The Offense of Phil Robertson

If you access any form of social networking at all, you have been witness to the firestorm of protest surrounding Phil Robertson’s interview with GQ Magazine and his subsequent release from the famously popular Duck Dynasty show.

Living in Ouachita Parish, I have enjoyed watching the fame of the Robertson family explode in all media and every merchandising outlet. My only real acquaintance with the family is through Al, who I first knew as a fellow minister here in town … before he started the show. I have been around some of the family but not enough to stake any kind of claim to personal friendship.  I can tell you that though no human is perfect, this family – from the youngest to the oldest – has a sterling reputation for living the Christian life with boldness. So I rejoice in their influence for Christ in this community, and now, the world.

The offense of Phil Robertson has, in one day, stirred the emotions of thousands of people. That says a lot about his influence, doesn’t it? It seems that everyone is offended. The homosexual community is offended and some in the African-American community are offended. The mainstream Christian community is offended at A&E, who has suspended him from the show. Some Christians are offended at Phil’s crude language, even if they agree with his stance. It may even be true that some Christians are offended at other Christians who aren’t offended. I am moved to wonder why so much offense swirls around Phil Robertson?

My theory is that in some unexpected way Duck Dynasty has tapped into a void in the American experience. The last family we saw praying around the table (other than the Reagan family on Blue Bloods) was the Waltons. And maybe the last patriarch we saw spouting off country wisdom, ignoring the modern world around him, and accepting the antics of his children was Jed Clampett. In terms of TV moms and grandmothers I’d rather eat at Ms. Kay’s table than that of Olivia Walton or Granny Clampett’s. But he element that touches us at our core is not cooking, nor the family prayer, nor the earthy wisdom. At least as I see it,  the connection with the American audience is the inward desire for family acceptance and devotion.

I believe that the love the Robertsons  share for one another is genuine and hard won. Phil Robertson’s life story has become legendary. His I Am Second interview (Along with Kay, Jep and Reed) was simply stunning in its honesty and authentic faith.

So that’s why I think the offense of Phil Robertson struck like lightning across the collective consciousness of our nation. The family that found a way to love, togetherness, acceptance, wisdom, faith, and connection has reminded us of the desire we all have for the same. The landscape of broken families in our nation is heartbreaking. The Robertsons have managed to create a living demonstration of the definition of family. We can’t help but be touched by this. Millions of people care about the Robertsons … what they say … and what happens to them.

Though Phil Robertson loves Jesus, he is not Jesus. Yet even Jesus knew that if he loved people with all his heart and told them the truth they would be offended.

Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me. ~Matthew 11:6, NIV

And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. ~Matthew 11:6, KJV

I’m wondering tonight if the offense of Phil Robertson is really the offense of Jesus Christ? Would we be offended at someone who loved us enough to point us in the right direction (toward God)? The answer is yes. Jesus lost his earthly life because of that very thing. In our culture everything is acceptable except pointing out that something is not acceptable to God. We can bat around the wording, the process or the method of shining light into a dark world. But one thing you have to say about Phil Robertson: He is intentionally shining God’s light. That’s more than a lot of modern Christians can say for themselves.

So I think the reason millions of people care about what Phil Robertson said is because he and his family have touched a beautiful place in our hearts. And in spite of the many kind words spoken, all the attention is being given to some unfortunate expressions that reflect the words of a man who is imperfect but trying to tell the world about Jesus. That offends some people.

The offense of Phil Robertson comes because we have come to love him and all who are gathered around that table. We have experienced so many situations with them that we feel that we know them. When we watch the show, we are drawn in and feel a part of their family.  That’s why when Phil Robertson speaks, people listen. If you are offended by what he says, take a closer look. You’ll see a man who tells you that he loves you because God loves you. And the world would be a better place if we would go by The Book and love one another more.

Thanks for reading,

John

Related Post: Choosing Not To Be Offended

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