Recently, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson got interviewed at GQ. Mr. Robertson is a Bible-thumping evangelical, a former partier, tail-chaser, and law-breaker that came to Christ and experienced a major course-correction back onto the straight and narrow. You can find his testimony, and more, at I Am Second. Lately, he’s been starring in an A&E TV show, along with his family. I’ve heard good things about the show, and about the godly way these north Louisiana rednecks conduct themselves on it. I wish I could give you a firsthand account, but I don’t have cable up here in the great white north.
Now Duck Dynasty has an appeal to a certain kind of person. A hunting and fishing sort of person. A unashamedly born-again Evangelical sort of person. The kind of person who’s fine with being considered a Bible-Belt hick. It’s a very specific sort of person that is not half as common in my circles, or in America at large, as it used to be.
The Christian Church is divided up along a lot of lines. Fundamentalists believe the Bible and couldn’t care less what anybody thinks. Hipsters are embarrassed by the fundamentalists, and try their darnedest to disown them. Theology wonks sit above the simplicity of the modern fray. Those committed to the causes of the Christian right are frustrated with both their more chill evangelical brethren, and the Christian left. And the libertarians are frustrated with everybody.
These are all folks I find in my own circles, before we even touch on actual denominational differences, or on racial divides. It’s shameful. Everybody thinks they know what the Church needs, and they’re willing to beat their brethren over the head until they see it too. There’s nothing wrong with being right, of course, but some wise men I know have a habit of saying “there’s a deeper right than being right.” Love the brethren.
So when Phil Robertson got on GQ and listed homosexuality with a half-dozen other perversions, and quoted the Apostle Paul saying such people would not inherit the kingdom of God, the reaction of the Church at large was nothing short of shocking to me.
At first, it was just Duck Dynasty fans posting articles on Facebook about the event. Of course they would, these were their kind of Bible-thumpers. But then the more trendy moderates joined in. Then the political pundits began to sound off, both the libertarians and more traditional conservatives. Even the theology wonks got into it. People I’d watched taking pot-shots at one another for years were lining up together behind Phil Robertson and St. Paul, all of them shouting a hearty “Amen!”
My friends are not exclusively conservative on issues of gay rights. There’s a lot of sympathy and moderate leanings, some libertarian-style neutrality, and people who couldn’t care less what the gays are doing while babies are still legally butchered. But everyone agreed on this: Phil had the right to say what he did, what he said was Scripture, and shame on A&E for suspending him over it.
When I woke up yesterday, the Church was a squabbling mess, a crowded mass of people who all needed Jesus very badly. When I woke up this morning, they were united. They were united behind the Bible, they were united behind an unpopular opinion, and they were united behind a redneck from the backwoods of north Louisiana.
Are all our problems solved? No. Do we still have a long ways to go before the Bride of Christ stands pure and unblemished? Yes. But when the Church stands together, however briefly, the Spirit is doing something. And when the Spirit moves, I have only one piece of advice for the world.