December 20th, 2013
11:23 AM ET
Does Phil Robertson get the Bible wrong?
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - The Robertson family of "Duck Dynasty" fame has rallied around its patriarch, saying his controversial comments on homosexuality are "grounded in the teachings of the Bible." But Scripture is fiercely contested ground, and some experts say Phil Robertson misinterprets a key Bible verse.
A&E, the network that broadcasts the hugely popular "Duck Dynasty" show, suspended Robertson for a now infamous interview with GQ magazine. In the article, Robertson, who became a born-again Christian in the 1970s after a prodigal youth, is asked to define "sin."
Here's what Robertson says: “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, 67, then paraphrases a Bible passage from the New Testament: “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.”
That's a pretty close citation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which is a letter from Paul, often called the father of Christianity theology, to a fledgling Christian community in Corinth, Greece.
Here's what Paul's passage says, as rendered in the New International Version, by far the most popular translation among evangelicals and conservative Christians such as Robertson:
"Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
Evangelicals, who make up about a quarter of the U.S. population, tend to take that passage at face value. The Robertson family pastor, for instance, told CNN on Thursday that "the verse explains itself."
Robertson himself is no religious neophyte. He's an elder in the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ and offers spiritual counseling, charity and Bible studies to many in his hometown of West Monroe, Louisiana, the family pastor, Mike Kellett told CNN.
The "Duck Dynasty" star also preaches around the country to conservatives that flock to hear his blend of woodsy, plainspoken Christianity.
Many conservatives backed Robertson's views on Scripture and homosexuality this week, if not the "crude" way he argued his point to GQ.
My Take: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality
But other Bible experts said the Scripture Robertson cited isn't quite clear about homosexuality.
"A lot of people misread this text because it's so complicated," said O. Wesley Allen Jr., an associate professor at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky.
First, scholars say, we have to look at the context surrounding Paul's letter.
The Christian leader is trying to get the quarreling Corinthians to stop taking each other to civil courts and being judgmental. "The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already," Paul says.
Things were supposed to be different after they became Christian believers, Paul continues; they were supposed to stop their sinful ways.
Then Paul lists some of their sins of the past, including greed, drinking too much, worshipping idols and sexual immorality. "That is what some of you were," Paul says. "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
The list of sins is likely based on rumors that Paul heard about Corinth, says Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania who has studied the Bible's teachings on homosexuality. Bible scholars call it a "vice list," and it appears several times in Scripture.
So what does Paul's "vice list" say about homosexuality? That's the tricky part.
The first word Paul uses is "malakoi," which means "soft" in Greek, according to Allen. By analogy, the word came to mean "effeminate," which is how the King James Version of the Bible translates it.
"In the ancient world, it would refer to a boy in a relationship with an older man," Allen said. "It was pederasty, not homosexuality as we think of it today."
The other relevant word on Paul's "vice list" is "arsenokotai," which means "male sex." It refers to the other half in the man-boy relationship, common in Greece at the time, Allen said, the older male having sex with the "soft one."
"It isn't anything to do with what we would see today in an intimate, mutual relationship between gay adults," said Allen, who is co-authoring an upcoming book on homosexuality and heterosexuality in the church.
My Take: The Bible’s surprisingly mixed messages on sexuality
Even so, scholars such as Allen acknowledge there are no Bible passages that support same-sex relationships, and at least seven that appear to condemn gay sex.
"There's no way around the fact that those passages take a negative view of homosexuality, and nowhere in the Bible is a positive view offered," Allen said. "So conservatives and liberals continue to debate."
Liberals say that some parts of the Bible offered particular truths for a specific times and places but those times and places, as well as human understanding of sexuality, have progressed dramatically.
"The Bible may be divinely inspired, but its authors were human and saw, as St. Paul puts it, through a glass darkly," said Jim Naughton, a Christian gay rights activist and communications consultant. "On the subject of homosexuality, the Bible doesn’t mean what Phil Robertson thinks it means."
Conservatives such as Robertson, on the other hand, argue that the Bible is the bedrock of their faith, unchanging and unalterable. "We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word," the Robertson family said Thursday.
For decades, the gulf between the two sides has divided denominations, churches and families. To paraphrase Lincoln, both sides read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and both invoke his aid to argue against each other. Which is why our contemporary debate over homosexuality is so fierce, and so seemingly unending.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
religion is a poor excuse for prejudice.
It's not about prejudice. R U prejudiced against thievery (and thus thieves even if you are merciful to them), murder (and thus murderers), pedophiles, rapists, adulterers?? Those with same-gender intimacy preference (I'm trying to avoid tripping the censorship by words) have been listed as sinners in a long list of sins and sinners for centuries –and in both testaments of the Bible. Those of us who still believe the book believe it is a sin we can avoid at the first thought and opportunity. We want our children to shun such attraction and indulgence. We want to protect them from people of the same gender who "want them" in a physical and romantic way. We don't want them to think this is the way God made them or a choice that they can make if they feel an inclination on some occasion. Once we start into such activities, it becomes habitual –whether with same or opposite gender. I want to see kids get to grow up before getting involved intimately with anyone –and without anyone suggesting that they might be abnormal in this way and that they should explore their -exuality,.
I'm an atheist and hate all these so called "reality" shows and hateful Christians but I must say that I admire the family sticking up for one of their own even to the point of pulling the plug on this show.
Don't bother. This guy wanted this to be his last season anyway because he was getting tired of the show.
This is all a big fake nothing.
Love one another as I have loved u
This is the new commandment that I give u
Take away his 400 million and he will say he loves gays.
Remember, It is all about the money.
His fortune isn't about the reality tv show.
Sadly, people from other countries think these Duck buffoons represent our country.
Tea party hypocrite buffoons.
And people from California and the Yankee north-east states think this is the US once you leave their particular (superior) state.
Not all of us think that...some of us share your distaste for these people.
Now it's news that some redneck has a religious opinion. Good thing we have reality TV, we can forget all about the economy, the health crisis and focus on this guy, or Honey Boo Boo.
You are out of touch. My portfolio is up 25% this year and things are going to really pop in 2014.
test –why aren't I printing?
Maybe because this isn't a printer?
I must conclude censorship.
You would be wrong.
Well, conspiracy theories like that are fun, but the reality is that there is a program that stops you from using certain naughty words. Consti.tution has a ti.t in it, oh so naughty, and circu.mstance has cu.m in it.
That's what's really going on.
I've tried 3 times to post and only these one line protests will publish.
Look at every word, and do what I did when youu find a naughty word hidden inside another. Some you might not expect, like despi.cable and va.gue.
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Wonder why he didn't quote that?
If you are a Christian, the law is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.
More like suggestions.
Some scholars say the eye of the needle is a low gate in the city wall that the camel would have to stoop down to go thru –but he could do it. And then, if memory serves me, the disciples ask how it is possible for anyone to enter Heaven if the rich man has such a hard time –and Jesus says, "With God all things are possible."
Now I can't help you with your silly content though.
Could you supply some link or evidence of this claim? I've never heard that one before, and it sounds dubious.
Furthermore –if you are thinking about the riches of the Robertson clan, notice that they don't care enough about the money –since they are very rich –to compromise their family unity and Christian beliefs in order to make MORE money.
They quote scripture all the time on the A&E show. I don't understand what the issue is. Shame on A&E for blowing this out of proportion. I hope they lose them and they move to another channel. The show is funny and it's good to see how another part of America lives. And if GLAAD has a problem with it, how tolerant are they? It's my way or the highway? Why don't you get in your cars and go talk to him and show him that you're good people instead of all this crap.
I'm pretty sure it was a contractural thing.
As non-believers, We get it.
According to Christians, from the day we are born, we are deeply in debt. We have original "sin". And if we don't get with their program to pay off our debt, we will be tortured forever in hell.
We just don't buy it.
True. There is in fact no debt. Nothing to which we might owe a debt.
Actually you need to use Greek translation for Old Testament and Hebrew for New Testament.
God does not hate people. God is love. He does hate sinful ways** Bible is God's words. What Phil stated from the Bible is correct. Its not surprising that most aren't willing to accept that.... Bible tells us that our days will be like the days of the Noah. People won't listen.... What happened to them? But What happened to Noah? Yes God protected his faithful servants Noah and his family.
Phil I am happy that you put God first before anything.
So you would probably say that God loves children. When a child is smothered while being raped by her uncle where is God? Is there something in the child's wicked ways that keeps God away?
So you want to change Gods plan in favor of those who reject him, like yourself? That is not reasonable.
Looks like if you were God then everything would be one big eternal group hug under sunny sky. What is your plan God would you just sit in your dark abyss or be a creator?
A sane God would not be create suffering or evil.
How else would you set up a system where those who reject God could reveal exactly who they really are? I have never heard a better plan to refine souls that are destined for eternal life in the presence of God. The problem begins when you are given the capacity to create and express creation (we were made in the image of God). If you put limits on creation then you simply make what the boss wants. There is no further creation in short order.
You sound as if you believe you know the mind of God, fred. Perhaps you know why Creation was necessary if you know that suffering and evil are parts of it that can be justified. So... why?
At the end of days God will separate good and you will see something everyone of like mind would hope for. You will see souls that express unlimited love, worship, joy and creation beyond what we can imagine. Why because that is who they are, their very essence is as Christ.
I suspect if you strip out any mention of God or Christ you may approve the plan.
How would you know that Christ is the most important thing in your life if you did not have choice. The plan ends with you knowing exactly where you want to be and proving it.
It is not a good plan, fred. A lot of people suffer along the way, horribly at times, and in the end a lot of people who did not have to exist at all will suffer for eternity.
Certainly we do not know much more than is revealed in the Bible. God simply is and called himself "I AM". Based on what is self evident, either there is something or there is nothing. There cannot be nothing because something is. The Bible begins with "in the beginning God". In the history of mankind we have never gotten passed that point. Science cannot and has not moved beyond that point and continues to return to it. The reason is very simple in that nothing and something cannot exist together. Like the Greeks some prefer to claim the initial something to be an unknown and like them erect a monument to the unknown God. The problem is that mankind in all recorded history has put a creator in the position that is self evident.
Look around and just as the ancients we see wonder and awe. That wonder expands beyond our comprehension and on the inverse is smaller than our comprehension. Observation reflects infinite expansion in all direction at the end of which is something or nothing. It cannot be contained by nothing as containment would require something. Thus, that which was at the beginning is infinite in all direction and is something. This is God who is and ever will be.
We observe one spec of God in creation and that spec has a time line consisting of past, present and future which by definition of infinites sits at the center of what is. By extension we are central to the creation observed so man has looked outward in worship since recorded history. We exist for a purpose onto God..
The Bible is Gods revelation to man for purpose or if you do not believe then it is simply a composite of mans understanding of God over thousands of generations. The interesting thing is that anyone who seeks God finds what they truly want and that is purpose onto God. If you are seeking anything other than the true God you may find that as well.
Tom, Tom, the other one
"It is not a good plan, fred. A lot of people suffer along the way, horribly at times, and in the end a lot of people who did not have to exist at all will suffer for eternity."
=>You are making a lot of assumptions based upon your understanding of what you do not believe in. This makes no sense.
=>Jesus demonstrated the way the truth and the life and to date remains the most influential historical figure. Jesus the full reflection of the glory of God killed or caused no one to suffer rather took on all the suffering imaginable in the world upon himself. He said nothing to those who beat and mocked him yet to the criminal who simply had compassion on Jesus and said you do not deserve this Jesus said today you will be with me in paradise.
=>The Bible says all things work for the good of those who believe. That is opposite of what you claim
=>The Bible says when God finished creating he said it is very good and rested on the 7th day.
=>The Bible says I will wipe away every tear and create a new heaven and new earth where there is no pain or suffering.
=>What would you propose God do with those who want nothing to do with Him or His plans?
It is true that I don't believe in your God, fred. But you do and others, such as the original poster LC seem to. The implications don't seem clear to you. Your God's Creation and its divine plan regarding its creation involve suffering, evil, and punishment for evil. This was foreknown by God. Did Creation have to happen? If not, then evil and punishment for evil – souls in eternal torment – did not have to happen. And since Creation did happen, it was the intent of your God for some people to suffer eternally.
We don't know why God allows suffering of the innocent. If we speculate we are no better than Jobs friends.
what an infantile, fairy tale view of the world.
Could be we can't know good without evil. Then we have the evil God hypothesis which I think fails completely when you consider objective morality and murder.
It's nice to know that people like you know exactly what god thinks and how he feels. You don't know such things about people who post messages here, but you know them about god.
It is easy to know how God thinks because when you read the Bible, God is transparent and tells us everything we have to know and want to know. We are His creature and we have to obey His commands. God loves everyone of His children but He hates sin ans if you prefer to sin then you have to pay the price. You cannot serve two masters at the same time.
They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English.
I can't even talk the way these people talk:
Why you ain't,
Where you is,
What he drive,
Where he stay,
Where he work,
Who you be...
And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.
And then I heard the father talk.
Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.
In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living.
People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an Education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around.
The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.
These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids.
$500 sneakers for what?
And they won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.
I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.
Where were you when he was 2?
Where were you when he was 12?
Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol?
And where is the father? Or who is his father?
People putting their clothes on backward:
Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong?
People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something?
Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body?
What part of Africa did this come from??
We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa .....
I say this all of the time. It would be like white people saying they are European-American. That is totally stupid.
I was born here, and so were my parents and grand parents and, very likely my great grandparents. I don't have any connection to Africa, no more than white Americans have to Germany , Scotland , England , Ireland , or the Netherlands . The same applies to 99 percent of all the black Americans as regards to Africa . So stop, already! ! !
With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap ......... And all of them are in jail.
Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem.
We have got to take the neighborhood back.
People used to be ashamed. Today a woman has eight children with eight different 'husbands' - or men or whatever you call them now.
We have millionaire football players who cannot read.
We have million-dollar basketball players who can't write two paragraphs. We, as black folks have to do a better job.
Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us.
We have to start holding each other to a higher standard..
We cannot blame the white people any longer.'
~Dr.. William Henry 'Bill' Cosby, Jr., Ed..D.
From a Christian perspective all humans are sinners. If a sinner has been saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, they gain forgiveness and a new t.itle, saint. These saints are still capable of sin the same as any human, it just simply means that they are forgiven. An unsaved sinner is lost.
Phil was asked what he thought was sinful, he responded. You will notice there wasn’t a lot of controversy about him naming adultery as sinful. He didn’t express any ill will toward sinners, he just stated what he thought was sinful. Christians are called to love their neighbors as themselves. He was expressing his love for sinners by letting them know the danger they are in.
Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. A sinner won’t accept they are one until the Holy Spirit begins to convict their heart. So, when anyone hears someone calling for them to repent and turn to the Lord, they are doing it out of concern for you. They are loving their neighbor.
RB, the whole Jesus-sacrifice thing is a steaming pile of bull-do. How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.
Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
Are you mad at God?
Some much garbage. Just how much can you shovel anyways?
My post is what it is, truth.
We get it.
According to Christians, from the day we are born, we are deeply in debt. We have original "sin". And if we don't get with their program to pay off our debt, we will be tortured forever in hell.
We just don't buy it.
Let me tell you what I knew about original sin when Jesus saved my dying soul, absolutely nothing, not one thing. If you are interested in original sin, put some kids in a room and give them each one toy, observe. Humans are selfish by nature, we can learn appropriate behavior, but we are still selfish.
Jesus said you must be born again. You need the Holy Spirit to overcome nature.
Basically you caved when you realized that you might be responsible for putting your life together and for contributing to the common good.
I can't say that I was concerned with responsibility at the time either.
What about: Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 ?
Yep. You don't believe all of Leviticus.
What about them? Leviticus are rules for Levite priests. How many gay Levite priests do you think that may apply to?
Chapter and verse where Jesus speaks about gays. Go.
Phil Robertson said, "We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God..."
I hope Phil Robertson's is around to see "God" return in a spaceship and once again tinker with his planet Earth experiment.
yall can be selective about the bible all you want, but you should do your best to be true to yourself and live what you think a good life would be.
Agreed, no gods necessary.
According to Jesus, you are supposed to love the person who sticks a gun in your face and demands your money or your live. He expects you to abandon your family to follow him. He is obviously a Bronze Age lunatic comic book character.
It is hilarious to note that these "christians" cling to their materialistic properties and fight and resist that "gun to their face."
That's where bothering to use your brain to process the information comes in.
So now they're are calling in "experts" to interpret what the bible passage Phil quoted from means? Seriously, did what he say affect everyone that much?? What, did the truth hurt? This man just voiced HIS own personal beliefs and thats OKAY. Not everyone has to agree. But to actually call in "experts" must have put fear into some to go to such lengths to disprove the man...hmmmmmmm
"truth"? what truth? Maybe you can demonstrate such a truth – you know, objectively.