The Duck Dynasty imbroglio has already demonstrated that the Religious Right does not believe anyone beside themselves has First Amendment free speech rights. And do not expect any time soon that religious conservatives will clue in to a little bit of cosmic glue called “causation.”
They’re also not very good at developing cogent arguments, but then that is only to be expected of a group that does not have one single fact on their side. It is inevitable, I suppose, that you are going to reach. Take Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel Action, who complained on World Net Daily the other day that “truth is ‘hate’ to those who hate truth.” I’m sure he thought this was a clever turn of phrase, but an argument consists of far more than a clever title.
Barber claims that Phil Robertson is in trouble “for candidly summarizing, in a recent interview with GQ Magazine, the millennia-long ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ biblical stance on homosexual practice.”
The only problem is, that nowhere in the Bible does it say to love the sinner, hate the sin. It just isn’t there, not any more than is God helps those who help themselves” or “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” As Rev. Patrick S. Cheng has observed, “Although God clearly ‘hates’ sin in the Bible (sane in Hebrew and miseo in the Greek), God never demands that we carry out this hatred on God’s behalf.”
Barber ought to focus on what Jesus actually said: focus on your own sins, not the sins of others (See Matt. 7:5; Luke 6:42). Nowhere, for example, do you see evidence that Jesus hated any sin though he did say you have to hate your family in order to follow him (Luke 14:25-27). He just talked about love. Love even your enemies.
As Rev. Cheng went on to say,
Jesus never made repentance a precondition of loving sinners. Rather, he loved sinners unconditionally, even to the point of risking his own physical safety in defending them from the self-righteous. (See, e.g., John 8:11).
Not only is it not biblical, says Rev. Cheng, it is anti-biblical – heretical even, because it embodies a modern form of ancient Gnostic dualism:
The gnostics, strongly influenced by Platonic philosophy, believed in a dualism of the spirit and flesh. That is, spirit was good, whereas flesh (indeed, all matter) was evil. For example, the heretical religious thinker Marcion (d. 160 C.E.) believed that the God of the Hebrew Scriptures was in fact evil because that “god” had engaged in the “evil” act of creation! (Even the great theologian Augustine of Hippo was a Manichaean dualist before his conversion to Christianity, and in some ways he never entirely gave up that world view. See, e.g., De Civitate Dei at 14.6.)
Traditional Christian theology, going at least as far back as Irenaeus in the second century C.E., has condemned such dualism because orthodox doctrine understands creation to be good and that God has created humanity in God’s own image and likeness. This is why we profess in the Nicene Creed that we believe in “one God” who is the creator of “all that is seen and unseen,” including the gift of human sexuality in all of its forms. And that is why the central revelation of Christianity involves the incarnation, or the goodness of the Word made flesh. Indeed, of all the possible ways of reconciling Godself to us, God chose to take on the form of human flesh. To paraphrase the Eastern Orthodox concept of divinization, God became human so that humans could become divine.
“As such,” concludes Cheng,
I believe those Christians who “hate” LGBT sexualities and gender expressions while allegedly “loving” LGBT people are nothing more than modern-day gnostics. It is simply not possible to divorce one’s sexuality or gender expression — LGBT or otherwise — from one’s spiritual self, particularly if such sexualities and gender expressions are rooted in the love of God, the love of the other, and the love of the self.
If Barber had actually read the Bible he claims to be defending, and if Robertson is really doing what Barber claims he is doing, he would be thanking A&E for slapping down a heretic and then fall on his knees and repent himself.
Jennifer Wright Knust wrote something very insightful about the tendency is invent biblical teachings that appeared in the Washington Post back in 2011:
Since the Bible never offers anything like a straightforward set of teachings about marriage, desire, or God’s perspective on the human body, the only way to pretend that it does is to refuse to read it.
Boy, that explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Those are just the facts and attempts to argue them away make for arguments worse than Barber’s. I don’t want to hear about Paul saying this or Paul saying that. Paul is not Jesus.
It is a source of endless amusement to me how the entirety of Old Testament law comes down to one sin: homosexuality. The Religious Right ignores each and every divine law except that one. You’d think, from listening to them, that Jesus came down to earth with one express purpose: to condemn homosexuality and yet he never so much as talks about it.
Matt Barber wants to pretend that Robertson is only defending Jesus’ teachings but Jesus never says anywhere in the Gospels to love the sinner, hate the sin and he never says to hate the sin of homosexuality, though he does have quite a bit to say about the sin of being rich, and Phil Robertson is rich.
Barber wants to pretend that for defending something he never said, that Jesus would say, “Phil, you will be hated by everyone because of me, but [if you] stand firm to the end, [you] will be saved (Matthew 10:22). So, if you make up something and pretend Jesus said it and then defend that position as Jesus’, Jesus will save you?
I think Jesus would expect Phil to give away his worldly wealth because that is something Jesus DID say, but he never said you’d be saved for getting his teachings all wrong.
Finally, in case Matt Barber has failed to notice, even if Jesus did say to love the sinner, hate the sin, it would be inapplicable to those who are not Christians, just as is everything else contained in the pages of the Bible. Barber is entitled to his beliefs, even when they are unblibical and, well, to put it bluntly, screwed up, but he does not have the right to force those beliefs on others, or to demand others make their decisions based on his beliefs.
The United States Constitution says so.
If corporations are people, they certainly have the right to fire people. After all, Barber argues they have the right to deny folks contraceptives and abortions.
So, to recapitulate, here is what Matt Barber SHOULD do:
1. Thank A&E for suppressing a heretic lest we get overrun by an infestation of modern-day Gnostics; and,
2. Thank A&E for so resolutely exercising its corporate personhood; and finally,
3. Please – PLEASE, read the Bible.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.