Why Everybody Is Wrong About Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame, has been the subject of both adulation and damnation in recent days because of comments he made about homosexuality.  All the commentors are focusing on something wrong that someone else has done, without realizing an important truth: everybody is wrong here.

Why Robertson is wrong:

The defense of Robertson holds that he was voicing a traditionally Christian view of homosexuality as sinful.  But there’s more to it than that.

Those of us who hold to traditional religious views need to do a better job of making sure it’s clear that we “love the sinner, hate the sin,” and that the sin here is unchaste behavior, not the feelings that prompt them.  Maybe we feel that such diplomacy is excessive or unnecessary, but that’s life.

Robertson’s comments–as they’ve been presented publicly by the media, at least–don’t even try to do that.

Worse still, he criticizes homosexuality as “illogical.”  A direct quote from the interview in question: “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus.  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.”

This is stupid.  As if sexual preference were the result of a thought process that hadn’t been properly carried out!  Perhaps Robertson thinks gay men will read this and say, “Hey!  Good point!  Now that you’ve pointed that out, I understand.  Why, women are more anatomically compatible with men that other men are!  By Jove, Mr. Robertson, thank you for showing me the light!”

Robertson made some worthwhile comments about the decline of society’s morality in that interview, but those remarks will never be remembered, because he said this.  That’s a shame, and there’s a lesson in that for all of us.

Why Robertson’s conservative defenders are wrong:

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What is Marriage?

As our society debates what the definition of “marriage” should be, we would do well to remember that by defining a term at all, we must exclude everything that does not fit that definition.

If we say that a chair must be a thing on which you can sit and which has four legs, we can say that a table is a chair, but a rock is not.  If we feel that that is unjust to the rock, we can remove the requirement about four legs, and then say that a rock is a chair, also.  But what if clouds feel left out of the status and benefits of being recognized as a chair?  Eventually, the good intentions of inclusion render reality silly.  Loosening a definition–stretching the field of things that can fall within its purview–weakens the nature of the thing being defined.

However we define marriage, we will, by the nature of “definition,” exclude some people and types of relationships.  It stands to reason that some of those excluded will be good, kind, decent people who only want respect and rewards for committed relationships.  But to expand the definition to a point where all such people are included would necessarily make the definition so broad as to be meaningless.

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Evaluating the Arguments For and Against Gay Marriage

My attempt at an objective analysis of some popular points:

Pro-Gay Marriage Ban Arguments Evaluation Anti-Gay Marriage Ban Arguments Evaluation
“Homosexuality is morally wrong.” WEAK. While people have the right to campaign for laws based on their beliefs, civil laws are not obligated to honor them.  This opinion is actually irrelevant to the issue. “We’re born that way and should be treated equally.” WEAK.  Establishing that something is natural is not the same as showing that it’s good or deserves to be protected.  Further, while fairness is a virtue, equality is not automatically universal, but is dependent on a number of factors—insisting on immediate equality is an attempt to circumvent discussion.
“It would open doors to abuses like polygamy and bestiality.” WEAK.  Even if this actually would be the case, it would be irrelevant.  You can’t ban something because it might lead to something else.  The issue has to be considered only on its own merits. “Banning gay marriage fosters discrimination and harassment.” WEAK.  Like the opposing slippery slope argument to the left, even if this is true, it’s not relevant.  Laws are not based on whether or not they might be interpreted in ways that will lead to positive or negative behavior.  Certainly mistreatment of others is bad, but laws cannot be altered because they might contribute to a more civil citizenry.
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So You Want to Make Dead Mormons Gay…

A satirical web site has gone up inviting users to help the “many Mormons throughout history [who] have died without having known the joys of homosexuality.”  You enter a name, click a button, and the deceased will then somehow have the chance denied them in mortality.

I think this is a great idea.  Seriously.

The only problem is, this web site’s method isn’t truly analogous to what Mormons do in their temples at all.  Here would be a far closer parallel:

Users would first have to do research to identify their own ancestors who died without being able to try homosexuality.  After all, your motive in this project is to bless those whose lives led to your own.  This will require dozens and even hundreds of hours of interviews, online research, and contacting vital records departments.

Once you’ve identified your ancestors, you can’t simply click a button, though.  You must travel to a certain special place dedicated to this work, which will require you to set aside a few hours, on average.  Once there, the work itself involves a simple ritual, but one that must be done precisely, and repeated for each ancestor.

If you care about your departed forefathers being able to enjoy the same things you’ve been blessed to enjoy, then this effort should be a small price to pay.

I genuinely hope that the creators and users of this site will upgrade their satire and find a richer spiritual experience through their service, as millions of Latter-day Saints find in baptism for the dead.  Then, I think, we’ll have more to talk about.

“Gay” Has Got To Go

The insulting slang term, that is, not the people.  I’m talking about when someone says, “That’s so gay!” meaning that something is bad.  I knew that would get you hooked, though!

Seriously, is there anything in our society now that’s really uglier towards gay people than this?  To make their identity synonymous with “bad?” 

The closest thing out there to this is the widespread use of the N-word (against which I’ve railed before), but even that is usually used as an inside-term by some black people, not meant to cause hurt.  Equating “gay” with “bad,” however, can only be the most degrading kind of slur. 

This is especially important for those of us who, as Christians, hold that marriage must be only between a man and a woman, while asserting our love and brotherhood with all people, including those gay people who might disagree with us.  When conversations go there, though, the response we often get is, “Yeah, right.  Of course you love us.  That’s why you call us names.” 

Can we blame them?  If we’re using their identity as an insult, of course our declarations of respect will ring hollow.  There is definitely something wrong with our civility–and our discipleship–if we call something we don’t like “gay.”

Prosecuting Gay Bashers May Backfire

Yes, the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi is tragic, and yes, the students who posted the video of him kissing another man should be charged with invasion of privacy, because that’s a law they clearly broke.  However, I hope that those who are advocating for a harsher treatment of the offenders will think ahead to the larger damage such a course might lead to.

The zealous prosecution of those who “out” gays or who bully them might actually lead to more gay suicides.  Think about it: young people are already sensitive and prone to dramatic overreaction.  If a young person happens to be gay, you can add extra loneliness and isolation to that mix. 

Now our society seems bent on punishing those who torment them to the fullest extent possible.  Such compassion is fine, but what I’m saying is that it might be counterproductive.  If this keeps up, these tortured young people will get the clear message that if they just kill themselves, the bullies who hurt them will suffer incredibly for the rest of their lives.  It’s the ultimate revenge. 

If you don’t think there are plenty of young people who would seriously be attracted to such an outrageous idea, then you don’t know enough young people. 

Actually, some commentators have been predicting this for a long time, and one could make the case that this year’s rash of gay suicides nationwide might be a result of these very growing efforts meant to help them.

Lady Gaga on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

So, pop star Lady Gaga–a trashy vamp so obscenely creepy that even prominent feminist Camille Paglia has excoriated her as the symbol of what’s wrong with American women–has a new YouTube video where she earnestly tries to read a speech from cue cards while keeping a straight face.  This is already serious enough business, clearly, but she even goes so far as to make a bold, original, brave claim in her speech–we should all be nice to gay people.  Wow, isn’t it about time a lone hero had the courage to stand up and say that?

Lady Gaga educates the listener about the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy, which she then exposes as (gasp!) bad.  Obviously, this slimy secret in America’s shadows is evil and must be stopped.  Thank you, Lady Gaga, for showing us the way.

Never mind the baldly juvenile posturing such a “statement” must necessarily entail (but, alas, is the mainstream media even capable of anything else any more?); Lady Gaga is surely ignorant of the reasons for such a policy’s origin, or the arguments for its need and effectiveness. 

To make an analogy, for years the military has had to deal with a difficult side product of having women in the armed forces: pregnancy.  Continue reading

UNLV Sponsors Youth Sexuality Activism Conference For CCSD Educators

A disturbing email went out to my school’s electronic bulletin board today.  Presumably it went out to every school in the district.  The message included two attachments giving details about an alternative sexuality conference on the UNLV campus on November 14 which will feature a series of workshops.  Are these workshops meant to help educators with their personal lives?  No, nothing like that.  Is it to assist them in avoiding the creation of a classroom environment where teasing and bullying of homosexual students might occur?  Partly. 

But the most unnerving thing about this conference is the inclusion of sessions meant to instruct teachers in training students “to get involved with the LGTBQ community in order to effect positive change. We will look at already established youth LGBTQ community groups, recent movements and types of youth activism.”  Is this serious?  Is UNLV actually promoting, and CCSD tacitly allowing, public teachers preparing to indoctrinate young people in alternative sexual lifestyles, to the point where these children will be encouraged to go out into the community and advocate for them? 

This is beyond political.  Continue reading

Book of Moses Commentary Part I: In Praise of Adah and Zillah

[For an introduction to the Book of Moses, please read this.]

Genesis 4:19-24 tells the story of Lamech, who had “slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.”  Other Bible translations I looked at word this declaration to say that Lamech killed the young man because the young man had inflicted an injury on Lamech.  A footnote in the NIV Study Bible explains these verses as a cautionary tale about revenge. 

But where Genesis moves on to another story in the next verse, the Book of Moses continues further.  And that’s where his wives Adah and Zillah shine.

Moses 5:49-59 adds material that says that Lamech killed the young man (named Irad, this text tells us) because the young man had learned the secret oaths that Satan had taught Cain, and which Lamech had also learned, but Irad had exposed those oaths, spreading them to the general public. 

But that’s not my focus here.  What impresses me most about this story is the reaction of Lamech’s wives to his confession to them of his infernal conspiring and homicidal treachery.  Continue reading