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Speaking the Truth

Gary is an author, trial lawyer, Mequon-area resident and town of Cedarburg supervisor. He is a columnist for the News Graphic and writes for several Wisconsin area magazines and is a national columnist with The American Thinker and PJ Media.  He lives with his wife, Lisa, and has three sons ages 18 to 28. Gary won Ozaukee County in his bid for the Wisconsin Assembly's 60th District in 2011, but came up just 58 votes short.

STANDING IN JUDGMENT: The Duck Dynasty Controversy

 Phil Robertson is a reality television star on A & E’s Duck Dynasty. He is an inventor, a patent-holder, a former all-state, three-sport athlete, the patriarch of global $40 million business and at age 29 was baptized and became a devout Christian. Phil lives outside Monroe, Louisiana and has never minced words about his faith. In a recent interview with GQ magazine he was asked a very specific question, “What, in your mind, is sinful?” Robertson responded:

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.

In his answer, Phil did a good job of paraphrasing from the Holy Bible – a book read by nearly three billion people worldwide. His answer to GQ comes directly from 1 Corinthians 6:9 which says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality.” In more brash terms he also expressed his belief that homosexual “desire” is unnatural and inherently disordered – a view shared by virtually all fans of Duck Dynasty and most of the rest of the planet, especially in the Middle and Far East. Phil Robertson was immediately suspended by A & E for doing little more than quoting the Bible.

One could say that something is unnatural, like pica, an eating disorder which leads to cravings for non-food materials. But that is very different than saying it is wrong or immoral. The heaviest criticism Robertson received, and the true reason for the furor which ensued, is because Robertson spoke the unspeakable – that unrepentant sinners will go to hell. He sat in judgment and violated the 11th Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Be Politically Incorrect. He sat in judgment of a protected class.

Commentators and journalists on both sides of the political aisle took advantage of this opportunity to express their particular prejudices and dislikes about Christians and Christianity. Pundits whose only exposure to the Bible is through Google and only after an incident like the A & E debacle have taken the opportunity to once again twist Christianity to suit their needs. Conservative Fox News political commentator Bill O’Reilly was quick to jump on the bandwagon to air some personal gripes he has about Christians. In a December 19 chat with Laura Ingraham on The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly opined that Robertson was being judgmental and was suggesting that homosexuals were “not worthy in the eyes of the Lord”, and that he simply should have said that he disagrees with homosexuality on religious grounds. O’Reilly quoted Luke 6:37 which says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” O’Reilly felt that Robertson’s mistake was in condemning homosexuals and that he helped anti-Christians because he violated Luke 6:37 in the process. Christians, in the mind of O’Reilly and many others who do not live in or understand the Word, should never be judgmental. Wilson Cruz, a representative of the gay and lesbian rights group GLAAD, was quick to say, “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.”

Never mind that Phil was specifically asked his definition of sin, and in answering he paraphrased Scripture. That is far from being judgmental.  But the bigger mistake O’Reilly, Cruz, and even many well-meaning Christians make is to assume that Christians are not to be judgmental. Luke 6:37 has become a club which anti-Christians use to pummel Christianity, so it is essential that we understand what the Gospel has to say about correcting the sinner.

There are many different Christian denominations. Most teach, as Robertson pointed out, that homosexuality is a sin. In fact, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 seems to indicate that there is something different about sexual sin – not just homosexuality, but all sexual sin. That said, some denominations do not believe that homosexuality is worse than any other sin. In fact, Robertson’s own statement condemns more than just the sin of homosexuality. It is the willingness to continue in sin, rather than seek forgiveness and try to avoid falling back into a sinful lifestyle that will keep someone from the Kingdom of God. And it could be any sin, lying, cheating, stealing, alcoholism, addiction to porn, adultery, lust, greed, and the list goes on. The Epistle of James reveals this concisely when it states that “Whoever keeps the whole law, yet commits just one sin, is guilty of breaking all of it.”  Phil Robertson was simply answering a question about what he considered sinful.

The selective use of Luke 6:37 is usually intended to shame a “judgmental” Christian and shut down any discussion of what is right or wrong. To a large degree this tactic has worked and secular society has succeeded in shaming many Christians from the essential work of correcting the sinner. Christians are said to “judging” someone because they call attention to an individual’s wilful sin or wrongdoing. The world makes the mistake of assuming that the Christian feels he is better or holier than the target of his correction, when nothing could be further from the truth. In a culture where it is believed that tolerance is the only true moral virtue left standing, to “judge” has become the only sin the intolerant Left recognizes. But the Gospel of Luke does not prohibit judging something as right or wrong, but rather, it prohibits pronouncing judgment, punishment or condemnation. A parallel passage in Luke 6:36-38 makes this clear: 

Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven…. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.

It says in effect, get right with God yourself and understand your own sin so that you will see clearly enough to properly correct your brother. Not only does it not forbid the correction of the sinner the passage actually emphasizes the importance of correction by underscoring the importance of doing it well and with humility and integrity.  Colossians 3:16 advises us to teach and “admonish” one another. Correcting fellow sinners is encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 5:14. The distinction is between error and guilt. Phil Robertson pointed out error. He did not pronounce guilt. He answered the question put to him and pointed out the sin of homosexuality in a way that is acceptable according to Scripture and in the eyes of God. And that the left will not tolerate.  

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