The Daily Mail’s exclusive coverage of Phil Robertson’s first public statements about his controversial comments on homosexual behavior begins with a confusion of terms, a tactic used by the left to undermine a key premise of biblical Christianity’s perspective on human sexuality.
After labeling his comments as unequivocally “homophobic” (another term that is often deliberately misused, more on that later), the Mail’s Will Payne states,
And the deeply religious outdoorsman stood by his incendiary statements – which saw him call homosexuality a sin and led to his suspension from the hit reality show by network bosses at A&E.
The key word here is “homosexuality,” a term that the left in the media have deliberately conflated with the phrase “homosexual behavior.” If this sounds like an exercise in semantics, it is. But it’s crucial to understanding a Biblical Christian perspective on sexuality and sexual behavior as espoused by Phil Robertson—and intentionally misrepresented by those in the media (see for example recent reactions to Robertson by Piers Morgan and Juan Williams).
The Mail specifically states that Phil believes “homosexuality” is a sin. But that’s not true in the way that the leftist media wields the term because, like others who prescribe to the Old and New Testament teachings, Phil does not accept the concept of sexuality so narrowly defined. “Heterosexual” and “homosexual” are ultimately nonsensical in a Biblical perspective. The Bible, which Phil repeatedly claims as his ultimate authority on human nature, portrays mankind as generally “sexual,” not confined to desire for one gender or another, but able to become attracted to and engage in sexual acts with whomever and whatever we sexually pursue. The idea of a fixed, static sexual identity does not align with biblical teachings about sexuality.
As to the label “homophobic”: that term again is based on a premise that scripture-focused Christians like Phil reject as it carries with it the same conflation of terms, implying that a person rejects the sexual identity (the modern conception) of a person rather than the person’s sexual behavior.
The media knows this, but chooses to ignore it so they can demonize individuals who publicly affirm this belief, while attempting to avoid addressing the real issue: freedom of religion.
A close look at Phil’s follow-up statement this weekend about his controversial comments clearly demonstrates this Old and New Testament perspective. After admitting his own openly sinful lifestyle for his first 28 years of life, Robertson states,
We murder each other and we steal from one another, sex and immorality goes ballistic. All the diseases that just so happen to follow sexual mischief… boy there are some microbes running around now.
Sexual sins are numerous and many, I have a few myself. So what is your safest course of action? If you’re a man, find yourself a woman, marry them and keep your sex right there.
You can have fun, but one thing is for sure, as long as you are both healthy in the first place, you are not going to catch some debilitating illness, there is safety there.
Phil is arguing straight out of the Biblical conception of human sexual behavior. There’s no question to him about sexual identity. He believes people have the ability to choose to engage in sexual acts with men or women—or objects or animals, for that matter. But if we engage in sex outside of the safety of marriage, we are risking our health—physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually. The biblical teaching that sexually “deviant” (as in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman) behavior is a sin is ultimately practical, like all of the Bible’s teachings of sin. One may choose to live sinfully, but there will be real-world consequences and God’s displeasure. Phil underscores this practicality when he mentions sexually transmitted diseases and procreation:
Commonsense says we are not going to procreate the human race unless we have a man and a woman.
The media, either deliberately or out of profound misunderstanding, also distorts Christianity’s perspective on sin in general. There’s no hierarchy of sin in the Biblical worldview. As Phil alludes to a number of times, a sin is a sin is a sin, from a mundane lie to a murderous act. A homosexual lifestyle and a heterosexually promiscuous lifestyle and a greedy lifestyle and a sometimes greedy lifestyle and a mildly dishonest lifestyle are all equally sinful lifestyles in Old and New Testament teachings.
Phil’s remarks demonstrate this non-hierarchical view on sexual sin, as well as the left’s resentment for those who dare identify particular sins:
Then reading from the Bible he said, ‘The acts of the sinful nature are obvious. Sexual immorality, is number one on the list. How many ways can we sin sexually? My goodness. You open up that can of worms and people will be mad at you over it.
‘I am just reading what was written over 2000 years ago. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. All I did was quote from the scriptures, but they just didn’t know it. Whether I said it, or they read it, what’s the difference? The sins are the same, humans haven’t changed.
‘If you give them the bad news, they’ll start kicking and screaming. But you love them more than you fear them, so you tell them.
One might disagree with Phil’s perspective, but make no mistake, that disagreement is not with “homophobic” Phil, but with the Old Testament and New Testament conceptions of human sexuality and sexual behavior, a view that millions of Americans share. This is what the media does not want its audience to face.
Robertson is not backing down from his opinion of sexual sin. Though he has a strong scripture-based view of the sins of man, he insists that he is ultimately "a lover of humanity, not a hater." He repeats in his follow-up remarks that his goal was not to harp on one particular sin (which he was specifically asked about), but to offer up a positive message, what Christians believe is the answer to all sin:
A lot of times they don’t even wait for you to finish and say, “But there’s a way out, do you want to hear the rest of the story or what? Jesus will take sins away, if you’re a homosexual he’ll take it away, if you’re an adulterer, if you’re a liar, what’s the difference? If you break one sin you may as well break them all.”