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The Duck Dynasty Stars Don’t Duck the Issues

Willie Robertson 001

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Fr Dwight Longenecker - published on 03/27/14

And secularists just don't seem to get it.

A few months ago, the bearded patriarch of the TV show Duck Dynasty came under fire for his blunt opinions about homosexuality. In an interview with GQ magazine, he expressed his bewilderment that a man would find another man’s anus more attractive than a vagina, stated his belief that homosexual actions were like bestiality and opined that practicing homosexuals were headed for hell.

The Huffington Postreports that another member of the reality show family, Willie Robertson, has backed up his father’s faith. Bouncing off of a CNN interview the HuffPost article quotes Robertson, “I believe what the Bible says…you have to read the Bible and make up your own mind. You have to decide and God will ultimately decide that. We don’t profess to be God and we certainly don’t profess to be perfect at all because we have our own sins that we deal with." Robertson’s wife Korie added, "Anybody who knows him — any gay, straight, black, white — anybody who knows Phil knows that he is about love and his message is about God’s love, and God’s grace, and God’s forgiveness."

What the Robertson affair reveals is a remarkable lack of understanding amongst secularists. Those who do not believe in the Christian faith seem to view the church as some sort of club for people who want to make the world a better place–kind of like Rotary Club or the Boy Scouts on Sunday. Those who have no belief seem to think that church is a place where people get together to sing songs and have a pep talk about how they can teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

Their misunderstanding is understandable because a good number of mainstream Christian churches have become exactly that: a Sunday morning pep rally for nice people to try to be nicer. We might call this version of the faith “Coca Cola Christianity” because it is sweet, fizzy, pleasant, and popular. Unfortunately, it’s not the real thing.

Real Christianity we might call “Classic Christianity”. This is the religion of the Robertson family. It is also the religion of the vast majority of ordinary Catholics and Protestants. What secularists miss is that most of the billions of Christians around the world really do believe that the Bible is God’s Word. They believe that the truths in the Bible are delivered by God to the world for the salvation of souls and the good of the human race.

Classic Christians believe that Christianity is not a human construct developed out of a matrix of random historical circumstances. They do not believe that Christianity is created out of the culture, but that Christianity should challenge the culture. The classic Christian believes his religion is revealed, not relative. In other words, it is given by God and is fixed. It is not a flexible friend made up by well meaning people.

When Willie Robertson says, “The Bible condemns homosexual actions” he honestly believes it is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of eternal truth. This is why the members of Duck Dynasty don’t duck the issue.  From their point of view, if it’s an eternal truth, then it’s not up for debate, and the fact that it’s not up for debate isn’t really their issue. They would say with a kind of cocky confidence, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.”

Classic Catholics are on the same side as the Robertson clan. We may not hold to every aspect of their version of Christianity, but we’re with them on the basic idea that Christianity is a religion revealed by God and it is not a hodgepodge of human opinions or a collection of culturally conditioned ideas.

Our statements about homosexuality are not so crude and blunt, and our moral theology is more nuanced, but the bottom line is that we also believe that our religion is given by God himself and certain things therefore cannot be changed by discussion and debate.

Down through history this underlying belief amongst classic Christians has led to life and death clashes with the prevailing culture. Those who would change Christian behaviors and beliefs have met with intransigence. Classic Christians have stood their ground and protested, “We really can’t change our beliefs even if we wanted to because we didn’t make up these beliefs to start with. Our beliefs are not just our opinion. They are given by God, therefore we can’t change them.”

The stubborn reality show family provides a picture of a reality that is much greater than a television show. It’s their mission to give us a glimpse of what they believe to be God’s reality–which is eternal truth for an increasingly confused and conflicted culture.

Fr Dwight Longeneckerblogs at Standing on My Head. Check out his latest book The Romance of Religion–Fighting for Goodness, Truth and Beauty and connect at www.dwightlongenecker.com

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