Below is a brief response to Trevin Wax’s article at the Gospel Coalition site titled Duck Dynasty Debrief. I am in basic agreement with most of Trevin’s piece. However, I am going to respond to a few items under the subtitle “Phil Robertson Is Not Our Spokesman.”
If you have not heard of Duck Dynasty you probably have not been to Kroger, Walmart, social media, or almost anywhere on the internet in the last month or so. The Duck Dynasty brand is showing up on various products including candy, motor oil, bedding, jewelry, t-shirts, etc. Seeing the brand everywhere is kind of funny and ridiculous at the same time.
But the big media coverage came recently when Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch, called homosexuality a sin in a GQ interview. Some of the coverage on the interview motivated me to write on the issue – one, two, three – four times.
I defended Phil Robertson’s remarks on homosexuality, but that doesn’t mean he is my spokesman.
Under the subtitle “Phil Robertson Is Not Our Spokesman” Trevin makes three points. Two of Trevin’s points I basically agree with, but think he overstates his case on the theme warning “evangelicals against making Phil Robertson our spokesman.”
First, I agree that Roberton’s remarks about homosexual attraction were “unnecessarily crude.” I believe the Robertson family response, in which they stood with their patriarch, even admitted his comments were “coarse“.
Second, and this is were I think Trevin misreads Robertson, I disagree that the “pervasiveness of sin” was minimized. In the GQ interview, Robertson says, “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.” While he does not name every sin imaginable, he does state more than just homosexuality is sin even using his own past as an example.
Trevin asks is every sin is irrational after implying that Robertson only said sexual sin was irrational. Yet, right after his crude remarks, Robertson spoke to sin in general stating, “But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Third, Trevin points out that Robertson “belongs to a church that believes baptism is essential for salvation.” Funny, he should mention baptism. I may have been one of the first people to investigate the Robertsons’ beliefs on baptism – a few times even. I wrote on the baptism issue while other sections of the Gospel Coalition were promoting the Robertsons. Even when some in our (mine and Trevin’s) own Southern Baptist Convention were pushing Duck Dynasty, I wrote on their baptismal beliefs.
So, I am thankful Trevin pointed out the Robertsons’ position on baptism. And I am with him when he encourages Evangelicals to, “Look to Phil for “family values” if you like, but look elsewhere for theology that is biblical and grace-filled.”
Finally, I do not think the issue for those defending Phil Robertson’s comments on homosexuality was ever about making him the spokesman for Evangelicals. The issue was defending the right for Christians to freely express their biblical views in the marketplace of ideas. Robertson spoke up by paraphrasing the Bible and got slammed for it. Some folks wanted him shutdown for good, but the punishment was quickly rescinded.
In other words, it is mainly the principle of Robertson being able to speak biblical beliefs publicly without punitive actions that Christians defended.
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