I'd hoped this day would never come. The day when the real world looked as crazy as the reality TV world. It's clear hoping doesn't always work, though, because that day is here.
This week, a guy from Duck Dynasty was fired from his reality show. To be honest, when my Facebook newsfeed began to explode with with the name Phil Robertson, I had no idea who he was. But once I heard the Duck Dynasty association, it all came together. I spend as much time in Walmart as the next guy.
Mr. Robertson's network, A&E, fired him for things he said in an interview with a magazine. I read the interview. For those, including his family, who want to say this was just a man expressing his faith through assorted declarations about the bible's stance on homosexuality and morphisms thereof, I suggest you re-read the interview. It was vulgar, and where he for reasons known only to him went the whole blacks were living the good life until entitlement programs came along route, it was ignorant.
In the end, though, I'm afraid to me it was a cut and dry case of employer fires employee for making a bad decision. But in the world of reality TV, reality is ever that simple.
A&E quickly and proudly proclaimed their decision was in support of the LGBT community. The Duck Dynasty's views didn't represent their feelings for that community at all. That must have been a shocking revelation after having him on their multi-million dollar payroll all these years.
Here's where I think I can help the world out. A little shock prevention. Conservative Christians believe the bible, including where it declares homosexuality a sin. If a man owns a chain of restaurants he refuses to open on Sunday because the bible says to keep holy the Sabbath Day, you can be pretty sure he believes homosexuality is a sin. You don't need to wait to read it in a newspaper article, or feel faint when you discover he donates money to pro-traditional family organizations. And if Mr. Robertson is touring around the country serving as a keynote speaker at revival meetings from California to DC, you can be sure when he's done with the one in DC, he's not hip hopping over to the White House afterwards to do a little marriage equality lobbying on the side. That is just the reality of things. So maybe in the future we won't be as shocked every time a Christian declares their stance on marriage and homosexuality. A&E knew what they were getting into when they hired Mr. Robertson, they loved his views when they were raking in the cash, and they saw this controversy as a golden opportunity to double down on that cash. It will likely work.
One more note. Not every disagreement in beliefs is rooted in hate. I don't believe Mr. Robertson hates anyone on the other end of his beliefs, he just has a God awful way of stating them. Which in some cases, results in something that feels sadly similar to hate.
Then there was the view that opposed the A&E decision. That they had no right to fire Mr. Dynasty for speaking his mind; proclaiming his faith. I've got to be honest, many of the people I saw attacking A&E were some of the same people who just last week were calling it ridiculous that a company would be forced to pay a McDonald's fry cook $15 an hour. So suddenly we don't want to tell businesses how much they have to pay someone, but we do want to tell them who they have to keep on their payrolls, no matter what they say or do.
The reality is, the argument from the opposition had little to do with a freedom to expression, in my opinion. No, it has more to do with this ongoing redefining of Christianity. The definition that starts and ends with a Christian's stance on homosexuality. I frankly have no idea where that came from, or more importantly, where it is going.
I am an unashamed follower of Jesus Christ. I've read the bible. I've discovered the definition of sins and sinners enough to know that I am one. That's why I'm forever grateful that I've had Christians in my life whose idea of "sharing the good news" had nothing to do with what they believed, but rather an excitement for sharing the many blessings God had poured into their lives, and a revelation that there was a path to having my sins forgiven and eternal life. The pointed me toward a star that led to a manger.
Some days I fear Christians have decided that the world is better off hearing what we think and believe, along with a healthy does of insistence everyone else follow suit, instead of being on the receiving end of what we can do through God's love.
In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about the final judgment with these words:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me,I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
My Christmas wish this year is that some of the passion that Christians have exerted this past year in defense of marriage will be redirected toward the more than 3 billion people in this world who are living on less than $2.50 a day, all of whom have no idea where they are going to get their next helping of food and drink, or where they will find clothing or a visitor.
I wonder, what if on that final judgement day we don't get asked one question about the same sex married couple that lives next door to us that we've spent decades trying to un-marry, but instead, we're asked about the neighbor across the street, now standing next to us at the throne of God, naked and cold and deathly thin. What if we're asked why we didn't pour every ounce of our God-given energy into caring for the least of these, instead of trying to define things we boldly and freely admit - God has already defined?