Interview: Mike Huckabee on Evangelicals Who Divorce, Beyoncé and Ted Nugent (Part 1)

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(Photo: Ockenphoto.com/Chris Ocken)Gov. Mike Huckabee, cover art for God, Guns Grits and Gravy, 2015.

The decline of marriage is not simply a problem of same-sex marriage, it is also caused by Christians who abandoned the importance of lifetime commitment in marriage, Mike Huckabee wrote in his new book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy. He spoke more about that and answered some criticisms he has received over a passage about Beyoncé in a Monday interview with The Christian Post.

Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas and recently ended his show on Fox News to explore a 2016 presidential run. He wrote the book for those who live in New York, Washington, D.C. and Hollywood, he explained, to help them understand those who live outside those areas, in what he called, "fly-over country," "Bubbaville" or the land of "God, guns, grits and gravy." He also hopes that those who do live in fly-over country and share his views will read it and "feel a sense of affirmation."

In a chapter on same-sex marriage, Huckabee wrote that same-sex marriage is not the primary cause of the decline of marriage; Christians who went along with the divorce culture also deserve part of the blame.

"Christians who themselves abandoned the primacy of lifelong marriage to follow the divorce and remarriage customs of a secular society have as much to answer for as do those who militantly push to redefine marriage," he wrote.

In his CP interview, Huckabee added that Christians denigrate the biblical understanding of marriage when they treat it like a "revolving door."

Much of the reaction to Huckabee's book so far has been about his mention of pop singer Beyoncé in a chapter on obscenity called "The Culture of Crude." He criticized President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for letting their daughters listen to some of Beyoncé's music. The book cites a 2012 interview with Glamour in which Barack Obama said he would not listen to hip-hop and rap music with his daughters because he would be too embarrassed by the lyrics.

"It's no small wonder why the culture has become so crude when fathers and mothers allow and even encourage their children to devour vulgar, misogynistic, and violent material when it's performed by 'cool' people like Jay-Z and Beyoncé," he wrote. "With the First Lady so concerned about making sure her daughters' bellies don't ingest unhealthy food, how can she let their brains ingest obnoxious and toxic mental poison in the form of song lyrics?"

Huckabee was called a hypocrite by some in the media for that passage because he once had rocker Ted Nugent on his show singing "Cat Scratch Fever." Huckabee told CP that the context was important. He would not share that song with a young child and Nugent changed some of the lyrics for the show.

In part two of the interview, Huckabee explains how a metaphor about airport security was misunderstood as a prison rape joke, and shares his thoughts on the media decisions to not show Charlie Hebdo cartoons after the terrorist attack on the satirical newspaper's headquarters. In part three of the interview, he talks about his position on Common Core and his potential 2016 presidential run.

Here is the transcript, edited for clarity and length, of part one of the interview:

CP: You wrote that Christians who accept the divorce culture are just as responsible for the decline of marriage as those who are pushing to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. Why is that?

Huckabee: I didn't say it was the same as, or the same part, I just said it's a little difficult for us to say that it's only same-sex marriage. The devaluing of marriage has also happened because many traditional, Evangelical Christian people have downplayed the significance of traditional, biblical, heterosexual marriage. And in doing so, once marriage becomes anything less than God's ideal, it becomes easier and easier for us to treat it as if it's not that important, that new versions of it are much more acceptable.

CP: How do we recover a culture that elevates conjugal marriage?

Huckabee: Part of the answer is to live a model that is desirable. I think, for example, when people see a wholesome marriage, and they see a marriage that works, and they see the value of that, not only to the couple, but to the children and to the ones around them, it sort of has its own selling point. A marriage that is in disarray, that is dysfunctional, where there's hostility and bitterness, that's not very appealing. So, ultimately, the old adage is very true, the proof is in the pudding, is in the taste. When something is attractive and appealing, people will gravitate toward it. And when something is unappealing, and unattractive, they'll be repulsed from it.

CP: And just to clarify your earlier point, you're saying Christians do deserve some responsibility because so many of us have accepted divorce and bought into the divorce culture as well?

Huckabee: Right. The point I was trying to make was, if heterosexual Christians think marriage is like a revolving door, you can go in and out, that the commitment isn't that significant, that denigrates the biblical picture of marriage. And once we have devalued it, it becomes easier and easier to say that, well any other form of it should also be OK. Again, I'm not saying that that's the cause, because it isn't, but it just contributes to the overall devaluing and denigrating of marriage.

CP: You have a chapter called, "The Culture of Crude," in which you decry the obscenity and explicit sexuality that has become common in our culture.

Huckabee: There's a new level of vulgarity that exists in our culture today that a bit disserving and an objectification of women that, I would like to think, is repulsive to, not only people of faith, but to anybody that feels like no other human being should be treated as a plaything or a toy or an object.

Interestingly, one of the few areas where you might be able to see conservative Evangelical Christians and liberal feminists agree is that women should not be treated as objects. And yet within the pop culture, there are a lot of women who allow themselves to be objectified. I just think that's unfortunate.

One of the comments I made in the book that occupies a page, not quite a full page, is the discussion about Beyoncé and, particularly, the Obama's relationship to her and how the president made a comment in a Glamour magazine interview that, there are lyrics of Beyoncé that he would not be able to sit down and listen to with his daughter because it would be embarrassing. And so, you have to ask the question, if it's embarrassing to listen to it with her, why do you think it would be a good idea to listen to it without you?

I've acknowledged in the book, the Obamas, I think, are very good parents. It's one of the things I've complimented them on repeatedly. I think Beyoncé is an incredible talent. But she doesn't need to do that in order to be successful and to be very top of the pop world.

My question to the Obamas, because they are very good parents about what their kids eat, their nutrition, that's wonderful, but we ought to also be concerned about what goes into their brains as well as what goes into their bodies.

CP: In response to that passage you just mentioned, National Journal's Ron Fournier said you have a "hypocrisy problem" because you once shared a stage with Ted Nugent singing "Cat Scratch Fever," which is a sexually explicit song. What would your response be to Ron Fournier?

Huckabee: I know Ron very well, a good guy. First of all, Ted changed the lyrics pretty dramatically when he sang it on the stage that time. And secondly, I wasn't sitting down with my teen-aged daughter, my daughter, who is, of course, an adult now and has her own children.

It has to do with the propriety of the context. Again, I'm not a prude. I'm aware that there certain expressions that in certain contexts would not be considered inappropriate. Now frankly, I think some of the gyrations of a stripper pole, I'm not sure how wholesome that is at any time. And, you know, I'm sure I'll deserve some criticism I take for things I do and that's one of the reasons we have free speech in America.