The Culture Wars: Phil Robertson Edition

On Wikkipedia, the culture war is defined as – the term used to claim that there is a conflict between those values considered traditionalist or conservative and those considered progressive or liberal.

As a wise friend said on social media this morning – I hate the culture wars so very much.

The latest shots fired in this battle are over comments made by the patriarch of the Robertson family, stars of A&E’s Duck Dynasty. The show has been ratings gold for the network. Because of the outspoken Christian faith of the entire family the Christian community has latched onto this family and that’s not entirely good or bad but it is more than I want to address at this time.

In a recent GQ article, Phil (who as recently as July had when asked how much longer he’d be on the show replied “not long“.) made this comment:

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Sin becomes fine. 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.” Robertson then paraphrased Corinthians from the Bible: “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.”

Immediately, gay rights groups called for his head.

Robertson was suspended from the show and A&E made a statement saying they were “disappointed” in Phil’s comments.

Immediately after his suspension, Christians changed their social media avatars to support Robertson and began to boycott. Some even threatened to boycott not only the station, but all of the station’s advertisers.

More shots fired from the left and right in the culture war.

Phil Robertson is not the first to make a public statement about homosexuality.  You think what Phil said was strong? Listen to what ESPN NBA reporter, Chris Broussard said earlier this year when an NBA player, Jason Collins, came out as being homosexual.

Broussard was not fired despite some voices who thought he should be.

There has also been relatively little push back against Pastor Rick Warren who has appeared with Piers Morgan several times to discuss homosexuality. In the most recent, Warren said “I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or the disapproval of society.” Pretty cut and dry comment. No public backlash.

Why aren’t Broussard and Warren victims of the culture war?

What do I believe to be the difference in these 3 stories? Phil Robertson made a blanket statement about homosexuality to a journalist. Chris Broussard was talking about a personal friend’s homosexuality. Rick Warren was talking with a friend who disagrees with his stance on homosexuality.

 The culture wars WILL NOT be won in the media. Shouting publicly, social media postings, and any other impersonal outbursts won’t change a thing. That’s the best case scenario. Worst case scenario is that stereotypes are reinforced. “Of course those people feel that way. I hate those people.”

Do you see how cold and impersonal that is? Those people? In the Chris Broussard video, it isn’t those people. It’s his friend, Jason Collins, and he readily admits that Jason Collins tolerates Chris’ lifestyle too.

Over the course of Rick Warren’s dialogue with Piers Morgan, Piers compliments Rick on his work in the past with homosexuals. Organizations with names made up of real people. They aren’t those people. He also understands, and is comfortable with, the fact that others will not agree with him.

To these men the culture war is not those people. There isn’t even a culture war. There is Jason and Piers. People who they have a relationship with who disagree with them. They’re both trying to persuade the other but it isn’t a war.

Specifically to the Christians now: Phil Robertson is going to be ok. 

You’re going to be ok.

Sure it is scary that this man’s beliefs got him suspended (in my opinion unfairly) from his job. But that’s all it got him.

He still woke up this morning to the love of his wife and family, he still has his millions and he is as safe as anyone else in America is.

We are not persecuted as bad as you want to believe. We are not being killed or even jailed in America for our beliefs.

For too long we Christians have had it easy in America. We were the majority.

And we got fat, lazy, and entitled. “One nation under God” was the nation’s default. At least, give the appearance that we wanted to honor God.

We did a poor job making it about Jesus and instead, it has become about our comfort.

There’s no promise of comfort in this life. At least, not according to Jesus anyway.

“In this world you will have trouble.” – Jesus

He said more though.

“But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – Jesus. John 16.33

While I believe that what has happened to Robertson is unjust and disappointing, I am infinitely more concerned that we understand that the one who has overcome the world is with us in the trouble that he promised would come.

I would love to see us stop trying to climb back in terms of social status so that nobody says anything that offends God or us. I would love to see us stop trying to make it so that Christians can walk with their heads high, unafraid, and as the majority all while saying “all to the glory of God”.

I would love to see us stop playing victims and instead, focus on acting like Jesus who definitely knew what real persecution was. Remember the whole tried, humiliated, beaten and executed for crimes he didn’t commit thing?

Safety has never been a promise to us. We’ve never been promised to be the majority and or that life would be easy. Again, the words of Jesus.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7.13,14

If Jesus promised us that it would be hard and few would find life, then why are we trying to make it easier than it is?

That is a major reason these stupid culture wars even exist. Life was easy for Christians for awhile and we became entitled. Now that there’s push back, we’re acting like spoiled children.

I agree with my friend – I hate the culture wars. No one will win.

How do we end the culture wars?

I honestly believe there is no culture war except for the one we make but just before Jesus’ comments on the wide and narrow gates he said this:

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7.12

Do you want to be yelled at by those who disagree? No? I bet they don’t either. Treat them with the same respect you would ask for.

Maybe then we can see this ridiculous culture war move to a cultural discussion. I think that would be better and more profitable.

I bet Phil Robertson would be a fan of that too.


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