I’ve tried manfully not to post anything on the Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty shindig. Not because I don’t have my opinions or thoughts but just cause I figured I’d just listen in to all the friendly chatter from the back porch. Besides it’s all snowy and white out here. But some of you drove me to it. So you only have yourselves to blame.
I think it would be an overstatement to say I am a “fan” of the show (I don’t have cable, so I’ve only been able to catch shows via my in-laws sporadically), but I’ve nevertheless enjoyed what I’ve seen for the most part. There are some annoying things here and there, I suspect mostly inserted by lame script writers trying to make the show more edgy or something, but as for the overall down-home, Jesus-loving, beard-wearing, duck-hunting antics, it’s fun to have a family show where the family actually loves each other and they do it explicitly because they love Jesus. Might not be your cup of tea, but hey (as Uncle Si would say), it’s good for a few laughs.
So of course no surprise on Phil’s opinions. Other members of the family are on record for being pro-life and pro-abstinence before marriage, just your run of the mill conservative Bible believing Christian stuff (only with the big beards). But of course, the show is owned by A&E, and even though I might think their actions are foolish and laughably agenda driven, I suspect there’s something in the contract that says they can fire anybody they want whenever they want. So I suspect it’s all legal and tidy as they say.
But with the explosion of support for Phil and family, numerous articles and opinion pieces have plastered our Twitter and Facebook feeds, and it’s been interesting to see the spectrum of responses to the whole deal. And honestly I’ve been somewhat disappointed to see two particular responses (from Christians) so often. But before I get to those, let me preface my comments by making it clear that the firing of a reality television show celebrity is not the end of the world, is not cause for sackcloth and ashes, is not the same thing as Christians being fed to the lions in the coliseum. I’m not planning a special sermon this Sunday or anything like that. And while I imagine there might be people out their wailing on their beds, groaning night and day, and maybe some pastors are planning a Duck Dynasty Day of Prayer and Fasting or something, I’m not one of them.
There has been something of a gullible tone in at least some of the Christian responses I’ve seen. What’s the big deal? A bearded hilly-billy made some crass comments? Calm down, everybody. Nothing to see here. Well, yes, while I agree this is not a national emergency per se, it is still nevertheless connected to many other things currently going on in our culture. It certainly isn’t the end of the world, but it certainly is part of the Hell that our society is currently doing their damnedest to bring on themselves. So, these whats-the-big-deal and everybody-calm-down posts are annoying because they sound all cool, all suave, all sophisticated in their unruffledness, in their I’ve-risen-above-the-fray smugness, but they reek of flattery. Look at me other-cool-not-caring-slightly-edgy-Christian… look at me not caring too.
On the one hand, these, uh, what shall we call them… “smuggies” fail to appreciate the approaching tidal wave. They point out (quite rightly) that it hasn’t hit, and this is just a little splash. But it’s like they refuse to look up, refuse to see the towering shadow, refuse to acknowledge the trajectory. I grant there are probably a few evangelical screamers out there. And I’ve been known to defend something like that from time to time. But this is part of a larger story, and if it makes any splash at all, it’s not overreacting to make this bigger point once again. It’s like it started sprinkling a few days before the flood and Noah took up his message once again, and Ham rolls his eyes, “Geez, dad, it’s just sprinkling…” Paul took every opportunity to preach Jesus, and so should we.
On the other hand, it’s as though these smuggies cannot imagine a godly form of consternation. The only category they have is cranky/enraged, and I suspect this because there’s only an on/off switch in their own life. But when godly men and women get worked up, they do it in a godly way. This means they do not lose perspective, they do not lose sight of Jesus, they do not lose sight of the goals set before them. But it’s like these smuggies cannot imagine a referee calling a foul without losing his temper and cussing the player out. And so when they hear godly men calling A&E out for being a pack of prudes, they assume they’ve flown off the handle and lost all perspective or something. But it’s totally possible to give Phil Robertson a cyber high-five, and give A&E and their Sodomite Cheerleaders a raspberry without losing any sleep, without swearing under your breath, and without being grumpy with your wife or kids. It’s not only possible — for Christians, it’s absolutely necessary.
So I’m happy for the firestorm. I’m glad that this has been as big (or bigger?) as Miley Cyrus’s hip malfunction. I think we should be giving thanks for such an occasion as this to explain what the Bible says, to explain what the gospel is, and this must include a word to the Liberal Fundamentalists that Jesus is their King too, and too bad, so sad, they must submit to His rule. His rule is the only way of true freedom, true peace, and true harmony for any nation or society, PC hallucinations notwithstanding. Who knows if this is an American constitutional issue, but we do know for a fact that this is a cosmic constitutional deal. Our nation is busy giving our King the finger, and we ought to care about that a great deal. Tis the season to celebrate our King’s birth. This Christmas we are celebrating the birth of the Savior of the World, Jesus born to save us from our sins. In fact, God got so worked up that He gave His only begotten Son. God didn’t shrug His shoulders and sigh and say what’s the big deal, all those homos humping each other like dogs? Or, what’s the big deal all those babies getting slaughtered? He didn’t tell the angels to relax, chill out. He didn’t stay in heaven while millions were oppressed and murdered by tyrannical rulers, by Jihadists, by political thugs. No, He got righteously mad, and sent His Son.
But the other truly disappointing thing has been the number of leading evangelical Reformed types who have distanced themselves from Phil’s actual words. Even among those who defended his right to free speech or denounced A&E’s reactionary, sectarian tactics, most posts I’ve read mention some disappointment with the explicit language that Phil used to describe the confusion of sodomy. Some have gone so far as to denounce the whole point because it doesn’t appreciate the complex nature of the internal struggle that men face who prefer an anus to a vagina.
But I’ve had enough of the polite platitudes, and I’m disappointed with how many evangelicals are not standing up for what the Bible actually says. You’ve got a prophet in your midst, and man, does he look and sound like a prophet. And all the suits and ties, swallow hard and timidly point out that people should be free to express their opinions, you know, and homosexual temptation really is complex and agonizing, er, I mean, you know.
Now here’s the thing: I know that sin is complex. Sin messes with peoples’ bodies and minds. Sin is slavery and wrecks people. I understand that. But God understands that even better than we do, and He has given us authorized language to use when it comes to particular sins. The Bible uses the word “confusion” and “perversion” and connects this kind of sin to the kind of judicial judgment and blindness that God brings on people who have rejected His law. The Bible associates this kind of confusion, this kind of blindness with people who might also be willing to have sex with animals and other family members. The Bible talks that way, and until Christians stop stammering in the microphone and start explicitly pointing out what this confusion is, like Phil Robertson did in the GQ article, we are still not ready for this fight.
It’s gotten to the point where we need to speak explicitly. Maybe there was a time when we didn’t have to, but hello people, there’s a full court press on us to white wash the whole thing, to dress it up with cutsey pictures and convince us to agonize over how hard it all is to be born this way. Well, yes, sin is hard. Sin is intense confusion. Sin is a little bit of Hell on earth. But Christmas has come. The Light shines in the darkness. The Word has become flesh and dwelt among us.
I don’t know the answer to every single situation, every single homosexual temptation. And particular pastors, counselors, and friends need to use wisdom in applying God’s word to particular people. But I do know that the answer is the cross of Jesus. I do know that a dying man is obscene, and a dying God is profane. And there is nothing more obscene, nothing more profane, nothing more offensive than our God in human flesh crying out in agony bearing the weight of the sins of the world. That wasn’t very calm, that wasn’t very sensitive. But Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. The wrath has passed over, and we can go free.