A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Broussard (Ok, you got me. I sat down at my computer and emailed questions, and he sat down to email his responses.) and discuss what it's like for him to be a Christian in the media. While he admitted there are nuances, for the most part, he linked his experiences with those that every Christian with a secular job faces. But I'm sure on Monday, the difference was clear. When someone asks us where we stand on a controversial topic, only a few people will be privy to our response. Maybe a thousand or so if we share our stance via social media, and that's still if half of our friends and followers aren't just spammers selling fake Jordans! (I digress.) But when someone asks Chris Broussard what he thinks, on ESPN, just about the whole world will know. Yet, as the smoke clears--in the wake of Chris Broussard's bold, yet polarizing, commentary regarding Jason Collins' announcement about his sexuality--amongst the debris are some things I believe deserve further investigation within the hearts of Christians.
What would you have said if ESPN asked you (randomly) for your thoughts?
Would you have congratulated Collins like everyone else in media? Would you have done that knowing that scripture says that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God? Would you focus more on how "free" Collins or any gay person who just came out feels and not want to rain on their parade because you understand how tough their life must be? Would you be afraid that your statements would be labeled as hate, so opt instead for the politically correct answer? If specifically asked, as Broussard was, about Collins legitimacy as a Christian considering his sexuality, would you have communicated what the Bible says? Or would you not want to mention a book that the world has improperly dissected and ruled antiquated? Would you somehow avoid specifically answering the question because of fear?
So, you'd speak the truth you say? Ok. But would you be so fired up (not that Broussard was) about the state of the world, that all you would communicate is the bad news about sin? Would you isolate homosexuality as the sin of sins and make Collins out to be the chief of sinners? Would you forget that even though you're answering a question posed by an interviewer, potentially millions of unrepentant souls are listening and your words will reach Jason Collins and many other openly and secretly gay individuals? Would you speak as though the world and not just your Christian friends who are ready to high five you are listening?
What would you do?
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."- MLK Jr.
You would need to say something. So often we pray for opportunities, but we miss them--both big and small--because we talk ourselves out of saying something risky or not so eloquent. No, you shouldn't mimic those at Westboro who only preach doom and no redemption—no Gospel. And no you shouldn't water down the truth just because it will sting others and put you at risk of media martyrdom. So, let's rethink this. What if Collins was instead admitting that he was a heterosexual constantly engaged in fornication (teetering on being a sexaholic) but also claiming Christ? Not admitting the wrongness of it, but embracing what he is and encouraging others to do the same. As John so eloquently communicated the other day, Collins' confession could either be admittance of his desires, which would not disqualify him from Christianity, or admittance of the sexuality he has secretly been living out and that which he will now live out openly. If it's admittance of what he's been doing and/or will begin doing, then the heterosexual sexaholic comparison fits. So then, what would you say about that same person claiming Christ?
Could you imagine a Christian on television congratulating someone who consistently fornicated or remaining silent about their stance? We'd be ready to crucify him ourselves! But homosexuality is different, right?
Yes and no. Obviously, homosexuality is a more acceptable lifestyle than say adultery or being a sexaholic, not even the world went easy on Tiger Woods. And yes, homosexuals are discriminated against because of their lifestyle, so we need to be sensitive to that because hatred is not acceptable in the name of holiness. We all know who Jesus opted to dine with. But, no, none of that makes God any less offended by the sin. It is that fact that I think we struggle to wrap our minds and oh so loving hearts around. Yet, I remember an old pastor of mine saying something that I still carry with me: "God will love you all the way to the gates of hell." Ouch. That might not seem like an inviting love, but he was warning us not to allow our view of love and how God should love people trump God's actual holiness.
With that in mind, we have to say something in these situations. I'm glad Broussard did, and I hope it gets us out of our comfort zones. The reality that there's a public outrage against someone calling a sin a sin should remind us that our nation does not believe in the authority of God's word. In case we couldn't already tell that. It should remind us that even as we sit and watch the NBA playoffs, those athletes are only playing for a perishable crown; yet, one day their bodies will perish and their souls will be found in or outside of Christ. And all those in the stands and around the world will face the same judgement. But no one talks about hell anymore. It's too risky. I believe we cruise through life until something reminds us that there's a war going on and lives are at stake. For me, this is such a time.
That means speaking up isn't always about saying the perfect thing. And in this day in age, saying the right thing should be met with opposition. It always has been. Jesus said we would be hated, and we know what happened to Stephen. Could it be that we're able to cruise, because we are hiding the full truth from neighbors and friends? I'm not saying we need to think of offensive things to say to get us persecuted, but sometimes speaking up is about saying something that all but one person in a crowd will hate. They will instead be challenged to repent and be saved. Sometimes speaking up is about acting courageously, which will inspire others to do the same wherever they are. Sometimes speaking up is not about waiting for the perfect opportunity, where you're one-on-one with someone and can make sure you have the opportunity to clarify everything or waiting to build a relationship with them so they know for sure you love them first. Yet, all the time, speaking up must be about bringing God glory as you believe God would have you (as lead by the Spirit).
"Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." 2 Timothy 2:10
What will you endure?