"Just when I thought I was out... They pull me back in." ~ Michael Corleone
If you haven't already heard, you will shortly: A&E has suspended some dude (I don't know what his name is, and I really don't even care enough to Google it) from the show Duck Dynasty for some offensive comments he made about homosexuals in an interview with GQ. I'm not going to focus on what was said in the interview. If you care, you can read the whole interview here, or you can read some of the homophobic highlights here. Myself? I really don't care what he said. There is absolutely nothing surprising or noteworthy about an old, white, Southern, Christian hunter being grossed out about gay sex or believing that all the gays are going straight to Hell. There is nothing rare about this.
There is also nothing surprising or noteworthy about a company suspending an employee because of his personal behavior. It happens all the time. I work for a organization that educates kids about differences, and if I did an interview with GQ where I said that I think that retarded (if you are a person who still uses this word, you should probably read this) people are disgusting and they are all going to hell, I would be a fool not expect to get fired from my job.
What is noteworthy is the conversation that is going to take place over the next couple of days on social media. I say "conversation," but really it's mostly going to be a bunch of angry people who are certain that God is on their side typing in ALL CAPS. And I say "on social media" because people (for whatever reason) feel okay about typing things on the Internet that they would never say to a person's face. But before you let yourself get knee-deep into all the arguing and debate and noise, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Freedom of Speech does not mean "freedom to say whatever you want without any consequences." This should be one of those things that goes without saying, but apparently, it needs to be said. We all have the freedom to go on TV and scream "My boss is a jackass!" But that freedom comes with some ramifications...
2. There is also free speech that you don't agree with. You are not some sort of "Patriot, fighting for the First Amendment rights of all Americans" if the only time you get upset about a person's "rights being trampled" is when it happens to people who think exactly like you. If you think of the First Amendment when hearing people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," you are very, very confused. And if the only free speech that you support is speech that you agree with, that doesn't make you a "patriot." It makes you a hypocrite. And that's something completely different.
3. Any plans for some grand act of support (probably by "Christians") for this Duck Dynasty guy will do absolutely nothing to actually support him, but it will do plenty to drive an even bigger wedge between the Church and the LGBT community. Please think about this for a moment: This guy is a gazillionaire. You can't walk through a Walmart without knocking something off a shelf that has his face on it. He does not need your support. But if people plan some sort of "Wear Camo to Work" day in support this guy (just like the whole "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" to support Dan Cathy's First Amendment rights to financially support groups that actively work against equal rights for the LGBT community), what you will accomplish is hurting and alienating the very people you believe are going to hell unless they change. Does that seem like a good strategy to you? Me neither. Also, it will have the added effect of making my damn head explode.
4. This is not religious persecution. I cannot stress this enough. He did not get suspended for his religious beliefs. He was suspended because what he said was completely offensive. There are plenty of Christians (many of my friends, in fact) who believe that being gay is a sin and marriage should only be between a man and a woman, yet they could have still answered those questions with love and humility. Someone might use Bible verses to claim that interracial relations are an abomination and say, "Anyone who commits the sin of miscegenation is heading straight to Hell" and call it freedom of religion, but really... It's just old-school hatred. Hatred is not a biblical belief.
5. And lastly (and most importantly), imagine that there is a gay person reading the things you are writing. Because guess what? There will be. Please don't separate the issue from the people. Imagine that there is someone reading the words you are writing who is trying to get a sense of what this Jesus guy is all about. Imagine a person reading your words who is just as sure of their same-sex attraction as you are of your opposite-sex attraction. Imagine that person has only ever heard hatred coming from people who call themselves Christians, and he or she is just about ready to give up. Imagine looking into a person's eyes and saying the hate-filled things you are getting ready to write, instead of looking into computer screen. Maybe even imagine one of your kids has come out to you, and he or she is reading your words. And then finally, think of a time that you have been wrong about something in the past, and imagine that this issue of "how sinful it is to be gay" might be one of those times.
I hope this helps. And if you're one of the people who has been hurt by the hate and ignorance and judgment over that is already everywhere on the internet, just know that the folks who are spewing all that hate are not really representing Jesus. Jesus said, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples: If you love one another." So that's the way you'll know. Let's keep it clean, Internet.
***OH MY GOD, READ THIS BEFORE YOU LEAVE A COMMENT!!!***
Please, please stop calling each other names and being so mean in the comments. What started out as kind of ironically amusing, has just become a beacon of discouragement. Read what I wrote -- I don't care what he said. I understand that he said it. I have probably said very similar things before I got a little more clarity on the situation. I'm sure he's a nice guy. This post was about a few things: How this is not a free speech issue (it's not), how a having a giant "Stand With Phil" rally will only work to further alienate the LGBT community from the arms of the God who loves them, and how we all (but especially those of us claiming to follow Jesus) should think about how the things we write will be read by people who are gathering information about what Jesus is like. Is there some sort of site that bombs comment sections with ignorant, hateful comments in order to make Jesus look bad??? What in the world, people....
This post originally appeared on The Boeskool.