Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stand Firm!...But Don't Be An Idiot

As most of you reading this are aware, Phil Robertson of nationally acclaimed "Duck Dynasty," has gotten into some trouble. In an interview with GQ magazine, Robertson expressed his beliefs about homosexual behavior. In a nutshell, Robertson quoted Scripture about homosexual practice being sinful, and without repentance, something that will keep individuals from inheriting the kingdom of God. He also goes on to list other sins besides homosexuality, and he expresses that he too was a sinner who needed Jesus Christ as his Savior. 

The outrage from the LGBT community and organizations like GLADD led A&E to suspend Robertson indefinitely from the television show. Which - on a side note - I'm not sure how that is going to work considering the show is filmed at Robertson's house, business, and among his family. A&E immediately rushed to separate themselves from Robertson's comments by expressing that his words are an expression of his personal beliefs, not their beliefs.

A&E's decision yesterday went viral. Every other post and comment on Facebook and Twitter is talking about this decision. Many people are writing articles and blog posts, like this one, to give their opinion on the matter. Most of the people I follow, and are friends with, are outraged. Of course, there is a large segment of people in the country who are happy to see this decision made because the comments from Robertson were offensive to them. So once again we have a nation divided over morality, particularly over homosexuality. This issue is simply not going to go away or die down. 

A Piece of Advice

There are many good things written today about this topic (here and here). What I want to offer is a piece of advice for Christians on how to handle this and other situations that are sure to arise over this topic. 

1. Stand Firm. Christians may not be in the moral majority on this topic, but we must continue to stand firm on Scripture's teachings, not the culture's ebbs and flows. We do not take our cue from the opinions of man, but we lean in to what God has to say, through His Word, and allow that to form our worldview. 

2. Don't Be An Idiot. There is not a gentler way for me to say it. Yes, as Christians, we think Phil Robertson got hosed. We see this as an attack not on just his family, but us. We feel attacked. We feel ostracized. We feel muzzled. However, "how" we stand up in this world to represent Scripture's teachings is just as important as "what" we are standing up for. 

I have already witnessed Christians on Facebook and Twitter ranting and raving about how the culture just wants to make us all love homosexuality. I have seen people ready to boycott A&E. I have seen people quoting Scripture about homosexuality's sinfulness. I'm not saying that any of these people are wrong in their response to Robertson's suspension/firing, but I am saying we could easily cross over into sin in our response if we are not careful.

Consider Jesus' Example

Did Jesus affirm sin or wink at it from a distance? No. He stood firm on the truths of God's Word. But we do not see Jesus protesting in order to be heard. We do not see Jesus demonizing the sinners he was trying to rescue from bondage. Think about the woman caught in adultery in John 8. She was thrown at Jesus' feet, apparently caught in the act of adultery. The religious leaders want Jesus to condemn her according to the law. But instead of grab stones to hurl at her, Jesus confronts the religious leaders about their own sin. He gives them permission to stone her, if they are able to say they are without sin. When they are unable to lift a rock, they leave. However, Jesus, before parting with the woman, says to her, "Go and sin no more." 

Jesus showed compassion to the woman. He did not demonize her as "one of those people." He did not excuse her actions or say that it was okay. He gave her a strong command to go and sin no more. He called her to repent and leave her sin behind. He called her to a new way. But he also demonstrated a humble compassion for her. He showed gentleness. 

The Pharisees were outraged at her. Jesus was calm and kind. The Pharisees wanted blood, to prove they were right and to stand up for God's Word. Jesus, stood up for God's Word, but did it in such a way that is was less about being proven right, and more about the person.

Closing Thought

I give this example as a guide for us believers. Do I believe homosexuality is a sin? Yes. Do I believe Scripture teaches very clearly about this topic? Yes. Do I believe Phil Robertson is getting a raw deal? Yes. Do I believe Christians are being increasingly muzzled in our culture about our beliefs? Yes. So let's stand firm in our support of Phil. Let's stand firm in our beliefs about what the Bible teaches. Let's stand firm on our rights to voice our opinions and exercise free speech. But let's not act like idiots in the process. 

Not every gay person or non-believer is out to get you. Believers, not everyone in the world has a bone to pick with us. In the aftermath of the "Duck Dynasty" controversy, let's not respond sinfully in our responses. Let's fight for our responses to honor God, show compassion, and exercise wisdom. People in the LGBT community are fighting for what they believe is right. They do not believe the way we believe. They do not have the eyes to see the truth. To them, the gospel way is foolishness.

However, gay people are not our enemies...and even if they were, we serve a Master who commands us to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Let's remember this in our social media and water cooler conversations. 

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  1. Erik, my thoughts, exactly! Thank you for a well written blog which I am now going to share.

  2. Thank you Eric. Well said. That is why I posted some thing on my support of our Christian beliefs and I asked not to be bombarded with insults and rude comments. Like I said on my wall. I have plenty of friends that post all sorts of media, comments, etc, etc about their support of gay rights, I asked not to be insulted or harassed over my beliefs.

  3. I appreciate your level-headed response and contribution to the dialog surrounding this recent scandal. It seems blatantly obvious to me that this entire thing is just a publicity stunt. The TV show gets to appeal to its core viewers and A&E gets to save face with gays and lesbians, all while both get loads of free publicity. It's a win-win.

    I'd just like to point out that as a Christian who happens to be gay, I view Levitical laws of the old covenant with equal weight. The passages against homosexuality are no more or less significant than those that ban the eating of shrimp, the touching of a woman's skin during menstruation, or the blending of different fibers in a garment. But, of course, you are entitled to your opinion, I am entitled to mine, and Phil Robertson is entitled to his. However none of us are entitled to a TV show, and unpopular opinions will inevitably cause a backlash. He could just as easily have said that he believes blacks are intellectually inferior to whites, left-handed people are morally corrupt, or women are psychologically incapable of understanding politics. All of which have been beliefs held and defended at one time or another by conservative Christians, supported with scripture. And all of which subjugate and alienate an entire group of people defined by unchosen and immutable characteristics.

    It's very clear the world many conservative Christians would create for gays and lesbians. But as you so appropriately quoted from Matthew, I will keep you and other anti-gay Christians my prayers.

  4. Dear Charles,
    Please know that I reply to you in love and in the spirit of 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NIV)
    Please continue to look into the New Testament teachings on sexual sin and the results there of as I am sure you have and will continue to do as you continue to grow in The Lord. It is my conviction that a right reading of scripture through the Holy Spirit will reveal the truths of sexual sin to your soul. Please read these scriptures and prayerfully consider what the Spirit says to you through them:
    Matthew 5:17-20, Matthew 15:19-20, Mark 10:5-9, 1Corinthians 7:3, Colossians 3:19, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, 2 Corinthians 12:21, 1Timothy 1:9-11, Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation 9:21, 1Thessalonians 4:3-8. God desires for us as believers to be free from all sexual sin. Please feel free to discuss these or any scriptures with me. Love you in The Lord!

  5. Pastor Erik,
    I do see a lot of idiots making comments, but I feel that you have singled out the wrong people and classified as idiots those who are standing firm as you say. The idiots are cursing, calling names and condemning people. The ones I hear you classifying as idiots are people who are acting within their God given rights as Americans. Our founders gave us the rights of protesting, speaking out, and quoting scripture. This is how we address our culture. Standing firm in our church does us no good if it only happens in our church house just as speaking about Christ's love does no good if it is only spoken in the church building. While it is very important that we love each and every person it is equally important that we speak boldly and publicly about God's revelation. Sin is a huge part of this! Without the recognition of sin there is no salvation. So both as Christians and as Americans it is the right course of action to not only stand firm, but to proclaim God's truth to a dying world and especially in our society which we the people are in charge. America is in the state that it is in almost exclusively because we as the church are silent! We cower in fear and accept the movement of our culture towards Hell. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’ (Ezekiel 33:6 NIV) Love people enough to show them their sin!

  6. Then once you show them sin, show them JESUS!

  7. Tammy, thank you for your response. I probably should have went into more depth about the behavior I considered "idiotic." I certainly believe Christians need to begin standing up and pointing out inconsistencies within our culture. I actually plan to write about that very soon. I was mostly responding to what I was witnessing happen on my Facebook and Twitter timeline by Christians. Many were just leaving one line statements about homosexuality's sinfulness. While I agree, that does not add anything to do conversation with this topic. I then saw many ready to boycott A&E and everything associated with them. Again, not a sinful response, but not engaging with intellect and thought, just reactionary. I hope that clarifies what I was referring to. I definitely do not think Christians who stand for their beliefs are idiotic, in fact, I believe we need to learn to do it in winsome and strategic ways.

  8. Charles, thank you for leaving a comment and for engaging thoughtfully, without name-calling and other shenanigans.

    While we certainly hold different positions on our view of Scripture's teaching on this subject, I do think we should be able to discuss these things as rational, mature, and humble individuals.

    The one challenge I would make to your comments, have to do with your holding old covenant levitical as equal to new covenant teaching. I do not reject OT law out of convenience but out of understanding of what it existed for and two the new covenant changes that.

    Give me a paragraph to explain: The OT law was divided into 3 parts: civil, ceremonial, & moral. The civil and ceremonial law were distinct for Israel and were not binding over other peoples. The moral law was God's absolute standard over all people in all places at all times (like the 10 commandments). With the coming of Christ, God formed a people for himself through faith in His Son. This new community were under a new covenant, so the civil law (which was only for Israel) was no longer binding. And the ceremonial law (for Israel to have right-standing through sacrifice and atonement) was no longer needed (because Christ was the once and for all sacrifice). This left only the moral law standing (which outlines God's standard of moral/ethical living). So things you mentioned about shrimp and touching a woman's skin were regulations about being ceremonial clean so Israel could commune with God. This doesn't arbitrarily go away in the new covenant, but it is unneeded, Christ has removed all need for ritual cleansing, he himself cleanses us.

    I want you to know that I am not anti-gay. There are some professing believers who are, but I assure you I am not one. I believe Scripture teaches it is sin. I believe those who ignore that are living in habitual sin. However, I am not anti-gay. I have friends who are gay that disagree with my position, but they know I'm not anti-gay. I think folks should be careful throwing that descriptor out simply because people disagree with the act/behavior. It is a linguistic devise to detract from actual argument and is borderline ad hominem fallacy.

    Be well, Charles. Thanks for engaging on the blog.

  9. I see what you main gist was, but please allow me to further expound on why I think it is good that Christians are responding even if it is only with one verse or by organizing boycotts (righteous anger at the attack against God's word). What if the response was intellectual? What if the response was not immediate and strong because of outrage, but a calm calculated cordial response? What would that say about us? What if we had chatted amongst ourselves on Facebook and in sunday school about how we should respond for a few days until we had formed an intellectual argument that would sway the lost and bring them to Christ through our discussions about sexuality? What would it have said about the Church? Now consider the reaction that we saw. Immediate outrage at the clear attack on the Biblical condemnation of sexual sin. This is what our response should be. If it were less it would say to the world that we do not actually believe the bible. This is how I see it, however I do see your heart for the lost in your response. I share that with you!!

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