Now that some time has passed I wanted to express my gratitude for men like Phil Robertson. I've been encouraged both to see the original statement published repeatedly and also to see that no apologies have been issued by him or his family on his behalf. This statement has cost the Robertson's, but no apologies have been made. To that I say, "thank God!"
So firstly, Phil Robertson is not a coward because he was not ambiguous about what he believes.
Ambiguity is the prized virtue of those who call themselves Christians, but are not actually Christians. Ambiguity is the fruit of cowardice in the heart. Cowards feel that they have something to hide, something to soften, something to redefine in Christianity. They dodge the Bible and head straight for philosophy or politically correct silliness. They say, "it's not what you said, it's how (or where, or when) you said it" and whenever I hear something like that I get a glimpse of the true fear that is lying below the surface in their hearts. The cowards think that as long as you are vague about what you believe then everyone is happy and no one is offended and you've been a good Christian witness. On the contrary, by being vague a person has demonstrated everything that Christ is not.
The world is perishing for lack of true knowledge, for the lack of clearly defined truth. There are plenty of clearly defined lies, but all of that keeps people dead in their sins. They need to hear the voice of God, the Word of God spoken through human vessels with crystal-clear definition. Sharpened words that are able to pierce the hearts of sinners and cause them to miss sleep and to wrestle with the truth that they are presently in danger of wrath and must flee to Christ the Savior.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children. - Hosea 4:6
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. - John 10:16
Secondly, Phil Robertson is not a coward because he called sin what it is, illogical.
It is sad to me that many Christians choose the softest possible terms for sin that they can find. Instead of calling abortion "murder" they say "terminating a pregnancy" or instead of "adultery" they could say "It's just lust" The examples go on and on, but every softened blow of the seriousness of sin in God's eyes is a challenge to His word and His glory. Many want to make light of God's view of sin, to make sin as small as possible for the sake of our consciences or even worse for the sake of making God out to be more appealing to those around us (that is called an idol). While I would not have chosen the same words as Mr. Robertson did, I do appreciate that in his own southern way he reminded the world how disgusting homosexuality is. Abomination, vile, and perverse are just a few of the words used to describe homosexual practice in the Bible along with many other sins.
My encouragement to homosexuals is not to think less of the sin of homosexuality, but to consider the depth of ALL of our sin. My pride, my lust, my foolishness, my anger, my sexual perversion of the past, etc all make me worthy of death! The politically defended group of sinners is no less accountable than the man who cheats on his wife with pornography. God see's all sin as a vile perversion of His design as we cannot take the condemnation away from homosexuality without disqualifying that particular group from salvation. Those who confess their sin, renounce their sin, hate their sin will find mercy, but those who love their sin will die.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. - Romans 1:28-32
Thirdly, Phil Robertson is not a coward because he is obeying the rules of the race as a humble servant.
We as Christians are caught up into a race that we did not initiate and whose rules we cannot change. There is an unbroken continuum of obedient saints that have run this race faithfully to their appointed end, they hand the baton off to the next runner and that runner can run well or poorly, but he is judged by the real objective rules of the race and not by his own opinions of the rules. The runner doesn't get to choose what rules he will follow or which ones don't apply to him any longer, his job is to take the baton and run as fast as possible according to the rules. It is immeasurably arrogant to receive the baton and then run according to your own whims. It hurts the entire team and is blatant evidence that perhaps the runner of that sort simply isn't a part of the team. To approach the Bible in such a way as to make it what you want is so prideful, immature, and egotistical that whoever does so should feel a sense of fear in their hearts for taking such a holy thing with such lightness of soul.
The commands of scripture, the institution of marriage as one man and one woman, the message of the gospel, and the rules of the race all the precede us by thousands of years, they are not subject to change. They are what they are and we either align to them or we are shattered upon them. Every attempt at changing them will be met with failure in time and in eternity.