Phil Robertson, The First Amendment, and the Christian Response
News of Phil Robertson’s “indefinite suspension” from the A&E Network’s immensely popular Duck Dynasty has exploded across the social media in the past 24 hours. As I am typing this post the three top ten trending terms on Twitter are #Duck Dynasty, A&E and Phil Robertson.
In case you missed it, Phil Robertson made some comments in an interview with GQ Magazine, expressing his personal thoughts on sexual expression outside the confines of monogamous marriage as well as other behaviors spelled out in 1Corinthians 6:9-11. Yes, some of his remarks could be considered “crude”, but that’s the way Phil talks and he has used the exact same anatomical terms on the show when he was explaining the “birds and the bees” to his grandchildren. And for what it’s worth, GQ Magazine is not known as a “family friendly” magazine. GQ’s subscription page has the byline, “It’s how sophisticated gentlemen keep up with style and fashion.” The magazine is not “pornographic” like many other “men’s magazines”, however, it is designed to be read by men; Phil Robertson’s choice of words is not out of line. (Note: Before his suspension, Phil issued a statement regarding his remarks, reiterating his religious beliefs and how they relate to his interaction with those who see things differently than him.)
Many Christians are in an uproar, claiming they will boycott the network and “Liking” various “We Support Phil” and “We Stand with Phil” pages on Facebook. I have “liked” a few of the pages as well.
As I sat down to write a response this morning, I came across this article written by a friend, Scott Prickett. Scott speaks as a Christian lawyer regarding the separate issues of our Constitution’s freedom of speech and religion on one hand, and the Bible’s descriptions of morality on the other hand.
The issue isn’t free speech and the censorship of Phil Robertson.
A&E is free to make the decisions they have made. And the viewing public is free to support – or not support – A&E because of their decision by how we spend or don’t spend in buying DD merchandise. I’m sure that according to contractual arrangements, more profits from the merchandise goes to A&E than the Robertson family.
A few years ago, Natalie Mains, lead singer of the “Dixie Chicks” said she was ashamed she was from the same state as President Bush. She exercised her freedom of speech. In response, many Americans exercised their “freedom of the purse” and many radio stations, especially in Texas, exercised their freedom of airplay. I don’t know (or care) what happened to the group, but their music is rarely played, they’re rarely on TV, and I’m confident that they were deeply affected financially.
Last year, GLAAD boycotted Chic fil-A because the CEO commented that he supports traditional marriage, implying that he doesn’t support “nontraditional marriage”. Sales spiked and it proved to be the least-effective boycott in the history of mankind.
The free market has a way of utilizing its own “free speech”.
I expect that A&E will regret their decision. But whether they do or don’t, we shouldn’t be surprised when lost people act like lost people.
Christians need to be careful of how we express our concerns. Some of the posts I have seen on Facebook are downright hateful and vengeful. This is out of character of how the Bible tells us to to act.
Phil’s teenage granddaughter, Sadie Robertson Tweeted, “Prayer is the best conversation of the day. It’s better to go to God before taking it to someone else.” Such wisdom from a teenager!
I have a quick question
Have you prayed for the executives at GQ and A&E as well as the critics at GLAAD and the LGBTQ community as much as you have expressed your angst with your family and friends? I must confess that I haven’t.
Yes, we must be careful how we express our concerns (Colossians 4:6). The lost (and the fence-sitting world) are watching.
What do you think?
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