Last night I saw on Twitter a post that made me laugh: “What’s that sound you hear? It’s billions of bloggers, pundits, and talking heads responding to Duck Dynasty!” So here’s my two cents, my grain of sand on the ocean, my drop in the bucket.
We should not be surprised at the response that the GQ article has gotten. After all, the discussion of homosexuality has become the great cultural litmus test. And the test has two grades: pass/fail. With this test comes acceptance in society, a voice to be recognized, and a label as being “tolerant.” If you speak in any way against the moral revolution, you are labeled a bigot, close-minded, and worse – intolerant. So Phil Robertson has found himself with a failing grade on the great test of cultural acceptance. The result: an indefinite suspension from the hit show he helped create, though this is likely the end of the Duck Dynasty franchise as we know it. They’ll get picked up on another network if A&E drops them (which likely will happen), and someone else will make a fortune producing their show. But their cultural ubiquity will be gone. Expect Wal-Mart and Bass Pro to be the next to acquiesce to the demands of the moral revolution. The Robertson clan will go from being a cultural icon to being a pariah, unwelcome in the living room of the tolerance movement.
This isn’t the first time we have seen this happen. Any time a professing Christian (i.e. Kirk Cameron) appears on Piers Morgan, the conversation inevitably moves to the normalization and acceptance of homosexuality. And more than once, Piers has shown himself to be the high priest offering the sacrificial lamb on the altar of the New Tolerance. The list of people he has raked over the coals involves a number of high-profile Christians. The View lampoons those who profess a biblical view of morality, or any token of conservative value. Even the White House joined the fray this week, specifically appointing openly gay athletes to serve as part of the US delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia, as a response to the recent Putin administration’s criminalization of homosexuality. In response, President Obama said “One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there” (From NPR interview on 12/18, All Things Considered). Louie Giglio was removed from the Inaugural platform for his view on sexuality. Tim Tebow was pressured to cancel a speaking engagement at a megachurch in Texas because the church held to the same view as Robertson, Giglio, and Christians for the better part of two millenia.
Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, offers some great insight into this issue in his article written on December 19. He gives a warning to all Christians in the public square that they have been officially put on notice. “So the controversy over Duck Dynasty sends a clear signal to anyone who has anything to risk in public life: Say nothing about the sinfulness of homosexual acts or risk sure and certain destruction by the revolutionaries of the new morality. You have been warned.” In the same vein, he also warns Christians to be selective about who you grant access to your life, and to consider the cost if it is an outlet that does not have a friendly disposition to Christianity.
But missing in all of this debate is the actual content of the GQ article. I attached the link, but be warned the content is crude, vulgar, and NSFW. But we would expect that from GQ, who have not always been the bastions of Victorian morality. Much of the crudeness in fact comes from Phil himself. His anatomical descriptions of sexuality, and his candor towards the subject is enough to make many of us blush. We must learn a lesson here: when we speak into the culture, we need to remember that how we say things matters as much as what we say. What we speak, or write, or have transcribed from an interview, will not only show up in the print edition but is being recorded for all eternity. We must remember, especially for those of us who operate in the public light, that our message is under scrutiny and we must present ourselves beyond reproach. There is a time and a place to speak towards a biblical view of sexuality, marriage, morality, and human flourishing. But we must consider how we say that, and what it will impact. This is the lesson we are learning from Mark Driscoll and the fallout in the Interwebs from his Real Marriage book – a book we should be thankful for in that it proposes a biblical, complentarian, and gospel-focused view of marriage. But it denigrates to crudeness in too many places, which has hurt its overall impact.
So Christians, especially those who speak or write, heed the words of Paul in Colossians 4 “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
We should celebrate Phil Robertson’s stance for biblical morality and a historically orthodox view of marriage – fidelity within, celibacy without, between one man and one woman for life. We should pray for him, his family, and all the Robertsons because God has given them a unique platform for the glory of God and the fame of Jesus Christ. They will be going through difficult days during the fallout from this. We should voice our concerns and call shenanigans on this. A&E features shows like Hoarders and Intervention where we watch people self-destruct for our amusement, but will not allow a dissenting view on a polarizing subject to be a part of its lineup (HT: Matt Walsh).
If we do write to A&E or post on social media, remember to exercise tact and grace. We should also be concerned with Phil’s language, and his graphic descriptions. Perhaps they were prodded by an over-eager interviewer wanting to make a name for himself? Perhaps they were taken out of context? Or perhaps it was what happens when guys let themselves be guys, we don’t have our moral compass nearby (our wife) to keep us in check? Regardless, Phil is responsible for what he said. And he will be held accountable for what he said. We must take from that a lesson in what we say, and also how we say it.
In the meantime, Jesus says “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Happy Happy Happy.