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
- A&E Suspends Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Following Anti-Gay Comments (people.com)
- Sarah Palin: ‘Intolerants’ Behind Phil Robertson’s Suspension Attacking ‘All of Us’ (breitbart.com)
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson suspended by A&E after comments on homosexuality (fox43.com)
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ dad Phil Robertson suspended after controversial gay remarks (kansascity.com)
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ star ignites wrath of ‘gays’ (wnd.com)
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Bashes Gays (thewrap.com)
- Future Of ‘Duck Dynasty’ Show In The Air (houston.cbslocal.com)
- Duck Hunt: The Phil Robertson ‘GQ’ Quote the Media Refuse to Report (breitbart.com)
- Phil Robertson Defends Anti-Gay Comments: ‘All I Did Was Quote From the … – ABC News (blog) (abcnews.go.com)