Christian free speech is under attack again – this time from the A&E television network. A&E has suspended Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson for comments he made on homosexuality in the GQ interview “What the Duck?” Ironically, A&E’s current theme is “Be Original,” yet they shut down Robertson for not conforming.
Granted, Robertson’s ideas, in a sense, are not exactly original since the started with God. While I do not fully agree with Duck Dynasty theology, we certainly agree that God created Adam and Eve, a man and a woman, as the proper order of marital and sexual relations – in that order.
Of course, the GLAAD organization, and apparently A&E, does not agree. But what was the Duck Commander’s crime?
Was Robertson’s crime comparing the male desirability of a woman’s vagina to that of a man’s anus? As much as I would not choose those descriptions or manner of thought, that was not specifically the charge. Was his crime stating that sin is illogical? Nope.
Seems his crime in the GQ interview was biblically answering the question “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.” (Emphasis added.)
Did A&E object to Robertson calling it sin for people in general to sleep around? That bestiality is sin? Or did the network not like his Corinthians paraphrase? No, they were solely concerned about calling homosexuality sin replying that they “have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.”
GLAAD’s charges from spokesperson Wilson Cruz are that Robertson made “such hateful anti-gay comments” that are “unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike.” Cruz was glad Robertson was removed from filming believing “A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value.”
Again, no objects stated to Robertson’s belief that straight people sleeping around, nor that bestiality, are sin. Neither did paraphrasing the Bible matter. Seems Phil Robertson’s real crime was speaking what he believes instead of just believing it silently.
Believe But Shut-up
Robertson’s position should be no surprise to anyone who has spent five minutes looking up Duck Dynasty. The family is not shy about their conservative Christian values. They frequently speak to and are sought after by conservative Evangelical churches. The family even supports conservative politicians.
But as A&E stated in their response they are “extremely disappointed” in Phil Robertson’s comments admitting they are “his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty’.” The problem with this statement is that his personal beliefs are reflected on the show, but every belief is just not spoken.
Seems A&E is okay making money from a TV show and its branded products that are only controversial because they espouse a conservative Christian worldview. However, when a cast member takes that worldview seriously – actually believes it – all of a sudden the tide changes.
For A&E in other words, it is okay to have to biblical beliefs, but just shut up about them. Yet, A&E caved to a double-standard by favoring the pro-gay rhetorical charge over the Christian position.
As noted above, it should be no surprise where Phil Robertson stands biblically on homosexuality being sin given his conservative views, et al. He even referenced the Bible in his answer pointing out not only homosexuality as sin, but also heterosexuals sleeping around. So, on one hand, Robertson’s personal beliefs based on the Bible are not allowed.
Yet, A&E seems perfectly fine with the GLAAD spokesperson labeling Robertson’s comments as “hateful anti-gay” claiming they are discriminatory and not Christian. Furthermore, the spokesperson attacks Robertson’s faith stating that “Phil and his family claim to be Christian…” stating he has “public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
Apparently, A&E is not okay with a self-proclaimed Bible believing Christian, who they knowingly hired as such, stating his position with warrant from the Bible. But they are okay with GLAAD attacking this same man’s Christian faith without warrant.
Discriminate much, A&E?
Happy, Happy, Happy
My guess is that the 67 year old Phil Robertson will remain, as the title of his book reads, Happy, Happy, Happy. Seems he has been through quit a bit more than the average and expected attacks against the biblical positions on sex and marriage.
Like all Christians, Robertson understands sin admitting he at one time “centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll.” He explains he “would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different” from him. And he is not disrespecting homosexuals as persons by pointing out that their lifestyle is sin anymore than noting heterosexual sin. Rather, he is noting that sin, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is all a marring of God’s image in each person.
Of course, the world won’t understand that position.
Ultimately, A&E is free to censor Phil Robertson for what they see as a consequence of speaking his politically incorrect beliefs. A&E is also free to “Be Original” and let Phil continue with the show and let the market dictate its future success or failure.
Or maybe it is time for A&E to change its tagline to “Be Less Original” or maybe the more direct “Conform!”
Finally, in light of this controversy, Christians should not be surprised, but reminded of Jesus’ words, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12, ESV).
Here I blog…
p.s. A big thanks to my friend Josh for the happy post title.