I don’t watch Duck Dynasty. I’ve never seen a single minute of the show. My wife and I have not had television (cable or network) in three years. It was a waste of money considering how little we watched and how little was worth watching.
The phenomenon that is the Robertson family, however, has not escaped our awareness. That would be virtually impossible here in ‘the land of the free’. This last week, especially, has been quite the fishbowl for that family. On the other hand, when you run a gazillion dollar corporation, have a reality show, dress head to toe in camo, wear your beards to your knees, appear on camera with a duck call in one hand and a Bible in the other, accompanied by runway model wives, you’re probably going to garner attention like no other fish in the bowl. But, I’m just guessing.
America fell in love, or at least in awe, with this eccentric, successful family who reminded us of a bygone era in our country, that we thought was lost forever. A weekly dose of faith, family, love, hard work and Uncle Si, was just the tonic we needed to help us navigate in a world that seemed to have slipped from its moorings. For an hour we could forget our under or un employment, our healthcare worries, our dysfunctional politicians (from all parties), our wars and rumors of wars.
Then, surprise of surprises, the ‘Duck Commander’ himself stirred up a hornets nest in an interview with GQ magazine. Suddenly, the December season of cheer, was all abuzz with talk of political correctness, free speech, intolerance, violations of the constitution, hate speech and competing calls of ‘crucify him’ and ‘reinstate’ him. ‘Boycott’ became the rallying cry of the nations ‘duckophiles’, while the mainstream media shook their heads in wonder at the outrage of these unwashed masses and their commitment to hate.
From my perspective, we must be in a very slow news cycle. ‘Robertsongate’ should barely be a blip on our radar, yet it has dominated headlines for days and days, with lines being drawn, ultimatums given, and op-eds filling our newspapers, radio waves, television screens, and websites. Facebook and twitter have ‘blown up’ over the issue. Phil Robertson’s image must be the single most viewed face in America right now.
Someday, at the right time, I intend to address the constitutional and moral agendas behind this conflict. They are interesting to me and important to us as a nation, but this is not that day.
Instead, I’d like to take just a moment and speak to the Christian contingent of the ‘Boycott A&E, Reinstate Phil’ movement.
Is a public call for boycotts in the best interest of the Gospel? Would Jesus use boycotts of secular industry as a way to further His cause? Has a single heart or opinion ever been changed by a boycott? Is it a win if we get our constitutional way, but lose the hearts and respect of people with opposing world views, or those on the fence? Do angry letters to leadership of GLAAD make Christianity appear more attractive? Are we more concerned about our constitutional rights or the redemption of the human race? Am I an American, or a Christian, first? How do calls for boycott differ from cries of, ‘crucify him?’ How does Jesus’ teaching (‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him water. If he takes your coat, offer him your shirt as well) apply, if at all, to situations like the A&E suspension of Phil Robertson? What would Jesus do in this situation?
I love the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. There are two stories in the first 6 chapters that, to me, are extremely relevant here. I’d like to summarize them.
After the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the kingdom of Judah, several prominent youngsters were taken off to Babylon to be trained in the ways of Babylonian culture, philosophy and religion. Some of these young men became very prominent in society. Their religious practices and influence soon got on the nerves of the mainstream leadership. A plan was devised to silence them. A decree went out that at certain times of day, a trumpet would sound and everyone would do the politically correct thing and bow down to a giant image of the King that had been set up for public adoration.
Obviously, this was going to be a problem for our God fearing young men. They did not protest, call an attorney, stage a boycott or hold a press conference. They simply, firmly, steadfastly and humbly said, “We can’t do that” and took the path of peaceful, civil disobedience. God honored their action, and a mighty miracle followed. In the end, even the King apologized.
In the second story, which happened many years after the first, several of the key leaders in the kingdom were sick and tired of Daniel’s influence in the King’s council. He had to be silenced. They devised a plan to convince the King that for a season, the people should pray to no deity except the king, himself. They knew Daniel could not comply.
The law was passed. Daniel’s response is quite interesting. He does not ask for an audience with the king. He does not make a scene or cry, ‘outrage’. He merely continues his daily practice of prayer to his God. He is caught, arrested and convicted. God then tames lions and Daniel is rescued from certain death. The king honors God.
Are those merely stories from an ancient time, or could Shadrach, Meshack, Abednego and Daniel, serve as role models for our own responses when our faith and practice become intolerable to the civic authorities of the day?
For what it’s worth, when the news came down to Phil Robertson that he had been suspended, my understanding is that his response was to join a group of men from his Church and go minister to a woman in their community who was in need. Maybe he doesn’t have a Facebook account to update.