Alan Robertson, eldest son of Phil and Kay Robertson on the TV series "Duck Dynasty," spoke alongside his wife, Lisa, in conjunction with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Art of Homemaking Conference.
"Our marriage was forged through the fires of pain" for the first 15 years, Alan said in the seminary's MacGorman Chapel during the Oct. 27-29 sessions.
"And now, after 32 years [of marriage], we can both say with confidence what we could never say before: We would go through everything we've gone through again for the last 17; it's been that good—because of God's glory, and not because of anything we've done."
Alan and Lisa's story began with their respective upbringings in West Monroe, La., both of which were characterized by rebellion. The two dated in high school but their relationship was an unhealthy one, ending abruptly when Alan, still a teenager, left his parents' home and moved to New Orleans.
Devastated by his departure, Lisa sought contentment through worldly pleasures. More unhealthy relationships, substance abuse and an abortion followed, all before she graduated high school.
As Lisa found herself at rock bottom, Alan found himself at the "wrong end of a crowbar" from a jealous husband, which served as the wakeup call Alan needed. When he returned home from New Orleans much like the prodigal son in Luke 15, his family welcomed him with open arms, and Alan was reconciled to God at that time.
Realizing his need for a "good girl," Alan reached out to Lisa, who immediately agreed to meet up with him again. They spent their first date discussing what it would look like to be a Christian couple living for God, and they married eight months later.
"[But] we made a big mistake," Alan said, "because we went into our marriage with a lot of bags packed with a lot of stuff—something we really never gave to the Almighty or allowed to be unpacked to get it out of our lives. A lot of young married couples just go in thinking that the junk that was around is all in the past, but it has a way of coming back when you don't really let God deal with it. And that's what happened with us."
Alan served as associate pastor in a local church and soon began to put his ministry ahead of his wife. Lisa, still dealing with issues from childhood, suffered as a result. At the 15-year mark of their marriage, Lisa had an affair.
"Whenever I married Alan, I thought I found Christ," Lisa said. "But instead of making Jesus Christ the Lord of my life, I made Alan my god. And whenever you put anything in that place besides God, it's going to fall."
Following the revelation of her adultery, Lisa went into the backyard of their home and lay face down on the ground, "because at that point," she said, "I could not go any lower." There, she cried out to God.
"I said, 'God, I thought I knew You. I thought I had a relationship with You. But I have nothing. If You're there, if You're real, please come and rescue me.' And He met me right there."
Over the next few weeks, Lisa, with the aid of some friends from church, finally "gave it all to God." After becoming reconciled to her husband, their lives and the lives of their two daughters changed as they experienced God's grace.
Soon, the Robertsons became "first responders" for marriage issues within the church, performing pre-marital and marriage counseling and hosting marriage conferences, "because," as Lisa explained, "we were the beggars who found bread, and we had a story to tell. … [God] made us new. He made our family new. And He met us right where we were. … He will meet you wherever you call out to Him."
Alan and Lisa's counsel for marriage, as found in their book "A New Season," is based on Ephesians 5:33, which commands husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. Alan pointed out that, implicitly, this means husbands and wives should be lovable and respectable.
The couple pointed to Job 31 and Proverbs 31 as important Scriptures for husbands and wives, respectively. Applications for husbands included making a covenant with one's eyes not to look lustfully at women and not being vengeful but rather forgiving. Applications for wives included managing one's family well and deriving beauty not from outward adornment but from fearing the Lord.
Following their presentation, Southwestern President Paige Patterson called their story a "marvelous testimony of the grace of God." He continued, "I pray everybody in America will hear it; we don't have any political problems that you couldn't solve in America if we got the homes right."
Alex Sibley is associate news director for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (swbts.edu).