The Duck Disaster: Sin, Faith, and Loving Your Neighbor

Has the Dynasty fallen? If you’ve been on any sort of social media or news this week, you’ve probably seen the fire ignited by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. In an interview with GQ, Robertson makes some very candid remarks about the LGBT community and sin:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” (CNN Dec. 18, 2013)

When asked what he considered sinful, Robertson began with homosexuality and segued into bestiality and having multiple sexual partners (CNN Dec. 18, 2013). GQ also quotes Robertson as saying,

“Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they [African Americans] happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” (CNN Dec. 18, 2013)

There are many aspects of this debacle to address, most importantly the blatant disrespect and discriminatory remarks about the LGBT community (A&E, the network of Duck Dynasty, has suspended Robertson from the show indefinitely; CNN Dec. 18, 2013). However, I think what is worth discussing is the reaction of the rest of the Duck Dynasty family and many others, all of whom laud Robertson for his religious convictions.

In response to Robertson’s comments to GQ, the Robertson family is quick to point out that “his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible,” and that “Phil is a Godly man…who would never incite or encourage hate” (CNN Dec. 19, 2013). As to A&E’s suspension of the family’s patriarch, the Robertsons and thousands of Americans are protesting the decision, claiming it is too extreme and that Robertson is being punished for simply stating what he believes (CNN Dec. 19, 2013).

Many, including myself, are finding it incredibly difficult to reconcile the commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself with Robertson’s statements. As members of the LGBT community are fighting for the right to marry the ones they love, many of whom are incredibly faithful and God-filled people, Robertson is comparing same-sex sexual activity to bestiality. Even as Robertson says, “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me, we are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity” (CNN Dec. 19, 2013), he ignores the still present racism in this country and suggests African Americans were happier before the civil rights movement.

So many people – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist – live their lives around the idea of loving their neighbors. Robertson’s comments and the connection to his faith presents us with a question: who are our neighbors and do we have to love them all equally? If Robertson subscribes to a old classic – hate the sin, not the sinner – is that enough love for Robertson’s gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender neighbors? When Jesus said to love your neighbor, did he mean we have to love our neighbors with our actions and our words? Does loving your neighbor mean you actually have to think about whether your comments are loving to different communities?

The future of Phil Robertson and the rest of the Duck Dynasty is up in the air – with A&E standing behind their LGBT-friendly reputation and suspending Robertson, the Louisiana royalty are weighing their options. Regardless of where the ducks land, this debacle has brought attention to a more important aspect of how we live with others and how our words can be unwittingly hateful. One thing we can all agree on is to love our neighbors…the next step is equal love towards all neighbors, gay or straight, male or female, young or old, black or white or brown.

How do you love your neighbors?

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