This week A&E suspended Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty for some remarks about homosexuality he made in a GQ article.
I have read the article, as well as article after article responding to this situation. Christians everywhere are latching onto Robertson as a poster child for white, male, Christian (did I mention wealthy?) freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We are all lining up in suit to take our side, as we can no longer view the duck hunter from Louisiana as anything but a bigot or a martyr.
This post won’t be ready by many, I am sure, as I am refusing to label him as any of those things. I’m refusing to be outraged that a character on a reality TV show that pumped millions of dollars out of a primarily Christian audience, is now getting his slap on the wrist from the television network that created him. Duck Dynasty will continue to rake in the cash despite/because of the article. Fires are being fueled left and right.
I encourage you to stop. Don’t buy into it. Don’t make him your hero or your villain.
This is a symptom of a disease running deep within all of our veins. The blog posts fly, the tweets are rampant, people are fired up. I am not criticizing a community arising around a cause, but did we ever stop and think, WHAT exactly are we so viscerally reacting to? What are we claiming as Our Cause?
We are blinded by our culture, thinking within its limits and boundaries that have all been so directly set up for us by TV producers and big businesses in order to profit them. We have a skewed perspective, so much so that we can’t even dig enough to find what is important enough to be outraged by. We are satisfied with Phil Robertson being our cause, playing into the hands of our culture at large. Fish in a barrel.
Christians latch onto Phil Robertson’s every word for the same reason they feel the compelling urge to assert their religious beliefs by saying “Merry CHRISTMAS” as a response to a well-meaning passerby’s “Happy Holidays!” once a year. Bob Goff wrote a book titled “Love Does” which is a collections of stories woven together to illustrate the title point: love is a way of life. Love is a series of actions we choose to take in order to live a radical life of whimsey and genuine care for others. Somehow we tend to change this point, twisting it to mean that Love is slipping in an out-of-context aside about our religious beliefs to random strangers (on the internet or in the grocery store) in order to check off our religious obligation.
This is your wake-up call. God does NOT care what your stance is on Phil Robertson is. God isn’t going to place a jewel in your crown every time you pointedly (often angrily) say “Merry Christmas” to a heathen.
The truth is, this time of year is a prime time for us Christians to take a hard look at ourselves. What are our priorities? Are we actually remembering the true reason for the season, and thus being inspired to live out the result? In exuding that reason for the season, every single day in every action that you do, filling your life and relationships with grace, mercy, and love that God has shown you, I’m sure the need for jumping on whatever hot-button bandwagon of the moment will be rendered completely unnecessary, and perhaps actually hinder your very way of being. Don’t engage in petty offenses when the real demons are just skating by. What about greed? What about gluttony? We defend with our nails and teeth the rights of a well educated 67 year-old duck hunter that has and will continue to made millions off of the American system while the same system drives an 18 year-old to get a pump-action shotgun, a machete, a backpack containing three Molotov cocktails, and a bandolier of ammunition across the chest. Oh, wait, we were outraged. We took it to another heated conversation about gun control. Something is fundamentally broken here.
I encourage you to pray differently. I encourage genuine prayers to grieve what grieves God’s heart, rather than what the society at large wants to pacify you with, and then be prepared for the results. Maybe your eyes will be opened to the acts of governments like North Korea, where even owning a bible is cause for execution or sentence to a labor camp. Perhaps you will weep openly for the greatly oppressed gay citizens by the Russian government and people, where a sitcom star there freely stated that gay people should be “burned alive in ovens.” You may even start to realize that the government we are operating under is driven a little more by greed and self-aggrandizing than biblical principles (which, by the way, stand in stark opposition to those things).
I dare you to search “Human Trafficking” on the internet. I dare you to research the cocoa industry, and the garment industry, and the mining industry. Pay attention to rhetoric in churches used still today that is demeaning towards women. Open your eyes to institutional racism. Listen to a group of 8 year-old girls talk about their body image. Buy your neighbor, the single mother with three kids, groceries. The world has a huge burden of troubles and problems worthy of your outrage to pick from, where your God-give life and breath and energy will actually make a positive difference in someone’s life. They sit there, simmering just below the surface, because no one will make any money off our energy placed towards them.
I encourage you to not waste your energy getting bogged down by reality TV stars. While you’re at it, give someone a reason to have a “Merry Christmas.”