet love needs and emotional wounds which haven’t healed. So he may mean to establish a list of people who live in discordance with Christian morality, while they hear a list of “kinds” of people who aren’t good enough to be saved”.
Also, listing “homosexuals” along with international mass murderers, probably wasn’t a good idea. These are people who need acceptance, affirmation, and affection, not an demeaning screening by TSA agents.
Now, to be fair, Phil didn’t believe he was in the process of counseling someone who was, as he puts it, “a homosexual”, he was apparently asked point blank about at least some of this stuff. And was it a set up by someone discontent over at A&E to try to get the show canned? Probably.
But in the end, it’s comments by Christians like Phil Robertson’s that drive ‘gays’ out of the Church, and it’s up to us to go win them back.
How to win them back
Well, hey, that’s what our whole site is about really. One simple rule Richard Cohen gives is “whoever loves the most and the longest wins“. I encourage you to get a copy of Straight Parents and Gay Children, and follow his advice, appropriately adapting if they’re not your actual child. Let’s look at a few steps you can take.
1) You must be willing to “do your work”, and do it. That’s what we say of folks who are willing to deal with the emotional wounds in their own life first. You must also learn to be a Safe Person. On our Book page, check out Boundaries and Safe People. If you are not a Safe Person, you’re not ready to help. It’s that whole Matthew 7, Luke 6 thing.
2) Accept them for who they are. Who are they? a man or women, designed in God’s image, broken by sin (by themselves and others), in need of a saviour and loved by Jesus – just as they are. Remember we know Jesus loved us because he died for us when we were still sinners. You must see the potential in them, but accept them as they are today.
3) Learn about the causes of SSA. By doing so, you will understand why they feel as they do. It may not be “logical” to Phil, but it actually makes a far amount of sense, emotionally. Understanding emotional patterns like anticipatory shame and defensive detachment will be tremendously helpful in understanding what’s going on during troubling times. An easy on ramp you can read in 10 minutes is The only 3 things I wish my straight Christian friends knew about homosexuality.
4) Learn to empathize not sympathize. Brene Brown does an amazing job of describing the difference, how empathy defeats shame. Shame plays a critical role in creating erotic same-sex attractions. Our entire project was designed to promote empathy onto. Check out Act 1 of the first episode.
5) Help them find the way out of double-binds. A double-bind is a darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don’t situation. Almost everyone who experiences eroticized same-sex attractions has been placed in a shame-grief double-bind. God promises not to make real double-binds (1 Corinthians 10:13), so there is always a way out. It may be difficult to find. If that way out involves a lot of sadness, you need to be there to comfort them. (Matthew 5:4)
6) They need a group for support. One friend alone is generally not enough. Encourage your friends to follow you in your decision to help.
7) Don’t assume they aren’t in the Church because they don’t believe in Jesus. Yes, Jesus is #1 priority in their life, but there are many people who are living the gay lifestyle out of the Church who believe that the Church is simply so corrupted because of the emotionally traumatic things other Christians have done & said in the past. This is a tragedy. Christ says we’ll know each other by our love for one another, and frankly, you can’t really blame people for believing the Church is corrupted if they haven’t been getting love. At the same time, the Church has the most to offer them. Telling them “they’re gay” because they don’t “really” believe in Jesus “enough” is going to wound them more. Unless, of course, they really don’t believe in Jesus, in which case, demonstrate Christ’s love and bring them the gospel.
In other words, you have to actually love them like a healthy brother cherishes his siblings. Not just feel happy about yourself when you imagine that you’d be polite to someone who told you they had erotic same-sex attractions, but you have to actually value them, care for them, think about their good and make it happen. Not smothering, not bossing, but delighting, empathizing, encouraging, deferring, and persevering.
Do they have a same-sex live in partner? Guess what, same thing. Love them.