Duck Dynasty and the Current Controversies
|Dr. Russell Moore|
Near the beginning of his blogpost on the Duck Dynasty controversy, Dr. Russell Moore (President of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention) wrote, "Let me stipulate that I’m not really much of a fan of reality television. I think it’s largely inane and not worth watching."
I agree with Dr. Moore, and it is for this reason (and because the commercials did not make the show look entertaining at all) that I never watched an episode of Duck Dynasty until three or four months ago.
While working on a construction job near Washington D.C. (I was re-doing part of the interior in a Sports Authority at nights), I ended up with several free hours one day. After doing Bible study, praying, and talking with some friends and family members on the phone, I finally sat down to eat with some co-workers in the house where we were staying. The other guys had the TV tuned in on AandE. It was in this context- somewhat against my will- that I first encountered Duck Dynasty, which I expected to be simply awful.
I was more than surprised- I was shocked!- at how hilarious the show was. In the first episode that I watched, Jase had the idea of turning the loading dock behind the Duck Commander/Buck Commander warehouse into a duck pond so that they could test the duck calls in a realistic environment. As I viewed Jase pontificate on how this idea was the greatest stroke of genius he had ever had, followed by Willie's sheer rage at his brother and fellow employees for flooding the loading dock, I was almost in tears with laughter.
Since then, I've watched the show several times, usually while visiting my in-laws. (They DVR the show, and we don't have cable TV at my house.)
I have concerns about the impact of Duck Dynasty within evangelicalism.
While Duck Dynasty is- in my opinion- the funniest and most morally clean live-action show on television, I have had some concerns about both the show and its impact within the evangelical community. The Robertson family, while certainly more upright than other TV families, can speak to each other in extremely rude ways. It is not unusual to hear them call each other "stupid" or "you idiot." I certainly don't want my children using this kind of language (they have usually been out of the room when Abby and I have watched the show), and- based (for example) on Jesus' words in Matthew 5:22- I believe the Robertsons need to repent of the way that they often speak to each other.
I am also deeply concerned about the way that the Robertsons and their church have taught about baptism and its relationship to salvation. Through an uncritical acceptance of what the Robertsons say about baptism- or by giving the Robertsons an open and expanded platform to proclaim their message at evangelical churches, in evangelical bookstores, and over evangelical radio stations- evangelicals may unwittingly undermine the Good News that sinners are counted right in God's sight by faith alone. (Mark Lamprecht has faithfully blogged about concerns along these lines.)
I was NOT surprised by Phil Robertson's "controversial" statements on homosexuality.
The Duck Commander
murdered due to his opposition
of Jim Crow laws.
Robertson was suspended from Duck Dynasty due to statements identifying homosexual behavior as sinful. His suspension for these remarks is, however, not as surprising as the remarks that he was NOT suspended for. In the GQ interview that caused the current kerfuffle, Robertson stated the following concerning the pre-Civil Rights era South:
I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people'—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.
The statement that "no one was singing the blues," with the implied message that things were hunky-dory for African Americans during the Jim Crow era South, is ludicrous. Seriously: do like five minutes of research on lynching across the American South even through the 1960s. Even if Robertson in particular grew up in some kind of hither-to unheard-of Southern racial utopia, and even if- as Joe Carter plausibly suggests– Robertson’s main point was that godliness yields happiness, Robertson should not make such statements, which fail to demonstrate sensitivity for the experiences of many African American brothers and sisters in Christ.
A lack of sensitivity- or a lack of sense of propriety in language- may also characterize the WAY- in one instance- that Robertson described his objection to homosexual behavior. Some of the language used by Robertson in the GQ interview that sparked this controversy was, as Dr. Albert Mohler (President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) wrote yesterday, "rather crude and graphically anatomical." Dr. Mohler wisely noted, "The Apostle Paul made the same arguments, but worshipers in the congregations of Rome and Corinth did not have to put hands over the ears of their children when Paul’s letter was read to their church."
Perhaps a magazine interview was not the best place for Robertson to speak in the way he did. But Robertson used no obscenity. In fact, he only used proper medical terms for body parts. And such frank discussion DOES need to take place in some venue. As Thabiti Anyabwile properly noted in an article which contains much more graphic anatomical language than that found in the Robertson interview: those pushing for "gay marriage" want to divert attention away from the perverse acts they are promoting, and instead focus on "love and commitment." They want to remove the "yuck factor" of homosexual activity.
Several of my friends approvingly linked to an article that objected to Phil Robertson's comment concerning the proper use of male and female body parts in toto. In this article, Wesley Hill summarized Robertson's point as: "gay men should just wake up to how awesome women’s body parts are." Hill's objection is based on the idea that: "the mysteries of human nature and all the ways our hearts are opaque, even to ourselves." Hill is certainly correct to point out that bare knowledge or mere mental assent is insufficient to bring about change for a person who is struggling with homosexual attraction. But this does not change the fact that our Creator originally established a certain order, and deviation from this order is a sin. This is how Jesus reasons about marriage in Matthew 19:4-5. That homosexuality is against nature is the exact line of reasoning that the Apostle Paul takes in Romans 1:26-27. So, in a certain since, men SHOULD naturally "wake up" to how awesome women- including their "body parts"- are.
Robertson was not suspended from Duck Dynasty for how he expressed his objections to homosexual behavior. Even his racially insensitive comments were overlooked. Instead, Robertson was suspended for daring to call homosexual behavior a sin, while paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Christians must be aware: the idea that homosexual behavior is a sin is no longer tolerated. If a person reads 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 aloud-
“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.”
-and says, "I agree with the New Testament," then that person is considered a bigot. Christians must be mentally prepared for the cultural derision that they will face for upholding the biblical view of sexuality. We must be prayed up and soaked in Scripture so that we can withstand the cultural pressure that we will face to compromise when it comes to calling out sin for what it is: an offense against our Creator. We must be ready to point men and women to the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can save us from all our sin.
Labels: Christian worldview