Last week, Steve Deace, Executive Producer and author behind the movie Nefarious, the question about pride flags on the set of The Chosen, in which he gave a strong rebuke of the atmosphere which would allow such on the set of a Christian production.
On June 12th, the Robertson clan commented on the controversy. The Robertson’s are most famous for their reality TV show, Duck Dynasty, which was an early casualty in widespread cancel culture due to comments regarding homosexuality and the reality that black people were happier in the 1960’s during an era of Jim Crow than they are today.
Citing their experience in reality TV, they ultimately would weaponize Scripture to defend Dallas Jenkins and The Chosen for having pride flags on its set. They did this on an Overtime segment of their podcast Unashamed, which included Phil, Jase, and Al Robertson. This aired behind the paywall.
They begin their segment with citations in Luke 5:17-26, where Jesus healed the paralytic and said, “Your sins are forgiven,” to the disbelief and scrutiny of the Pharisees. They would describe how the Pharisees were arrogant and disbelieving they were sinners, unlike the paralytic whom Jesus healed, which is perhaps a misrepresentation of the text as the Pharisees were questioning the forgiveness of sins, not the miracle itself. They then shift towards Luke 15:1-2, which states, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” The Robertsons would go on to claim that the presence of these people led the religious elites to deny Him as the Son of God.
Abuse of this verse often neglects the transformation that the “sinners and tax collectors” experienced through Jesus. They were not placated nor affirmed but transformed. This is evident throughout the Gospels: Matthew did not stay a tax collector, the sinful woman anointed Jesus was saved from her sins (Luke 7:48), and Zacchaeus repaid those whom he defrauded (Luke 19). These people did not continue to be prostitutes and swindlers but were transformed. It is this dichotomy which verifies Christ’s ministry.
Jase Robertson would say that there are two narratives that are thematic in Luke’s gospel: those who are religious and those who are “all-in on Jesus.” Jase would go on to mention the outrage over the pride flag on the set of The Chosen being the manifestation of this tension. He would mischaracterize a picture of the pride flag, omitting the fact that it was from official behind the scenes coverage that they reviewed and published, not some paparazzi snapshot taken from a spy camera.
The Robertson’s collectively would conflate the issue of a publicly displayed sodomy symbol with the impossibility with conducting business without engaging nonbelievers. They would cite their shows, where they did not know what their crew members believed along with a movie project they are currently working on. They would emphasize the infeasibility of regulating the beliefs of individuals and the opportunities that the relationships with the cast and crews can have towards evangelism, giving them a “front row seat” to the gospel.
The issue is not one of internal conscience, but external expression. The expression of a pride flag denotes a lack of reverence towards the subject matter of the set. An earthly equivalent would be the transvestite bearing his fake boobs on the White House lawn, where ideally one should be on their best behavior. Should not an “authentic portrayal of Jesus” receive similar reverence from its cast and crews? Should they not be transformed from working on the production? The fact that he was allowed to display his sodomy flag without rebuke is a sign of spiritual rot on the set. God’s word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11), but it requires His word to be presented. By self-admission, there was no corporate prayer on set.
The Robertson’s are ultimately responding to a strawman argument that no one was making, and certainly not the complaints of viewers of the show who were upset by the display. Moreover, they are equating the believers who called out The Chosen for its tolerance of sin to nonbelieving Pharisees, which is a classic Big Eva gaslighting tactic. The Pharisees were the elites, not the laity in the pews, not the blogosphere, not the comment sections.
The Robertson’s might have established this tone in their past productions, and they deserve the benefit of the doubt that they did. It would be inconceivable that they would have tolerated someone brandishing their pride while filming inside their home, their business, and during their family functions. But they are excusing the behavior of Dallas Jenkins out of personal affinity, not biblical truth.
While the Robertson’s are folksy and nonacademic in their approach, the sad tragedy is that the Robertson family has become Big Eva Rednecks. They participated in the God’s Not Dead movie, which is very much a Big Eva advertisement. They defend the “preaching” of their daughter Sadie Robertson, who is being groomed by wolves and making a career off the family name. Now, they are defending The Chosen with the same tactics employed by Big Eva against their detractors. Rather than take the difficult task of condemning the conduct of someone who they consider a friend, they instead rally their banners to his defense.