Six Points For Christians to Remember in the Wake of the Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson Story

In the wake of Phil Robertson being suspended for his recent remarks on homosexuality in GQ, I thought I would remind Christians of a few points that I think we quickly forget in situations like these.

Here's the relevant section of the interview.

What, in your mind, is sinful?
“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,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “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.”

#1. This is not a first amendment issue. 

Phil is not being imprisoned for stating his religious beliefs, nor is he prohibited by the government from saying what he believes. His employer has the liberty to fire him for projecting an image that they don't want projected. That's A&E's right just like it is the right of Phil Robertson to state his beliefs. Don't claim it's a first amendment issue.

As for what Phil stated, I don't believe he crossed the line and expressed anything wrong here. He didn't say homosexuality leads to bestiality like some interpret what he said as. If that is your take on it, then reading comprehension classes are necessary. He was just listing what sin is in response to being asked, "What, in your mind, is sinful?" His jokes about homosexuality being less preferable than heterosexuality were tasteless, but that doesn't seem to be what the furor is about.

Here's the thing. I get in trouble as a pastor for expressing the view that Phil expressed even within the confines of a church. That's to a crowd who should believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. So we have to be careful of where we are when we address certain issues and how we address them. For the world, the issue of homosexuality is not the issue we need to approach them with. They need to hear that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, that we need to be part of the kingdom of God, and that Jesus gives us access to that despite the sin in our lives. Jesus wants them to make Him Lord of their lives. He will deal with the other stuff after that.

We must always be people of grace and truth to the world because we want the world to see Jesus. All grace. All truth. Be graceful, not hateful. Be truthful, not compromising.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 ESV).
#2. This is a persecution issue.

I hate to throw the word persecution around because I think the Christian community sometimes suffers from a persecution complex. Yet that is what this is. A brother in Jesus was suspended from his job because of his Christian beliefs. It may not a persecution of deathly proportions like the founders of the faith experienced or our brothers and sisters around the world experience at times.

Phil Robertson's story isn't anything new. Orson Scott Card lost a Superman gig because of his view on gay marriage. The Superman story itself wasn't controversial. Gay activists just didn't want someone who was against gay marriage to write a Superman story despite the story having nothing to do with the issue of homosexuality. The gay activists won. Orson Scott Card lost the job.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them (Romans 12:14 ESV)

#3. We must remember how to respond to persecution.

We respond in love. Turning the other cheek. Not pounding our chests. We don't go around and take vengeance. We don't stand up and selfishly declare our rights. We're trying to project the light of Jesus into the darkness.

Jesus. The one who, lest we forget in our attempts to force our faith on others, had his rights violated to the point of nails being driven through his wrists. He suffered so that others may live.

He modeled grace and forgiveness in the midst of persecution. We must do the same. That is if we really want to follow Him rather than just claim to follow Him.

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:39 ESV).

#4. The world does not, nor may it ever, understand the difference between us saying something is a sin and not combining that belief with judgement.

We know that claiming something is a sin doesn't mean that we hate the sinner. We claim that homosexuality is a sin, but we don't hate homosexuals. The same is true with every other sin. We love sinners. We hate sin.

I haven't quite put my finger around why this is so hard to grasp. It may have to do with the fact that we also recognize that we are sinners saved only by His grace. We are not worthy of the blessedness of the presence of the Spirit in our lives, yet God gives us it anyway thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. So we recognize the sinfulness in ourselves, so we can't hate other sinners. 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24 ESV.
#5. God will work this out for His glory.

We seem to always get worried and worked up when situations like this happen. We forget the peace that God has given to us. The patience that we are to live in. The presence of God in our lives, at work in and through us.

This situation will bring Him glory. We just need to remain faithful, pray for the people involved, and be a witness to the love of Jesus in your sphere of relationships even during times like these.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 ESV).
#6. Love.

We need to always be loving. When we don't want to, we need to love. When we find it difficult, we need to love. When we are unpopular and attacked for our views, we need to love. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we need to love. The world needs the love of Jesus now as much as it ever has. We are the way that love is poured out. We need to love.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV).
The bigger issue is us rather than Phil Robertson. How do we deal with persecution or perceived persecution. Do we lash out? Or do we turn the other cheek? Do we seek vengeance and boycott? Or do we seek to bless?

I can't control GLAAD or Phil Robertson. I can influence myself and hopefully a few others. We need to be more loving, even when we feel like we are attacked. We need to be more graceful when presenting truth.

Nobody wins in the conversation when you compare homosexuality to any sin because the world doesn't want homosexuality to be considered a sin. Robertson made a big mistake in mentioning bestiality in connection with homosexuality. I would compare bestiality with my sin of materialism or gossip. I am just as much of a sinner as someone addicted to bestiality, yet I am still saved by grace.

Grace. It's a concept that frees us from hating murderers, pedophiles, warmongers, and whatever sin we despise. For if we hate them, then, in a way, we should hate ourselves. Our addictions and sin do not lessen God's love for us. We are made in His image. We shouldn't tarnish that. Yet when we do, God's grace still covers us.