GQ Magazine, which isn’t exactly famous for promoting a God-fearing view of the world or social issues, is enjoying a meteoric boost in publicity these days due to writer Drew Magary’s candid interview of “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson.
In his interview published in GQ’s January 2014 issue, Phil “the Duck Commander” Robertson voiced traditional Christian views of marriage and sexuality with his trademark straight-shooter, non-nuanced style:
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Those familiar with the Bible will recognize, of course, that Robertson was paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
In parts of the interview, Phil was graphic in his discussion of homosexuality—perhaps as a way of employing the “yuck factor” argument as some call it. But the anti-Christian bias of the interviewer, Drew Magary, was palpable throughout the piece. At one point he condescendingly blurred the distinction between biblical Christianity and the corrupt, politicized version of Christianity that has plagued the true church through the centuries—foisting war, bloodshed, and human enslavement upon humanity in the name of Christ. Phil never had the opportunity to respond to Magary’s hollow attack, however. Admitting to his cowardice in questioning Phil directly, Magary stated: “I’m a guest in his house and he is my welcoming host, so I smile politely and nod.”
While other Christian leaders have voiced the biblical view of sex and marriage with slightly more grace and skill, such examples rarely interest those who prefer the tactic of stifling discussion entirely. Pouncing on a golden opportunity to make an example of the wealthy and influential TV star, gay-activist group GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz stated:
"Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans—and Americans—who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families."
In response to the storm of criticism, Duck Dynasty’s network, A&E, has suspended Phil indefinitely, stating:
"We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."
Phil Robertson issued his own statement in response: (see also the Robertson family's official statement)
"I myself am a product of the '60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together," he says. "However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other."
The fact that differing views exist in the United States is nothing new. However, as writer Trevin Wax points out, today’s all-out war on freedom of conscience is both new and dangerous. In his recent post entitled Freedom of Conscience Is a Beautiful Thing he writes:
“Imagine this scenario. A lesbian couple own a small business that makes signs. One of the Westboro cult members comes in and tells them they will soon be protesting another military funeral. They ask for signs that demean American soldiers, plus a few that say “God hates fags” thrown in for good measure. The lesbian couple refuses. They cannot in good conscience create signs that go against their deeply held convictions. If this were to happen, I’d side with the lesbian couple. Why? Freedom of conscience is a beautiful thing.”
What’s your response? Should Phil Robertson apologize for his views or is he a casualty of the war against free speech? Are "true Christians” (according to GLAAD spokeman, Wilson Cruz) those who turn away from the Bible and, instead, approve of homosexuality?
Alex Crain is the editor of Christianity.com.