Here is a summary of my first day back in Texas…
I’m already hating my life again and want to escape this place as soon as possible. I found some free time (first that I’ve had in about 7 months) to explore the Facebook news feed which was filled with an infinite number of friends, family, and fellow Texans commenting about the Phil Robertson drama in the media. If you don’t know what happened, I’ll summarize in direct quotation some of the comments that Phil Robertson of the popular American reality-comedy show “Duck Dynasty” made to the media in an interview. If you would rather read it directly for yourself, Google the information. Robertson described in the interview how sin is becoming acceptable in America and that the country needs to turn back to its Christian values.
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” Robertson told GQ. “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers-they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
“It seems like, to me, a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me,” Robertson stated. “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.”
Despite his beliefs, the 67-year-old says he doesn’t judge others.
“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job,” Robertson told GQ. “We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus – whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later.”
He responded to the out-roar saying: “I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.”
As a result A&E indefinitely suspended Phil Robertson from the show, ending his contract. Thus the uproar of angry hillbillies with computers from South start whining about every aspect of how ‘wrong’ it was that he was fired for this. There are so many things to address here. Phil Robertson’s comments were disgusting, and personally offensive to me. What is even more disgusting is that so many of the people who I knew while growing up: friends, family, neighbors; people who identify as “Christians”, are strongly supporting Phil Robertson and also have displayed such strong, judgmental, and negative comments that they outspokenly expressed about homosexuality.
First thing to address here are the idiots who are arguing that he was just exercising his “freedom of speech” and thus no penalty should be incurred by him from anyone. I’ve seen this in Facebook posts by multiple people, all which had way too many likes for a post that is incorrect, illogical, and unconstitutional. The word “Freedom” in the constitution means freedom from punishment via the law. It was never meant to be interpreted as ‘freedom from all consequence bestowed upon them by society, etc.’, as some apparently have thought it to mean. That truth exists for good reason. If I read the Bible as literally as these people are I would conclude that gluttony is a sin. Now, although my public stating of this isn’t punishable by law because it is protected underneath the ‘freedom of speech’, I am still not free from the public ridicule, hate, bashing, and negative comments by my peers for saying something that could imply that fat people are going to Hell (which I do not even remotely actually believe, but am using for the purpose of this example). In the same sense that Phil Robertson cannot be punished by law for stating his disagreement, unsupportiveness, and disgust in homosexual people. He is still subject to public ridicule, hate, and discrimination by other American people who he supposedly offended with his remarks. Legally, you are never ‘free’ from the comments and hate from others under this amendment, just free from punishment via the law. This “freedom” doesn’t extend to being protected from being fired from your job either. A&E’s exact reason for suspending Phil Robertson has not yet been stated at this time, although obviously it is something to do with the disapproval of what he said in the GQ interview. They could use any number of reasons to justify terminating Phil Robertson. From his contract instructing him to not speak directly about any of his “Christian” beliefs that could suppress anyone and anything that could be personally offensive to a group a people, to him not abiding by the companies policies and missions which could state against his actions. To ultimately use “freedom of speech” as an argument against him being fired just sounds ridiculous. You’re only jumping on the Phil Robertson support bandwagon because he just so happens to believe the same awful things that you do.
Second thing would be the fact that he says that he and his family “never, ever judge [people]”. Apparently he is confused as what it means ‘to judge’, and what the Bible has to say about it.
I think that he and his family, and many other people are confused as to what the word “judging” means, and what it means “to judge.” Judging is the process of passing a judgment. To judge is to simply form an opinion or conclusion about something. Essentially, it is to claim whether or not something is right or wrong. To simply claim that anything is wrong is in fact to pass a judgment. Some Christians love to use catchy phrases and Bible verses to justify their own condemnation and judgment of others. And also like to use the justification that the Bible does not directly say to not judge, but says to judge “….with right judgment” (John 7:24) and “….judge righteously” (Proverbs 31:9) to justify passing a judgment on any sin, idea, behavior, activity, or person. It’s extremely important to note two types of judgment acknowledged in the Bible: rightful judgment and wrongful judgment. The Bible must acknowledge that rightful and correct judgment exists because it is a necessity of living the “Christian” life, and also a necessity for anyone’s life whether Christian or not. You cannot go through life without judging whether or not you should do something, or whether or not something is right or wrong for you to do. It is essentially decision-making in its simplest form. It’s fairly easy to understand the line between rightful and wrongful judgment. If you are judging whether or not something is right or wrong for you, or whether or not you should do a particular task, then you are rightfully judging your own life. If you are judging anything to do with anyone but yourself—judging someone else’s actions, activities or behaviors—then you are judging wrongfully. The Bible makes careful note to not state that judgment is sinful, but to discourage it stating “judge not, and you will not be judged” in dozens of locations, as compared to the 3 verses I have found that could possibly encourage judgment if twisted out of context. If you conclude that these 3 verses are in fact encouraging judgment, they are undoubtedly encouraging the judgment of your own life, and not that of others. Phil Robertson was being judgmental in the comments that he made.
Third thing would be him quoting single verses out of context, and the accuracy of that which he has stated is “sin”. The Bible was written by man, not God, leaving it open to a man’s bias and opinion. This idea within itself is controversial, however for the purpose of this post I am going to try to stay fairly on topic and not drift away to other issues which could be greatly elaborated upon. Not only was it open to a man’s bias and opinion when it was written, but it was an opinion formed over 3,000 years ago. Do you know how different life was in the time period during which the Bible was written? It wasn’t written in English. It was written in Hebrew which had to be translated by PEOPLE—a translation which was left open to those PEOPLE’s interpretations. So to take any biblical verse literally, in a word for word interpretation, is idiocy. Besides, even if the Bible was somehow magically translated perfectly into modern English, without any influence from man, Bible verses should still not be understood in a literal sense because most biblical verses are to be understood by reading a large passage as a whole to better understand the message that is intended to be delivered, relative to what is being discussed. And homosexuality as it was understood thousands of years ago, as referenced in the Bible, is certainly not anything close to what homosexuality is today. In ancient civilizations such as Greece, homosexuality referred to “pederasty” (pederasty is the sexual relationship between an older man and a younger boy). Is this what the Bible is referring to? To further elaborate on what I mean by using verses out of context and translational differences throughout time, let’s take a look at some completely disregarded verses of the 21st century:
-Disobedient children should be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
-If I chop your penis off you won’t go to heaven, despite your choice and/or inability to stop someone from removing it (Deuteronomy 23:1)
-One born to unwed parents may not attend church, or enter heaven until they have been cleansed by at least 10 generations of offspring (Deuteronomy 23:2)
-All women that have sex with men should be killed. Men should engage in sexual activities only with girls (Numbers 31:17-18)
-Women should not be allowed to speak during church (1 Corinthians 14:34)
-Killing interracial couples is a good deed in the eyes of the Lord (Numbers 25:6-1)
-If you were born to an unwed mother, you cannot enter the church (Deuteronomy 23:2)
-Women should not be allowed to pray with their heads uncovered, and it is a disgrace to a man if he has long hair (1 Corinthians 11:13-15)
-If evidence is found that a woman is not a virgin on her marriage night, then she should be put in front of the city and stoned to death by all the men (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)
-If your hand causes you to sin, it should be cut off. For a life handless is better than an eternity in Hell (Mark 9:43)
-Slavery should still exist (1 Peter 2:18; Ephesians 6:5)
Need I continue? If he and others were to actually research some of this stuff, rather than quoting old and outdated misinterpreted Bible verses that could be mistranslated and misinterpreted and applied to people that lived 3,000 years ago (not that the fact that it applied to people who lived 3,000 years ago makes it any less relevant to today’s people, but it does, in the same sense that the verses I listed above that applied to people who lived 3,000 years ago are no longer relevant today nor are they followed by heterosexuals because they are seen as “irrelevant” and/or “outdated”) he’d find that there is just as much addressing of the few verses that reference ‘homosexuality as sinful’ as misinterpretations, as there are referencing the Bible verses above that Christians seems to justify not following as ‘misinterpretations.’ I am not claiming with 100% certainty that Biblical text doesn’t consider homosexuality as a sin, because I am a very skeptical and objective person and it is certainly against what I have been taught my whole life and how I have been brought up to believe, but there is definitely enough contradictory evidence for anyone to be on the fence about this issue and see it objectively. For me personally, I can’t believe it to be sin for the simple fact that it’s not a choice. If I didn’t chose to be gay, how can it be a sin? How do I know it’s not a choice? Because I tried to change to being “straight” for 8 agonizing years of my life. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed in tears for 8 years for God to take this pain away from me, for Him to give me a life that is like all of my friends, for Him to give me a life that my parents will accept so that they can be happy, for him to give me some person to confide in, for him to give me an emotional connection with someone in the girlfriend / boyfriend sense, for Him to give me hope that I could ever one day be happy, for Him to give me hope that it was at least possible that I could one day be able to find love, for Him to take the struggle away from me, until you eventually realize that this is only a struggle because the world has made it out to be one. The world has made it a struggle to live a life like this, not God. Until you eventually realize that there isn’t any more hope of you changing then there is hope that your straight friends will change and become attracted to the same sex. It’s possible live a happy completely fulfilled life being gay in the world if people would allow it. I know this because it’s done in many other countries. I know that it is hard to even consider something to be false that you have always known to be true, but to not challenge these ideas and see the Biblical and historical evidence in both sides objectively is stubborn, unintelligent, and most importantly unloving. For many Christians it’s easy to ignore the evidence and consider it to be factual that it’s a sin because they personally find it disgusting no matter how un-immoral, or un-sinful it may be. The only reason this would be considered disgusting by anyone is because that it has been taught to them to be disgusting by friends, family, and other people who had influence in their life. In the world of Christian collaboration, many like to sit around quoting Bible verses. Why? Because it’s easy, and by nature people tend to look only for more support for their pre-existing ideas or opinions. If a Bible verse supports their theory, they use it; if it doesn’t, they ignore it. Can you believe that only 150 years ago Americans thought that slavery was acceptable and practiced it regularly—and that they found biblical ways to justify it? Crazy. Bible verses are more than meet the eye. Don’t just quote scripture as a basis for such a controversial opinionated idea which you hold. “Because the Bible says so” isn’t a justifiable reason for believing such ideas, especially when holding these ideas hurts a lot of people. Throughout history, religious intolerance has been the reason for many wars, and the unjustified, unacceptable, immoral, and wrongful oppression and suffering of many peoples. Sadly, this is still the case today after 1,000 years. There is nothing wrong with religion until it starts to be the seed of hate, violence, and greed by those who do not understand it. Which I believe to be the case today by many who identify themselves as “religious” people.
Fourth item to address is the idea that ‘homosexuality is a sin’ as a whole.
It amazes me that so many people from where I come from actually believe that someone’s sexuality can change or that they can repent from their sexuality and be “healed”. By repent, I mean recognizing that them being a homosexual is sinful and turning away from that sin. Expecting this of homosexuals is no different than asking a heterosexual to not practice heterosexual acts. Do you realize what it is that you are asking? To actually convince a homosexual that changing their sexuality—or not ever being able to act on their sexual urges and romantic longing to fall in love—is possible or will ever be rightfully possible, is to have them spend a lifetime of misery trying to conform to so something that they will NEVER be able to be. And for what reason? Because of someone’s opinion of homosexuality, or homosexual acts, as sinful based purely on personal disgust or misinformation and education from their peers, families, and biased biblical interpretations? They won’t make it out alive; lives are ruined and are lost because of this very frequently. So sad. The discrepancy lies within the inability for most of these people to recognize that homosexuality is no more of a choice than it is a choice that straight people chose heterosexuality. Disagree? Are you a homosexual? No? Oh, you’re not a homosexual, yet you are sure that homosexuality is a choice? You’re a heterosexual who acknowledges that you didn’t choose to be straight but claims that homosexuals chose to be gay? That is one of the most illogical arguments that I have ever heard. Someone’s sexuality isn’t a choice. And if it is, when did you choose to be straight? Still unsure of the answer? Well, there is only one way to find out the truth. Why don’t you go around and ask some homosexuals if they chose to be that way? I won’t even begin to explain how silly it would be for someone to choose a sexuality that society disgraces and plagues like a disease. If you are under the belief that it is not the act of ‘being a homosexual’ that is sinful, but instead the homosexual sex acts that are sinful, then doesn’t this seems like an unfair advantage that God would have given to straight people? Doesn’t seem like the loving God that I read about to bestow the apparent curse of homosexuality upon people who did nothing to deserve it and then have a condition where they are to remain celibate and without a soul mate in order to live lives which are pleasing to him.
Personally, I don’t understand why anyone would be wanting to support Phil Robertson at this point. He is continuing the hate, throwing judgment out there like there’s no tomorrow, and he’s continuing the suppression of a large group of people who have harder lives than most average people could possibly ever imagine. People with his type of ideology are the exact reason that gay people continue to wrongfully and undeservingly suffer and are persecuted every day. If they have not chosen to be gay then how can you justify treating them in any way but EXACTLY the same as you would treat anyone else? It’s strange to me how these people and other Christians I know state that they aren’t treating homosexuals any differently and claim to be treating them with the same ‘loving’ nature that they do all sinners, while they still regard their lifestyle as sinful, while in the legal system not supporting their right to marry, while not openly discussing it as they would any heterosexual relationship, while not supporting it being taught in sexual education classes in school, while discouraging their children from ‘that sinful lifestyle’ etc. It’s suppressed in society in millions of ways that make it quite demotivating to even live on this Earth. Society basically slaps you in the face and says “YOU HAVE NO FUTURE. YOU WILL NEVER BE HAPPY. YOU WILL NEVER BE SEEN AS AN EQUAL IN THIS WORLD. YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ANY KIND OF ROMANTIC ENCOUNTER WITH ANOTHER PERSON UNLESS IT’S HIDDEN AWAY BEHIND A CLOSED DOOR”. The strange part, is that in reading this, Christians, friends, and family members of gay people don’t consider themselves to be included in this “society” that makes gay peoples’ lives miserable, they tell themselves that they are different, and treat these people lovingly, but truthfully they are usually right there with them. I don’t know if they say this to make themselves feel better about the situation, or if they actually believe that they act loving towards these people and treat them any better than the rest of the world does. Whether or not you are holding a sign saying “God Hates Fags” at a street corner, or telling someone gay that you “love them and will treat them with the same compassion that you do all sinners”, it’s the same root cause: religious intolerance. If you aren’t actually loving and supporting these people to the fullest extent, then you might as well be holding the sign. If you believe that they are immoral, sinful, etc. then you aren’t going to support the progression of their rights to equate to those of heterosexuals in both the legal system and everyday life interactions with them. Thus you aren’t treating them the same as you would anyone else. I don’t believe that the majority of people intend stating their beliefs to bash anyone; but the truth is that they do bash people. Not only is it extremely damaging to state the beliefs which have been referenced here, but it is equally as damaging to hold that belief to be true. Whether you speak up about your beliefs or not, your belief system is going to have a profound impact on how you live your life, how you treat others, how you perceive others, and most importantly how you raise your children. Holding these ideas are going to unjustly, and negatively affect people (specifically homosexuals in this case) whether stated or not.
This is why the Church continues to run away gays, and why you don’t find very many gay Christians. The Church preaches a message of “it’s a sin just like any other sin” at best, and these churches are few. For people who don’t know about Jesus or the Church, hearing a message, that the way they live their life and something which they have no control over and have tried with everything within their power to remove is just some measly “choice”, is the absolute last thing that they need to hear. They’ve probably already had enough turmoil throughout their lives just trying to accept who they are, worrying about what their family or friends might think about them, dealing with the shit people gave them over it, or worrying about their entire future and if they could ever have normal lives with this apparent curse that society has alienated and made it very difficult to live a life happily with. After coming to terms with themselves, the last thing that they need is Bible-thumpers telling them that their sexuality is a sin and that if they repent they will be “fixed.” It turns people away and gives a message of which I think Jesus would be quite ashamed of. The Church needs a wake-up call. I’ve never heard of something as absolutely outrageous as calling someone’s sexuality sinful. This has nothing to do with the loving Jesus that I once read about and was taught about by a good Christian friend whom I admire very much.
My decision to leave Texas permanently and to persuade everyone to never visit anything but the two largest cities there if you are presented with the chance to, has now been explained. The majority of Texas is small farm / horse & cow ranch towns like the one that I come from and it is impossible to escape the people with these type of hateful, offensive, suppressive demeanor. I can vouch with first-hand experience having grown up my entire life in the church that these type of small-town “church” people play a prominent role in why hate is in this world. I know that the church themself see’s these hate mongering people as a very small population amongst their congregation. The reality is that it is the majority, with few who do not fall into this category. It is such a horrible reality but so true. Not everyone that you come across with a Southern Christian background, or who lives in the Bible belt, or who is from a Texas city that isn’t some raging metropolis is like these people, so you will be extremely grateful when you do come across those few as I have. But, what else should I be expecting though from the most conservative state in the South? I constantly tell myself that it isn’t as bad as it’s made out be here, but really, it is. It’s extremely depressing and sad to have a life in a place like this. Always knowing that you are being judged, and that never in your lifetime will you be seen as an equal or be treated as an equal by your peers. Knowing that the very people holding you back, making you miserable, making you lie in bed every night of your early child hood and teen years crying for hours alone because you wish you were dead so that you could escape the pain, are those that have surrounded you for your entire life. The same people who are making others like yourself in the world feel these same things are the ones that are all that you have ever known. The ones who most people would look at and call your ‘friends and family’. It’s extremely difficult, and a hard thing to overcome. The Robertson’s released a statement in light of the recent drama which I feel appropriately represents the mindset of the many “Christians” that I am referencing here. It can be read at: http://www.duckcommander.com/news/robertson-family-official-statment. To support that Phil is a ‘Godly’ man who follows the Bible, the Robertson’s say “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I just gawked when I read these words. How is doing what he is doing and what so many other Christians are doing “Loving their neighbor as themselves”? You can’t ‘love’ someone while ‘innocently sharing’ your belief that their sexual orientation is an abomination to God. You can’t ‘love’ someone while taking actions to specifically prohibit the progression and the rights of these people to be extended to the rights which you have yourself. You can’t ‘love’ someone while voting that they will never be able to get married. You can’t ‘love’ someone by teaching your children that your friend, co-worker, or family members’ lifestyle is unacceptable and ‘sinful’ (which by the way will make no difference whether your children turn out to be gay or not and does nothing to deter them). You can’t ‘love’ someone by staring at them holding hands with their same sex partner walking down the street like they’re some kind of alien. All of these amongst hundreds of others are the reason that these people suffer. This theme in not prevalent everywhere, but among others, the part of the world where I come from has made it seem like you will never have a chance at happiness, an opportunity for a ‘normal’ life, or a life that isn’t just plane miserable. These things are not “of love”, and if this is “loving your neighbor as yourself” then you must really hate yourself. The only option which involves you not committing suicide from the stress and turmoil you deal with over this is to pack up and go somewhere else far away. Someplace that’s safe. Someplace that you have the opportunity to be happy, and not be penalized for something that you never even wanted to be in the first place. You must leave everything behind. That is why I cannot wait to go to a beautiful place that I love. A place where everyone loves and accepts you unconditionally and see you as no different than and treats you no differently than any of their peers. A place where everyone gives you the same political and legal rights that they themselves are granted. A place where you can be around tons of other people who are just like you and share with them your agonizing stories about this land far away from where you come so that they can realize how fortunate they are and sympathize and comfort you. I cannot wait to go back to New Zealand. I want to thank every-one who made my time in Zealand amazing. Without you guys I would have never felt like there was hope for me, or that there was a chance that I could be integrated with any type of people in my life different than those from where I come from. Thank-you for making me feel like I had a home for the first time in my life.