Christmas Radio, Phil Robertson and Christian Rights

Posted: December 19, 2013 
Filed under: Deep Thoughts with Pastor Jeff, Jeff, Leadership, Pastor Jeff, Spiritual
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HumililtyWEBI don’t listen to much “Christian radio” during the month of December. It’s because their programming isn’t intended for me. The local stations that market themselves as “Christian” typically provide programming aimed at an audience of Christians. This includes preaching programs, biblically-oriented talk shows, and worship music. These are things I like and tune in to hear.

Then in December they switch to Christmas music. This would seem positive since I want to hear Christmas music between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The problem is that they switch their focus to non-Christian folks they want to listen to their Christian station. My first career (and degree) was in broadcasting. I get the purpose. The intention is to get those folks to listen over Christmas then stick around when Christmas music is over. (This was probably a good strategy 15-25 years ago when there weren’t 10 stations in the market switching to all Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving.) So, they play every old secular Christmas song they can find.

I’m not anti-Santa or anti-Rudolf. I love all those old classics. However, I also want to hear familiar Christmas carols – the kind you sing in church. In what I’m assuming is a move to be welcoming to the non-Christian listeners, the Christian stations have not been playing any of those Christ-themed carols. Therein lies my problem. Since the “Christian” stations have abandoned their usual audience, I’m forced to flip to the “secular” stations playing Christmas music. Those stations happen to be playing “Joy to the World” and “O Holy Night.”

It’s not unsimilar to the dust up with Phil Robertson and A&E cable channel executives. The original Duck Commander, and father to the Duck Dynasty redneck clan, made some comments about homosexuality being sin. A&E has responded by suspending him from production of Duck Dynasty. This is a man who preaches and even has a book out about his faith. He prays at the end of most every episode of the Duck Dynasty TV show. On the show he has mocked the culture of “Holly-weird” many times. Why do people pretend they have no idea what they’re getting from a clearly labeled package?

I think it has to do with our inability to really understand tolerance. We mistake politeness for agreement. If you aren’t in my face arguing with my opinion, you must endorse my point of view. We’ve gotten so used to vindictive arguments that we’ve forgotten we can exist in a world with people with whom we disagree. We expect everyone to believe what we believe. If they don’t, they’re intolerant bigots who are closed-minded and should be silenced.

Sadly, this mindset will destroy relationships, marriages, friendships, working partnerships, and communities. Humility is necessary for any two people to get along or work together. Healthy people recognize they’re surely wrong on a viewpoint or two and willing to listen to the opinions of others. Dialogue is what helps relationships grow. You may convince me to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store…or you may not. It doesn’t mean we have to stop being friends if I choose to continue using plastic grocery bags. I know your opinion on saving the planet and I respect it. You don’t need to rehash the subject every time we’re in line at the grocery store. Maybe you’ll convince me one day to carry canvas bags in my car wherever I go…or maybe you won’t. We can still be friends; or at least friendly.

Don’t be offended if I invite you to church sometime. I’m a pastor. It’s what we do. I believe Jesus was born to a young woman who was a virgin. I also believe Jesus died to let you experience forgiveness for your sins. I read from the bible and preach. We collect an offering. I don’t apologize for what we do and believe; but I also recognize it’s up to you to decide what you believe. Since I sincerely believe what I believe, I might be sad if you don’t agree with me, but I won’t chase you out the door while screaming about your unbelief. We can still be friends, go to lunch, and even care about one another.

The tradeoff is that you won’t show up and feel deceived that I invited you to a church service. (“What? How did I get in here?”) Likewise, I don’t walk into a synagogue, mosque, or even a church different from my own and stand up to scream about how I disagree with what they believe. My respectful demeanor doesn’t mean I agree with you, just that I value you. I don’t expect your synagogue to convert to a Christian service because I’m present.

Part of maturity is deciding who you are and learning to be comfortable with it. If you have to pretend to be someone or something you’re not to be in a relationship with someone, you probably are in an unhealthy relationship. Be who you are. Live what you believe. Be comfortable with it. Respect those who are different. Don’t be fake to try and attract others. Don’t go into shock when someone else behaves exactly like they say they’re going to behave.

 A&E can choose who and what they want on their network. However, righteous indignation toward a Christian who talks about sin is hypocritical when you’re the network who has provided the platform for his fame. Would they be shocked to discover some of the addicts featured on their show Intervention are still using drugs? Besides, attacking your biggest show star or changing your song format does more damage to you by alienating your biggest support – your loyal audience. There are plenty of churches and pastors who have watered down their message and could tell you about those negative declines.

People on all ends of the spectrum should stop trying to bait-and-switch viewers, listeners, and friends. Be real and don’t compromise what you believe.

P.S.  You’re invited to church with me any time. Be warned – what you see is what you get with me.

The Unexamined Life

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