Time and place.
There is a time and place for everything, we are told, and we should limit ourselves to conversations on certain subject matters to the appropriate times in the appropriate venues.
That these words, inspired by Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay athlete in the NBA, finally reach you days after the news cycle ran its course following Sports Illustrated breaking the story would suggest I've chosen an inappropriate time. That you are reading them on a website dedicated primarily to covering the San Antonio Spurs would lead some to suggest that I've chosen an inappropriate venue.
But I wanted to discuss Jason Collins, and I wanted to do so from this platform that has been provided to me to reach all of you.
What I didn't want to do is offer up some half-baked post for the sake of timeliness, simply because I had not dedicated enough personal time on the matter in the past to provide the fully-fledged thoughts this subject deserves. Others, like ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz--an openly gay sportswriter who covers the game of basketball far better than I ever could--have enough life experience to qualify as experts and you should give them a read.
I wanted to read and observe, and not just those charged with providing the commentary, but the reactions they provoked. Many showered Collins with support, most notably and importantly his peers in the NBA. Naturally, some responses weren't as cordial or understanding.
I needed this time to gather and evolve my thoughts so that I might try to contribute to the conversation in a way that might resonate with as many people as possible.
For the record, I support Jason Collins for who he is and his decision to make this part of his life a matter of public record. Those that agree with me were always going to support that statement, and those that don't, well, nothing I could write would sway their opinion on the matter anyway.
But there are some universal truths acceptable to all beliefs that can steer this conversation in a way that provokes positive change. This is not a political matter, a liberal matter, a conservative matter, or even a religious matter. This is a matter of human civility.
Jason Collins is a hero, and his story matters.
Being homosexual, in itself, does not make Collins a hero. Being open about something that many of us would agree is his own personal business does not make him a hero either. Being the first open, active male professional athlete is a burden, one that he acknowledges. It leaves him a target for persecution and threats for simply living in a manner we take for granted.
That ESPN's Chris Broussard would feel the need to greet Collins announcement by screaming from rooftops (well, national television anyway) that he's a sinner in an "open rebellion against God" is evidence enough that Collins, or any gay athlete, wouldn't be able to live their life honestly without a scene being made of it. Yes, you can live your life privately, but that shouldn't mean one should have to constantly lie about it publicly.
Following Collins announcement there were some that questioned why this should be a big deal. Local radio conservative talk show host Joe "Pags", a recent national anthem performer to open a Spurs playoff game, felt the need to announce his heterosexuality and wonder why publicity or President's phone calls didn't find their way to him.
People like "Pags" or Broussard can state they are tolerant of homosexuals while disagreeing with who they are, and perhaps some of you follow in their stances. But that does not account for the countless number of people, children even, who are bullied and assaulted every day of their lives by bigoted, hateful people. There are young people that would rather die than be who they are because people like that make their lives a living hell.
Regardless of what your beliefs might be, we can agree this is wrong.
Here are indisputable truths that fall outside whatever your opinions might be--Jason Collins is gay. There are people in this world that will threaten him for it. The same people threaten and cause harm to countless number of people everyday for their sexual orientation. In Collins, those people have someone to look to for hope.
Why disparage that? Why show so little compassion for your fellow man that you would have to actively go out of your way to tell them that none of this matters? Just because you do not agree with who they are doesn't mean you are justified in turning your back on how much they suffer.
You can criticize the media
There were never two sides to this story, and that ESPN would attempt to position it as a debate is reprehensible. Broussard's beliefs have long been known, and one can imagine that someone within the network saw this as an opportunity to exploit those beliefs to drum up controversy and ratings.
Responsible journalism would have reported his announcement, gathered reactions from his peers, turned to informed analysts to give insight on the subject matter, as they did with Arnovitz. Broussard is one of ESPN's basketball reporters, but the scope of his commentary had nothing to do with basketball and delved into areas far outside his expertise.
We know little of his credentials as a Christian, but we do know his viewpoints do not represent all of Christianity. There was no reason for his presence or words. Collins stating he is gay is not inflammatory. Kevin Arnovitz offering his insight as a gay man that lives his life openly is not inflammatory, and comes from a knowledgeable source. Broussard's comments were inflammatory and best left for blogs, message boards or Twitter.
It is okay to talk about this
Twitter is a place where we can discuss anything freely. Though I'm sure some found out that broaching such "controversial" topics come with consequences if they are accountable to a boss or editor. Which is a disappointment.
There were some outlets that skipped discussing this topic altogether, no doubt skipping over the hassles that come with such a hot button topic and potentially alienating readers. But honestly, if not realistically, the only audiences that would deem this topic too explosive to discuss are those with views too extreme to be reasoned with, and those are people we shouldn't really be pandering to anyway.
Again, there were many that, regardless of their views on homosexuality, simply wanted the discussion to cease and for things to return to normal.
But normal sucks. We shouldn't want normal. Normal is TMZ tracking down Magic Johnson's gay son while people like Jason Collins expend energy to cover their tracks. Normal is people like Broussard reminding us that tolerance and respect are two completely different things, not stopping to realize that without respect for a human being there can be no compassion, which is the fundamental key to his own religion. Normal is people like "Pags" thinking because they tolerate homosexuals, we can all turn our backs to those that torture them and the suffering incurred by victims.
Regardless of our views on homosexuality, we should all demand better from our views on people. Any belief system that says otherwise, quite frankly, isn't one worth having or defending.
There is a time and place for everything. Unfortunately, not all of us are so fortunate as to be able to compartmentalize this discussion and bring it out at our convenience. We can have this discussion, and we can do it better than we're doing it right now. What better place than here, what better time than now?
Homosexuality is not deserving of the approbation of man. We can not overlook condemning those, who, through their own bad use of their faculties, are vicious to the good and perfection of the human system.
@JeanJacquesBurlamaqui If you're a Christian, it's not for you to condemn. That's kind of up to the Big Guy. Which is good, because as a people we're not intelligent enough to judge people.And, again. You might not feel homosexuality is deserving of the approbation of man, but whatever your thoughts on the subject are, the fact is that homosexuals are not deserving of abuse or indignity either.
You make some good points here, but you failed to explain why Jason Collins is a hero. And why do you come down so hard on Broussard? As you touched on, he was basically encouraged by his employer to express his Christian convictions on this issue, and yet he is vilified for it. Why can't he comment on something "outside his expertise," especially when he is asked a direct question related to Christianity and Collins' sexuality? In what way does expressing the Biblical view of homosexuality "make young people's lives a living hell"? Why are only Broussard's comments 'inflammatory'?
Why is it that people who are asked about Collins' decision and don't immediately express their unconditional support are immediately labeled as intolerant bigots & a homophobes? Why do we have to put labels on anyone at all?
@4him Collins is a hero because he has taken on the burden of being the first. I believe there's not really anyone that wants to be the first to break that kind of barrier, because a lot of responsibility and turmoil comes with it. He's a hero because he knowingly put himself in the crosshairs and broke through that barrier (assuming he plays next season, of course). I mentioned this in the paragraphs immediately following the bold text in which I called him a hero, but I apologize for not making that clearer. He's a hero because he will be persecuted, and he will inspire. Maybe not you, but if even one gay athlete or kid sees something in this, that qualifies.
Anyone can comment on anything outside of their expertise, but when you do you open yourself up to criticism. And he deserves it. Broussard has made his beliefs known before without criticism, my issue with him is two-fold. 1.) Don't begin your argument with "as a Christian" because it's not a view representative of all Christians. 2.) ESPN needs to serve as a responsible journalistic medium, and he's part of that. I criticize both Broussard and the producers that put him on the air. The reason only his comments were inflammatory is because his were the only one pushing a one-sided belief or opinion. Collins is gay, that is fact. Not controversial. Arnovitz offered insight into what living open and freely would mean to a gay man. Again, that is not controversial. Those statements didn't call out anyone else, they didn't push beliefs on anyone else. They didn't bring down anyone else. Do you see a difference?
@blanchard48mohSo coming out being the first athlete in a major team sport to say, "I am a homosexual" is worthy of being called a hero? It's not like he found a cure for cancer or HIV, now is it? (One could also certainly question the motives of a player who averaged 1.1 ppg & 1.6 rpg this past season and may not be in the league next season.) And it's pretty difficult to be a hero for something that will happen in the future ("...he will be persecuted, and he will inspire").
Homosexuality is clearly a sin, and a very destructive lifestlye - not something that should be flaunted and celebrated. Broussard correctly states that it is just one of many sexual sins which are rebellion against God. That sin needs to be dealt with on an individual, private level before God. The bigger issue for society as a whole is that a small segment of that society has been actively and aggressively promoting the homosexual lifestyle within our culture. We see it in our schools, our media, our courts, and even in many of our churches. “Gay marriage” is just one phase of this assault. At its core, “gay marriage” is NOT about equal rights; it is about re-defining what marriage is as part of the aggressive promotion of the homosexual lifestyle throughout society.
Re. Broussard: When he says "As a Christian," he understands a Christian to be someone who has a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and believes the whole Bible as the Word of God, as opposed to those who simply cherry-pick certain verses to fit a certain agenda. It's who he is - he can't deny that just because there are others with differing views who call themselves Christians yet don't live according to the Word of God.
What is controversial and inflammatory is the aggressive promotion of the homosexual agenda, and the Collins story is just a part of that. Without that agenda, guys like Broussard wouldn't have to be commenting on it at all.
@blanchard48moh @4him Blanchard, if you knew some basics about the Bible as a Christian, you would know that the arrival, death and resurrection of Jesus, means that we don't get holiness or righteousness with God through OT Law anymore. BTW, homosexuality is clearly defined as sin both in the OT and NT, so is fornication (e.g. sex out of wedlock, kids out of wedlock).
I hesitate to join the debate, because the Christian who believes the Bible must always defend his or her views. In today's current climate, especially the entertainment media, homosexuals never have to explain why their choice is RIGHT and why we must change everything we thought about human relationships, couples and family, from sociological, scientific and theological perspectives. Actually, homosexuality is contrary to all three perspectives, but you wouldn't know it in today's climate.
What we get instead is coerced endorsement and acceptance of homosexuality. For example, people like Collins are just applauded for supposedly being themselves, regardless of the consequences that their coming up causes. If a man leaves his wife of many years for a younger woman, he is universally condemned. If a man leaves his wife to be with his homosexual lover, he gets praised for being true to himself. How hypocritical.
My issue isn't tolerating homosexuality or respecting homosexuals. I've been comfortable being tolerant, respectful and working along side homosexuals for many years. I have no right to mistreat anyone for being homosexual. Nevertheless, as a man with a biblical worldview, I will never endorse homosexuality as right before God or good for our society, nor do I endorse all the living together, kids out of wedlock, whorish relationships and adultery that our society encourages. Ironically, our society takes umbrage with my views and CANNOT TOLERATE THE FACT THAT I DISAGREE WITH THEM WITHOUT CONDEMNING ME within the same pluralistic society whose freedoms that enjoy and exploit. How interesting is that?
The NT references are Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-10, I Timothy 1:10.
Concerning the OT, most of the references are in the book of Leviticus. Regarding the laws that you see in the OT, there is a
difference between God's moral law and the ceremonial law
that He gave to the nation Israel. The ceremonial law involved rituals and regulations so
that a person could approach God. They were centered on the tabernacle, later
the temple, and were mediated through the priesthood whose functions largely
involved the presenting of sacrifices and offerings. In a limited sense, Jesus
Christ came and fulfilled that law and in so doing, abolished it. When He
purchased our salvation by His own blood, the regulations of the OT were
rendered null and void.
However, regarding the moral law, He has declared its permanency (Matthew 5:18). The moral law is a revelation of the character of God, and God doesn't change. His moral law will be as consistent as His character which it expresses.
God reaffirmed His moral teaching concerning homosexuality in those verses above (with references to other sexual sin elsewhere in the NT).
@4him I'm struggling to find references to homosexuality in the New Testament; Where I find it is in the old testament, alongside other laws like executing anyone that works on the Sabbath. Or removing a woman's hand if, in helping her husband out of a fight, she grabs the genitals of the other man. Or women menstruating being unclean.
@blanchard48moh I agree with what you say in this last comment, but again, Broussard was asked a direct question, and gave a direct answer. (In fact, he was quite courageous, b/c the third rail of journalism nowadays is: Don’t say anything negative about homosexuality.) I would think that if he was asked to comment on LeBron having a child out of wedlock, he would share his view of what the Bible says on that issue. (At least I think he would - he seems to me to be a Heat homer, and doesn't seem to give the Spurs their due. :-))
@blanchard48moh There are several references in the NT, and then several more in the Bible as a whole. But the # of references isn't what is most important - what is is the clear teaching of Scripture. In God’s original design, human sexual conduct was to occur within the context of marriage between one man and one woman.
@blanchard48moh We don't all cherry pick, and you're confusing what some religion teaches vs. what the Bible actually teaches. There are not restrictions as to what we can eat - we have true freedom in that area ("Don't let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink..." - Colossians 2:16). A true Christian believes in the whole Bible as the Word of God, and seeks God's will in all areas of life.
As you mentioned elsewhere we are all in rebellion against God, yet by endorsing sin we seek to make our words rather than God’s Word the authority on what’s right or wrong.
Your last (second) paragraph is a strawman - no one is making that argument. There are many homosexuals that live their lives as they please, which is fine, but then there are many others (with the help of the media and others in positions of influence) who aggressively promote the sinful homosexual lifestyle, even to the point of seeking to change the definition of marriage which has existed for thousands of years (and which will have very destructive consequences for society).
@4him And while I don't want to get into a big thing on theology--I'm just saying regardless of what we feel on it, we can all agree human beings deserve to be treated like human beings--one thing I have picked up as a Christian is this:
We were born sinners. We will die sinners. No exceptions. We're granted salvation BEFORE we earn it. That's what Jesus on a cross is supposed to symbolize for us.
It's not on us, as humans, to condemn. That's God's work. It's foolish to raise one sin above others. Yes, Broussard might hold homosexuality with the same contempt he does premarital sex, but he's not up on a soapbox condemning that when LeBron James has a child out of wedlock.
@4him How many references to homosexuality are in the New Testament?
@4him We all cherry-pick the Bible or portions of religions when we make Biblical arguments. Why do we not protest McDonald's for serving burgers every day of the year, even on those we're not supposed to be eating meat?
And asking to be treated as human beings, to not be left to a fence post. To not be murdered simply for who they are, that's hardly an aggressive agenda.
As for "expressing the Biblical view of homosexuality making young people's lives a living hell." I thought I had differentiated something in my post, and again I apologize for not being clearer.
There are people who, like Broussard, do not believe in homosexuality, but do not bully or openly disrespect (other than stating they're in an open rebellion against God) or shun homosexuals. And while I don't agree with their views, they're not the people I'm referring to when I say making life a living hell.
There are people that do far worse than quote scripture at homosexuals. There are people that bully, that beat, that throw derogatory words around freely. These people are the ones that make young homosexuals' lives a living hell. These people are bigots and I think it's safe to label them as such. Wouldn't you agree?
And just because people like the conservative talk show host I mention don't do those heinous things, doesn't mean they've earned the right to disparage Collins story or its impact. Because those atrocities are real, which is why Collins is a big deal, and for a person with a highly visible public platform to dismiss them is wrong. If the entirety of the population that were against homosexuality were of the "I don't agree with them but it's there business so I won't torture them either" then this conversation wouldn't be necessary. Does that answer part of your questions?
@blanchard48moh Collins didn't make himself public during his whole pro career - what makes you think that someone would have suddenly made him do so? He wasn't really famous, so I don't know why there would have been extra pressure on him. I'm certainly not impressed with those who seek to harm others b/c of their sexuality.
@4him Again, the thing is it's not flaunting. If he doesn't make himself public, someone will. Look what TMZ did to Magic Johnson's son. YOU might not care to hear or know about what his sexuality is. A lot of people don't. But there are people that do care to know, specifically for the purpose of doing harm.
@blanchard48moh If you're implying here that Broussard was disparaging Collins, then I don't see it. Again, he was simply presenting a Biblical view of the issue.
Whether homosexuality is moral or not is certainly now a big issue, b/c homosexualists have aggressively forced their agenda on the rest of society.
Re. how we treat one another, yes, that should be the same regardless of our beliefs. With civility, full dignity and respect.
@blanchard48moh Concerning the gist of what you express here, I agree with you completely. Every person is made in the image of God, and is therefore worthy of dignity and respect.
I didn't hear the Joe "Pags" comments, but if he simply expressed that one's sexuality doesn't need to be flaunted in front of everyone, then I agree with that.
@4him in my mind it's not about unconditionally showing support. That's not something I'd expect or demand. But just because you don't support it, don't disparage a man's write to live freely. Your opinion on whether homosexuality is moral or not isn't the issue here. It never was. The issue is how we treat one another. And that should be the same regardless of our beliefs. Is that fair?
Kudos to Jason Collins for being able to come out publicly and be himself. However, for all of the media to say he is the first openly gay athlete in American team sports is a little bit premature. He is currently a free agent (I understand he was with the Wizards, but their season is already over). If he isn't able to sign with a team and get at least a little bit of playing time, he might consider retirement (he is 34) and therefore, I would have to consider him another former player coming out after he finished his career. Of course, if he does land a contract with a team and does get playing time, then yes, he will be the first openly gay athlete in American team sports.