Phil Robertson and Christian dissent
Phil Robertson has been suspended by A&E from the hit show Duck Dynasty. The news came out, and the Christian community responded (and is responding) via many channels, none more loudly than through social media. My friends Marty Duren and Dr. Russell Moore both addressed the situation, and did so incredibly well. I don’t have the writing ability, or intellectual capacity, to add to what they’ve said, so I won’t. I do, however, want to add a word of caution about how we respond to this (and more situations like it, which are bound to come).
My caution is this. Be careful how you speak. Speak carefully, speak truthfully and speak lovingly. Be aware that our response, if we are not careful, can look hypocritical and unloving in a hurry. It was not that long ago when the conservative Christian viewpoint was the majority, and we were successfully (and unsuccessfully) calling for boycotts whenever any company espoused a position that was contrary to our own. We need to be careful in our condemnation of the very same manner of dissent that many in our tribe have embraced for a long time now.
Beyond that, let us be careful to speak the truth in love. We believe in a traditional view of marriage. We believe that God designed marriage as a reflection of Jesus’ relationship with the church, and therefore marriage is more than a social convenience, it’s a theological statement. We should not be afraid to say that. However, we should be cautious of how we say that. Far too often, in a time like this, we get emotional and we respond with what may be true words, but we shout them out of anger, or embarrassment, and ultimately destroy our message, not because the message is wrong but because the messenger is.
Christians find themselves in a strange and uncomfortable position. We do not hold the majority opinion anymore. After centuries of being so, conservative Christian sexual values are no longer a majority opinion; we are now a vocal minority, true, but a minority still. We have little experience speaking from this position. Ultimately, as I have said previously, I think the church can flourish in this environment, but we are going to have to behave differently than we may have in the past.
I am convinced that most of the conservative Christians I know genuinely love all people (even the ones we disagree with), but much of culture does not believe that to be true. Chief among the list of those who believe the church hates them are those in the homosexual community. This is an important moment for the church. Let us be careful not to give credence to their fears by the manner in which we respond to this situation. Let us speak the truth. Let us speak it boldly, but let us speak in love. Let’s not destroy our message at this time with a manner that is unbecoming of the church of Jesus Christ.
But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head — Christ. Ephesians 4:15