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Over the past couple of weeks, there has been significant news about Phil Robertson, the patriarch of A & E’s Duck Dynasty series. If you don’t know, the reality series is about a family run business called Duck Commander that makes duck calls.
In Matt. 10:16 Jesus said, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”
What is going on today is no different than what has been going on for centuries in this world. At its core is a fundamental attack on truth that began in the garden of Eden. The question that seems to be asked even if in not so clear terms is, “Is there absolute truth?” Can we take such a dogmatic stance on the hot button topics of the day? In an interview with GQ magazine, in response to the question, “What, in your mind is sinful?” Phil Robertson responded by saying, “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 [1 Cor. 6:9-10]: “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.” Why are his comments so controversial?
As in all modern day issues, experts and non-experts begin throwing out their spin on the truth. With the ever increasing influence of social media, those opinions become more widely and more quickly known. People grow bolder and bolder, and more hateful and more hateful. Words like intolerant, judgmental, and bigot are used in the daily headlines. People that hold to a standard of morality and values are vilified. Christians are not immune from the ever increasing pressure to abandon their old fashioned ideals in favor of a more modern, relevant, more loving and accepting position. Nonsensical statements like you can’t judge, you’re intolerant, God isn’t like that are heard near and far in and out of the church.
What’s the real issue?
To answer that, let me pose for you several questions that we’ll answer. How can we have a position of unconditional love and say that certain behavior or lifestyles are radically intolerant? Is the Bible a book of hatred or outdated mandates that have little to nothing to do with today? Does the 2nd Commandment to love your neighbor as yourself overshadow behavior, thinking, and lifestyles? Is it unloving to say that homosexuality, or any other sin for that matter, is wrong? Are we condemning someone if we say that their behavior is inconsistent with a standard? You want the truth? If we’re honest, we have reached this point in history just as predicted in Scripture. What is happening in our culture is not new. Attacks against whatsoever is pure and true and holy have been happening since the beginning. For humanity it started in the garden with Adam and Eve. But rebellion against God happened before that when Lucifer decided he wanted to be like God. Is.14:12-14 says, “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” This star of the morning wanted to be like God and there is just one God. We have done it to ourselves. We have arrived at this place of division because we fall into the trap that Adam and Eve fell into. We doubt.
The issue is not really about homosexuality or other sin label, it’s about the sin cleansing and transforming power of Jesus Christ. The truth is we all have a predisposition to sin. Rom. 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sin was ushered into mankind because of Adam. Rom. 5:12 says, “Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” I have a natural tendency, a natural disposition to be sarcastic, unkind, unbalanced, as well as a long list of other ungodly attributes. But through Christ’s continual transformation of me for the inside out, I am learning to resist, learning to trust, learning to push against the natural sinful tendencies I have. That’s the nature of Christ’s power. When you evaluate how Jesus interacted with people, the only people He seemed to take a really hard line against was the Pharisees and Sadducees. Religious people that talked the talk, but didn’t back it up in action. With others, He seemed extraordinarily compassionate. When He spoke with Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, even she was confused because a Jew would not have initiated a conversation. To the woman caught in adultery, He said to her, “From now on sin no more.” (Jo. 8:11) Jesus didn’t deviate from the truth and still demonstrated love and compassion.
On Friday (Dec. 27th), A & E lifted its suspension against Phil Robertson. One day after pulling all Duck Dynasty merchandise, Cracker Barrel put it all back. Why? Because a large segment of society let their views be known. Ben Shapiro, editor at large for Breitbart News said it this way: “You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate. We’ve bought the lie that disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle means you hate them and that to love someone is to agree with everything they believe or do. The media set up a dichotomy in which you are either pro-homosexuality or someone who wants to brutalize homosexuals. This is not the view of the Bible, which makes clear that sin is common and ought to be condemned, but that human beings have the capacity for repentance. The left masks its distaste for the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality in a straw man argument that Bible believers are violent bigots. They are not. Citing the Bible doesn’t make you a bigot against human beings — it makes you a bigot against sin, which is a good thing.”
People have focused on what Phil said regarding Paul’s words in Corinthians. What they’ve failed to do is keep reading. Just a couple of paragraphs later, the article goes on to say, “As far as Phil is concerned, he was literally born again. Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?” We compassionately share the truth of God’s amazing grace and unconditional love that is able to set people free from the chains of sin that enslave them. The author of the article concluded by saying, “But now, I’m afraid, I must get out of the ATV and go back to where I belong, back to the godless part of America that Phil is determined to save.”
What if we in the church adapted that philosophy? Back to the Bible . . . Jesus commanded we do just that as the primary focus of the church in Matt. 28:19-20. Let’s get to it.