What is Sin? A Confessional Answer that Might Have Helped Duck Dynasty

Season 2 PreviewFor Lord’s Day, December 21, 2013

Dear Saints,

As most of you are likely well aware by now, Phil Robertson — the patriarch of A&E’s Cable program “Duck Dynasty”, has been suspended from the program indefinitely because of his “coarse” remarks against homosexuality. It is the latest talk show controversy fodder.

I have never seen the program. I don’t even own a television, although I could catch an episode on our computer; I likely won’t, as reality shows in general don’t appeal to me for lacking of reality and smacking of vanity (and, while I wouldn’t mind endorsing long, manly beards, I have never been much into hunting — not that there’s anything wrong with it!).

It has been truly amazing to read Mr. Robertson’s quotes in the GQ article that recently have caused all the fuss against him. To begin with, after my first (and likely last) reading of a GQ article to see for myself what he actually said, it seems to me unwise for a Christian to be interviewed for such a magazine.  The article was full of filthy, coarse language by the author (Let me say I thought the article was otherwise well-written, insightful, and respectful of its subject).  However, I did not see coarse language or speaking from Robertson that justifies not only the accusations of such by the LGBT activists, but also by “conservative” talk show hosts (and seemingly conceded by their Christian interviewees).

Having read the article myself, I’m dubious of proper journalism on all sides due to constant peer pressure.  Did they actually read the quotes? They don’t quote him when saying he was crass, nor even allude to what was so alarming specifically other than to criticize him in general for expressing that homosexuality (among other things he said but they omit or gloss over) is wrong (See Megyn Kelly’s cautious critique here, or O’Reilly’s typical butchering of Scripture in his obnoxious opine here).

No doubt, in the introductory part of the GQ piece, Phillips was a bit explicit in doubting how men could prefer masculine over female anatomy for enjoyment. But in the magazine’s culture and author’s language, Robertson surely remains prudish by comparison (note, I do not link to the article because of Mr. Robertson’s language, but because of his interviewer’s crudeness).  Perhaps this one introductory section is what is being pointed to as course by even sympathetic conservative talk show hosts; if so, I suggest such complaints only show our collective self-repressed shame coming out of the closet when the act is spoken of for what it is.  I suspect, however, their irk over the ink was the more direct judgement (which is not the same as condemnation) on homosexuality by the following section of the article:

The interviewer asked, “What, in your mind, is sinful?” Robertson answered:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “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.”

Yes, Mr. Robertson “morphs” from homosexuality as a more major identification with sin, but is this so entirely different from God’s assessment of degrading societies in Romans, chapters 1 and 2?  Other than what may be a terrible result more than a chief cause, I think not.

First, I want to point out how being well trained by our Westminster Shorter Catechism might have helped Mr. Robertson, or, at least, how it should help us in less staged situations designed for failure of the less-than-wise.  The interviewer asks, “What … is sinful [behavior]?” Mr. Robertson might have said, “Well, sin is more than behavior, it also is what we think and speak” (See WSC 82).  He might also have said, “Man, since the fall, is inherently sinful” (WSC 13, 16, 82).  Perhaps this would have been a better starting point that may have lead to the question, “OK, what is sin then?” It occurred to me that our Shorter Catechism for tomorrow evening’s teaching time along with its memory verse is an essential place to go when answering such obvious set-up questions. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, question 14, asks: “What is sin?”  The answer, which I encourage you to memorize, is: “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”  That would have been a good place to leave it for such an interview, ay?  Not that Mr. Roberston’s answer was wrong, but it could have been more broad in a definition for starters to see where it went specifically in descriptions.  Leave a man or woman to answer specifically before God Himself.

The first part of the catechism’s answer is the omission of God’s Law (morality as revealed in His Word) and is explicitly stated in James 4:17. The latter section is our memory verse for tomorrow evening: “Whosoever commith sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4).  Inherent and implied here are that the law is God’s Word and that sin is thus against Him.  No one in all these discussions seems remotely concerned about sinning against and thus offending God, but they ought to be. And, they will be.  And deep down, they all know it — thus the angst.

Second, and related to the above, notice in this quote that Mr. Robertson’s answer is a pretty close summary of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.  It should be no surprise that all anyone seems to have heard or insists on making the quote about is homosexuality.  Although also mentioned, no one is crying foul over the judgement of bestiality.  Although also judged, no one is bemoaning the right to adultery, idolatry, or greediness being challenged.  Although also touched on, no representative from Alcoholics Anonymous has been invited to do rounds crying in his beer with the talking heads.  Neither is anyone standing up on behalf of those who steal, although I think they may want to review the issue of slandering for their own good in terms of how they are representing Mr. Robertson incorrectly from the article (not only in what he did not say or how he did not say it, but also ignoring what he did say about his heart for helping others to be rescued by God, and his efforts to be part of that with such a person as most would likely be quick to judge and condemn).

What is obvious in all of this are, 1) The homosexual activists are on a mission against Christianity and to control America; 2) Even by those who otherwise try to look like they at least lean toward conservative morality while keeping one foot on each side of the fence, there is a constantly expressed or obviously repressed anger against God and His right to define morality in nature, thinking, and practice.  See the outrageous but true heart of the matter in the closing comments of one of O’Reilly’s guests in this segment. And notice also in the article quote above, the question was not, “What IS sinful?”, but, “What IN YOUR MIND is sinful?”

Beloved, the question, if our nation is ever to turn around, needs to reform in purity to, “What in GOD’S MIND is sinful?”

This understanding is understood in WSC 14, “What is sin?” And it was understood by the Pilgrims, who, as we were shown this week in the second installment of Kirk Cameron’s video, Monumental, pointed to the founding of freedom to be upon God’s Word and our obedience to it. Presently, our nation demands liberty to sin, which will more and more prove to actually be our slavery to Satan and our undoing of “we the people”.

A few Scriptures come to mind for us to pray through over our nation:

  • For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (2 Tim. 4:3)
  • The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)
  • By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. (Proverb 16:6)

Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to review the first question of the Shorter Catechism: What is the chief end of man?  Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.  Is it not apparent in all of this most recent episode of our reality that mankind has this most foundational truth of our existence entirely upside down?  Beloved, may we not abandon God’s Word (and all of it), trusting that in His providence the world may yet be turned upside down again in our generation by the faithful preaching and living of it on behalf of the next generation (Acts 17:6; Psalm 78:1-8).

Semper Reformada,

Pastor Grant