Monday, December 23, 2013

What Josh Barro Gets Wrong About Phil Robertson

(I have noted on my other blog that I'm not entirely comfortable with some types of religious discussion online, particularly doctrine and the meaning of scripture, because I think it is a not good venue or format for such discussions. But sometimes I have to disregard my discomfort and make some written observations of a religious nature.)

What Barro gets wrong the same thing nearly all critics of Robertson who are ignorant of Scripture get wrong.

Barro says,
Robertson hates gay people. Robertson in 2010: "Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.

This last one is key. My inbox is full of "love the sinner, hate the sin" defenses of Robertson's 2013 remarks. But Robertson doesn't love gay people. He thinks they're, well, "full of murder."  His views on gays are hateful, inasmuch as they are full of hate.
You have to look at who "They" is referring to in the scripture, and Barro obviously isn't doing that.

You have to go back to the opening verses of the passage. The people Paul is writing about (in Barro's comment) are clearly identified in verse 18 of Romans, Chapter 1 -- men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. What truth are they suppressing? The truth about God -- his eternal power and divine nature. And due to suppressing this truth, they become so foolish as to substitute man himself or animals for God.

Now, does it have to be explained that man and animals do not have eternal power or a divine nature? Does it have to be explained that they are not fit subjects for human worship, and worshiping them will have all kinds of detrimental effects? A look at those affects is what follows in that scripture.

So who are the people described? People who think it is not worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God.  Homosexuals are not the ones instigating the evil listed, and Robertson didn't say they were. They are not the cause -- they are part of the result. The cause is refusing to retain the knowledge of God.

Now, you may disagree with this passage of scripture, Barro -- but DON'T DELIBERATELY MISSTATE WHAT IT SAYS.

Only verses 26 and 27 (highlighted in red, below)  refer specifically to homosexual behavior. The verses before and after them identify clearly who is being discussed: men who suppress the truth (about God)  by their wickedness and who think it is not worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God. In other words, what the scripture is saying is, Remove the knowledge of God from your culture, and expect the following...

Our culture is FULL of such people, both those who suppress knowledge of God, and those who exhibit the behavior of life without God's influence -- in politics, in education, in business and industry, in entertainment. Our whole secular culture constantly pushes the notion that it is not worthwhile for society or individuals to retain the knowledge of God, as Barro has just demonstrated. And the result is what you see rampant in our culture: murder, envy, strife, hatred, and all the rest....

Phil knows this. Most Christians know it. Barro apparently does not.


Romans 1: 18-32

Verses 18-20
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Verses 21-25
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.

Verses 26-27
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Verses 28-31
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Verse 32
Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

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