an interview with GQ, Phil Robertson made some controversial remarks about homosexuality and race. If you have somehow escaped reading what Phil had to say, his suspension, and his family's response, this shorter article pretty much sums it all up.
When I first read the GQ interview, I honestly cringed at Phil Robertson's comments. I may not agree with the delivery of Phil's message, but I also was not really surprised by what he said. He is a 67-year-old conservative from Louisiana with a history of speaking his mind.
However, I am appalled by my Christian community's fiery reaction to Phil's suspension from Duck Dynasty. I've seen a whole lot of status updates from my conservative friends and relatives, most of them stating things like: "Freedom of speech is dead." "If Miley Cyrus can twerk on television, why can't Phil Robertson share his faith?" "This is yet another example of how badly Christians are being persecuted in America today!"
Why is this such an explosive issue?
For one, freedom of speech isn't even the problem here. Phil had total freedom of speech when he made those comments to a journalist for a popular secular magazine, which brought realistic consequences from his secular employers. Phil may no longer have freedom to speak out on A&E, but he is a rich and famous man; he will have many opportunities to publicly speak his mind via other outlets.
Two, this is a reality TV show. As Christians, our goal should not be to stay popular on television. Duck Dynasty portrays godly morals, but the show has very little meaning in and of itself. It's about a family of wealthy duck hunters who love Jesus. Entertaining, family-friendly, but does it have eternal value? Not really.
If you have lapsed into a public rage over Duck Dynasty today, then I encourage you to check your heart right now. Why have you not become this angry over the 21,000 people who will die today from malnutrition-related causes? Or the 153 million orphans worldwide? Or the 633,000 homeless people in the United States?
Why is the outcome of a reality TV show more upsetting than issues that break the heart of our Creator? Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."
In the Bible, God calls us to share the Gospel, to love people, not to judge, to serve the needy. We are never asked to rage against our government or to have heated arguments over Facebook. Rather, we are commanded to respect our authority (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13, Titus 3:1) and not to engage in quarrels (Proverbs 17:19).
One of my favorite passages from the Bible is 1 Peter 3:14-15, which says:
"But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. 'Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.' But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."Let me also include 2 Timothy 2:23-25:
"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth."Christians, go back and look over your conversations, online and in person, and see if they follow the two Scripture passages above. Were you gentle? Were you respectful? Were you kind? Were you not resentful?
Personally, I wouldn't consider Phil's suspension persecution. There are Christians in other countries who are being killed and jailed for their faith, and Phil Robertson will certainly continue a very successful career until the end of his life. But even if you view his suspension from Duck Dynasty as persecution, why is the Christian community displaying so much indignation and defiance?
The disciples and early church did not react with anger when freedom was torn away from them. They endured persecution with thankfulness and rejoicing because they were counted worthy to receive the same treatment as that of Jesus (Acts 5:41, Luke 6:22-23).
We should not come to expect the freedom of sharing our faith and preaching God's Word without persecution, whether or not we are American. As long as we live on this broken earth, we will receive opposition in return for our faith in Christ. If we are being embraced by the world, something is wrong. In John 15:19, Jesus says:
"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."Christians, our response to the Duck Dynasty fiasco is being observed by the entire nation. And they are laughing at us.
So let's turn down the drama when it comes to Phil Robertson and his reality TV show. Instead, let's focus our passion and energy on things of eternal value, like loving people like Christ, extending grace, and feeding the hungry.
One year ago: It's okay to ask why.
Two years ago: The Chilly Winter Air
Three years ago: Curious George put me to bed.