Unless you’ve been on the Island of Misfit Toys the past week or so, you’ve no doubt seen the stories about Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame, who was interviewed by GQ magazine and volunteered a few comments about his biblical interpretations on the subject of lesbians and gays. Now, I wholeheartedly agree that Phil—or anyone else for that matter—has a right to his/her own opinions and beliefs. I also know as a responsible adult that exercising my free speech may have consequences. That’s a fact of life.
So, what do you do when these culture wars invade your holiday gathering? Most of us want to get along with our family and friends, and edit our conversations accordingly for the sake of peace at the Christmas table. Knowing that there is an ultra-conservative religious wing to our family, Sandy and I talked about the possibility of the subject coming up and agreed to do our best to maintain peace. We had already heard a few of their “well, that’s what the bible says” types of comments in advance to understand the potential pitfalls of the day. We respect their beliefs, however narrow-minded and well, wrong, we believe them to be. Mostly, we coexist in a peaceful way, and we even believed that we’d made strides toward acceptance.
But here’s where the story changes. A member of the family arrives at the gathering wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with Phil’s picture and proclaiming: “Phil is my hero”. My problem with that is huge. First off, to know that you are coming to a family gathering where you will see relatives who are lesbians and choose to wear that shirt seems confrontational, at the least, and hateful at worst. It made me sad and angry simultaneously. Sad because the message was clear: A man who has recently proclaimed that I am a godless sinner and evil person, because I’m a lesbian is his hero. And here’s the way these things inevitably go: If I react, then I will be the one deemed to have ruined Christmas for the family. Right? Exactly.
This is an all too familiar scenario and it’s always heartbreaking when you think friends or family members really do accept you, only to be confronted with the undisputed truth in their [careless] actions. So, today, I’m pondering the relationship with my extended family and seeing things a little differently. People, here’s the deal: If you tell me that you love and accept me and then wear a shirt proclaiming your support for hateful words against me then, I’m sorry, you are a hypocrite. You can’t have it both ways. Hateful speech is just that. Hateful. Jesus had no tolerance for the religious bigots of his time. I’m challenging those of you who profess to be conservative Christians to stop hiding behind a twisted message of hate and start embracing what Jesus actually DID say and do. Start small. Try respecting the people in your family unit, then maybe branch out from there. I’m betting the world will be a much better place if we all gave it a try.
You can read Phil in his own words here: