Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson on the Gay Lifestyle and Christianity: A Christian Response

Duck Dynasty

Phil Robertson of the A&E mega-hit “Duck Dynasty” was recently interviewed in GQ magazine by writer Drew Magary in what erupted into an all too common media firestorm over his comments on behalf of Christianity and the Bible’s view toward the LGBT community.  These were his main comments about the general subject of “sin”, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men… Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.” (http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson#ixzz2oVPZ4iI3)

Phil was re-quoting the apostle Paul, who wrote; “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

Instead of focusing on a person, let’s just look at this from a Christian perspective.  I made the mistake in my original article of being critical of Phil, and I apologize.  It’s wrong to cut down anyone made in the image of God, and I’m working on never doing that.

But I think it’s important that we’re careful not to take point blank, rifle shots into unwilling targets (pardon the pun).  To put it another way, statements like these are black and white responses sent into a culture of grey.  Black and White becomes obscured in the color grey, and those in a grey culture can’t tell what is what.  One can’t make comments like that without some intense explanation, because people who don’t believe it simply just don’t understand.  I think it’s fair to add that we shouldn’t joke about gay sex as Christians, or even human beings, in 2013, or any age for that matter…  I’m not saying I haven’t been guilty of it myself. But I do recognize that I need to change.

It’s possible to present content that is biblical, yet have an approach that is un Christ-like.  We Christians do it all the time.  I’ve done it many times.

Our current society is in the throes of what many would label a Civil Rights revolution for the gay community.  After years in America of anti-Sodomy laws, and unfair discrimination against the gay community, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme.  November 27th, 1978 was the day that early gay rights activist Harvey Milk was killed.  Since then culture has been slowly but surely shifting. Now it is 2013, and fantastically well written and well performed shows like “Modern Family” and “Chicago Fire” (both I am a HUGE fan of because they’re so well done!) champion gay rights issues openly.  The greatest influencers in our culture have shifted in America towards being a pro-gay majority.  It is a time when any anti-gay comments made are viewed as bigotry.

Yet as followers of Jesus, we are left with the text of 1 Cor. 6:9-10, and others that clearly define any expression of gay sexuality, whether in committed monogamy, personal pornography, or promiscuity, as against the way of God.  It’s defined clearly.  Theological debates that try to contradict this are philosophical aerobics at best…

So what are Christ followers to do in a culture that promotes the gay lifestyle, while the scriptures call it wrong?

We’re called to live in the tension…  Don’t forget the words and way of Jesus…

In Jesus’ greatest sermon, He taught us to never retaliate against someone who hates or wrongs us, and to love our enemies. (Matt. 6:38-48) Granted, we are to be honest and share our convictions. But it should never be done in an insensitive, uncaring way.  I’d have to ask the natural question of every Christian who makes comments that will impact the gay community, have they ever had a real, substantive friendship with someone who struggles in the inward battle of same sex attraction?  Thats my advice to Christians.  Are you insensitive toward the LGBT community?  Make some friends.  I’m serious.  Start tomorrow.

I understand that some cultures tend to be blunt, matter of fact, and conservative.  I understand that, and take that into consideration.  I have friends in cultures like that.  The core of many of my convictions would naturally be labelled conservative.  But I still think as followers of Jesus we are all challenged to be continual learners of what it means to love God and neighbor.  It doesn’t matter if we’re rural, suburban, urban, first, second or third world.  It doesn’t matter if we’re rich or poor, or influenced by rigid Christianity or loose morality.  We can all learn and follow Jesus.  Those of us who claim to follow Jesus need to continually evolve in our faith, and not stay in any place of insensitivity and ignorance that could potentially harm our influence.

Jesus instructed his disciples to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) We shouldn’t give fodder to insensitive legalists who have a hatred for culture and are desperately fighting for a comfortable, pressure-free American Christianity that allows them to blast out their convictions with a proverbial bullhorn.  We need to dig deeper, past our judgments, and see clearly the people who are broken and hurting… introducing them to Jesus so that their lives are forever changed.  We should never throw gasoline on the fire of ungracious Christianity.

The verse after 1 Cor. 6:9-10 is important to consider.  After giving a list of sins in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 that exclude people from eternity, Paul states; “And such were some of you. 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.”  Paul meant that before all these “sinners” left their lifestyles behind completely, they were touched by God’s grace, their slate was wiped clean, and God viewed them as a brand new creation because of the gift of Jesus’ Christ’s death for them.

The way the apostle Paul said it in 1 Cor. 6:11 leads us to believe that he was friends with people who were “sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, gay, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers”.  In fact, we know he was.  The New Testament church of the first century had all of these people, coming out of the pagan Roman culture, as some of their founding mothers and fathers, alongside people coming out of an extremely judgmental religious culture as well!  Why wouldn’t Paul have actually loved and cared for people in all of these lifestyles?  Read the gospels!  Jesus most certainly did!  And Paul was very serious, to the point of risking his life daily while following Jesus.

Paul was also writing these verses to people who had already become Christians.  All of the New Testament letters were written to Christians.  In effect, Paul was saying; “You used to live like this when I met you, and then you believed in Christ, so now your life has to change!”  He wasn’t pointing at culture and saying “stop all of these things or you’ll go to hell”, even though that is true…  He was far more concerned with people getting to know Jesus, and having their lives revolutionized by His love and truth, and that was what could bring about the change.

We need to be tactful, loving, sensitive, and helpful to those who don’t follow Jesus.  We can share the truth and still do this.

For a good example of a public figure describing their view of the gay lifestyle, check out Bill Hybels’ comments here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFhSfr13Y6o

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Revival in Northern New England is Happening… Right Now!

Map of the New England States. Showing, State,...

Map of the New England States. Showing, State, County & Town Boundaries, Post Offices, Railroad Stations &c. (Photo credit: uconnlibrariesmagic)

Type in the phrase “Revival in New England” in google, and see what happens… You’ll find a number of articles, some with vague optimism that a quiet revival is happening in northern New England through small churches slowly growing and conferences being put together.  These articles are true to some extent.  There are many small, faithful churches in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont that are quietly and faithfully plodding along, making a gradual difference for the gospel.  There are more significant churches in the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island area that are plowing on as well.

New England is a region of the United States that many describe as “spiritually stagnant”.  The Barna group did a fascinating statistical study on America’s Most and Least Bible minded cities.  Cities in the New England region made the top six least churched cities in America (if we include Albany NY, which on the border of Vermont) (http://cities.barna.org/americas-most-and-least-bible-minded-cities/). Anyone who has done ministry in New England knows that legalistic, as well as lenient Christian Church bodies make up the likely majority of what could be defined as “Protestant” worship centers in the region.  Catholicism is extremely popular in New England, though it took a hit with the scandals of 2002.  This sets up two broad ends of a spectrum that leaves the general culture wondering what Biblical Christianity really is.

I am proud to say that I am part of a church, or rather a “movement” that is far different from these perceived “norms” of New England religious culture.  I’m talking about Next Level Church, whose main campus is in Somersworth, New Hampshire, and has two other locations in Portland, Maine, and Epping, New Hampshire.  Soon more campuses will be added.

Next Level is accomplishing what I knew was possible in the least-churched region of the U.S.  It is reaching people from all walks of life- addicts, people who grew up agnostic or atheist, ex-religionists, and more.  It is seeing revival in a place where many have believed it wouldn’t happen.  It’s Somersworth location opened on November 3rd, 2013.  That weekend alone, twenty-seven people met Jesus.  The next weekend, seventeen people came to know Jesus.  The momentum continues to build as people with no church connection are meeting Jesus and entering into the messy, wild life of discipleship.

No doubt there will be a great amount of work cut out for the wily, courageous, extremely fun, hard-working, faithful, determined group of people that make up the staff of Next Level!  Many people need to enter into deep discipleship.  Many leaders need to be raised up.  But Next Level is only beginning to make it’s mark on the New England region.

The charge is being led by pastor Josh Gagnon, a driven, gospel-focused, hilarious and transparent preacher, teacher and visionary.  Next Level Church began as a dream in the heart of Lead Pastor Joshua Gagnon to start a church where people who were far from God would want to attend. He knew that God had called him to plant a church in New England, where less people go to church than anywhere else in our country. In spite of being told that churches couldn’t grow in New England, Joshua and his wife Jennifer believed that God wanted to transform the entire region through the love of Jesus. (http://nlc.tv/ourstory)

That vision that God put in the heart of pastor Josh has bled into the lives of a faithful staff of leaders- Executive pastor Daniel King, location pastors Roman Archer, Allen Robbins, Jud Blake, and Chris Boardman, NLCkids Director Sarah LaFrance, worship leaders Bruce Burger, and Annette Adams, and Care pastor Ed Wingren.

The worship at NLC is raw, unadulterated, sometimes reverent, sometimes raucous rock.  The message of the gospel is delivered in a way that connects with the world of 2013- using media, video, creativity, and preaching that is confessional, raw, open, and more centered on application to real life than high and lofty theological exposition.  Still, the theology of Next Level is centered in the scriptures.  Although their approach is anything but traditional, they believe in and maintain a conservative theological position. (http://nlc.tv/ourbeliefs)

Next Level is proof that a movement of young, fired up Jesus followers can present Jesus in a way to New England culture that is engaging and life-changing.  It is introducing Jesus to segments of New England culture that may have never darkened the door of a church before.  Along with many other great churches in the area, NLC is making an eternal impact in an unlikely place.

So the next time you have a conversation about what God is doing in New England, you can know that the gospel is on the rise here.  In the years to come, what was once the least churched region in the country will become more acquainted with the gospel.

(Below is a photo montage of the opening day of the Somersworth, NH facility on Nov. 3rd, 2013)

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Living Out of a Right View of God

"ὁ θεòς ἀγάπη ἐστίν" ó theòs agape e...

“ὁ θεòς ἀγάπη ἐστίν” ó theòs agape estín (Greek; trans. “God is love”) on a stele in Mount Nebo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

26 “With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
    with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
27 with the purified you deal purely,
    and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
28 You save a humble people,
    but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down. (2 Sam. 22:26-28)

David was writing a song of victory when he wrote the words that are now known as “David’s song of deliverance” in 2 Samuel chapter 22, and modified as a public hymn in Psalm 18.  Verses 26 through 28 of 2 Samuel 22 are the pinnacle thesis of all that David is saying, and summarize much of what he learned through the trials of being chased down by his enemies.

The world of entertainment seeks to imitate and glorify heroes in the archetype of David.  Christopher Nolan‘s first in the famous series “Batman Begins”, depicts Bruce Wayne, before he became “Batman”, originally as a renegade outlaw who experiences redemption.  Bruce Wayne then goes on a conquest to find his true identity and destiny, which leads him to the league of Shadows (i.e. “Ninja Camp”).  Here he is trained by Ra’s Al Ghul, who later becomes his arch nemesis.  Bruce doesn’t know this yet, but when the Ninja camp burns down, Ra’s Al Ghul almost falls off a cliff, and Bruce saves his life.

This is an allusion to the kind of life David lived.  He was pursued by a mad King, Saul, who was convinced that it was God’s will to ruin and kill David.  Enraged by jealousy of David being destined to one day take his throne, Saul chased David through the countryside, forcing him into exile.  As the book of 1 Samuel describes, Saul threw spears at David numerous times, and David evaded death by the skin of his teeth.  At one point David had Saul trapped in a cave.  Saul was taking a leak and unaware that David and his men were hiding in the shadows waiting to ambush him, David gave Saul a free pass instead of killing him.  But David warned Saul that his wicked ways would come to an end at the hand of the Lord Himself.  David then shockingly displayed grace, forgiveness and pardon instead of the wrath and vengeance that Saul so deserved.  Mind you, Saul had tried to kill David numerous times, and David was letting him go.  David was risking his life to do the right thing, and dumping insane grace on Saul’s murderous, covetous heart.

With the merciful you show yourself merciful…

David understood the mercy of God on a deeper level through actually living it out in his life.  We, as followers of Jesus, can understand God’s ways in our skull.  But when the rubber meets the road, and we’re faced with an extremely challenging scenario- maybe a boss, or relative, or friend, or spouse or sibling, or stranger who betrays us or mistreats us, and we have the chance to get even…  What will we do then?  It’s only a God-ward perspective that can lead to the revolutionary response that David had to Saul.  God’s only Son Jesus summarized this when he said; “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:44-45)

Does this mean being a doormat?  Not at all.  When David spared Saul’s life, he warned him that God was going to deal with Saul’s transgressions.  David didn’t want to step in the way of God taking care of things and showing Himself to be who He is. David didn’t want to do the wrong thing in response to being wronged.  He understood God’s mercy.  God looks down at all of humanity and easily sees our imperfection…  I mean, He’s God!  So for Him, it’s not a hierarchy of who’s more messed up than who…  He sees wrong as it is, and we’re all loaded with corruption from our head to our toes.  But God desires all to get a shot at knowing Him.  He’ll even patiently, lovingly overlook some screw-ups in order to give people a chance to truly turn their hearts to him.  If we had it our way, we’d be reacting with immediate payback to every dumb thing that is done to us.  But God is not that way…  He is full of love and mercy.

with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
with the purified you deal purely,

David wasn’t a totally blameless man.  He was a polygamist.  He saw a naked girl on a roof, slept with her, and she became pregnant. He then had her husband slaughtered on the front lines of battle to hide the dirty deed.  But when David was called out on this by the prophet and sage Nathan, he admitted his wrong and accepted the consequences of being a bonehead.

And when we pursue to perfection and purity of God, we will be grieved at blowing it.  Hopefully none of us will ever do something as whacked as what David did with the pregnant girl and her husband.  But we all do stupid things, or think stupid thoughts daily that remind us we’re not God!  These are reminders to stay humble.

When we chase after God’s perfection, we begin to bask in His flawless ways.  We honor Him and love Him for all that He is, and we’re amazed by it.  We also progressively want more of His character infused into ours, and as we continually admit our shortcomings, He fills us with His love and His ways.

with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

It’s funny that people in the midst of crookedness would see God as being “tortuous”. This is a common view of God- that He’s a wrathful, nasty old grandpa with a love for Baptists and a hatred for fornication.  It could be that crooked folks view God this way because His commands seem so impossible in the midst of confusion and bewilderment.  When one sees God as He is- loving, caring, fair, merciful, pure, holy, beautiful, etc., etc…, It’s easy to follow Him.  And one finds that when they do fulfill what God is asking, one also becomes more loving, caring, fair, merciful, pure, holy, and… well maybe not always beautiful, but you get what I mean!

There are crooked religious people of course.  I’m talking of the Christian sort here. They have a jacked up view of God.  Particularly sourpuss religionists view God as a nasty lawgiver who makes demands that no one can live up to.  The religionist outwardly appears to fulfill these demands, while inwardly they waste away in guilt, duplicity, frustration, and hidden misdeeds that go on unannounced.

Could it be that King Saul viewed God as tortuous?  Saul claimed to know and obey God.  At times he was seen even falling on his face before God, getting caught up in worshipping God, and even seemingly, though probably not genuinely, repenting of his wrongdoings.  Could it be that David was thinking of Saul when he wrote this? God only knows.

May we be ones who view God as He is…  loving, merciful and good.