There’s been quite a buzz lately on the words spoken by “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson. In a recent interview by GQ you can read here (warning, offensive content by both Phil AND the writer….I didn’t realize reporters used so many curse words….but anyway…), Robertson obviously said some things not realizing the stir they’d cause once published. Perhaps he didn’t even realize they would be published, as he spoke candidly in ways A&E won’t allow him to. This entire occasion has brought many things to the surface, if we’re willing to confess & repent (as Phil himself calls us to)…here’s just one:
1. Manifestations of Christianity aren’t always as loving as Jesus. When our focus is on “getting souls saved”, and Jesus becoming the magic pill that society needs to swallow to make everything better…..we end up saying and doing hurtful things. This is an adventure in missing the point. A reason this often happens is found in Robertsons interview, toward the end. He asks his GQ interviewer if he and his family are “Bible people”. This response is, “Not really, I’m sorry to say.”
Phil’s response is, “If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead—yours and mine and everybody else’s problems will be solved. And the next time we see you, we will say: ‘You are now a brother. Our brother.’ So then we look at you totally different then.”
What’s interesting here is how we interpret that final sentence. In scripture, we see the same thing in Jesus…when someone becomes a follower, it changes our relationship to them…but quite different than our approach today. You see, Jesus lavished huge amounts of love on people right away. Nothing was required to earn his affection, and nothing could purchase the grace He offered. The tax collectors. The prostitutes. The Roman soldiers. But when you became a follower…then He looked at you totally different. The teachers of the law. The disciples. You were expected to follow. Your life was to begin bearing the fruit of someone being transformed by the Love of God. Before you followed Jesus? Love. After you follow Jesus? Accountability to a life transformed by that Love.
But not so with Phil and much of Christianity today. It’s like we want people to give thumbs up to Jesus before we can “really” love them. But I guess this is where I, as Phil’s brother, should call him out. I doubt he’ll read this….but just in case:
I’ll start out by confessing, I’m not perfect. I’ve messed up a thousand times. Thankfully, there was never a reporter or television camera around. I’ve turned away from those choices, and toward all that God invites us to. I live as part of a community seeking Christ, and am kept accountable to my words and actions.
Recently, you’ve said some things that were hurtful to a lot of people that Jesus loves. I know you didn’t intend to hurt anyone. The truth is, we need to be careful when and how we speak on certain topics. There are confused and lonely people out there who you’ve just accused of being one step away from beastiality. There are people still wrestling with the impact of racism, whose long & transforming struggle you’ve just reduced. Accusing people for being everything that’s wrong with our society is not a good path for helping them feel how loved they are by God. Looking at years of racial segregation, slavery and hatred and saying “It wasn’t that bad.” is not a great path for showing God’s love to those who’ve endured suffering.
James 3:9-10 reminds us both, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
From hearing your words, I know that you know…when we mess up, we repent. That means turning away from what was, and toward God. I pray that God can bring redemption to what has happened. Already it’s obvious, evil would love to see this transformed into something that injurs not only your witness, but the entire body of Christ. But in the midst of it all, as with anything in life – when offered to God, it can bring beautiful experiences of God’s Kingdom. I look forward to how all of this…can be offered to all things being made New.
(just in case you missed the discussion on Facebook)
Sara: I think this is great. I think the biggest frustration in christianity is that we overlook people who are really actually hurt and struggling to forward our cause. that does WAY more harm that good to actual people, and to whatever cause we’re trying to forward!
Stori : Great letter! Thanks for sharing!
Randi : So good I love your blog
Steve : There aren’t going to be enough buses in the world for Christians to throw this Robertson guy under. They’ll probably crash notalllikethat.org like an Obamacare website.
Matt : This was fantastic! Thanks for writing this and sharing it! “Before you followed Jesus? Love. After you follow Jesus? Accountability to a life transformed by that Love.”
Molly : Thanks for not bring a jerk. Lots of people who also call themselves Christians can’t wait to be nasty and the blogs I’ve read make me just as sad as his interview. You’re approach is loving and not condemning. Like the world needs us to be.
Rod : So you are saying Jesus never called out sin? I think you are wrong here. Although I don’t agree with everything Phil said, he was pointing out sin, something Jesus did on occasion. When Jesus did see sin, he showed love. I think Phil tried to show love, but wasn’t allowed to (like I said I didn’t agree with some of the words he used). I am surprised how Christians continue to support Main Stream views and not support Christian views. I think Phil did the best he as a human could do. No where did he say he hated people. He just pointed out sin. Too bad more Christians don’t stand up for the bible (hopefully in a more loving way).
Oleta : I understand what you are saying but Phil began a dialogue that needed to be brought forth. What you said also needs to be said from a very public platform. Write to Mr Robertson ,and I think you will find a humble Christian who will take correction and do something about it publicly.
Matt : Phil’s statement released today after the fact should have been his first response. It was more clearly thought out and it was certainly more loving and Christ-like than what he originally said. Here’s his statement: “I myself am a product of the ’60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
Chadwick: Thanks Matt. I’d just seen that also. May God continue to transform Phil and each of us into New Creations as we Love in a way that brings/proclaims the Righteousness of God. Rod – I don’t think we disagree on much here. Oleta – glad God can use this to bring about a healing conversation…praying those happen more often than the opposite from it.
Tyler: Not gonna lie Chadwick, from your letter it feels like you didn’t even read the entire interview. I see nothing wrong with the way the interview went…other than the interviewers language. I agree with Phil and believe he did Christians proud in how he handled the interview. Christians need to stop tip toeing around the issues.
Michael: How as a pastor can you Biblically back not pointing out sin? The way the interview is reported has been totally twisted. That’s what’s wrong with the church today we are afraid to stand on biblical principles for fear of offending someone. Jesus offended the mainstream throughout his entire ministry by preaching the truth, his truth. Phil merely stated that homosexuality along with bestiality, promiscuity, drunkenness, swindling….. Are all sinful. The church needs people to stand and not sit back fearing political correction, we’re to further Gods kingdom and point people to Christ and that includes pointing out sin that is in very nature the opposite of Christ. Any attempt to downplay it is simply not biblical. Of course people are offended, sin engulfs and twists and this political correctness by the church is only an excuse to continue in sin.
Ward: I think Phil is a true believer, but not a theologian. He was sharing off the cuff & he is a straight shooter. I still think he has been treated poorly. If you are brave enough to speak the truth about the sin of homosexuality you will be censored. It will get much worse yet unless we stand up for the truth of the Word of God.
Rod: Chad – We do disagree here. I believe Christians should stand on the bible with love. Jesus pointed out sin but did so with love. I don’t agree with everything Phil said, but agree when he refereed to scriptures to point out the sin. It seems in your blog you disagree with Phil on this as you wrote….. But not so with Phil and much of Christianity today. It’s like we want people to give thumbs up to Jesus before we can “really” love them. But I guess this is where I, as Phil’s brother, should call him out. I doubt he’ll read this….but just in case:
The truth is, we need to be careful when and how we speak on certain topics. There are confused and lonely people out there who you’ve just accused of being one step away from beastiality.
Rod: Chad – Phil wasn’t asking anyone to give a thumbs up to Jesus, he just pointed out sin. He didn’t say he hated people so your comment regarding “love” is way off base. You can’t mix the 2 here, if so you are saying Jesus never pointed out sin in love.
Chadwick: Tyler & Michael & Ward- not worried if he “did Christians proud”…our concern is how Jesus would respond. His vulgar comparison of how desirable a vagina/anus are (reducing loving relationships to sexual acts…which offends me even as a man in a heterosexual marriage), how “logical” a decision heterosexuality is (implying anyone who chooses otherwise is obviously illogical), quickly connecting homosexuality to beastiality, claiming blacks were happy/content before civil rights, etc…did not take into account the individual lives and struggles of those he was talking about. I’ve read the entire interview, and realize he was speaking candidly – not as a religious leader. Conversations like this probably shouldn’t become summaries of all we do or think.
I agree with my brother Phil regarding the scriptures he quoted. Scriptures meant to convey God’s Love just as much as to bring that Love to life in our lives being transformed. Phil has clarified….he didn’t mean to show disrespect. He encourages us all to love God, and love each other. Let those be the words we remember from him in all of this.
Chadwick: Eek. Sorry all…this is probably why I didn’t want to step out into the madness. But I did. I think my main beef was…many Christians seem to be responding as if all Phil said was “I think homosexuality is a sin.” He said quite a bit more than that…on more topics. Rod – I agree….he never came out and said he hated anyone. So I suppose my letter to him is less an accusation of hate, and more a reminder to live more from the love Phil has already confirmed has always been there. A love each of us can do well to live from….even when pointing out in our brothers and sisters (and ourselves) where we’re allowing anything other than Christ and the ways of His Kingdom to reign in our lives.
Michael: There’s more to Christianity than love though brother, there’s right and wrong, biblical truth and sin, heaven and hell. I agree you love everyone but that love ultimately encompasses pointing out sin. Following Christ is love but out of this we we are to love as Christ did.Homosexuality like bestiality is a sexual sin on par with all sexual sin and sin in general, no greater or lesser. If you think that’s not the future of sexual sin your mistaken. History shows that sexual sin is rampant and in many forms as with all sin. Its the issue for this generation and being called to evangelical ministry needs to be addressed point blank. We all need Jesus and the church needs to support everyone in Christ, voicing belief is not bigotry its merely disagreement and the church is in a period of trial and truly needs revival. Jesus would’ve loved them agreed but he would have taught them as well and that’s where a Christians we need to stand pointing out all sin that separates from God.
Whew. If you read all of that….I’m sorry. I’ve closed comments on this post, and stopped responding on my FB. Hopefully my voice is heard in the midst of it all. I meant to call a brother to more clearly reflect God’s love, even when calling out the sin in our world. Now I’m gonna go eat Christmas cookies.