Duck Dynasty is pretty funny, especially if you enjoy watching rednecks do redneck things. My wife and father-in-law enjoy watching it and most of the time I will sit and watch it as well. Basically, the show is based around rednecks being rednecks. There are a number of shows like this on TV: Rodeo Girls, American Hoggers, The Legend of Shelby the Swampman, and Moonshiners are a few I found after doing a Google search for “Redneck shows on TV.” There are actually more than this if you do more searching.
The Robertson family started a duck call company and they have done pretty well. As you watch the show, and see the houses they live in, you can tell their business has done well. However, what has made Duck Dynasty have an even stronger pull, especially in conservative Christian circles, is the fact they profess to be Christians. After the show took off, you could find the Robertsons making their rounds in the Christian conference circle. Si was at Catalyst. Jace and his wife were on the K-Love radio show, Willie has been to Liberty University and even the Duck Dynasty teens are scheduled to be at a New Year’s party at Liberty University as well. Needless to say, they have had the chance to share their faith on a number of stages because of the success of their reality TV show. It was doing well until recently when Phil made a couple comments concerning homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine. Then, A&E came out and suspended Phil from the show indefinitely. This does not surprise me.
I would say if the people on Duck Dynasty are truly going to follow their own motto of “Faith, family, ducks” then they should tell A&E there will be no show without their father. If they truly believe in what they say, this would seem to be the logical step. If A&E won’t allow someone on their show to share their own beliefs, then why should the rest of the Robertson family allow A&E to silence their own father but keep making who knows how much money from the show?
You might respond to that by saying look at the witness they are able to have with their show and be on TV and impact so many people. While this is true, is it necessary for them to remain on TV to have an impact on this world for Christ? No, it is anything but necessary. They were a successful family and business before TV, so chances are they would remain successful even without the show. Also, how many people do you think have been impacted simply through watching the show? How many lives do you really think have been changed by watching rednecks do what rednecks do? Probably not as many as we would hope because if you were to do a search to figure out who watches this show, it would probably be a majority of people who already profess some type of faith or who just enjoy watching rednecks.
Here is where I want to take a little different route for the rest of this post. I want to discuss what has come to be known in this part of the world as basically “celebrity Christians.” You can find them all over the US: sports, movies, TV shows, music industry and more. Christians have claimed people from Tim Tebow to Carrie Underwood to Justin Bieber (not so much anymore) to Mel Gibson among many more. It seems anytime someone states they believe differently than the world, we are quick to accept them as Christians even though we do not know much about their lives. Do celebrity Christians truly help the cause of Christ? Or do they sometimes bring about more negative views from the public? Let’s look at the most recent comments by Phil Robertson as an example.
Let me give two illustrations. For the first one, let’s say Phil Robertson is having a meal with a family friend who happens to not be a follower of Christ. Maybe Phil has been praying for this individual for a long time and for a chance to witness to this individual. Their conversation turns to faith and God. This is a great place for Phil to share his beliefs because he has a relationship with the person he is talking to, the person knows Phil is not a homophobe or “spewer” of hate language and such. This individual is also able to sense the love Phil has for everyone, including homosexuals, though he clearly does not agree with their lifestyle and holds to what the Bible teaches, which is homosexuality is a sin.
Next, let’s say Phil has an interview with a well-known magazine publication, maybe GQ, because of his celebrity status (face it, GQ would not be interviewing Phil Robertson for anything if not for the success of the TV show). Perhaps GQ asks Phil a question about his faith, in his response, he shares what he believes in a loving way and he simply states he believes, according to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin.
Which of these situations will receive a better response from someone who does not believe in God? Which situation would probably receive more chances to share their faith with that person and more who need to hear about Christ? It is obvious the first situation, a personal relationship, is the best way for anyone to share their faith in Christ. When Christians are given a platform to share what they believe with the world, many times, maybe most of the time, it will come out in a loving way but be taken as hate language because they hear words going against their chosen lifestyle. And in the world we live in, people are constantly looking for ways to quiet Christians. This does not surprise me. 1 John 3:13 says we should not be surprised the world hates us. 1 Peter 4:12 says “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes to test you, as though something strange were happening to you…if you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
Thus, celebrity Christians can wind up doing more harm than good. The way A&E responded to Phil Robertson is not surprising. It is the world acting like the world. The world does not agree with us anymore and the time where Christians could stand on the street corner and preach or have open air evangelistic crusades in this country and have an overwhelming response is basically in the past. The time where Christians could openly share what they believe in the public is no longer here. For every couple people impacted with the Gospel by a celebrity Christian, you have more people turned off by it who could have been reached through a friendship with a follower of Christ. When a celebrity Christian says something from a platform that goes against culture, it can close them off from Christian influence and even hurt friendships with Christians.
So, I have said a lot but what is my point? What would I say to Christians today in this world who are crying foul to what has recently happened? I would say it is time for Christians to come back to a 1 Timothy 2:1-3 lifestyle. What does 1 Timothy 2:1-3 say?
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.
Throughout history, Christianity has spread more through personal relationships than any other way. More people have been impacted by Christ through a relationship with a Christian. Not a knock on the door and an evangelistic presentation, but through doing life together and living in community. Unfortunately, that has been lost in today’s society. We try to live lives among people like us, hoping the world comes to us. We will invite someone to church without getting to know them or getting to know their story. It is in a personal relationship where we can show people we truly do love everyone and are not spewing hate language when we tell them we believe homosexuality is a sin. The world needs Christians to live as Jesus did, to live among them and love them while living a godly life. This is the type of life that will bring avenues to witness and see changed lives. When Christians get up in arms because of a situation like what happened to Phil Robertson, I do not believe it does much good for the cause of Christ. It might do things for the American way or the American dream, but not so much for the cause of Christ.
If we truly want to make an impact on the world, I believe 1 Timothy 2:1-3 gives us the best advice on how to do that. Then if we add that with the Great Commission, we will impact the world and lives will be changed. If we are going to fight for a freedom of speech, do not claim it is what the Bible says we as Christians should do because I have yet to see anything in the Bible that truly tells Christians to boycott or picket or email companies announcing our displeasure. The Bible never says we are to get revenge. But it does tell us to be ready for fiery trials and persecution.