Recently, I read a blog titled, Hey Church, can we just calm the Duck down, by Matthew Paul Turner. The writer of the blog could not understand why Christians were getting so upset about Phil being suspended from A&E’s Duck Dynasty and turn a blind eye to the serious issues of poverty in the world. Turner writes,“No, they’re not angry about the number of homeless people roaming our city streets. And no, they’re not angry about the number of children dying everyday from malnutrition.” Turner then proceeds to give his opinion on why the church shouldn’t get so upset about what happened to Phil Robertson.
I am the first to say, “Amen” to the church needing to be more involved with the poor, homeless, and orphaned. Indeed, I have spent most of my Christian life working with the least of these. But as I read the article, my stomach churned more and more with each additional word.
I would hope when handling the topic of sin we would use not only God’s truth, but also God’s grace. I am not fond of the frankness with which Phil spoke. With that said, Phil Robertson did address biblical truth. Therefore, just as Turner spent the remainder of his blog stating why he believes the church SHOULDN’T get upset about the Phil Robertson issue, I will spend the remainder of my blog writing about why the church SHOULD get upset about the Phil Robertson issue. To do so, I would like to take a quick journey back in time.
In October 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association wrote Thomas Jefferson a letter just after he became third President. Their concern was for religious liberty. They stated, “Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions…” [emphasis mine].
What was President Jefferson’s response to these men? And why is it important? In Jefferson’s reply he stated, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature would “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”  [emphasis mine] Yes, the famous quote of separation between Church and State was meant to protect religion not squelch religion.
The issue of freedom of religion was so important to our founding fathers that in September 1789 congress passed America’s first ten Amendments. The First Amendment dealt with freedom of religion. Our First Amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” [emphasis mine]
When Phil Robertson paraphrased 1 Corinthians 6, he was exercising his freedom of speech and his personal religious beliefs. He believes the Bible is God’s Word and the Bible is truth. This is a fundamental right given to all Americans in the First Amendment. He did not single out a person by name or defame a person’s character. He simply stated what the Bible said. In fact, in the Bible verses of which Phil spoke, there are listed many other types of sinners. These include:
- Fornicators – having sex outside of marriage.
- Idolaters – someone who loves someone/something more than God.
- Adulterers – having sex with someone other than your spouse.
- Effeminate – transsexual.
- Homosexuals –same sex attraction.
- Thieves – someone who steals someone else’s property.
- Covetous – desiring someone else’s possession (if you have ever looked at someone’s car/coat/clothing etc and thought I wish I had that … then you have coveted – I dare to say this is every person in America).
- Drunkards – someone who drinks too much alcohol.
- Revilers – insulting or abusive language toward someone.
- Swindlers – someone obtaining something by deceit.
The truth is, when we look at the list in 1 Corinthians 6 every adult in America would fall into one of these categories which the Bible calls sin. So why didn’t all the revilers get upset at Phil, or all the covetous people? The issue was not that Phil Robertson himself spoke out against homosexuality—the issue was that Phil said God’s stance is against homosexuality. The real issue is that Phil dared to call homosexuality a sin. Thus, the LGBT supporters say that Phil has judged them.
Roberson’s stance is the same stance God takes in Genesis 19. Most are familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God sent two angles to Sodom for the purpose of warning a righteous man named Lot of God’s impending judgment on the city because the sin of the city was exceedingly grave (Genesis 18:20). Men surrounded Lot’s house and called for the angels to come out and have relations with them. After a short conversation in which Lot refused the men’s request, the men who had surrounded Lot’s house said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them” (Genesis 19:9). Phil being condemned by homosexuals is the same as what happened in the first recorded account of homosexuals intimidating the righteous. Phil has been called judgmental and has been treated harshly simply because he spoke God’s truth.
In his blog, Turner wrote, “Phil will survive”. I do agree with this. Phil is probably less concerned about all the hoopla than the many people who are talking and blogging about the controversy. I have heard that when the controversy broke Phil was leading a prayer meeting for a young woman who has cancer. In my opinion, Phil is a man who has his priorities in order. He spoke truth and then went about living out his Christian life.
We can learn a lot from Phil Roberson. We need to become men and women who boldly speak God’s Word regardless of popular opinion, and we need to continue to do what God has called us to do.
If Phil is going to be fine, why should we care? We live in a country that believes in freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Why did our Founding Fathers make this Amendment their first priority? Read the opening statement of the preamble to the Bill of Rights.
“THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”
You might be thinking Phil’s suspension has nothing to do with government. A&E didn’t like what Phil said so they suspended him. As I wrote before, Phil is going to be fine. He didn’t need the Duke Dynasty gig to put food on his table, quite the contrary. He will go on being Phil Robertson, in or out of the spotlight. But our country has taken a turn in recent years when it comes to religious freedom.
Recently two cases of religious freedom were in the news and the results did not fare well for the Christian believers. One was about a photography company and other about a bakery. Both business owners refused to do business with couples who wanted their services for gay weddings. Both the photographer and baker declined these potential customers because of their Christian beliefs. And both gay couples sued on grounds of discrimination. The bakery closed, and huge fines were imposed upon the photographer’s business. They didn’t refuse to sell cupcakes, birthday cakes, or portraits to a gay person. Their choice to turn down the business came when they stood on God’s side. The photographer’s counsel “argued on the photographer’s behalf that, because photography is an art and inherently expressive, forcing her to cover an event to which she’s morally opposed necessarily violates her right of free expression”
These people were not the Robertsons. They needed the money from their businesses to pay mortgages, buy groceries, and pay taxes. This type of thing is exactly what our Founding Fathers wanted to prevent. The Bill of Rights which you just read stated to “prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers.” This is what happened to the baker and the photographer. They lost their freedom of religion to believe what God’s Word said and to live by God’s Word and His precepts. Today standing up for Jesus and the Bible could cost you monetarily, but this is just the first step. Today is the cost is money, tomorrow …???
Why should we care about what happened to Phil Robertson? Because if it can happen to Phil … it can happen to you.
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come … so these men also oppose the truth … but you follow my teaching … and indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
2 Timothy 3:1,8,10,12
 Matthew Paul Turner. Hey church can we all just calm the duck down. December 19, 2013. matthewpaulturner.com. http://matthewpaulturner.com/2013/12/19/hey-church-can-we-all-just-calm-the-duck-down/ December 21, 2013.
 “Letter of Oct. 7, 1801 from Danbury (CT) Baptist Assoc. to Thomas Jefferson,” Thomas Jefferson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington DC.
 Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert E. Bergh, ed. (Washington DC: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States, 1904), vol. XVI, 281–282.
 “Bill of Rights Transcript Text.” Bill of Rights Transcript Text. Accessed December 21. 2013 <www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html>.
Matthew Paul Turner. Hey church can we all just calm the duck down. December 19, 2013. matthewpaulturner.com. http://matthewpaulturner.com/2013/12/19/hey-church-can-we-all-just-calm-the-duck-down/ December 21, 2013.
 Leonardo Blair. Christian Post. christianpost.com. December 20, 2013. accessed December 21, 2013. http://www.christianpost.com/news/duck-dynastys-phil-robertson-was-praying-for-cancer-stricken-woman-as-controversy-swirled-over-comments-labelling-homosexuality-sin-111255/
United States, National Archives and Records Administration. The Bill of Rights. January 29, 1998. accessed December 21, 2013, www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html
 Allahpundit. Hotair.com. posted at 7:21 pm on September 3, 2013. accessed on December 21, 2013. http://hotair.com/archives/2013/09/03/oregon-bakery-closes-doors-after-state-investigates-over-refusal-to-cater-same-sex-wedding/