I do not know much about Duck Dynasty, having only seen one episode. My initial impression was that guys that wealthy should be able to afford a haircut and a straight razor. Other than that they seemed to be good guys from a traditional family who shared a common love for God, fun and killing ducks.
I paid more attention to the Robertson family this week after reading about the “controversy” over remarks made by Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family. I am either to smart or too ignorant to wade into the specifics of the remarks and the response, but believe I have learned a few lessons (5 to be exact) from the story that are valuable to those of faith-
1- Be careful who you talk to. Phil gave an interview to a reporter from GQ, a secular magazine with a decidedly secular world view. Reading the interview it is clear that the author is neither a person of faith nor a person with deeply held traditional values (the article is peppered with profanity.) The writer spent hours with the Robertsons and included only a handful of significant quotes. Giving that much time to a reporter antagonistic to your views is almost certain to result in your quotes being cherry-picked in support of the writer's agenda.
2- Be careful what you say. Think before you speak, and choose words carefully. When it comes to controversial subjects, have a prepared response that has been prayed about, reviewed by others you trust and committed to memory. If you do not have a prepared response, don't give one. There is no shame in saying, "While I have feelings on the issue, I want to be careful in my response. Let's come back to that later." Phil's responses were more inarticulate than incorrect. Caution may have prevented some of the backlash.
3- Address your remarks to the audience. GQ is not a magazine that targets men of faith. It's readers are mostly secular in their worldview. Many aspects of the Christian faith that are commonly understood by believers are completely foreign to those with an unchurched background. Many of those reading Phil's words do not even believe in God at all, and many that do may still consider the Bible to no more than a fable or a fairy tale. Words such as sin, salvation, and repentance may as well be in a foreign language. We need to address the audience at their level of understanding. A perfect example of this is the Apostle Paul's address to Greek Philosophers in Acts 17. Read the passage and you will note that this great evangelist never uses the name of Jesus and does not quote a single passage of scripture! He does however make reference to Greek gods, poets and philosophers.
4- Stay focused on the message. As Paul declared in his Acts 17 sermon, our root problem is that we reject God's ways and choose to live according to our own rules instead. There are consequences to that rebellion, which is why Jesus came. People love to start arguments over hot button issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Resist the temptation to debate moral issues apart from agreement on God's established moral law. When asked what we think about a specific issue or behavior a good response is, "We are all broken and we all have chosen our way over God's in one way or the other. Every one manifests their brokenness differently, but we all share the same root problem." Every sinful behavior is a manifestation of an attitude that declares that our thoughts, feelings and desires are more important than what God has set forth.
5- Remember- you don't have to declare the whole gospel to every person every time. Say as little as needed and as much as can be received. We don't convince or convert anybody. That is God's job. If you go back to Acts 17 you will see the outcome of Paul's remarkable message- "a few believed".
We live in a world that is increasingly hostile to the Christian faith.We need to proceed with caution, heeding the exhortation of Paul in Colossians 4 - "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."