In light of the recent comments made by Phil Robertson of the A&E show, ‘Duck Dynasty’, we at Sinners Media Network have decided it would be a good idea to change our release schedule to release an episode that hinges on the idea that people are watching shows like Duck Dynasty. We believe people are watching these shows because the cast is open about their faith, and that we should be living our lives at all times to show off God’s glory. This episode was pre-recorded and doesn’t specifically mention Phil’s recent comments, so we felt that a blog post addressing our take on the recent events would be necessary. The comments below have been wrestled through, written, and edited by Andrew and Marc of ‘Dinner With Sinners’. The “I” Person could be referring to either of them.
You may or may not have heard what happened, but there is no need to go into excruciating detail. The overview goes a little something like this: GQ asked Phil what he believed, Phil said some offensive things, LGBT community lost it, A&E suspended Phil, the Christian community fired back in defense. Everybody is boycotting everyone else, everyone is outraged, and there are more questions than answers. Instead of deciding with whom to side, this post will answer the question “What can we learn from this controversy?”
Stand by your beliefs always, stand by believers sometimes.
Christian culture gets itself in trouble all the time by standing behind people, churches and businesses when they show up in the news for making a bible statement or decision. The Hobby Lobby, Chic-Fil-A, and Starbucks controversies are great examples. Though the people behind these companies read the same book, and believe similar things from it, they are sinners, and they slip up, just like everyone else. Christians get themselves in trouble because they start by cheering for these people, and as the media warfare continues, they swear an allegiance to them. A great example in my (Marc’s) life recently is my Detroit Lions. They started their season very strong this year. I decided that after the Lions won their second game that I was going to be a Lions fan this year. As the season went on, I became a bigger and bigger fan. I read their blogs, I listened to sports talk radio, and have even called in a few times. When they were number one and beat Green Bay on Thanksgiving, I decided for myself “This is the year! They are going all the way!” Then the Lions lost 4 games in a row. I found myself screaming at the T.V.: “Come on lions! You are the lions! Win!”
The truth is, my team is the Lions, not the Ravens. They aren’t going to win? Why not? Because they, like everything else in Detroit, kind of stink. They did a few things I liked, gained a big bandwagon following, and then disappointed everyone.
We often do this in our spiritual lives. Especially with highly respected individuals in the Christian culture. I have hopped on many preacher bandwagons. Everyone from Mark Driscoll to John MacArthur to the old guys like Calvin and Luther. These are all great dudes who preach a lot of truth and have done many great things for the Christian faith, but they all share the same flaw: human sin nature. And guess what? They have all made mistakes. Quite a few in fact. The same goes for figures in the media like Phil Robertson, Tim Tebow, Pope Francis, Head from Korn, and far too many more to name. We put these great figures up on a pedestal and are either heartbroken or look really stupid when they fall from it.
A statement that I keep hearing is “I stand by Phil and the bible.“
We will probably never know exactly what Phil said, how he said it, or the full context of the discussion because we are hearing it through the filter of the media. It appears to me from reading the article that when GQ’s interviewer asked what sin is he started with homosexuality, went on to talk about beastiality and other sexual sins, then went to First Corinthians for a nice long list. Decide for yourself if you think this was the best answer, or if he was correct in saying it. I can tell you with absolute confidence that even if you believe what he said here is true, let Phil talk long enough, he will say something that either you or the Bible disagrees with.
The bible warns against following people instead of the bible in 1 Corinthians 3:
“3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field,God’s building.
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”
(NIV, 1 Cor. 3:3-23)
The point here is that Christ and his word are eternal and infallible. People will disappoint; Even the best of bible teachers can make a mistake every now and again. For this reason, Paul tells the Corinthians “Stop arguing over which Christian to follow and just follow Christ.”
So Andrew and I say this: Always stand by scriptures, usually stand by your Christian brothers, and be wise and humble enough to know when to hop off the bandwagon.
So as for the DWS team’s opinion on Phil’s comments, we would like to punt and say we believe what’s in the Bible. We believe everything that Phil said that came from the Bible, everything else is up for discussion, but not in this post.
And now for the second lesson from this point.
Know What You Believe and Why You Believe It
Too often Christians find themselves making truth claims that “sound right.” A great example is the old Baptist belief that a Christian should not drink, chew, or go with girls that do. Sounds right on paper, but it’s just not in the bible. Recently, Rob Bell got into a bunch of trouble because he decided to tell everyone there is no hell. I would so love to believe everyone goes to heaven, but again, it’s not in the Bible. What is going around is this weird claim that Phil directly compared homosexuality to beastiality. In the context, the connection isn’t there. The thing that’s worse than this bad paraphrasing is that people are standing up and saying: “YEAH! THE BIBLE DOES SAY BEING A GAY LEADS TO BEASTIALITY. I AGREE WITH PHIL!” At this point, Christians start to let emotions take over, rather than using a logical argument, and start to look bad. Phil isn’t trying to make the point that homosexuality leads to beastiality, and it’s clearly NOT what the Bible says.
Now we are seeing everyone engaging in these debates and social media is exploding with bad “Christian” arguments, often featuring out-of-context scriptures that are being paraphrased, not quoted. On these same threads (Usually someone who is pro-gay-rights vs ignorant-churchgoers) appear more Christians, the type of Christian who plays by their own rules, who argue against Phil, against the anti-gay, and against the pro-gay.
Now Christians are out there in public looking like a football team that can’t set up their offense. We had to call a timeout because the quarterback and the center got into an argument about what the rules say, the linemen aren’t set up, and no one actually knows what the coach said. C’mon guys, we’re looking bad out there!
I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that we look bad because we swear by the bible but we don’t read it and we don’t actually know what it says. Then we go out with our belief system full of holes, and then we try to patch the holes with things that sound close-enough. This is how mistakes are made.
“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
(NIV, Acts 17:11)
These guys were praised because when Paul came in and completely flipped their beliefs upside-down, they went right back to the scriptures to see if what he said was true. Kudos Bereans. Just like the Bereans, we need to study the bible, understand what it says, and know how to properly articulate doctrines. We also need to know how to tell the difference between what is biblical, unbiblical, extra biblical, and what just “sounds right” but is actually wrong.
The third point is what many Christians are squabbling about. Our advice comes from one guy that works at a church and shoots his mouth off a lot and another guy who works in IT and is generally a really nice guy. We both want you to take this point home with you:
Know your context and choose your words wisely.
In my (Marc’s) opinion, when I’m prompted with the question “What is sin?”, responding with “Well, start with homosexuality and go from there” and then moving directly toward bestiality is not a good move. You see, I roll both with gay people and with people who believe very strongly in marriage equality. I would never take such a bull in a China shop approach to talking about this particular sin.
As Christians, we believe that the hardest part of communicating our message is choosing the right tone. We look at the many different tones used by Jesus while He was on earth. For the religious leaders, He takes an angry, harsh approach. Toward the men, He spoke bluntly. Toward the woman caught in adultery and surrounded by people, after making the angry mob go away, He simply asked “Where did everybody go? Well I forgive you too. Go and sin no more.” What about the Samaritan woman at the well? He made the most humble move He could by asking her for a drink, which in His day would have been huge. Then, when the Samaritan woman figured out who Jesus was, he goes ahead and says “So yeahhh… I know you are sleeping around… Just go get all your boyfriends and husbands and let’s have a pow wow.” Jesus often took a very tender, loving tone with his disciples, but at times became firm in tone. When Jesus addressed crowds, He used parables to explain his point. Many understood, some were confused, and others just didn’t care. The point here is that Jesus used many of different tones and it always had to do with context.
My favorite context moment was in Luke 20 when Jesus’s authority was questioned. The Pharisees set Jesus up with a question that if He answered truthfully would have been perfect to get him killed. They asked him where his authority came from (God), which could have been charged as blasphemy. Jesus, knowing that it wasn’t time yet for him to go to the cross, answered the question with a question, basically stuck his tongue out, and said “nice try, I’m not telling.” Everything in context.
Sometimes, the time is right to proclaim death and doom, sometimes the time is right to be tender and gentle.
Proverbs 15:1 has been a life saver for all of us.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
(NIV, Prov 15:1)
Another great verse is 1 Peter 3:7 where it tells men to speak gently with their wives, and then 8 verses later, in 1 Peter 3:15 we are told that we should always be prepared to give an answer in gentleness and respect.
There are a few different ways to communicate truths of scripture. The key is to be spirit-filled*, and know your context.
*For more on being spirit filled and the Holy Spirit, check out Dinner With Sinners episodes 9 and 11
In Phil’s case, he was speaking about a topic that we are assuming he contractually signed not to talk about. His tone reflects that he knew what was about to happen. A&E’s suspension of Phil was purely protocol and completely fair. As I saw going around social media today, “That’s capitalism, not persecution.” The bigger context is that he was talking to a mass media outlet and being set up for a “gotcha” moment. I can’t criticize Phil’s choice to use this avenue to go out of his way to take a stance on this topic, mainly because I’ve never been a famous bible thumping redneck. What I do have the authority to say is that there is a time for everything and in a similar position, I would probably choose a different answer.
So to keep you, reader, from becoming Captain Hindsight, DWS wants to leave you with some tips for the next time you either have to respond in a situation like this, or find yourself talking about your beliefs in a similar manner.
Be spirit filled
Realize that every conflict is an opportunity to either give the devil a foothold or to glorify God
Before you start researching, pondering, or talking, pray.
Examine yourself to be sure that you have a humble, loving, and honest attitude. If not, refer to the previous step.
Be slow to speak and quick to listen
When commenting on an article, read the article. Get all the information, then draw a conclusion.
When commenting on the bible read the bible, and understand what you are saying.
Listen to the other party’s argument before you begin crafting yours.
Think before you speak
Ask yourself the following questions:
Are the words I say going to need a contextual explanation? Should I explain the context before or after I make this statement?
Is this the right time, place, and tone to say this?
What is my motive for making this point? Is my motive productive? Are my expectations realistic?
We hope that you found this article thought provoking and encourage you to respond. Feel free to join a discussion on our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/dwspodcast. All discussions will be monitored and excessive trolling or inflammatory speech will be suspended. Thanks for reading and we hope you continue to follow Dinner With Sinners.
New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002