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Thank God for Duck Dynasty’s Robertsons

Commentary

By Scott Buttram

I recall the first time I stumbled across an episode of “Duck Dynasty” and the first thought that crossed my mind: Here we go again.

From the reality television genre that brought us “Honey Boo Boo,” another embarrassment from the South. These ZZ Top wannabes would really be the icing on the cake of Southern humiliation. But like anyone else who comes across a train wreck, I paused and watched for a few minutes. I was hooked.

This was different. Very, very different. It was anything but a train wreck.

For starters, these people were funny. Not in a laughing-at-them, but in a laughing-with-them kind of way. Quick wits and sharp minds are a good beginning description.

But there was more that appealed to me. There was no dirty language or barrages of bleeps that are a staple in most reality shows. Clearly, morals matter to these people and the family gathered around the kitchen table to give thanks through prayer is a very familiar scene. Sort of a comfort food for the eyes and ears, if you will.

The Robertson family of “Duck Dynasty” is a family of Southerners — finally — that we don’t have to apologize for. That’s what I thought. That’s what I still think. The last 48 hours have not deterred that for me.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Robertsons are members of the church of Christ and so am I. But before I knew that, I already felt a kindred spirit because so much of what I saw looked so familiar. They represented the South that I grew up knowing and that I still love. A South where God comes first and all things revolve around that axis.

When the first story popped up about Phil Robertson’s interview with GQ and the headline screamed that gay rights groups were angry, I really didn’t give it much thought. That a Bible believing Christian views homosexuality as a sin isn’t really news to me. That a gay rights group didn’t like that message wasn’t really news, either, so I didn’t bother to read the story.

This morning I awoke to news that the network that airs “Duck Dynasty,” A&E, had suspended Phil for his comments and that did grab my attention. This story was bigger than I realized and I immediately searched the web to find the GQ story that ignited this firestorm of controversy. Not only did I read the GQ story, but several others from several sources reporting on the fallout.

The story by Drew Magary of GQ proved to be quite educational.  For starters, I was slammed between the eyes with a “god*****” in the first paragraph and peppered with F-bombs and a host of other words throughout the story that would have resulted in soap in the mouth in the home where I was raised.

Evidently, it is perfectly acceptable for a major magazine to take the Lord’s name in vain, but unacceptable to share one’s faith in that same Lord.  I haven’t read one mainstream news article questioning or so much as raising an eyebrow in regard to the writer’s language. To my knowledge, he hasn’t been reprimanded or suspended. But Phil Robertson’s expression of his faith in a country in which that expression is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution results in condemnation.

How does that make sense?

One quote by Robertson jumped out at me. I had not seen it reported in other stories and I realized there was a reason for that. This quote didn’t fit into the picture that the mainstream media wanted to paint of a homophobic, Southern Christian, so why bring it to the table? Best to leave it out of the stories, especially if the goal is to portray a Christian in the worst possible light.

“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell,” Robertson told GQ. “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?”

That statement defines Christianity. Christ spent His ministry accepting people in varying states of sin, all kinds of sin, in order to share the good news of His coming. That was the legacy He left with instructions for us to love one another.
I’ve never really understood the fascination with homosexuality as a sin or the need to judge others over the issue, especially when it is just one of a long list of things the Bible warns against. I guess my plate has always been too full of my own shortcomings to worry about pointing out where others may stumble. Besides, as Phil said, judging is the Almighty’s job. My job, as I understand it, is to be loving and accepting, which doesn’t mean approving. I can’t imagine anyone wanting or needing my approval anyway.
I don’t believe Phil Robertson was trying to offend anyone. I believe he was simply sharing his beliefs and his faith in a society that has allowed non-Christians to define Christianity. I believe A&E is about to find out that their network is no match for the higher power that the Robertson family answers to and abides by. Reality may take on a whole new meaning for a lot of people.
People of faith are an asset in a world in which fewer and fewer are willing to stand by their convictions. Our society needs more families like this because our society needs more of God’s love, not less. Thank God for the Robertsons.
Contact Scott Buttram at Scott.Buttram@trussvilletribune.com and follow him on Twitter @ScottButtram.

Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty”
photo courtesy of “Duck Dynasty on A&E” Facebook page

 

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