Let me be the first to say it:
Look, I don’t watch Duck Dynasty. Nothing about it really shouts “Evan!” to me. But it is a very popular show. I’m not for stopping the show. Here’s what I am for stopping:
Stop the self-righteousness. I’ve read numerous responses to this controversy. And, when conservative Christians get upset, it’s easy to throw at them lines like, “They care more about Duck Dynasty than the millions of people who die from hunger every day!” (Implicitly saying, “Not like I do, of course.”). If you asked those conservative Christians (which you may consider me to be), do you care about world hunger more than this? Most would say, yes. Hunger is a continual problem to them. This is a trendy problem. It might be mixed up, but self-righteousness doesn’t help. It hurts.
Stop the “free speech” rhetoric. The “Chick-fil-a controversy” sparked this thought in me, but, if we are honest, this isn’t about free speech. It’s about the conservative Christian belief on homosexuality contrasted with the liberal (Christian or not) belief on the same subject. Let’s stop hiding behind defending free speech. We aren’t. Phil Robertson has the first amendment, but A&E does too. If Phil Robertson had a conversation with President Obama about the same thing, and Obama banned Phil from Washington, D.C.; then, yes, that would be a problem. A&E suspending an employee is not a problem. If I said some of the same things publicly (even at the conservative Christian university I work at), I would be suspended too. It lacked tact and sensitivity. It might be mixed up, but “free speech” rhetoric doesn’t help. It hurts.
Stop masking your feelings. It’s just a guess but…Conservatives (which some deem me to be) seem to respond the way they do because they feel their chances at winning a culture war slipping away. No one likes to lose. Plus, they can’t make arguments from the Bible or they are seen as uneducated. They can’t make arguments from the Constitution or they are seen as bigots. It’s a lose-lose. Liberals (which some deem me to be) seem to respond the way they do because Phil Robertson is part of (in their minds) the last citadel standing before the culture war will be won and we can move into an utopian age of secularism. Secularism still struggles with how to respond well to religion. Deep down inside, they wish it was gone, but, unfortunately (for them), it won’t go away and keeps popping up.
Which leads to say, both groups are responding out of feelings of anxiety. We are a chronically anxious society. What happens if the conservatives get their way? What happens if the liberals get their way? We don’t want that! So we respond out of anxiety because we fear what could be coming. If we are vulnerable about our fear, we might find good ground for conversation. Instead, as we respond out of anxiety, we attack, berate each other, and say insensitive things to each other and about others.
And this would be a good reminder to all of us, Jesus calls us to not be afraid for he is with us. But he doesn’t just call us to “not be afraid” of opposition or if the other party gets its way. He calls us to not be afraid of the anxiety that lives within us and be free from it. True freedom, true righteousness comes through surrendering our fear and anxiety to the One who invites us to cast all our cares upon him, and he will give us rest for our souls.