Let me begin with a confession: I have seen the equivalent of 30 minutes of Duck Dynasty. This makes me uncommitted to the show. I have no intention of watching any more of it. At least, until Phil Robertson goes out and hits a home-run. A&E exercising their free speech called it a foul ball, and beyond that treated Phil as unprofessional. Rumors are that Phil has been looking for a reason to leave and he just found himself one.
Governor Bobby Jindal summarized the situation when he wrote:
It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.
There are a couple of assumptions that need to be discussed from the outset. These assumptions shape the way we react to such news. First, what did Phil Robertson say? He said bluntly:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” Robertson says in the January issue of the men’s magazine. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Let’s leave the anatomy details aside. Part of the argument is that sin is not logical. It’s non-sensical. Or as I have said elsewhere, sin is stupid. Phil Robertson’s world is a logical one. Don’t be distracted by his hunting gear, the man is truly a savvy biblical theologian.
The first assumption Christian must make in any discussion on public/social cultural matters is that sin is non-sensical. And we live in a world where sin is treated as fashion.
Secondly, this goes directly to Piers Morgan’s latest tweet:
Phil Robertson is not a ‘victim of political correctness’. He’s a victim of his own repulsively racist, homophobic bigotry.
Let’s be honest. Political correctness is one aspect here of how the liberal media treated our redneck hero. But the other assumption we must make is that what passes for “repulsively racist, homophobic bigotry” is just simply biblical religion. Now, of course, I’d argue that the Bible is just and right and holy. And the Gospel of grace, which puts up no walls of partition, is the farthest thing from racist and repulsive, but again, this is how they will see biblical Christianity expressed. So, assumption number two is that the message of the Bible is repulsive to those who deny its authority; or better, to quote St. Paul, “it is foolishness to the world.”
When Myley Cyrus exalted the god of promiscuity she was exalting the god of the liberal media. Myley Cyrus is the world’s wisdom.
Finally, some more sophisticated Christian thinkers may say that the way Phil used his words were drawing attention only to one element of the conversation, namely, that of body parts. The argument then is, female body parts–for men– are more attractive than male body parts. The argument does not need to stop there, but it should include it. Yes, the body is God’s design for pleasure, and to deny it is to affirm a form of gnostic god of your own. The marriage bed is undefiled, but it is defiled when it is populated by members of the same sex and members of the opposite sex who should be far away from that bed. Phil is assuming an undefiled marriage bed. So, the final assumption is that however sophisticated our argument, we need to express the sacredness of that bed, and the defilement of that bed when it is populated by un-godly partners.
Still, to the fancy conservative Christians out there expecting a more Augustinian anthropology to be announced from the mouth of a simple man who loves God and guns is to expect too much, and thus fails to be an adequate critique. Yes, there is much more that can be said about the matter, but sometimes a simple affirmation of what’s right and wrong should be sufficient.
And still one more note. Though Phil Robertson’s arguments may not have been helpful in a pastoral counseling room, it was precisely what the media needed to hear. As a result, the marriage issue is a front story. And we need to keep marriage as a front story again and again.