Were we really that surprised when we heard of Phil Robertson being fired from the hit A&E television â€œrealityâ€ show for making comments to a GQ reporter? Itâ€™s funny how we want reality in our television, but not too much reality. We donâ€™t want to hear the reality of their belief in Jesus, or praying in His name around the family dinner table. We especially donâ€™t want to have to endure the reality of their â€œintolerantâ€ Christian beliefs regarding the Bible and if they actually live their lives as though it were true.
The network tried to make this family and their beliefs more palatable to its viewing audience by adding bleeps in recorded conversations as if to hide curse words that were not actually there. They were also told they could not pray in â€œJesus nameâ€ around the dinner table at the close of the show. Both of these issues were worked out between the Robertson family and the network â€“ but it shows how the world desires a â€œcutting edgeâ€ and â€œrealityâ€ as long as itâ€™s their own reality and no one elseâ€™s.
Remember the networkâ€™s only desire is to make money. They are a business, so they put shows on the air they feel people will watch. They do not have some agenda to shape the morality of the culture. They are not stupid (blind to reality perhaps; but not stupid.) They have done polls, market research, etc. and reached the conclusion that America wants the Duck Dynasty in their living room, the seat covers for their minivans, and the bobble heads on their kidâ€™s shelves. A&E sees them as a moneymaker, when that changes the show ends. But as with most things that have an inkling of light, we donâ€™t like it when itâ€™s shined in our face.
This is not a freedom of speech issue. The world comes to Phil Robertson (200 times a day) asking for interviews. He travels all over the country with his family giving speeches and teaching Bible studies. The GQ interview is an example of how what Phil Robertson said was expressed. We have the freedom to say what we want to say, but as with all actions there are consequences.
Your boss at work can fire you for comments made at work. If you are a public figure, you can be fired for what you say away from the office. What seems to have changed in America is not the consequences for expressing oneâ€™s freedom of speech but the tolerance of differing thoughts.Â Dialogue and the ability to disagree are essential to a free society.
When one group has power to control the outlet of opposing thoughts and ideas, then liberty is in jeopardy. Because we have enjoyed such freedoms for generations we will not fight for these rights or even care for such things until we feel the sting of their absence. America has grown indifferent to itâ€™s innate liberty because it has never known anything different. We have dumbed down our taste for entertainment to where we do not want to be made to think about things differing from the main streamâ€™s understanding of reality. This is true on the secular and the Christian side of reality.
How many times have you intentionally sought after a friendship with a person of different beliefs in order to truly know them and be their friend? We see the opposing side as dangerous because they may infect our children, or others in our group will think we have compromised our ways to some degree, or I may actually learn something difficult about myself that I donâ€™t want to change. Fear and Pride.
Or you may just say, â€œI ainâ€™t got time for that.â€
America’s New Core Values
Many will sadly simply turn the channel to the next reality show with no thought that one manâ€™s views are no longer heard because they challenge or go against what has been decided is Americaâ€™s new core values.
But the Robertson family have been very open regarding their beliefs. The GQ articles says, â€œDuring the familyâ€™s initial negotiations about the show with A&E, Jase told me, â€œthe three no-compromises were faith, betrayal of family members, and duck season.â€ What they believe has been no secret and the family has continued to fight to keep a certain level of reality in the reality show.
A&E wants to mold this Christian family into what it feels will reach the widest viewing market. And as with all things that say something with no meaning and live life with no depth it will blow away. The reason America loves this show is deeper than long beards and guns. They see something authentic and real in a painfully scripted â€œrealityâ€ television world. They see men dedicated to their wives and families. They see families working through personality differences, and they see a successful business that is rooted in Christian beliefs.
But if you are a fan of the show, then you know this already.
What is the Real Issue?Â
Before I weighed in on this issue I read the GQ Interview. (be forewarned there is some crude language). I would encourage you to go and read it for yourself, but I have pulled out the quotes that I think most people are reacting to.
1) â€œIt seems like, to me, a vaginaâ€”as a manâ€”would be more desirable than a manâ€™s anus. Thatâ€™s just me. Iâ€™m just thinking: Thereâ€™s more there! Sheâ€™s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what Iâ€™m saying? But hey, sin: Itâ€™s not logical, my man. Itâ€™s just not logical.â€
2) The GQ reporter asked, â€œWhat, in your mind, is sinful? and Robertson replied, â€œStart with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,â€ he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: â€œDonâ€™t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlersâ€”they wonâ€™t inherit the kingdom of God. Donâ€™t deceive yourself. Itâ€™s not right.â€
The issue is not really about comments made toward homosexuals. A&E has the right as a network to hire or fire anyone they choose for whatever reason they choose. They are a business who is in the business of making shows that people desire to watch.The Robertsons have the right and freedom to believe what they want. Â If you donâ€™t like what happened then let them know, if enough people want him back, then heâ€™ll be back. Who knows this may just be a publicity stunt for ratings.
The core issue is that America is afraid to talk about a reality different than their own. A&E is reacting to this fear in trying to make the show as neutral as possible. But what they seek to push out of the frame is the true reality of what makes this family worth watching. But hereâ€™s to hoping that we can at least talk about it with out it being called “hate speech.”
Early in the earthâ€™s history God was manâ€™s original instructor. Manâ€™s classroom was the perfect Garden of Eden, and his teacher was none other than God Himself. In the cool of the day God would come and talk and dialogue with Adam (Gen 3:8). Creation taught of Godâ€™s omnipotent power and immeasurable creativity. The fall (Genesis 3) taught man not only of Godâ€™s grace and mercy, but also of His holiness. God is the ultimate teacher; Job said, â€œWho is a teacher like himâ€ (Job 36:22)? Michael Anthony and Warren Benson write,
Godâ€™s desire has always been to see His children mature in their faith and pass that faith on to subsequent generations. To accomplish that aim, He chose patriarchal leaders such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to model godly familial and national leadership. Soon after that, He gave us written instructions, known as the Torah, or Old Testament Law. Later, he commissioned priests, judges, and prophets with the task of instructing His people with the proper application of those laws to everyday life. Eventually, this task was given to synagogue leaders such as rabbis and scribes. After the Jews returned from exile, they established schools for the education of their children.
This knowledge was not only to pass from parent to child, but from Godâ€™s people to the lost world around them. Genesis 18:19 says, â€œFor I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised himâ€ (NIV). That promise was that Abraham would be a blessing to those around him, and that his offspring would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 12).
Later it was explained that his offspring are all those that have a saving faith in God. As the world surrounded Godâ€™s people, they would see God working in the Israeliteâ€™s lives, and they would be drawn to want a relationship with God as well. When they come to inquire, Godâ€™s people would need to know how to respond. If Godâ€™s people are to be a â€œlamp on a standâ€ that shines the light of God to the world, then their lives must reflect Godâ€™s character and their minds must be ready to â€œgive an answer for the hope that they haveâ€ (1 Pet 3:15).
Acts 17:26Ââ€“27 says, â€œFrom one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.â€ God has strategically placed Christians where they are, in the history of time that they are in, in order to bring a lost world to Him. But they must be knowledgeable regarding the doctrines of Scripture. Otherwise the church becomes doctrinally shallow and easily swayed by the deception of sin (Jas 1:8).
God chooses to work through the local church as the main avenue, other than parents to children, as the way in which to educate believers. Pazmino identifies the responsibilities of the local church as being â€œproclamation (kerygma), community formation (koinonia), service (diakonia), advocacy (propheteia), and worship (leitourgia).â€ He points out that didache or teaching is not listed. Pazmino believes that â€œteaching serves as the connective membrane linking these five tasks to form a vital and living body of ministry and mission in the world.â€ 1 Corinthians 12:4â€“7 says, â€œThere are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.â€ Those who teach are in partnership with other Christians who have these different gifts from God. They should share these different spiritual gifts to bring depth and creativity to the teaching ministry of the church.
Whereas the methods that God has used to reveal Himself have changed throughout the generations, his desire to see His people grow and become like Him has not. Today this same responsibility of instruction has not changed regarding godly parenting. But also, the parents of children must be taught so they can mature and grow in Christ. If the local church is to be â€œthe bodyâ€ as described throughout the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12), it must be educated. Godâ€™s design behind education is that people would be taught how to become more like Him. Since the beginning of time, it has been Godâ€™s desire for man to populate the earth and to instruct those people on how to have a relationship with their Creator.
The ultimate purpose of all Christian education, then, is to bring those who are taught into a relationship with Jesus Christ, then to equip them to grow in this relationship for the rest of their lives, while showing others Godâ€™s purpose for their lives. This is actually given as a command in the Great Commission in Matt 28:18â€“20, â€œThen Jesus came to them and said, â€˜All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the ageâ€™â€ (NIV).
All who have a saving faith in God should be educated in the doctrines of the Bible in order that they can impact their world around them. Clarence H. Benson said, â€œThe progress and permanency of Christianity has been dependent upon a program of education.â€
One sees this importance early in the life of the church. Acts 2:42 says, â€œThey devoted themselves to the apostlesâ€™ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.â€ Every pastor in the early church was expected to be an apt teacher (1 Tim 3:2), and most Christians were more than likely apt teachers (Acts 8:1, 4) as well. The importance of Christian education can be followed throughout all of history, with its foolish conclusions when education is lacking in the medieval period, and its great strides in discoveries during the Reformation and Renaissance. Looking specifically at the Roman Empire in history Anthony and Benson wrote,
The contribution of the great Roman Empire to the beginnings of Christianity cannot be overstated. The Son of God was born into a world that valued learning. The Hebrews had contributed an emphasis upon monotheistic and family-life education; the Greeks had provided an emphasis upon philosophic thought united under a common language; and the Romans gave the world a strong civil government with secure borders, commerce, communication, and stable means of transportation. Together these national and cultural contributions laid the foundation for early Christian church education.
This shows that Christian education has had many influences that God has used to shape it into a method that is effective if taken seriously in the life of the family and church. It is the challenge of the teacher, guided by the Holy Spirit, to instill within the learner a desire to glorify the Lord with their lives. This is something that is caught as opposed to being taught. With Jesus being the ultimate example, His life never veered from His teaching. He never did anything that contradicted what He said. The teacherâ€™s life should exude love for the students and for God, and their lessons are an overflow of a heart that has been in Godâ€™s presence continuously. Pazmino says, â€œThe Holy Spirit inspired the initial writing and compilation of the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit also illuminates those who seek to teach the Scriptures or to be taught by them.â€
 Among these early disciples were: Adam, Eve, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job.
 Michael Anthony and Warren Benson, Exploring the History and Philosophy of Christian Education (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2003), 17.
 Robert Pazmino, God Our Teacher (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 143.
 Ibid., 125.
 Charles Tidwell, Educational Ministry of a Church (Nashville: Broadman, 1982), 34.
 Anthony and Benson, Exploring the History and Philosophy of Christian Education, 98â€“99.
 Pazmino, God Our Teacher, 95.