As you may have heard, Pat Robertson topped even himself in the category of ‘insulting-inflammatory- stupid comments while the tape is running’ this morning. That may seem difficult with all of the previous entries that have earned him elite status in the gaff olympics.
His newest entry was in response to a question from a man who apparently wanted to know what to do with his non-submissive wife. Robertson started with suggesting that the man could convert to Islam … and as tough as it might be to top that one, he did. After conceding that the Bible does not allow for him to divorce her, Robertson gave him the option to move to Saudi Arabia – thereby indicting not only an entire religion but an entire nation.
I know that many will want to jump on Robertson with disdain and scorn but … maybe we should not be so quick to jump to judgement. As often happens in cases like this, there is a good possibility that there is something we don’t know behind the scenes. There might be more to the story that at first meets the eye.
- Robertson might have undiagnosed Tourette Syndrome.
- He might have a serious drinking problem and been under the influence when he made those egregious comments.
Now, before you dismiss this outright – just keep in mind that many preachers and politicians who rail against homosexuality later turn out to have been involved in illicit same-sex affairs at the very time they were railing. This pattern can be seen in leaders of many self-righteous and sanctimonious movements.
With public figures, we just don’t know. So I am suggesting that we might want to hold off judgement. Sure, right now it looks like crazy Uncle Pat has come unglued and betrayed the very gospel that he is supposed to be a minister of and a spokesman for. But … let’s just give it time.
That is plan A.
If you can’t wait for that, there is a plan B. As I proposed a few weeks ago, it is possible that words for fundamentalist christians are like dialogue in porn movies. They play an important role in allowing us to suspend our suspicion and get down to the real business at hand.
I said that the real activities were nationalism, capitalism and militarism. One of our deaconesses added patriarchy. This accusation would stick to Robertson’s many gaffs like a field of burrs on a cheap pair of cotton dockers.
Here is the thing: I want to be a generous and gracious purveyor irenic ecumenism. But there are times when you hear something like this and realize how many people are genuinely injured by this stuff. Like it or not – he is a spokesman for our religion, my tradition and Jesus’ name. This is why I go so far out of my way to say that we need to stop waiting for Superman and start sticking up for causes that don’t directly impact us.
Here is a conversation that I have had repeatedly in the past 20 years.
Me: I’m not against guns for hunting, but we have to do something about assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns.
Guy: It’s our God given right to bear arms.
Me: Wait! You probably still believe in things like depravity and original sin right?
Guy: It’s right there in the Word.
Me: Umm… those aren’t actually in the text of scripture but anyway … IF you believe in depravity, don’t you think we should account for that in our gun laws?
Guy: The second amendment protects our God given right to defend ourself.
Me: I get that, I’m just trying to say that we could revisit some things that were written in the era of muzzle-loaded muskets and flint lock rifles.
People don’t like when I am critical, negative, dismissive or adversarial. Neither do I. All I am saying is that I am very nervous about what gets broadcast on christian radio and TV these days and the impact that it has on thousands and thousands of people.
So here is the question: If, and I am only asking ‘if’, there was a machine that was fueled by a different vision of the world and different priority structure than that fleeting Galilean vision – but it was covered with a thin veneer of Jesus talk as a mask for the true agenda … should’t we say something at some point?
If the Jesus-paint was only a mask on a monster, or a series of brushstrokes on a Hollywood set facade … we should say something right?
That probably is why plan B in this case is not so popular.
THE most important thing in all of this is that we are very clear about people who have simply bought into a bad brand of christianity and those who are up to something with it. It is one thing to have merely inherited a flawed-limited-unaware religious product and those who openly promote a product that injures people and harms those who need what Christ provides the most. We have to be careful. This stuff is wicked, acidic, and cancerous. We can’t paint with a broad brush or be dismissive of folks who are just walking the same road we are all walking together – trying to figure it out.
May God give us grace in the journey. We need it. Lots of it.