There is little doubt that most of you have heard of the controversy surrounding the hit TV show Duck Dynasty and the comments made by the family patriarch Phil Robertson concerning homosexuality and sin.
If I were honest, I'd have to admit that it has set off an array of conflicting thoughts and emotions in my own mind. On one hand, I agree with a blog post I linked onto Facebook last week written by one of my favorite bloggers in which the author states "You can mean something — but if you say it mean, no one can hear your meaning."
She goes on to explain the importance of weighing our words carefully - - Because words have power. Of surrounding everything we say with love so that we do not become a " noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13:1)
I just did not feel comfortable lumping the words of this godly man in with those of a woman who has a history of careless (and mean) words. Once I had the opportunity to read the entire interview, I did not see a lack of love in his words. Coarse? Perhaps. Mean? No.
As Christians, we should "Let [our] speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each one." (Colossians 4:6)
As I mulled over the idea of "salty words," I kept hearing my husband's assertion that no one who is familiar with this straight-talking man's manner could be surprised at his frank choice of words. He always says it plainly.
No matter what the topic.
Some of us Christian folks live in a bubble, surrounded by other Christian folks and we are blithely unaware that the general population speaks with a (shocking) level of vulgarity in their everyday speech! In fact, the controversial interview (which can be read in its entirety here) is littered with just such language.
I am convinced that it is our responsibility as Christians to live to the highest standard in our personal lives and to do it in such a way that our words and testimonies are relevant and compelling to those around us. Sometimes, that may mean saying something in a way that it is strong enough to crack through the shell of a hardened heart.
Not even Jesus was always "nice" in the way that He had to say things. He cut right to the chase.
As odd as it may seem, Phil Roberson came to mind again yesterday morning as we came upon Numbers chapter 25 in our daily reading. Israel had been wandering in the wilderness for nearly 40 years, waiting for the death of each and every one of those who had initially failed to trust God and enter the promised land.
They weren't trouble causers, yet, they seemed to attract it. When they were repeatedly attacked, they fought back. And won.
Soon, all of the nations around them were nervous. The kings of Moab and Midian, realizing that they had no chance of winning in a head-on battle, attempted a more devious approach. They hired a spiritist/medium to put a curse on the nation of Israel - but God would not allow it.
Every time this man opened his mouth, he ended up BLESSING them instead! (You can read about it in Numbers 22-24).
Finally, understanding that they could not beat them in battle or procure a curse, they began to see a place in which the men of Israel were weak.
Scripture says that they began to indulge in sexually immorality. Soon they were fully involved in the sensual practices of idolatry. The men who belonged to God, were now bowing to idols.
To indulge (v) means to yield to an inclination, to satisfy or gratify feelings or desires. To allow oneself to follow one's will.
They decided that saying "No" to themselves was less pleasant than saying "yes" to what felt good at the time. That God's "thou shalt not commit adultery" was too restricting, and Baal of Peor's freedom to act on feelings of lust was more desirable.
They swallowed the enemy's lie hook, line and sinker.
...And incited the wrath of Almighty God.
Death. To anyone who had participated.
Not only was Moses instructed to expose the sin and put these men to death, but a plague upon the people was occurring as well. (In one source I read that it was a venereal disease of some sort.)
In a show of bold-faced defiance against God and the whole community, Zimri, the son of a Simeonite clan leader, takes Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite tribal leader, and promenades her "before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping," thumbing his nose at the seriousness of the situation, and brings her into his tent.
THIS was too much.
"When Phinehas son of Eleazer, son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them - through the Israelite and into the woman's body.
Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped." (Numbers 25:6-8)
Everyone else just sat there crying.
Phinehas did something incredibly bold.
Some may have been too worried about their own situation to notice what was going on with someone else.
A few may have worried about the repercussions of killing the daughter of a Midianite leader.
Perhaps others thought that it was not their place to say or do anything - after all, who am I to judge!
Then... "The Lord said to Moses, 'Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for My honor among them, so that in My zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making My covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.'" (Numbers 25:10-13)
We are currently living in a time in which sin is lived out blatantly and openly - not just homosexuality as Phil mentions primarily, but every kind of sin. Those of us who still want to live for God are being told that we must keep our opinions to ourselves, not to judge, to be tolerant of the choices and beliefs of others by not imposing our choices and beliefs on them...
And we cower.
We fold our hands in our laps and wait for the return of Christ. "It is a sign of the end times." we say - just as Christians for hundreds of years have said - as we sit down and watch our world go to hell in a hand basket. Yet He has delayed His coming. He continues to extend His grace. A few more days, a few more years, a few more generations. The opportunity for more lost souls to find salvation. Additional time to reveal Himself in miraculous ways. Another chance to show Himself mighty in the lives of those who trust and obey Him...
But our watching and waiting has become weakness and waning.
Instead of responding with a bold approach to sin, we weep.
We "indulge" in personal sin - no matter what type it is - and make ourselves unable to address sin in the lives of others. (After all, who am I to judge?)
We forget the power of Almighty God and bend under social pressure.
We see our faith as "private" and refuse to share with others the one and only thing that can save their soul.
But not Phil Robertson.
He addresses it head on. And because he is zealous for God's honor, God has blessed him and his family.
“So you and your woman: Are y’all Bible people?”
Not really, I’m sorry to say.
“If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead—yours and mine and everybody else’s problems will be solved. And the next time we see you, we will say: ‘You are now a brother. Our brother.’ So then we look at you totally different then. See what I’m saying?”
I think so?
We hop back in the ATV and plow toward the sunset, back to the Robertson home. There will be no family dinner tonight. No cameras in the house. No rowdy squirrel-hunting stories from back in the day. There will be only the realest version of Phil Robertson, hosting a private Bible study with a woman who, according to him, “has been on cocaine for years and is making her decision to repent. I’m going to point her in the right direction.”
It’s the direction he would like to point everyone: back to the woods. Back to the pioneer spirit. Back to God. “Why don’t we go back to the old days?” he asked me at one point. But now, I’m afraid, I must get out of the ATV and go back to where I belong, back to the godless part of America that Phil is determined to save.
(Excerpt from Phil Robertson/Drew Magery interview.)
Praise God for men like Phil Robertson!