David Stokes

At the risk of having at least some of what I am about to share misunderstood, I venture a few thoughts on the current Phil Robertson-Duck Dynasty -A&E story.

First, it strikes me that framing it primarily as a freedom of speech issue falls short of what is really happening. The censoring of Phil Robertson is more than an attack on any man’s right to speak his mind—it is a matter of religious discrimination. It is part of a broad-brush attempt by some to delegitimize opinions and values rooted in a traditional view of scripture—the historical-grammatical method of interpreting and applying what the Bible says.

Second, it is important for us to understand the difference between sinful behavior and criminal behavior. For a person to be drunk and then operate a motor vehicle would be a crime. For that same person to be drunk at home would just be bad behavior—not a crime. However, Bible-oriented Christians would certainly mark even solitary intoxication, with no potential for anyone else to get hurt, as sinful.

Many things can be categorized as sins that are not necessarily illegal. Conservative Christians believe premarital and extramarital heterosexual sex is sinful, but it’s not criminal behavior. Serious Christians believe it is a sin to neglect prayer and Bible reading, but would never want those activities to be mandated as the law of the land.

My point is that it is wrong to ask a person his personal religious views and then make the leap to suggest that holding certain views means he wants all sin to be outlawed. Christians may want to see basic moral values held and practiced as a healthy part of our social contract, but I doubt there are many who want to replace the Constitution with the Bible. That’s more of an Islamist-Sharia thing than a Christ-follower thing.

Third, there are numerous New Testament precepts that are related to God’s call for His people to live godly, even holy, lives. These directives are not really designed for the world at large, because they are only possible when the heart has been transformed by God’s love and power. It’s not a double standard, but it is a different one—a higher one. It would be wrong for Christians to try to impose those “insider” standards on the larger culture. And it wouldn’t work.

This is not to say that God’s absolute and righteous law has nothing to do with the world at large. In fact, history bears witness that the Judeo-Christian ethic informs the kind of morality needed for a free society to function.


David Stokes

David R. Stokes is a best-selling author, pastor, columnist, and broadcaster. His latest book is a novel: CAPITOL LIMITED: A Story about John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Based on a true story, it's about a unique moment in 1947, when Kennedy and Nixon shared