Last night the internet blew up. Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the show Duck Dynasty, in an interview with GQ magazine made his view of homosexuality clear – it is a sin. Anyone who has watched the show or followed Phil and his family should not be shocked at his beliefs. For some, the shock and appall is coming because his words were descriptive, if not vulgar. Here they are:
“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,”
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Because of his words A&E indefinitely suspended him.
And then the internet blew up.
Much of what I have seen has been centered on Christians loss of freedom of speech. But this is a misnomer. Freedom of speech still exists for Christians, just like it does everyone else. Phil will not go to jail because of what he said. But he may face consequences for his words. Christians are not the only ones being suspended or fired because of the words they say. News anchors are fired for cursing and for racial slurs (also see here) and suspended for homophobic tweets. This a reality of the culture we live in: You can say what you want and not go to jail, but you may face consequences.
And that’s the point. Christians crying out that their first Amendment rights are being stepped on are ignoring that 1) nobody is going to jail and 2) others have received the exact same sentence. As Americans, we are legally free to have any religious beliefs we desire and the freedom to voice those beliefs. But that doesn’t not exempt us from any social consequences that might come from voicing those beliefs.
Granted, Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin and choose to voice that belief in such graphic and unhelpful language will probably bear the brunt of such consequences more than others. Just know that as you prepare to speak. By no means am I advocating that you don’t say what you believe. But don’t get graphic with body parts and innuendos and slurs to make your point. Those have consequences.
In other words, count the cost of your words.
And, let’s for a moment consider the witness. The gospel of the cross and resurrection of Jesus is not a gospel of morality. It is a gospel of grace. Of forgiveness. Of good news to the outcast, the forgotten, the oppressed, and the strange.
It’s the hope that enemies can be reconciled.
So consider the power of witness. There is the witness of Phil’s words about morality – which is important! But, preaching morality to those who do not believe in Christ is putting the cart before the horse. We preach the gospel of reconciliation and forgiveness and cross and reconciliation BEFORE we get to morality. That comes after belief.
In contrast, consider the witness of the words of Ronnie Smith’s widow, Anita. Ronnie and Anita went to Libya to teach, bring peace, and bless the people there. Ronnie was gunned down in Libya just a few weeks ago.
And then Anita wrote this:
To his attackers: I love you and I forgive you.
How could I not? For Jesus taught us to “Love our enemies” — not to kill them or seek revenge. Jesus sacrificed His life out of love for the very people who killed him, as well as for us today. His death and resurrection opened the door for us to walk on the straight path to God in peace and forgiveness. Because of what Jesus did, Ronnie is with Jesus in paradise now. Jesus did not come only to take us to paradise when we die, but also to bring peace and healing on this earth. Ronnie loved you because God loves you. Ronnie loved you because God loved him — not because Ronnie was so great, but because God is so great.
If the above video doesn’t work use this link.
These two stories are breaking within 24 hours of one another and I can’t help but wonder, which one witnesses to the Gospel more powerfully? Which one will Christians talk about more?
And there’s the problem.