December 19, 2013

Why Phil Robertson Hurts the Church of Christ

I'm a member of the church of Christ (coC) denomination, just like Phil Robertson, the ZZ Top imitator that's the star of a reality TV show. There's a big difference between us, though. I was raised in the coC from childhood, and left it for a decade due to people with attitudes like Mr. Robertson promoted. Trust me when I tell you that when a coC member expresses his opinion in the way Phil did, you can bet that the LGBT community and people of color aren't the only ones looked down upon by them. Anyone that doesn't agree with their doctrine, people with mental illness, divorced people, feminists and women are second-class citizens in their worldview. That's because their worldview consists of the 'saved' inside the conservative coC and everyone else that is 'outside' of the coC.

There are a lot of people in the coC that want to move forward with gender equality and a new discussion on sexuality, but the reactions to Phil's comments are going to do nothing but cause a lot of people that are in the 'undecided' category to hunker down and retreat into the old exclusivist sectarian doctrine. That's going to shut down the possibility of gender equality discussions in a lot of coC congregations, and put back an open dialogue on human sexuality a decade or two.

You, Mr. Robertson, not only caused hurt to members of the LGBT community and people of color with your thoughtless and un-compassionate comments, Mr. Robertson, you caused direct damage to your brothers and sisters within the church of Christ. "Speaking the truth in love" does not mean that you get to callously hurt people's feelings nor help to repress half of the church. You owe an apology to a lot of people, Mr. Robertson, and you should resign from your position as an elder of the church, as you have shown that you are not capable of caring for people in a compassionate manner, nor able to be an elder that is avoiding all appearance of evil. Your words were crude, coarse, and vulgar, and not at all the type of speech that is 'seasoned as with salt', gracious or helpful.  As an elder of your congregation, you have an extra responsibility to conduct yourself in an upright and Christ-like manner, and not to bring the church into any controversy or a bad light by your own words or behavior.

Yes, Mr. Robertson, what you did was evil. Not because you spoke the truth you believe, but because you spoke it with a heart of judgement and condemnation of your fellow man. Bigotry can never be counted to be on the side of the Christ who came to bring us salvation out of His supreme love and compassion. The only thing your words did that will have a change on anyone's life is to serve to keep people away from Christ out of fear of the judgmentalism of some of His followers.

I attend a church of Christ that is beginning to open up to the idea of gender equality, and there are many people there who wish to promote that conversation. Your thoughtless words may have stifled that conversation, or hopefully, sickened enough people with your bigotry that we will hurry it up. But you've also embarrassed every coC member that believes in equality; as soon as any of us mention what church we attend, the response is likely to be, "Oh, yeah, the church that the homophobic bigot attends."  Frankly, you're such an embarrassment that I'm considering returning to the Disciples of Christ. With people like you in the national spotlight representing our denomination, we can only be seen as a haven for spiteful, intolerant fundamentalists.

You owe the general public an apology, Mr. Robertson, and an even bigger one to your brothers and sisters in the church of Christ. I won't be holding my breath for one, though, I don't really think you have the integrity to apologize.

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