Please quit sending me invitations on Facebook to "like" pages supporting Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson. Please quit assuming that, since I am a Christian, I agree with what he said. Please quit believing that, as a pastor, I believe the same way he does. I don't.
First, let me get all of the "political correctness" out of the way. Yes, Phil Robertson can say anything he would like without risking being thrown in prison. And that is what the first amendment protects against. But if we look back through history to the men who drafted the Constitution, we will see they were in a different situation that we face today. They had lived through a period where saying anything against their king would land them in jail - or worse. They wanted to prevent that from happening again which is why they began our government providing protection to those who would speak out against the leadership of our country. That is why those who desire to can clog up Facebook feeds with "president-bashing" posts - regardless of which president they are bashing. Were that first amendment not in place, there would be a whole lot of people heading to my hometown of Leavenworth, Kansas for a nice, long visit with a wardrobe of black and white stripes with nicely stenciled numbers on the chest.
Through the decades, our society has morphed that amendment and broadened it to extend - and excuse - anything that anyone says. And that's fine. But here's what the first amendment doesn't protect us from.
Our behaviors, our words, our decisions ALL HAVE CONSEQUENCES!! Phil Robertson has the right to verbalize what he believes. And his bosses have the right to reprimand him for doing so. The problem is that we've become a society that refuses to take responsibility for our actions. We're always looking for "a way out" of messy situations that we get ourselves into instead of owning up to what we've done, apologizing and taking our medicine. So to those shouting that Phil Robertson can say what he wants and have first amendment protection, I reply "not really" - at least when it comes to dealing with the fall out of what he said. Man up, Phil.
Now that this is taken care of, let's look at what he said. Unfortunately, Phil voiced his beliefs on two hot button topics in our society: Homosexuality and racism - a double whammy! It was all offensive - to gay and straight alike. But here is what offends me the most - and what makes my job as pastor even harder.
I'm not going to try and deny what the Scriptures tell us about homosexuality. I will say that I am still working on my understanding of them. Now in my earlier days of ministry, I would have been right there with Phil for two reasons. First, that was what I was taught in my church - a conservative, evangelical tradition like it appears - at least from what he said - that Phil comes from. Second, I didn't know any LGBT people - I hadn't listened to their cries of "Why am I like this?" and "Why did God make me this way?" I hadn't held someone's hand as they cried because they had been kicked out of their house when they told their parents they were gay or because they lost their best friend when they came out. This is why I now struggle with what the Scripture tells us - because beforehand, I wasn't looking through God's eyes of love.
Here's my second struggle. Most Protestant Christian traditions (so basically, everyone who's not Catholic) believe that sin is sin is sin: There are no "degrees" of it. Sin is abominable to God - no matter what it is. So, if we've embracing the theory that homosexuality is a sin, it's no worse than adultery or lying or gossiping or . . . you get the idea. Why then do we focus on the sin of homosexuality? Is it perhaps because it's not one that we have to face? Scripture tell us to quit focusing on the speck in someone else's eye while ignoring the log in our own. I'd better get my own sins under control before I start bashing other people for theirs.
My final struggle is this: Anyone who tries to claim that someone won't get into Heaven is assuming the role of God. God decides who goes; it's His party and He can invite anyone in that he wants to.
My job as a pastor is to love people and share with them the message of God's Word. It isn't to tell them that they have no chance of getting into Heaven because of their sins: If that's the case, then I won't be there, either. My duty is to help them learn to love God so that His transforming Holy Spirit can work in their hearts. That is the only thing that changes us. Those hearts certainly won't be transformed by someone saying, "You've got no chance!"
So no, I won't be signing any support Phil Robertson petitions or liking any Facebook pages. I also won't be bashing him either because he deserves the mercy and grace that seem to be lacking from his statements. I will instead, try to figure out how we can harvest all of the time and energy vested in this ridiculousness and put it toward more productive issues like taking care of the needy and feeding the hungry. That seems a much better use of my time.