I’m sure by now that everyone is sick and tired of the Phil Robertson controversy. Yet here I am to talk about it. And what I have to say will probably offend just about everyone at some point, which is why I feel I need to weigh in. Both sides of this controversy are right and both sides are wrong.
Now before we get too much further, I should point out that I have no love for Duck Dynasty. In fact, I can’t stand the show. When my roommate has the show on, I have to leave the room. So I’m not coming at this as a fan of the show.
So, what did Phil say? He had the nerve to paraphrase the Bible where it talks about homosexuality being a sin. That got people up in arms, and A&E fired him over it, which then got Christians up in arms.
Let’s start by taking a look at what he said. The verse he was paraphrasing was I Corinthians 6:9-10, and it says, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the
? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually
immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexuals
offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers
will inherit the kingdom
of God .” For those of us who believe the Bible, it’s
pretty clear. Homosexuality is a sin as
defined by God. Believe me, I have heard
all the verbal and mental gymnastics people try to go through to explain this
and similar passages away. If it weren’t
a matter of life and death, or Heaven and Hell, it would be laughable. It is very clear what the passage means. You can call us hateful all we want, but this
and other passages make it pretty clear how God feels on the matter. kingdom
But here is where I am going to shine the spotlight on my fellow Christians. Why is Homosexuality the sin that dare not speak its name? Look again at that list. All sex outside of marriage is there. And Paul goes down to some pretty basic sins. While in the passage, Paul is talking about some people who weren’t living to God’s standards, he drills down to some basic sins. Yet in today’s church, this is the one we focus on.
Think I’m exaggerating? I can remember in the 80’s and 90’s when Christians would get upset with any depiction of a couple living together outside of marriage on TV. Now, most people I know love Friends and The Big Bang Theory. Those shows are full of off color jokes and sex between unmarried couples. And before I start to sound like a high and mighty person, I’m right there with you. I was laughing at a Big Bang rerun just last night, and I have the entire Friends series on DVD. I’m not trying to throw stones, but why is this the cultural issue we are so fixated on right now? And heck, while I laugh at those two shows, I get uncomfortable when a gay character shows up on a show I like or in a book I’m reading. I’m right there with you.
And this is one place the Christian culture needs to change our outlook. Yes, we need to call out sin, but we need to do it in a loving manner. Look at Jesus. He called everyone to repentance. Those who were “sinners” of His day, he spent time with and loved. He was hardest on the religious leaders. Yet today, we seem to be the exact opposite. We are hardest on those who are lost, ready to judge and write them off, and we tolerate sin in ourselves and others who are saved. We need to remember that we are all sinners who have been saved and stop judging others because of their particular sin.
So let’s go back to the passage and a point I was sort of making a few minutes ago. Look at that list again. Are you not on it yet? Then let’s bring in a few more sins from the Bible. Lying. Disobeying parents. Still not there? We can go to Jesus’ comments from Matthew 6 about how looking at a woman and lusting after her is committing adultery in your heart. Or how you can murder someone in your heart. I know I’m on this list of sinners who will not inherit the
by now even if no
one else is. Kingdom
But Paul doesn’t stop with the verse I’ve already quoted. He goes on in verse 11 to say, “And that is what some of you were. 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.” See. We are all sinners. And the penalty for all of our sin is death. It’s not just homosexuals who will be sent to hell. It’s the sexual immoral of all kinds. It's the liars. It’s those who disobey their parents.
Still, Paul continues by talking about what Jesus did for us. And that’s what we are celebrating this Christmas - the beginning of that sacrifice. God is completely just and holy and can’t abide our sin. But He also sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin. And what Paul is ultimately saying and really trying to communicate is that, while we need to call sin sin, we need to be compassionately calling people to repentance. And there is no sin that is beyond God’s grace and mercy.
So let’s move on to the Freedom of Speech issue. Actually, it has been refreshing to hear some of my liberal friends making the same statement I’ve been making for years. While there is freedom of speech, we aren’t protected from the consequences of our actions. In fact, the only thing we are protected from is being arrested for our speech by the government. I’m actually going to paraphrase something that my friend Eric posted this morning.
1. Phil Robertson was free to say what he said.
2. The gay and lesbian community was free to respond and get upset.
3. A&E was free to fire him as a result of what he said.
But this is where some people seem to stop, and there’s one more reaction here.
4. Christians are free to react to A&E firing Phil.
Yes, every person I just named above has freedom of speech. And every person named above was right to exercise it.
The problem is that once again we are talking past each other. Each side is so intent on making their point, they aren’t willing to listen and consider what the other person is saying. Yes, I have seen name calling over this, even by people on my friend’s list at Facebook. Just saying “Because Freedom of Speech shut up” is not helping anything (yes, I’m paraphrasing).
The entire point of freedom of speech is the ability to talk through these things. However, if things are so nasty that one side stays silent, that’s not freedom of anything but power, intimidation, and bullying. (Yes, I just said that. Honestly, I have found some of the most intolerant people are those who preach tolerance and are anti-bullying.) If you are going to convince anyone you are right and they are wrong, you have to engage calmly and rationally. I know that never happens on the internet, but that should change. Yes, I’m tilting at windmills here, but we could change that one person at a time. If you stop name calling but engage in rational debate, truly listening to the other side, then you’ve done your part. You are the only person you can control, but you are responsible for your own actions.
But back to the freedom of speech point. While I certainly do agree that the government has done nothing to Phil, the fact that he has lost his job does have a rather chilling effect on free speech. It will make others think twice before they say something. There is nothing the government can or should do about it, but it is chilling and should be considered more rationally by those who love free speech. Don't be so quick to dismiss someone losing their job for an unpopular opinion just because you happen to disagree with them. The next time that happens, it might be you.
Okay, now I’m going to steal from my friend Karen. I already noted that I’m not a fan of Duck Dynasty, but I do find it funny how many people are defending the show who would decry it’s equivalents like Real Housewives or
. Yes, this family is Christian, but does that
necessarily make it any better? Oh, I
get the concept of a guilty pleasure. I
watch some shows that are trashy, too.
But let’s not pretend this is anything other than what it is – a reality
TV show where some savvy people are living in a fishbowl to make millions off
of other people watching them.. Jersey Shore
Having said that, I do have a new respect for Phil Robertson because he took a stand despite the blowback he knew would come. And now the rest of the family is standing with him.
Of course, the results should not have been a surprise. Jesus predicted that the world would not tolerate those who stand with Him. John 15:18 says, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." And remember that they killed Him.
Still, it always amazes me when Christians react to the world behaving like the world. The world doesn’t believe the Bible. Therefore, we shouldn’t expect them to live by the Bible. It’s really that simple. I’m not saying we turn our back. We are called to be salt and light. But we need to be salt and light to a world that doesn’t believe like we do. And we need to remember that when we engage them. Just falling back on the Bible is not the way to do that. (And yes, I know I spent half of this post on Bible verses.)
So where do we go from here? As far as Duck Dynasty, I don’t care. While I do have a new respect for the family, I still don’t want to watch the show. But we as Christians need to rethink how we engage the world around us and look for the specs in our own eye before we attack the planks around us. And everyone needs to take a deep breath and a step back before they engage in conversation, really wrestling through all the implications of what their actions and the actions of others mean in the bigger picture.