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

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

11 thoughts on “Phil Robertson and Christian dissent

  1. Micah, I agree that we need to be gracious, loving, and wise in the way we speak to this situation. I think it should be said equally forcefully that we need to speak. The tactic we’re facing is intimidation – pure and simple. “It’s fine to believe whatever you want as long as you don’t say it in public.” I believe the quieter we become, the more we’ll see the tactic employed. We need to say publicly and graciously that we agree with the substance of Phil’s comments.

  2. Mr Robertson has the right through the second amendment to express his views. The network can make a disclaimer but in my opinion they do not have the right to suspend him over expressing his view point, especially when other points of view are expressed without retribution.

  3. Let us *please* be careful with our use of the Constitution to formulate opinions.

    The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. It is not even part of this conversation. If Phil used his 2A rights to “express his views,” I think his actions would probably be frowned upon by law enforcement.

    The right to “express his views” comes from the First Amendment, but it does not apply to this situation. The 1A bars *Congress* from making any law prohibiting the citizen’s right to free speech. Contractual agreements and employer/employee relationships are not protected by the First. The government is not silencing Phil.

    The double standard is glaringly obvious: the GLAAD crowd said to A&E, “JUMP!” and A&E said, “how high? Fire Phil? Okay!” But this is not a Constitutional rights issue.

  4. I have to disagree somewhat with Micah’s perspective. The truth is what it is. When Jesus told the religious leaders that they were of their father the devil and called them snakes was to speak the straight truth. Pun intended. A&E simply need to have the truth pointed back at them which is, they are being intolerant.

  5. Doug Bradley, I’m not sure what you are disagreeing with? I encouraged the church to respond – and to faithfully call people to a biblical view of sexuality, which I believe is what you are calling for. I simply encouraged the church to do so with love and grace.

    It would appear from your comment that you would advocate for a more intentionally aggressive posture, based off Jesus’ behavior. I would encourage you to consider that Jesus never seemed to use that posture when dealing with those outside of the church. You are right that he used strong, aggressive language in the instance you referenced, and in the instance of the money changers in the temple he was even physically aggressive, but note that Jesus only seemed to use that language and behavior for those within the church; those who called themselves believers and didn’t behave like it. I think that’s because he wasn’t surprised when those who did not know Christ behaved as if they did not know Christ.

    To those outside the church he was faithful to recognize their sin, and call them to repentance, but it was always with grace and compassion. I’m trying to call the church to do the same.

    • Bro.
      I am not really disagreeing with you as much as discussing with you. I think there is a more broad view of Jesus’ interactions with people. He was borderline harsh or at least bitingly straight with groups of people but softer with individuals. Also, I don’t see Israelites as “the church.” More like the general public.

  6. Micah, Thank you so very much for your words. I was over-run with negativity when I posted this very topic to my FaceBook friends. No comments from non-believers, only chastised by believer’s. When is urging caution, prayer, study and obedience a bad thing? Unfortunately we are all so scarred from Christianity taking hits on the national stage that we RUN to defend it. Relieved to see other Christians urging caution. Thank you!

    • You hang in there. We seem to have lost the ability to spar back & forth with getting emotional. If folks cannot take discussion they should not discuss.

Leave a Reply