Phil Roberstson, aka patriarch of the Duck Dynasty Robertsons talked about a lot of things in an interview for an upcoming GQ article. The A & E network placed him on permanent leave from the show after bits and pieces of his comments “leaked.” The internet is on fire with these things today. You probably already noticed. Depending on your FB friends list you are either being flooded with “I support Duck Dynasty/Phil” posts or “Phil and Duck Dynasty are evil idiots” posts. Hopefully you have some of both (if not, you may be a little too isolated in your own little world, and that isn’t healthy).
So what’s the buzz? It is Phil’s comments on homosexuality, right? Depending upon your feed it is either Phil as Apostle Paul or Phil as Adolph Hitler. If you haven’t done so, it would make sense for you to read the actual article and see for yourself what he said. This is merely being intellectually honest on the one hand and can save you from being a pawn in someone’s publicity war on the other. Internet fires are almost always set by people who have something to gain, and there is nothing so volatile as a spark of controversy thrown into a pile of dry ignorance.
Now I’ve taken the time to read the article, and I think its a well written piece. I’ve also seen and read some other things about Duck Dynasty and Phil Robertson, and so I feel very comfortable giving you this opinion: Phil Robertson is indefensible. Not just what he says, but who he is. His entire person is not defensible. He is unworthy of defense. What’s more, his whole family is the same thing. Unworthy. Indefensible. I am not going to waste one word giving you a case for continuing to watch Duck Dynasty or to buy Duck Commander Duck calls or to write A & E in protest of firing one of their stars. It is an utter waste of time. And I guarantee you this: Phil and his gang would agree with all of that.
The whole point of Christianity is that we are indefensible and there is nothing to be done about it. That we are unworthy and there is nothing to be done about it. Phil may or may not be a homophobic jerk – read the article for yourself to see if he comes across as a hater – but the truth is that even if he is hateful against a particular group of people, that isn’t the half of how bad he really is. He is much worse than homophobic. He is much more broken and ugly and marred than even he imagines. It is so bad that if you or I were to see the real Phil Robertson as his essence really is and his past really attests, none of us would try to defend him, and none would bother to condemn him. The filth would be so obvious that it wouldn’t be worth pointing out the truth. I don’t want to defend Phil Robertson and I don’t want to condemn him. Its a waste of time for me.
But Christ chose to defend the indefensible and to befriend the unworthy. This is gospel. This is the gospel. It isn’t the start of the gospel or the end of the gospel, it is the whole gospel and it continues to be the gospel. Jesus, the only person ever to live a life worthy of God’s commendation – in other words a life that did not need defense; he did not need a lawyer to get him off for something stupid he said or did in an unguarded moment – this Jesus gives that perfect record to people who don’t deserve it, can’t earn it and won’t live up to it.
The Christian gospel is God taking up our case even though it is a losing case; an indefensible case. Here is an interesting thing about the current Duck Dynasty flap: everyone on both sides would never want to be judged every day by their own standards. None of them. None of us. We are failures by our own standards. We may be righteous and loving in defending someone today; gay, straight, believers, atheists, but this afternoon our intolerance for the high school drop out in the McDonald’s drive-through who messes up and forgets our fries proves how loveless and unrighteous we are. You know it and I know it. If I am the only judge of me, I am losing my case. If there is a Judge, I can’t hope to win my case. Christianity is hopeful not because it contains no judgment or Judge, it is hopeful because even in its judgments, the gospel offers a final verdict in our favor – in spite of every bit of evidence to the contrary. For those of us with no Judge, you have no choice but to keep trying your case endlessly before an empty bench, and in the end this is nothing but despair. I’ll tell you something about having a favorable judgment from The Judge, though; if you’ve really received it and know what it cost and how you could not possibly get it without Jesus’s help, you don’t get real upset about lesser judgments against you for too long and you don’t feel the need to rush off and defend the indefensible.