It’s been a challenge for me to come to the point of the post today. The whole world, it seems, is ecstatic about that camo-clad duck hunting family in south Louisiana. They are down-to-earth, fun-loving, family oriented people. And they talk about the Lord. They talk about what’s wrong with America without Him and they talk about baptism that puts people into Christ. How can I possibly speak disparagingly about such people?
Well, I don’t want to do that. I get it. I get that Hollywood has become so extremely wicked, so hopelessly vile that Duck Dynasty and any other show that doesn’t openly and repeatedly take the holy name of the Lord in vain, exonerate drunkenness, adultery, and homosexuality, and feed its audience a diet of constant vulgarity is a breath of fresh air. So I have really hesitated to say this.
Second, I’ve hesitated to say this because I know it really doesn’t matter what I think about Duck Dynasty (or anything else, for that matter). For Christians, it just matters what God thinks about our decisions and behavior.
But for all of that, still, I’ve been forced to think a lot about how various groups of Christians have clamored to have famous members of that family come to speak for fundraisers for Christian universities and even in some of our pulpits. So, this morning, in a quiet hotel room, as I wait for my husband to finish a speaking engagement, I took the time to review a few clips, and later, to even watch a few episodes. They made me smile. They have a way of making you see the funny side of our human natures. It’s no wonder they are at the top of the viewing charts, especially in the South where most of us haven’t fully bought into the politically correct, tree-hugging mentality. We like it that they think it’s okay to kill and eat animals. They resonate with us. We especially like it that they are a family still intact in a society of broken homes. That resonates with us as Christians.
But I have concerns, too. Since I am not a reviewer for a Christian magazine and I do not have to give a comprehensive review, I am just going to tell you, as a Christian parent, what worries me about Duck Dynasty.
First, the show doesn’t reflect so honorably on the church. While I am thankful that I did not hear expletives, I did hear the word “crap” almost immediately when I began to watch. Then it wasn’t long before I heard “dang” and a southern drawn out version of golly and “Let’s get the heck outta here.” Perhaps I’m too sensitive. Perhaps I am a prude. But I still hope that my children and grandchildren find crude words as well as euphemisms like those to be distasteful and unbecoming (Col. 4:6).
Second, I watched a clip of Phil Robertson preaching in which he clearly stated “I don’t care if you have a glass of wine or a beer. The Lord don’t either.” I believe him to be mistaken about that. I believe God’s people in our society have no business drinking recreationally, at all. My reasons for this conviction are found in other places on this blog. I’m worried, though, that when we make a hero of this man, as we have done in many of our Christian schools and other venues, we endorse this message that drinking is okay. We may endorse it in the minds of young people that we really, for all the world, do not want to ever experiment with alcohol. I’ve prayed since my children were born that they never would drink beverage alcohol. I see the ruin that could have been avoided in so many lives had someone not experimented that first time. Then there’s episode of Duck Dynasty in which the Robertson family decided to branch into the winery business. They drank wine in that episode and they hosted a wine-tasting event. This is disheartening to me; not because I think those who watch such a scenario are necessarily sinning in watching, but because I hear Christians all around me celebrating the fact that this family is such a great example of faith in Hollywood. I just do not think such an episode represents our faith so pristinely. In fact, if my family were so publicly involved in the filming of an attempt at owning and running a winery, I believe my elders would come talk to us about the reproach we had brought on the body. I’m glad that they would. (I believe the episode about the homecoming dance is a similarly poor representation of Christianity, as well. This episode contains a number of examples of immodest dress and includes a father apologizing to his daughter for his opposition to the immodesty.)
Perhaps the most disturbing thing I have seen about the influence of the Dynasty had to do with the venue at which I saw Phil Robertson preaching. It was a “Bible Church” in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. It was in the year 2010. I was glad that he got the chance to tell the people there what to do to be saved. It made me happy that he got the chance to say those things in that venue. I believe we should always say the truth about salvation wherever we are given the chance; perhaps especially in a church like this one which was obviously not a faithful body of believers in any sense of the word. But, after Mr. Robertson finished speaking, people with spiritual needs were invited to come and talk with the “pastor” there or with some of the leaders of that church about the Lord and about salvation. The “pastor” even promised that he would buy lunch for anyone who wanted to talk about the Lord. Phil Robertson stated his message and then put those who heard it in the hands of unsaved people to finish their teaching and encourage them to be part of a church that is failing to practice New Testament Christianity. This is the part of my morning that troubles me most. The New Testament is just so replete with warnings about false teachers. If you read the warnings to the seven churches in Asia in Revelation 1-3, it quickly becomes clear that we are not to bear with those who are teaching false things about salvation and worship, much less to leave the teaching of those we may have contacted to those who will lead them to false worship.
I guess I am pretty much alone in my thinking here, but I don’t get the positive frenzy of members of the Lord’s body about having these folks come to speak to our communities. I hear some who say “We can never get them to come hear anything about the gospel at any other time, but if we have the Robertsons come, people will come.” Perhaps there’s truth in that. But I guess my question would be “Will the message of Phil Robertson make anyone with a denominational mentality question that mentality or will that denominational person infer that he should just choose a church once he is “in Christ”? I know that is certainly how the video I watched this morning seemed to conclude. The last words of the “pastor” were something like “You need to be in a church. It doesn’t have to be Berea, but you need to find a church.” The video showed this “pastor” collecting all the contact information of all the people who had attended, presumably so they could be contacted by that church.
Once again, I guess I am trying to sort out in my own mind exactly what I think about Duck Dynasty and its amazing popularity among people of God. I am certainly not saying that it’s sinful to watch the show. I’m just thinking I don’t want my Baptist neighbors to think I endorse crude speech or drinking a beer now and then. I don’t want them to think I think it’s funny when Christians are involved in the wine industry or are endorsing dancing and immodesty. And I really don’t want them to think I believe one church is as good as another. I pray that I can be more and more diligent in trying to show them the church of the Bible: its unique terms of entrance and required modes of worship. I want to show them the distinctive appeal of the restoration plea.
Phil Robertson is not helping denominational audiences to make this distinction when he speaks to them over and over again. If he were, they would either stop wanting him to come to their churches or they would decide to be baptized for the remission of their sins and then worship faithfully as the church or body of Christ. Today (Saturday, August 11th), Phil can be heard at Man to Man Ministries, a ministry led by Glenn Ross, a Baptist pastor, in Victoria, Texas. On August 24th, members of the family will be speaking at Characters of Character at Auburn University, a fundraising event for Youth for Christ, an ecumenical organization involving lots of denominations, so far as I can tell. Its first full-time employee was Billy Graham. On September 7th, Jase will be speaking at Christ’s Church weekend worship in Jacksonville, Florida. I listened to some of the worship there. It is instrumental, charismatic and doctrinally non-committal. I am not saying that it is wrong to speak the gospel in any of these venues. It is just very difficult for me to see how one could speak the full gospel and still be popular in such venues.
So, I’m worried. “Cindy Colley, you worry too much,” may be what you are thinking. But I still do. I’m just not sure our kids are going to understand the distinctive plea of New Testament Christianity if we are lauding those among our own churches who are promoting organizations propelled by denominations and even those denominational churches themselves. I surely would like to promote truly clean television. But it’s mixing the funny show with religion that worries me most. I’m not sure presenting Duck Dynasty’s ministry to our non-Christian friends is really tantamount to presenting Christ to them. I’m not sure our kids will get the clear picture either. In fact, I think we may be sending a very confusing message.
Our children need heroes. But let’s do all we can, as moms, to insure that their heroes are strong and faithful defenders of the Christian faith…men (and women) who will don the super-hero armor of Ephesians six and battle the forces of this world, shepherds who are heroically guarding the flock and Bible scholars who have trained themselves to use the Sword.
Sources in addition to episodes of Duck Dynasty: