And like that (imagine snapping fingers) Christian America went bananas. Over television. Okay, not exactly over television. Over a network censuring reality tv star Phil Robertson (patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family) for voicing his own religious perspective on sin – specifically homosexuality, bestiality, promiscuity, drunkenness, (and a few more thrown in in the form of a Bible quotation).
You can read the full article from GQ here.
Shortly after the article came out, A&E suspended Phil indefinitely for his comments.
That’s when the Christian Outrage Machine kicked into overdrive.
The Christian Outrage Machine (let’s call it the COM) is the mechanism by which Christians respond militantly with outrage towards any slight (or perceived slight) towards the faith or towards Christian people. When Chick-Fil-A came under fire a while back the COM fired up to defend it. When people want to remove a 10 Commandments statue from a public venue the COM comes to life. It’s everywhere.
But the COM should take a step back, breathe, and calm down a little bit. This isn’t really a persecution issue. It’s not even a love and tolerance issue. It’s a finance and image issue. I’m fairly certain that the nation could guess what the Robertson family’s views on morality would be. It’s not a surprise. I don’t even think the network’s response is due to Phil’s less-than-tactful way of phrasing things. Part of the family’s “charm” that the network promotes is their gritty, down-to-earth quality. If you want fancy oration on the nature of sin and morality you’re never going to find it in Duck Dynasty. The network cashes in on that down-to-earth quality (I do think that Robertson could have voiced his beliefs in a way that was more winsome and less in-your-face-confrontational, but perhaps that’s more my style than his).
No, it’s not about persecution of stating beliefs. It’s really a financial and image issue. The network needs to be as appealing as possible to as wide an audience as possible. If their LGBT demographic is upset it could cost the network revenue. So the execs take steps to pacify the demographic to ensure that the money keeps coming in and that the network maintains an image of being gay-friendly.
It was a business decision, not a persecution-for-the-sake-of-oppressing-faith decision.
Secondly, no Christian should ever be surprised when non-Christians get upset with a Christian view of morality. In fact, we should expect it. Jesus kinda promised that we would have trouble and difficulty, and that following him would put us at odds with the world.
This should make us sad – not outraged. Outrage is the response we have when we become soft and take on feelings of entitlement. We have blended in to the world too much when we feel outrage for being treated poorly. Shouldn’t we be used to it?
On the other hand, to my left-leaning and/or non-Christian friends: please clean up your rhetoric a bit. You have accused Phil Robertson of speaking hateful things against the LGBT community. But disagreeing with someone’s choices is not hate. Phil even said outright:
We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the almighty’s job. We just love ‘em, give ‘em the good news about Jesus.”
You weren’t hearing it, but what Phil was saying is that how we treat people is not based on their sin. The left has its own outrage machine, the Liberal Outrage Machine. It gets fired up whenever Christians publicly state that any behavior is wrong. Ironically, Phil comes across as more tolerant that the “tolerant” liberals. He’s saying, “We love everybody and don’t judge, even when we disagree.” The Liberal Outrage Machine is saying, “You can’t voice your opinions! Be quiet!” Dang….
In the end, I am saddened that A&E would try to silence Phil Robertson for speaking what everyone could already have guessed about him. I’m really bothered by A&E trying to hide their financial and image issues behind false notions of tolerance and “doing the right thing.”
I’m also saddened that Christians have forgotten that being at odds with the world is supposed to be part of our standard operating procedures. We’ve grown complacent. We’ve gotten used to dominating society and have forgotten the need to share about the kingdom of God with a broken world.
So where does that leave us? In terms of Duck Dynasty, people who love it will continue to love it. People who hate it will continue to hate it. These outrage issues never sway anyone – they only solidify the lines drawn in the sand. But lines aren’t as important to Jesus as people are.
So, Christian, we can get off the Outrage Machine. The Outrage Machine focuses on us.
It does not focus on Jesus.
And when we focus on Jesus we can love people in spite of being hurt or attacked by them.