Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck Dynasty: I don't stand with Phil but I don't hate him either.

If you aren’t American and/or friends with Americans all over the internet, you may not have heard that a reality TV star just got in trouble with his network for saying his opinion in an interview with a magazine. That star is Phil Robertson of the TV show Duck Dynasty on A&E. Different people have ALL DIFFERENT opinions on if he was right or wrong, if A&E was right or wrong for suspending him, with all possible combinations of angry and/or passionate reactions in between. Google it and find out maybe more than you care to read, but I decided to blog a bit about it so here you are.

Hello. I am a white, heterosexual girl from Texas (though I currently live in South Korea). I'm going to talk for a minute about "standing with Phil" ...or not.

I love Jesus. I'm from a hunting family. My family is reasonably obsessed with Duck Dynasty. I wanted to be a Duck Dynasty Man for Halloween but I don't have camo or a fake beard in Korea. Along the lines of #confessyourunpopularopinion, I don't actually love the show itself... I think it's way too staged and caricature-y, but I do love things about it, like it's a home-town-feel-good Christians-who-love-family-and-hunting kind of show. (The episode where the men took their prissy-city-girl wives hunting drove me CRAZY. It was clearly springtime, not huntin' season! And any good woman who lives in a huntin' family knows not to wear perfume in the deer stand! There's no way Missy would have missed that crucial lesson. It was all just a set up for an easy gag involving mud and a bit of “oh look at the princess who doesn’t know what to do in a deer stand, bless her heart.” Stereotypes: 1, Princesses: 0)

Many people who *love* the show have posted facebook post after twitter post about standing with Phil. Just search the hashtag #standwithphil and you'll see a billion outraged conservatives freaking out. Loudly.

Every time the internet explodes with a firestorm of CHRISTIANS-VS-THE REST OF YOU SINNERS, I feel super awkward. I don't want to hit people upside the head with my faith. I'd rather love people in community and tell them to read the Bible, then let the Word of God and the Holy Spirit do the convicting and changing (as it promises to do), rather than condemn and criticize people into change. I don't believe that's my place. I know there's a balance between "calling brothers out in love" and "sitting idly by" but I guess I haven't found it yet. I'm not a perfect Christian; I've still got (a lot of) growing to do. Praise the LORD that by His grace, growing will happen. (Also, that part about calling *brothers* out is about *people who are confessing believers in Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation* not about society at large. Feel free to disagree with me.)

Another #confessyourunpopularopinion moment = I don't stand with Phil.

Now, I don't think Phil is speaking from a place of hate, but I don't think his words were, um, tactful. I think he is a man who fears God; I also think what he said was ...not for pubic consumption. The exact words were more... hmm... well... honestly, they struck me as the type of thing someone would say after a few beers on a family holiday. I know Phil's not a drinking man, but his words are the kind of thing that makes me squirm.

"It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would me more desirable than a man's anus." -Phil Robertson

Excuse me. If someone said those words in my presence, I would cringe. CRINGE. I'm a lady. You do not say words like "vagina" and "anus" around a lady. It's crass.

He also said:

“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” - Phil Robertson

Ok. I am pretty sure that’s all in line with the Bible. Yay, I think he’s mostly quoting scripture! And whether you agree with him or not, the list doesn't stop there. It’s only through Jesus that we’re saved. That’s what CS Lewis meant when he said, “That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.” – it’s Jesus who transforms the self-righteous prig and the prostitute. Neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals (no anyone else with any other label) will inherit the kingdom of God without the blood of Jesus over their sins.

Phil also said some ignorant and offensive things about black people based on his personal experience (and perhaps limited view?):

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” - Phil Robertson

I really disagree with those thoughts. They are incredibly historically inaccurate, but *they are his thoughts* and he is entitled to them. I am entitled to be appalled. You are entitled to feel however the heck you want. I’m much more dismayed about what he said about black people than what he said about homosexuality. It’s not ok.

The reality is, he's got a right to think or say whatever he wants. It's AMERICA. If you’re in America, you have a right to think or say whatever you want. We don’t have to agree. It’s beautiful. It’s ugly. It’s real.

He grew up in a very different world than I did. His paradigm has been shaped by entirely different experiences. Now, I don't think he represents all American Christians and I don't think A&E is wrong for suspending him. I don't think he's being persecuted, I think the company is covering their... business... in line with their company culture. It's all fine. It is what it is.

I would be LYING if I told you I never say things I regret. I hope the internet never explodes because of something I say the way it’s exploding on Phil and A&E right now. I know that Phil loves Jesus with all his heart. I know that he is my brother in Christ and one day we will both be standing before the throne of God, washed in his love and grace and mercy, made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ, not by any good thing we have done, not tarnished anymore by the bad things we have done (or the stupid things we’ve said). [cue weepy tears because of the crazy love with which God loves us. ohhhh Jesus!]


I read a few AWESOME posts about The Duck Thing over the past few days. Here are a few of those posts with poignant excerpts:

I know. No one needs to spill any more ink over the Duck Dynasty Debacle. I’m barely online these days, and even I was saturated with the crazy. A quick scroll through Facebook revealed about an 85% DD preoccupation in my feed, whether it was for, against, or that uber cool other response: “I don’t even care.” (But I will go ahead and make that my status...sic.)

As many have mentioned, this is clearly not a First Amendment issue. Phil had every right to say whatever he wanted. He could take issue with any people group or demographic on earth, right into a microphone. This isn’t North Korea [shout out to my side of the world!] where the wrong public statement lands you in prison. Or dead. Freedom of speech means you are free to speak. The end.

It does not mean you are free from consequences. Isn’t this obvious?


We are not judges, because how could we possibly be?? How dare we? What right do we have to cut someone to the quick when we are nothing but sinners saved by grace? Sanctification is Jesus’ territory, and we can safely leave Him to it; He can handle the human heart. Our only sane offering to our fellow man is mercy.


For me, this is the most extreme obedience to “biblical truth” I can imagine. I think of my gay and black friends watching the outcry this week, and I can’t help but think the gospel yet again feels like a bludgeon to them, not a real balm, a real grace, a real sanctuary. And the tragedy is, Jesus is the most real source of mercy in the history of time, and He loves us all with a fierce, indescribable love, and none of us deserve it any less than anyone else, and THAT is the shocking headline we should be proclaiming.


I’m going to choose love.

I don’t even know where to start with this one. Comparing black people to white trash is cringey, but suggesting that black people were happier during segregation? That because Phil never heard a black person publicly complain BACK IN THE ERA OF LYNCHING means that they must have been satisfied with the state of things? This is so racially tone-deaf that it reminds me of the time Paula Deen romanticized the slaves as being “like family”. Not to mention, the subtext of his remarks is that black people nowadays are entitled, unGodly, discontented welfare recipients. So when I see people as “standing with Phil” based on their Christian values, I really have to ask . . . how does an apologist for our country’s ugly Jim Crow legacy represent Christian values?

As a Christian, Phil’s views on gay people and on black people do not represent me, and I’m embarrassed by those who are holding him up as a martyr or an example. I get that Phil is dear to many . . . he’s a likable guy and a very public Christian. But that doesn’t excuse his ignorant remarks, nor does it mean that he gets a pass from accountability.

Regardless of where we fall in the “is homosexuality a sin” debate, as Christians, our greatest charge is to LOVE. I don’t feel that Phil’s remarks were loving to gay people or to black people. And I don’t believe the blind support he is getting from Christians is very loving, either.

Again, I don’t think it’s uncommon, nor do I think he intended to be racist. But as we grapple as a nation to move forward with racial reconciliation, we cannot continue to pretend that slavery or Jim Crow were not that big a deal because the mythical happy black person overcame by singing songs.  These were horrible times for black people, and to suggest otherwise is incredibly tone-deaf.

Now, I know that Phil is not a perfect person, and that his views and statements on race reflect what a whole lot of folks of his generation might say on the matter. But that doesn’t give him a pass. I’m not calling for a witch hunt, but I’m am suggesting that we stop defending people who defend racism, because it makes us complicit, too.

And the post that encouraged me to throw in my two cents, rather than sit by and let everyone duke it out on facebook:

Because I do get disappointed with white celebrities from the South.  Like I was with Paula Deen and now I am with Phil Robertson of the A&E reality show, “Duck Dynasty”.   Their ignorance is showing and I’m sad.  Once again, they’ve revealed that the racism of the South is still infecting good and Godly people.

Since I wrote last on racism, privilege, and diversity, I’ve had several white bloggers, most of them happen to live or come from the South say to me, “I really want to talk about this but I don’t think I have the right to, I mean…I’m white”.

To which I say, because you’re white, you need to talk about it.  Because you haven’t had to think about it, you need to think about it now.  Because you’re in your homogenous bubble, you need to hear my story as a black woman in America so you can share it with your white, and at times, clueless readers.

The truth is, your voice matters and it has power. As a white blogger in the South,  your acknowledgement of my experience brings a much-needed validation to the racism I dealt as a young, insecure black girl in a predominately white community. If I know you care enough to listen, then I know I can trust you and can hear the best of your words. Speak up and speak life! Your voice can reverberate across the wounded places of my heart and the echos of your acceptance has to power to heal deep, deep offenses!


If you ignore this, then I’m sorry….but Honey, I think your privilege is showing.

Even though you are white please, speak up!  Get on your blogs and tell us that comments like Phil Robertson’s is not ok. Don’t deflect by saying we should care about more important topics.  That invalidates the offense.  Please say to your African-American readers that you know and you understand their frustration.  Maybe you can’t relate and that’s ok…but for the love of God, please, start the conversation!

I need to see that.


Put the power of your privilege to work and speak up.  Don’t let the internet be void of your voice on this topic and don’t allow yourself to have distorted views of black people or racial reconciliation for fear of letting your ignorance show.

I can handle it. I’ve borne the humiliation of my letting my dark skin show for over thirty years, I think can bear yours for a bit.

Step out the echo chamber of your privilege and recognize that I am a human being just like you, a woman just like you, a mama who loves her babies something fierce and I weep at the beauty of our Jesus—just like you.  Recognizes these truths and start the conversation with me.

And if you'd like to go straight to the source of all the hoopla, I give you the GQinterview with Phil Robertson: What The Duck?


I'll tell you what I do agree with. After it all hit the fan, Phil Robertson said:

“I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

Phil Robertson is a brother in Christ. I don’t agree with many of my brothers and sisters in Christ, but, you must see, they are still my “family.” I don’t agree with things Joel Osteen says, but I still think he loves Jesus. I disagree with a lot of what Mark Driscoll says, but I still think he loves Jesus. Ours isn’t a one-size-fits-all faith.

At the end of the day, it’s about Jesus. Do you believe in one God, the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father who died on the cross as the atonement for our sin? Do you receive salvation by the blood of Christ? Do you believe in one ecumenical church?

We can disagree and still love each other.

The most profound truth that I come back to is something Jim Behling, my camp director at Deer Creek Camp, says over and over and over: “Follow no man further than he follows Christ.” If someone is a brother or sister in the Lord, then hang with them. If they start to go off-course from what God speaks to us in the Scriptures, then you follow GOD. God never disagrees with himself. He speaks through the Spirit and the Word, that is, the Bible. Wanna know how to live this Christian life? Get into the Bible, do what it says, and go love one another.

I don’t stand with Phil, but I don’t hate him. At the end of the day, I hope we all understand: we can disagree and still love each other.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you spoke up too, Zara, and wasn't Jen hatmaker's piece just the thing? Yay for words of grace.