As I have read the many commentaries offered by various evangelicals on the Phil Robertson flap I cannot help but wonder if some of the discussion confuses categories. Some, while in sympathy with Robertson's view that homosexuality is sin, are scandalized by his, shall we say, "earthy language." Same sex attraction requires more sensitivity and nuance, we are told. It is a complicated matter. And indeed it is. But same sex attraction is not what Mr. Robertson was addressing. He was addressing the specific sin of homosexual acts which is a related but different category from same sex attraction. We have brothers and sisters in Christ who, while struggling with same sex attraction, persevere faithfully in God-honoring chastity recognizing that homosexuality is a sin. The church ought to be a place where these saints can be honest about their particular area of temptation so that they can be spurred on toward love and good deeds. You know, just like those saints who struggle with lustful thoughts, dishonesty, pride, disobedience to parents, greed, anger, gluttony, etc.
Homosexual acts, however, do not merit such sensitivity and nuance (nor does lying, coveting, murder, etc). The Scripture's condemnation of such acts is clear. But God's book of nature is just as clear. Paul appeals to natural revelation in Romans one where homosexual acts are described as self-evidently unnatural. We live among people who reject outright the Biblical prohibition against such acts. That much is clear. But, as Paul points out, these same folks have exchanged in favor of a lie God's truth revealed in the natural world as well. It is a knowledge that is clear enough to render them without excuse. Is this not what Phil Robertson was pointing out? Could it be that his words were just too clear for the more sophisticated among us?
There is an inescapable "yuck factor" to homosexual acts that ought not be diminished by Christians. I'm not talking about juvenile snickering. I'm talking about a mature disgust generated by acts that have gone desperately awry of what is natural. Any medical doctor worth his salt will tell you the sorts of destruction done to the bodies of homosexuals. I would suggest that the greater ignorance is to be silent to such physical realities rather than pointing them out.
It seems to me that some of the condemnation of Phil Robertson coming from evangelicals has the aroma of cultural elitism. That is, a faith that is expressed in very ordinary and "un-nuanced" ways tends be sneered at by those Christians who prefer their cappuccinos be crafted by free range baristas (Okay, that was just a little cheap shot but I've got to keep your interest). My point is that those of us who have attended seminary and enjoy coffee from independent coffee shops need to remember that the Faith we embrace goes to the unschooled and uncouth. It is a faith for duck hunters, children, stock brokers, middle school dropouts, physicists and those who love the pancakes at Cracker Barrel. If that is embarrassing to some of my fellow evangelicals then perhaps Christian Science may provide a bit more insulation from the ruffians of Munroe, Louisiana.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Phil Robertson, Elitism, and the Yuck Factor
I've written a post over at Ref21 concerning the Phil Robertson flap. Specifically I seek to distinguish between our reactions to same sex attraction and homosexual acts. I also seek to defend the "yuck factor" as a legitimate response to homosexual acts.