Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Courage and intolerance

Not being a follower of professional basketball I had never heard of Jason Collins or Chris Broussard until today. Yesterday NBA veteran Collins broke new ground by "coming out" as a gay man. This was almost universally hailed as the brave and courageous act of a civil rights pioneer. But then ESPN commentator Broussard showed what real courage looks like by appearing on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" and forthrightly stating his belief that homosexual sex is called sin by the Bible, and that the unrepentant practice of same is incompatible with following Jesus. From the immediate reaction it appears these views are too outside the lines for even OTL.

I haven't watched the interview, but I've read the transcript of his remarks, and as far as I can tell Broussard didn't advocate stifling Collins' ability to use his platform as an NBA star to exercise his free speech or continue to make a living playing pro ball. Maybe Broussard could have been more nuanced -- and there's more that could have been said about the issues surrounding Collins' announcement than the format of a 60-minute TV program allows -- however, simply by refusing to affirm what the Bible calls sin Broussard has been tarred as an intolerant hater.

Who is the real hero here? Who's the courageous one. Is it the public figure saying the popular thing, or the one bringing an unpopular message that may well get him fired before all is said and done? And who's being intolerant? Broussard, or the people calling for his head?

Tony Stone of Reformed African American Network makes this point exceedingly well. Be sure to click through and read the whole article.

Speaking of boldness, all this talk about Jason Collins’ announcement being brave and courageous (to millions of cheers and a call from President Obama) makes no sense when it’s really Chris Broussard who’s the media underdog. Jason was saying the popular thing. Chris said the unpopular thing. What I find particularly interesting are the comments being left on blogs. In one blog, a person said that Mr. Broussard should leave his religion out of basketball and only talk about sports. He said this to almost 3 dozen “likes”. What’s ironic about his sentiment is that everyone is completely ok with Jason Collins using his NBA platform to unveil his sexual preferences. What this shows us is that we all know deep down that sports, media, etc. all exist for greater purposes. Nobody is even satisfied with “good basketball”- we all want our platform to make a mark and change the way that people think about all areas of life, even the most private ones. As Christians, we can navigate these waters with accuracy because we know that the most private thing in this life is my desperate heart’s faithful gaze to Christ. This private thing also exists at the same time as the most publicly beneficial news known to mankind. May we all find strength and courage in Christ to preach the Gospel with delight and conviction.

I join Stone in that prayer, and I'm reminded of Jesus' words to his disciples: Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

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