Saturday, December 21, 2013

Phil Robertson: damaging the cause of marriage despite himself UPDATED

You might be surprised to hear this, but until all the brouhaha about cable network A&E and Duck Dynasty, I had no idea who Phil Robertson might be. Indeed, all I knew about Duck Dynasty was from seeing the spin-off merchandise in the novelty aisles at the local Walgreens. Now all of a sudden the bearded patriarch is being held up as a paragon of plain-speaking biblical wisdom.

Except I'm not buying it. In fact, I think that the more Robertson is defended in social media as an upholder of marriage, the more the cause of natural marriage will suffer in the long run. The articles I have read on the matter quote very little of Mr. Robertson, but what is there is incredibly coarse and unreflective. There is little "biblical" to it. As much as Catholics all the way to Pope Francis believe that complementarity is essential to marriage as such, we really can't put an "Amen" to what the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ elder said about it. Yet the more Mr. Robertson's cause is pleaded, the more he becomes established in the culture as the spokesperson and image of all those who stand up for the integrity of natural marriage.

Is this what we are hoping for? A reduction of the spouses themselves to their reproductive organs?  A raw, physical (not personalist) caricature of complementarity, divorced from its essential, life-giving fruitfulness and the very nature of the family built on marriage as the primary cell of society? Heaven forbid!

Somebody, quick! Invite my fellow Louisianan Mr. Robertson to the Theology of the Body program!  As a Church elder, he should really appreciate the rich, nuanced, infinitely complex biblical vision of man and woman that Pope John Paul spent so many years developing. As the now de-facto media spokesperson for natural marriage, he really needs it.

Here's a reflection from Audrey Assad on Phil Robertson and the Theology of the Body; Audrey offers  the same point as I (in a much more elegant and comprehensive way).

For a do-it-yourself overview of the Theology of the Body, take the 6-part Theology of the Body Overview we filmed in May.


Robert M. said...

While his recent controversial comments were coarse, it probably reflected only a small part of his understanding of marriage. I am a regular watcher of the show and the opening episode for the season which just concluded featured a renewal of marriage vows between Phil and his wife Kay. The words exchanged in the vows made me cry as they were so heartfelt, considering all the struggles early in their marriage. I strongly recommend everyone watch it.

Barbara Parisien said...

Scripted sentiments?

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Not sure what you mean, Barbara. Please elaborate!

Robert M. said...

Perhaps scripted, but I would guess not. Here's a 30-minute film from the website "I am Second" which highlights Phil's struggles in early adulthood, as well as those of his youngest son and one of his grandsons. Well worth watching and quite inspirational:

Barbara Parisien said...

Its a television show, albeit a "reality" show. There is also a reality show where people are sent out into the wilderness naked to survive with no provisions. It all seems surreal. I don't wish the Robertson's any ill will, and I believe they are God fearing ppl as they say. Maybe I'm being a Doubting Thomas, but I'm distrustful of media and possible propaganda.

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

He may have played into the hands of the interviewer, given the question behind it seems calculated to yield the magazine a "money quote."