Politicians, lobbyists, special interest groups, and the media often use tagging as a tactic to advance social agendas and political ideologies. This calculated approach is intellectually dishonest and destructive to our society. The method of tagging has been used successfully for years now primarily against Bible believing Christians and other groups who lean toward traditional values and conservatism. It works by simply attaching a “tag” to a group or issue in order to negatively label someone that doesn’t share the same worldview. The tags most often used today are prefixes and suffixes such as “anti” or “phobia” with the hopes of demonizing a particular group of people for the purpose of squelching debate. Part of the tagging strategy seeks to elicit an emotional response by appealing to the feelings of an individual and not the intellect.
I look back at the late 70s and early 80s with great interest in the use of these tags to turn a moral debate into a political one. The hot button issue was abortion with the passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973, and what took place in the public square was often manipulative in a psychological sense. Rhetorically, the term “antiabortion” while technically correct in describing one’s position in opposition to abortion also lacks clarity based on other societal attachments to the term. Attachments of being “antiabortion” automatically presupposed a definition of someone being anti-woman and anti-choice which is intellectually dishonest – this broad definition still lingers 30 years later. Leftist leaning politicians and groups continue to promote this form of dishonesty with their fallacious arguments on the “war against women” as seen in the last presidential election. In the 80s Christian and conservative leaders quickly attempted to turn the tide by using the term “pro-life” to combat the negative connotations of antiabortion and anti-choice.
As a young man during that time I remember hearing the pro-abortion language and thinking how persuasive it was because of its pro-individual appeal. Once the situational and statistical aberrations are removed from the conversation the argument for being pro-abortion or pro-choice I believe is an ethically challenged and selfish decision.
I use the abortion issue as an example to address something similar happening in our culture presently. Just a few weeks ago you may remember Phil Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty was tagged as being anti-gay and homophobic because his comments given during an interview with GQ magazine. This tagging was led by the LGBT community, many Democrats, Hollywood elites, and the mainstream media. Note what Mr. Robertson actually said:
“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,” he says. … “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. … We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. 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.
Phil Robertson, and Christians as a whole aren’t anti-gay or homophobic. If we’re anything we are pro-God, pro-Bible, pro-life, and pro-love. Some might debate the pro-love aspect, but from a Christian view not sharing the truth of the Gospel is unloving and a form of disobedience. To experience the truth and love of Christ and not to share it with the rest of humanity is sinful. Robertson had a duty as Follow of Christ to speak out given the platform he was given, and he did so even if some consider his speech to be somewhat crude.
As a side note, my wife I believe made a great point on Phil Robertson’s supposed crudeness. Many of those who were most outraged by his rough and colorful language seemingly never speak out about the foul language used regularly on television. Somehow it’s inappropriate to speak about sexuality in a magazine article but it’s not inappropriate to take God’s name in vain repeatedly as a form of entertainment – a bit hypocritical don’t you think?
The real problem “anti-taggers” have isn’t with people like Phil Robertson but with God and His Word. This is not to say I agree in totality with Phil Robertson on some of his doctrines, but I do agree with his view on the total depravity of man and his need for a Savior – the Savior Christ Jesus.
As a Christian it isn’t my desire to impose my lifestyle or beliefs upon another, nor is it my desire to have nonbelievers impose their lifestyles and beliefs upon me or the Church. It’s also not my desire to shut down debate but to encourage an open and honest dialogue with individuals from all walks of life. If we preach tolerance the let us practice it also. Tolerance is the ability to accept another human being without having to approve of their lifestyle and choices. We may not always agree, but we should always be able to discuss our differing views no matter how loud the conversation becomes.