A Conscientious Objector in this Culture War

iStock_000020238968XSmallSomehow I imagine the conversation went down something like this.

“Good work team. Product placement for Duck Dynasty is nearly ubiquitous. Si’s even in that cartoon with all the vegetables. But I couldn’t help but notice, we don’t quite have a 100% market share just yet. What can we do to fix that?”

“How about a scandal? That always seems to work.”

“Like the time we told everyone we told them they couldn’t pray in Jesus’ name. Nothing like a supposed slight to rally the troops.”

“Maybe we could get Si to say something so outrageous that we have to fire him.”

“You can’t fire Si. But Phil, he’s suspendable.”

“But make sure you do it at the end of a season’s filming. That way we have a whole season of episodes to air with Phil still in them, and then we can bring him back for the season opener the next season.”

(Please note, I said I imagine the conversation went down this way. I certainly have no way of knowing how far from reality my imagination really is.  Note: It seems A&E is telling a different story. So maybe I am too cynical.)

Meanwhile, here in conservative Middle America, we take the bait hook line and sinker. Boycott! Petition! Call the cable company and cancel A&E! And whatever you do, don’t stop buying Duck Commander merchandise, because if you do, the heathens win!

What no one seems to notice is what Phil actually said. The story as it is retold goes something like this, “Phil said homosexuality is a sin, and they fired him for it. So much for free speech!”

If Phil had said that, I’d probably be a little upset at his “firing” too. Unfortunately that’s not exactly what Phil said. Instead he spoke with vulgarity dressed up as straight-shooting plain talk in a way that completely misunderstands homosexuality and doesn’t serve to invite anyone to Christ.

His argument, vaginas and anuses included, amounts essentially to “I don’t get why it’s such a struggle. Just try sex our way once; I promise you’ll like it better, and you won’t go to hell.”

Is that really true? Noble? Right? Because it certainly wasn’t lovely or admirable. Yet here we are treating it as if it is excellent and praiseworthy.

Meanwhile, we all strap on the digital weapons of a social media firefight, with our tweets and memes and status updates, and we march off to a culture war against the enemy of “mainstream media,” never thinking to ask the question: was this skirmish fabricated to serve the financial interests of everyone involved, including Phil?

Sadly, what we fail to recognize as we rush to the defense of the indefensibly vulgar and insensitive comments of the celebrity Christian du jour, is that our enemy – our real enemy (Ephesians 6:12) – whispers in the ears of those who struggle with same sex attraction and who find utterly undesirable what Phil considers desirable (as well as an entire generation of those who sympathize with them) “See? There’s no place in the church for you. They don’t understand you. They won’t even listen to you. And they’ll certainly never love you.”

Let’s do better church.

Let’s opt out of this pretend culture war.

Let’s stop being manipulated by marketing teams and PR firms.

Let’s speak the truth; by all means, speak the truth! But let’s do so in love. And while we’re at it, let’s follow in the footsteps of our great high priest, who proved himself fully able to sympathize with our weakness, even as he invited us to live lives of righteousness leading to holiness.

6 comments on “A Conscientious Objector in this Culture War

  1. Paul Ward says:

    I agree that we should not get caught up in clear publicity stunts but I also think this situation is vastly different. I’m less cynical regarding this potential set up. GQ was the instigator here. I believe they took something he said that was controversial and put it in their article because controversy sells. I don’t think A&E or the Duck Dynasty players set it up.

    The problem I have with this is not the suspension of Phil based on his comments regarding homosexuality.

    Constitution 101, we have the freedom of speech not freedom from the consequences. If that’s the consequense I’m sure he’s willing to accept it.

    My problem is that many people will lock on to those statements but miss what he said later in that article. “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?”

    There’s nothing hateful, disrespectful, judgemental or anything else negative. He says he’s going to love everyone even if he thinks they’re sinning. He’ll leave it up to God to judge.

    After many comments and his suspension what many people see and hear is ” another Christian speaking hate about gays.”

    I’m part of the twitter crowd to maybe by some chance get a few people to see that Christians may not think homosexuality is right but we love everyone. I don’t see anyone becoming outraged because he through drunks in the same category of “sinners.” There are people turning this into something that its not.

    Many in the church have responded to those deemed as “sinners” with hate and malice. We need to break that cycle and show the world the first and foremost the church loves with the love of Christ. Actions like this paint a bad picture for the world to see and its making him sound like he hates people who he clearly stated he loves.

  2. S. Grable says:

    As a fellow Nazarene, I am not sure what to think of your blog. I do agree that we should all speak the truth with love. I do think he was a bit lewd. But consider his up bringing, his life before Christ. It does not excuse the lewdness, but explains it. However, the point is, the body of Christ has been attacked once again. This time it was a pretty direct on God’s word. At whatt point do we say enough is enough? The double standard has got to stop some where and we need not to be afraid of speaking the truth. God’s word is law, it is not offensive. God’s word is history, it is love, it is morals of which to live by, it is inspiration when times are bad, it tells of a love story and how Jesus died for our sins so that we could be free and not be condemned to death. What is so wrong with that? Absolutely nothing,

    Pastor your view on a scandal to promote the top show on the A&E Network is cynical at best. And for you to come out and criticize a fellow brother in Christ for standing up (all be it maybe not how you would do it) for his beliefs saddens me. I agree with Paul Wards comment that there was nothing negative about Phil’s comments. Phil did not attack, he did not bully, and he certainly did not judge stating that he would leave that to the Almighty to sort out. Everyone has a different love language and because he spoke the truth in a different love language than may you or I would have, gives us no room to criticize him. If you are so worried about the black eye that he is giving Christians, than please re-examine your thoughts on your blog while you are kicking a brother in Christ while he is down.

  3. pastorbuhro says:

    A question though, how loving is it to “give ’em the good news and let God sort them out later”? Christ didn’t just bring the good news, he dwelt among us, as one of us, tempted in every way just as we are, sinning not but still dying with us who do, that we might be raised with him. He entered into our suffering, into our death, that we might enter his life.

    While I appreciated much some of what Phil said, the fact remains that his comments regarding homosexuality (and some other things if you care to read the whole article) were dismissive and condescending, on par with telling an alcoholic “I just don’t get your struggle. I hate the taste of beer. Have a Diet Coke, you’ll like it better.”

    And that is quite far from loving.

    It’s just about the opposite of incarnational.

    Perhaps it’s a matter of context. Instead of speaking those words in a woods in Louisiana, think through how they’d sound sitting with a believer working through the implications of their belief. “If I obey Christ is this, that means I’ll never… Never be loved romantically. Never enjoy physical intimacy. Never have one of those storybook romances. If I obey Christ in this, I will have to leave behind…” Tell that brother, broken and hurting, what Phil told that reporter about what kind of sex “has more to offer.” Those words taste a bit different in that pastoral context.

    Forget his (arguably) most offensive words. Take the most noble words he spoke in the interview. “If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead—yours and mine and everybody else’s problems will be solved.” Just believe and all your problems will be solved? Do those words taste any better spoken to a broken believer?

    “But Phil wasn’t talking to a brother believer struggling. He was talking to some reporter…”


    But hopefully you and I will have the chance to do so.

    What will our Duck Commando merchandise say to them about sympathy and compassion before we ever get to speak a word?

  4. S. Grable says:

    I was once a believer and not a believer and then a believer again. I would be willing to share my story with you. I heard quite a few things that I didn’t want to hear. I also heard quite a few things that were put in ways that they never should not have been put. If you knew my story, than you would know there is some beef behind what I am saying. Several people tried to speak truth to me in love. Some handed cups full of truth. Some of that truth was presented on a trash can lid much like a steak meal on a trash can lid. The meal was great, how it was presented was not. But all in all, I got the message and because I did, I will spend eternity in heaven whenever my Father calls me home. Until then, I will use what I went through for other struggling brothers and sisters in Christ to lead them back to the well. I believe you don’t have a testimony unless God has done a work in your life, whether that was being saved at whatever age, or a story of redemption of some sort, or a healing, miracle etc… Maybe that reporter was a struggling believer.. or maybe that reporter was struggling with some sort of addiction. Maybe in fact the reporter was living the life style of which Phil was speaking of. We really don’t know. I’ll leave that up the conspiracy theorist. If you look at the big picture, Phil’s intentions, in my opinion were pure. I stand beside him as his brother in Christ.

    2 Corinthians 4:9-11- Living Bible (TLB)

    9 We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 10 These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did; so it is clear to all that it is only the living Christ within who keeps us safe.[a]

    11 Yes, we live under constant danger to our lives because we serve the Lord, but this gives us constant opportunities to show forth the power of Jesus Christ within our dying bodies. Christ.

  5. pastorbuhro says:

    Again, my problem with Phil’s comments is that they move beyond what Scripture says.

    God’s Word is law.

    And grace.

    What God’s Word doesn’t say is “Obedience will be easy.” Nor does it say “Have the kind of sex that feels the best.” Nor does it say “Believe in Jesus and he will make the opposite sex attractive to you.” Those kind of things are just as unbiblical as “Do whatever you want, it doesn’t matter.” Or “As long as you’re in love it’s OK.”

    Rather it says things like “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” That’s about as far from “Try sex my way; I promise you’ll like it better” as you can get.

    And, to be honest, my post was intended more as a critique of the church and how it responds to this fabricated controversy than as a critique of Phil or anything he said. We’ve all said dumb things.

    Let me make that more personal: I’ve said dumb things. Hurtful things. Condescending things. Even some vulgar things.

    Far be it from me to condemn someone else for doing what I myself have done. (Doesn’t Paul talk about that somewhere?) But what I don’t expect is for the church to celebrate those stupid, hurtful, condescending things I’ve said and argue I have nothing to be ashamed about. Yet somehow because we believe this is just another salvo in a culture war, one more way the body of Christ is being attacked, we rally the troops and mount a defense of the indefensible.

  6. Taylor Lawson says:


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