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Friday, December 20, 2013

Just call me a "Duck Private!"

My very first blog was about ducks… wild ducks trying to make it in the modern world, with all of our culture and even Federal Laws ironically written to prevent their preservation. The odds were stacked against their species and lifestyle. Now that story has taken on a very symbolic meaning to me. Here is a LINK to that heartwarming story: http://russellcushman.blogspot.com/2009/07/part-of-plan.html Most people are unaware that the duck or goose was the spirit animal for the Scythians, our pagan, nomadic, Caucasian ancestors of central Asia some three thousand years ago… They were a people who left their mark on the Indus Valley, Persia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Europe and eventually the Americas, but rarely found a home. And although they were the vanguard of many major migrations, it looks like they are still looking for a place to roost…

That brings us to “Duck Dynasty.”  Phil Robertson, a popular “reality television” personality, was asked to define sin by a magazine columnist. He was obviously being baited. But Robertson had the courage to answer the question, regardless of the consequences. Sometimes fools rush in where angels dare not tread. Now all of America is caught up in the controversy, after he was kicked off of his own TV show for being honest about his convictions. I wonder if the question, when asked, was intended to have these outrageous consequences. I wonder if Phil Robertson knew full well what storm he had set into motion, when he chose his words. But more importantly, I wonder if America is ready to stand and be counted with him, our new cultural general, regardless of the motives or the way this firestorm has started. It is a question every Christian must ask himself.
The Duck Dynasty Army is on the march...

All day after the news broke about his comments and their repercussions, I heard reasonable people question Robertson’s intelligence, qualifications and credibility. “He should have known better.”  “The network should have vetted him more thoroughly.” “He was out of touch with society.” “He was a fool to have taken on such a sensitive subject.” He probably had to go. After a day of listening, it became obvious that Americans now think that anybody who has religious beliefs based on Biblical principles and admits to them is a moron. Especially if they share their views with a Media outlet.

Network pundits have called Phil Robertson intolerant, hateful, bigoted and worse. Even though he tried to frame his definition of sin in a quiet, thoughtful way, Robertson learned what the prophets of old could have told him; there is no way to deliver that information which will ever be well received. Show me a prophet and I will show you a man rejected and vilified. Moses, Amos, Hosea, Malachi… John the Baptist, you name them, and certainly Jesus met tremendous opposition and threats and sometimes persecution and even brutality. People have always hated being told that they are bad. And if there was ever a predictable outcome of shooting the messenger, this is it.

It is sad that the most vigorous discussion in years about acceptable American values and speech would have been prompted by a question to an eccentric, bearded, duck-call maker in a very secular magazine. This may be the wake-up call to main-line Christianity that it has not only become irrelevant but is not even part of the discussion. In fact I am sure after some television interviews I have seen of today’s Christian leaders, if they had been posed the same question, they would have parsed their words cleverly and made themselves perfectly acceptable; Politically Correct, as all of us have learned to be.

Go look at the YouTube expose’s on Joel Osteen or Billy Graham, who have been actually accused of denying Christ and avoiding concepts like sin, judgment and hell in order to maintain their Media popularity. Today’s Christian spokesman has learned to avoid the tough issues about man’s sin nature and the uniqueness of Christ and the one true Salvation through Him. American Christianity has become lukewarm, and will not be any hotter than its prophets. Prophets are teachers, and today’s prophets have taught Christians to be polite and diplomatic and stress grace and love and tolerance. Those are all good things, but in the process some of our religious leaders have become Media darlings. And that is their failure.

The price for that popularity is the secular world has come to believe that Bible- believing Christians are not even in sync with their own Faith. An apparent moron like Robertson appears like a throwback to redneckdom compared to the gentle smiles and assurances of slick TV evangelists. As the majority of Christendom has trained itself to veil its foundations with doublespeak, country boys who tell it like it is were bound to rise to the top of the public discourse. People today like to cut to the chase. This partly explains the popularity of the Cowboy Churches, largely pastored by unschooled preachers who have not yet learned what not to say.

God through Creation has formed a beautiful, efficient plan for procreation. Co-operation between Male and female makes families which preserve the species, with no artificial elements necessary. Still, it is a fragile and uncompromising plan. Homosexual rights are not part of the plan.

Ask a cowboy his definition of sin. He will probably say something like, “You know, drinkin’ an gettin’ drunk, and messin’ around… hating certain races or whatever because of the color of their skin, stealing cross ties from the railroad… you know, stuff you know is wrong.” Everybody has their own definition, and this is as good as any. But in fact there are hundreds of things that God finds unacceptable according to the Bible. The cowboy just names the things that he is dealing with in his own heart. Homosexuality, another transgression listed in the Bible as a sin, for the most part, is not a problem for him. But it has become a problem for Phil Robertson. Because he believes what the Bible teaches, and says so.

One of the sins which inspired the GREAT FLOOD of Noah’s time, and since has fallen out of favor in Judeo –Christian circles, homosexuality has become a big deal in recent years. In times past it was considered to be a temptation to only around ten percent of the population. I remember a Christian friend, a homosexual, telling me thirty years ago that my culture was dying and his was growing and would eventually prevail. He was one of those “gays” that chose men after a lifetime of bi-sexuality. He never understood females. Sex was so awkward with them. It was so intense and costly. And then there was the inconvenience of birth control, the risk of pregnancy, the expectations of marriage.  And other men understood what he desired and made better lovers. The gay lifestyle was the way of the future… quick, practical, and inexpensive. His argument almost made sense in a purely scientific way, until the AIDS epidemic broke out.  It was only much later, a fact that has been largely ignored, when sociologists admitted the considerably short life expectancy of the average gay man.

My friend foresaw that a minority of gay couples who desired monogamous relationships, would one day hire women to bear them children to raise in gay homes. Gay sex, marriage, even divorces would be as common and natural as heterosexual relationships had been. According to all social trends, he was right on every count.

And yet, my friend completely understood that he was living in an ungodly lifestyle, and that his sexual preference was expressly forbidden. He had been raised in a Bible-believing home, and knew the Scriptures better than me, as I had been raised as an Episcopalian. The bottom line was that he had chosen this lifestyle, and could not ever be satisfied with a woman after years of homosexual escapades and even some true loving-caring relationships with men. He told me that I would have to experience the difference myself to appreciate his point of view.

All I could do was shrug and pray that he was wrong. But here I am all these years later remembering his predictions. But what he never predicted was that the Christian world would just roll over without a whimper. Not since the times of Noah has such a large percentage chosen to flagrantly challenge several millennia of sexual boundaries, with the approval and encouragement of society and its leaders. The reasons are everywhere, as the television industry produces racier and racier programs, gay individuals are always available for gay perspectives on talk shows and news discussions, and the Internet is infested with homosexual and bisexual sex pornography. Meanwhile the Church, God’s voice on earth, has been largely ignorant of it all, or silent for fear of political correctness. Except it seems, for Phil Robertson.

We can trace this phenomenon back to the war executed against Anita Bryant, former Miss America and orange juice spokesperson, who spoke naively and fearlessly about her beliefs. The homosexual community found its power over our culture in that controversy, and learned how to bully the majority of Americans via television advertising boycotts. Although they were a fairly minor force, with the Media’s support they destroyed her and have been quite proactive since, until most of the people in public life have learned to take a fall and just play dead. Now gays and their defenders are outraged that Robertson ganged homosexuality with other sins, like bestiality or adultery.  They act offended as if their very identities were being equated with truly horrible acts.

In other words, the homosexual community wants to be the new arbiter of what is right or wrong, so as to place themselves on Santa’s good list. How convenient for them. Why didn’t WE think of that? But they missed his point. In Robertson’s short list he also alluded to the biggest sin that threatens our families today… heterosexual immorality. Sin is all the same to God.

Welcome to God’s measure of perfection. No matter what your brand is, you have your own fatal flaw. In the final analysis, sin is sin. Homosexuals take their fate so personally, as if they are being picked on. But this is not true. Christians believe they themselves are sinners, even the Apostle Paul wrote that he was a “chief of sinners”…  that “My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak.” Whether you are a glutton, a liar, or a cheater or a hater or a sex maniac, God tells you that you have to check it in at the door.  Or He has no place for you. There will be no hierarchy in hell, it is just the place created for all souls who reject God to spend Eternity, without God… or his dumb rules.
Only man could dare challenge the perfection of God's plan for pairing, sex, reproduction and family, and community, and wish for something less.

Christians did not write this stuff… they just believe it. It was the Jews who first embraced these laws four thousand years ago. They believed these absolutes were handed down straight from God to Moses. The Ten Commandments were just the beginning of a complex code for a godly lifestyle that forbade many things. In fact, anything that was considered “unclean.” Sex was not for casual thrills, and was strictly restricted to married hetero-sexual couples.

Fornication, adultery, working on the Sabbath, mixing of different kinds of livestock or foods, marrying outside of the tribe, drunkenness, were all forbidden, and gossip and divorce were severely frowned upon. This list sounds more like a description of our modern culture rather than its taboos. We live in a permissive culture today where wrong-doing has become the norm, and righteousness, or even the discussion of it, looks and sounds offensive. Robertson has been called judgmental. I heard a very popular, self-righteous talk show host cite the Scripture, about “Judge not lest you be judged.” But Phil Robertson did not create this paradigm, he is not the judge or even on the jury. He is just a small voice in the wilderness reminding everyone that God has forbidden sin, and He has a plan to punish sinners.

It is no mystery what God has allowed and what He has not. And Robertson, after a full life, scarred by sin, is the first to admit his own battles with sin and warn his culture of what he believes is coming for a stiff-necked generation. He has chosen the fairly simple and expedient solution to man’s sin problem which is offered to everyone. Phil Robertson accepted Jesus Christ. He did not write the script, he had nothing to do with a Judeo-Christian system that most of us ascribe to. He is just braver than most preachers and Bible teachers I have heard in recent years.

 So I would say to homosexuals, bisexuals, lesbians, whatever, take heart. There is a God and he has provided a way for you… if you want it. If not, his people are prepared to tolerate and love you regardless of your choices or beliefs. Call them worry-warts. Mythologists. But Christians are benign and should not be expected to deny their God or their beliefs, established by the Creator of the Universe, to satisfy anyone, or any Media, or any government.

For the righteous Israelite in ancient times, clothing or bedding that had become sour or moldy had to be burned, boys had to be circumcised, pork was never to be eaten, not even touched, the firstborn of every herd had to be killed and burned as a sacrifice. Our Holy God, from His position of perfection, wanted men and women to know that they had bad tendencies, and that they had to make amends to be reconciled... Christians call this Atonement. They each had to be redeemed, for a price.  AND, among many other forbidden behaviors, men could not lay down with men, nor women with women.

The point is that homosexuality was just one of many peculiar things God demanded or God found objectionable. Part of our Faith is trusting God to do the thinking in these cases where we do not understand.  As a buddy of mine once said, “Mankind trying to fathom God’s wisdom is like an ant trying to understand the Internet.” We Christians trust that He has worked it all out. IF God is for real, then He must know what is best for His children.

When we deny the absolute perfection of God's plan, we cheat ourselves out of His best for us. We cannot be angry, regardless of our reasons, if we have chosen to forsake the flock.

In God’s measure of perfection, any tiny infraction is enough sin to prevent your citizenship in Heaven. But God wanted to fellowship with us. The point of the whole Old Testament was: It is impossible for men or women to have fellowship with God without redemption;  His provision for some kind of penalty that we can pay.  In olden times that was the sheep on the altar of the Israelites. Poor people were even allowed to sacrifice something less expensive... a dove or a goat. But Jesus made it clear, that the Law was not going to keep anybody out of the Kingdom of God unless they chose that… “I did not come into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” Jesus and his Holy Father planned to offer himself once and for all to pay the price of reconciliation with God. Unlike the indignant apostates of today, Christians celebrate their Salvation through God’s Mercy, rather than boil in the tedium over God’s view of our sinfulness. You can’t argue with God.  Wouldn’t be prudent.  But many homosexuals do.

And we live in a Country where they can. That is our strength, but it might also be our weakness, unless we hold our ground on morality.  Christians are called to be the SALT OF THE EARTH. That means our Faith preserves the Hope for Mankind.

Outside of God’s Grace and the Blood of Christ, Christians believe that WE ALL, everyone, would fall short of the Kingdom. But at the very worst, homosexual activity is no more unnatural or evil or unacceptable to God than improper heterosexual lust, or adultery or fornication. Pardon the pun, but we are all screwed in one way or another.  If you are an alcoholic, you have to fight it. Drunkenness is a sin. If you are like me, and love everything about women, you have to fight it, because according to the Bible, sexual lust, and sexual activity outside of marriage, is a sin. If you are a homosexual, God forbids you to act on your impulses. But Christians gratefully believe that through Christ we who have accepted Him have all been covered…

Heaven will be like a bucket of harmonious baby ducks, warm and protected, in the care of their loving father.

Hell, or "Gehenna" as Jesus called it, literally the garbage burn pile, will be full of souls who rejected THE way to be reconciled to a Holy God.  Every person has a choice. No hard feelings. That’s what Christians believe.

Declaring this frightful impasse is not hate speech. It is a major religion. It is the man standing at the edge of the Eternal cliff warning those who jump without a parachute that the fall will kill them. That is love, not hate. For Phil Robertson and other Christians, Jesus Christ is his parachute. It would not be love to keep that to yourself. It would not be love to not offer that parachute to everybody interested. But our society today, so insolent and agnostic, spurns the very parachute that has built and preserved this wonderful country.  Still, Christians do not hate, but are hated. In fact they are reviled and censored for daring to speak of their beliefs, while the worst kinds of ills erode our society, with all technological fanfare.

Regardless of our personal choices, homosexuals and bisexuals must be as tolerant as they expect everyone else to be. Our Lord and Savior expressly taught us “to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” Christians have shown by their relative silence during the greatest emergence of homosexual flowering in eons that they are damned tolerant. So don’t piss us off, and leave our “generals” alone.

Still, a Christian cannot hate or persecute an atheist, or a Jew, or a homosexual, or anybody for any reason. In fact, a Christian believes that Jesus died a horrible death on the cross for himself AND every homosexual or Jew or drunkard or idolater or whatever. A Christian is instructed by Christ to love those whom he perceives as his enemies. And today that would certainly be the Media, homosexuals, and Muslim terrorists.  Still, surrounded by very vocal enemies, we are not called to condemn or hate but to love and serve. We have to be careful that we never appear otherwise. We have to believe God’s word, live it as best we can, offer the parachute, and never sound like we are the judge. We can and should admit there is a judge, and there will be judgment. But our job is to invite, not punish.

I choose to accept and embrace the Christian paradigm of the past two thousand years as a worthy lifestyle over the risky, hair-brained scheme of modern homosexuals, who seem a bit bold and narcissistic to me. But what I choose does not matter as much as what America will choose. Because we are at that crossroads. American Christianity stands silently on a slippery slope of relativity, which leads down to a culture of anarchy and hedonism and yes, sin.  And the Bible warns that at some point, God turns us over to our reprobate minds. We are certainly getting closer to that threshold.

[Second day of writing this blog] So this morning when I got up, I put on my camo jacket... my Ducks Unlimited cap. It’s time for the army to march. We have a cultural war to win. We now have a general, for better or for worse, and he deserves our support. It’s time to decide what you believe, what you would stand for, and if you have the courage of your convictions.  I know the gutless will scoff at this call to action. But no less than Mankind quivers in the balance. You can start by buying one of those squirrely caps at the store, as Duck Dynasty is plastered all over, for anybody that is ready to do battle. And suddenly, miraculously, IT STANDS  FOR SOMETHING. It’s not much, but it is a start.


Anonymous said...

If god thought homosexuality was sinful, why do hundreds of different animal species exhibit homosexual behavior?

Your story is as fictitious as that duck your holding.

Russell Cushman said...

Dear "Anonymous": Thanks for your response. That is what a blog is about, but few contribute to the dialogue. And I value the opportunity to respond...

A) All animals display varieties of "homosexual" behavior. It is as natural as any body function. Animals also are known to enjoy many sexual mates, fight to the death, routinely kill sexual competitors and eat their young. The rules God gave for man are higher than for animals, designed for his health and spiritual well-being, so that unlike animals, man can enjoy real intellectual fellowship with a Holy God.

B)The "story" is fiction if you want to call it that, based on Godly wisdom. It is me trying to reason with folks who choose to lower themselves and remove themselves from God's perfect plan for them. But hey, I care enough to make that attempt. I choose to believe the Bible. If I am wrong, I have nothing to lose. If you are wrong... May God have mercy on your soul. And I really mean that.

Russell Cushman said...

I need to clarify, that the story about the black-bellied tree ducks, and the story about ONE of my dear homosexual/bi friends are both true. I believe the story of Noah and the ark is also true.

The tendency to call everything fictitious (a lie) is what gets the disbeliever on the wrong path in the first place. The quickness to do so is the sign of someone not really interested in seeking the truth, but threatened... without a defense. Gays must find moral solutions from within... they have to "write" their own book to have a religion or moral code, a staggering job after all these millennia, especially when they try to redefine sin.

I am not so ambitious, but have an unfair advantage, drawing from the collected wisdom of thousands of years of individuals seeking the true God. Could they all be wrong, and for so long? Did God wait until now to illuminate modern gays to His perfect plan for sex?

That would not have been the loving God I know, to let us stew in ignorance for most of man's existence... only to suddenly liberate us to a sexual preference that would only lead to extinction.