- I wish that GQ reporter had just said, "No." If you haven't read the article, you need to if you're going to discuss the issue. I wish the reporter had decided that he just wasn't going to do it the way he did it. "Sure, I'll go spend a day with Phil and interview him, but no, I'm not going patronize him, I'm not going to bait him into controversial issues, and I'm not going to make a mockery of Southern culture. No sir, I won't do it." There was an obvious snide-ness to the interview that was unnecessary. I'm a proud Southerner. We've got our demons from the past, namely in the treatment of minorities. We've come a long way. I wish a reporter from a national magazine didn't feel the need to cartoon a good man.
- I wish Phil had said, "You know, I've got some ideas about homosexuality, but I'm most interested in introducing people to Jesus." You see, telling people they're wrong has never worked. That's never been our role. In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, The Apostle Paul wrote, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside." All those letters that Paul wrote were to Christians. They were written to churches. They were for, essentially, discipleship. In Acts, when Paul went on his missionary journeys, he was preaching one thing: Grace. Christ crucified for us, risen to give victory over sin and death. Paul's letters were to help those that had received that grace figure out how to live in tune with God's heart. When we start with "how to live," we get it wrong and the world tunes us out. Me telling a homosexual that I think they're sinning isn't going to convict their heart. Jesus is in the conviction business. Christians need to offer people Jesus and TRUST JESUS to change people and convict people. My life was not in line with God's teaching when I came to Christ, but I have learned over the years as I've gotten closer to Jesus that He wants what's best for me. So I've learned to trust him and change. You don't have to be straight to come to Jesus. You don't have to be sober to come to Jesus. You don't have to be holy, non-cussing, church-going, or generous to come to Jesus. You just have to come. Listen, I'm not saying we have to hide what we believe about issues. We need to be honest, yet we need to preach truth in love. I don't think homosexuality is the best God has planned for anyone. I don't think it's in His plan. But I'm not going to convince anyone of that. I want to invite people into a relationship with Jesus and invite them to study the Bible. God does the changing. And, Phil's a smart guy. I wish he'd known that you can't say things like bestiality, anus and vagina and expect that it's not going to cause a stir. I don't think that's the route Jesus would have taken in the conversation.
- I wish Phil wouldn't have said what he said about African-Americans. I'll bet he was telling the truth, but that doesn't make it generally true for all. That last thing we White Southerners need to do is trivialize the experience of African-Americans in the segregated South. It was ugly. Our ancestors were wrong. We repented, and we've found a better way. Just because one prostitute doesn't think it's that bad doesn't make prostitution okay. Phil could have said, "You know, the African-Americans I knew were happy people that I counted as friends, but I know that what was happening wasn't right, and the experience of most was horrific."
- I wish Phil would have apologized. "You know, I got out there on my four-wheeler and started talking and things kind of came out crude. I have strong Biblical beliefs, but they didn't come out the right way. I apologize for the crude language as I know it hurt some people's feelings. That's not really how I want to represent myself, my family and my faith. I just want to sell duck calls, be a good husband and introduce people to the Jesus that changed my life."
- I wish people understood Free Speech better. Phil's freedom of speech was not violated. Freedom of Speech means you don't get arrested (which happens in other countries). Any of us can say whatever we want, but if we work for someone that writes us a check, they have to right to say, "Well, if you want to have that opinion, we're not sure that you're the kind of person that should work here." My guess is that if Phil had been a little less crude and a little more gentle, even if he'd have espoused the same values, that he'd have been fine. It's not like A & E didn't know what the Robertson family thinks about homosexuality. It's how he said it, and I'm not convinced that his statement about African-Americans wasn't the bigger deal to the network. If you work for someone, you're accountable for how you behave and speak. If you're a public figure (and I'm one, so I take this very seriously), the ante is upped. If you own your own company or you're a politician, you can say what you want, but the customer and the voter have the final say. If you say something stupid, that doesn't mean there aren't consequences. It just means you don't go to jail for it.
- I wish we had a better way to talk about homosexuality. I'm not sure what the answer is. It's a deeply painful subject. The Church has long deemed drunkenness, extramarital affairs, pre-marital sex, greed, lust, selfishness and a host of other things as sin. But this one subject gets so emotional. People on one side feel like it is an issue that is ripping at the fabric of society while others feel like their entire being is being de-valued. We need to find a better way, and I'm not sure the answer. I do know that we need to be known for what we're for rather than what we're against. The Church is FOR people. I think that's a starting point. All people are made in God's image. Let's be people that show them a mirror and let God recreate them into what they can be.
- I wish people had responded unpredictably. Instead of one side saying, "See there, I told you all those Christians are crazy" I wish people had said, "You know, the Christians I know who are opposed to homosexuality don't talk about it like that." Instead of posting scriptures about how Phil was right because homosexuality is an abomination, I wish my brothers and sisters in Christ would said, "We love a lot of people that we don't agree with, and that's the main point I would want anyone to know. Oh, and come to church with me on Sunday...because we love you."
- I wish Christians would begin to see homosexuality as one part of a list of issues related to sexual immorality that includes lust, pre-marital sex, pornography and adultery. This is why we need to point people to Jesus. There's lots of folks in our churches messed up. Most of us have messed up. We need to get people to the cross and let Him sort out the mess and bring healing in the brokenness. It's not saying it's okay. It's making sure we get them to Jesus first. If we are going to reach a broken world, that's the only way.
May God bring us all closer to Jesus this Christmas season.