On Monday, April 29, journeyman NBA center Jason Collins released a statement of his coming out as gay. My first reaction to hearing of this "landmark" announcement by an active player in one of our four major professional sports leagues was, "Who is Jason Collins?"
Suddenly a player who averaged 3.6 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game and 0.9 assists per game in an 11 year NBA career is the most talked about player in the nation. During the season of the NBA Playoffs featuring LeBron, Durant, Wade and a host of other superstars, this story moves to the front page. Jason Collins now makes on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Unfortunately, it's not because of his skill on the court. Nevertheless, the nation knows who Jason Collins is.
The story truly isn't about basketball. In fact, I expect our next headline will be an active NFL player or MLB player stepping out in this way. Based on the reaction publicized in the media, it's a given.
What does Collins' coming out mean for me? Not much, honestly. However, it does once more reveal that we are now in the season where to be LBGT is not only accepted, but celebrated.
In Albert Mohler's Tuesday Briefing, he shares of the "overwhelming celebration of homosexuality and the marginalization of all who disagree." He's right. According to media reports, the adulation placed on Collins is huge. Tweets and quotes from current and former players, coaches, Presidents, and others who have come out as LBGT is immense.
Statements of affirmation get top billing in reports:
However, those, who dare to say anything somewhat critical or concerning about Collins's statement or the homosexual lifestyle are being, predictably, labeled as close-minded, hate-filled, and uninformed. We are living in the day that was predicted by Josh McDowell years ago in his book Right From Wrong, where tolerance is the norm, but only tolerance of things outside biblical mores and long-held Judeao-Christian ethics.
This is evidenced in the response to comments made by ESPN analyst Chris Broussard on Outside the Lines. I applaud Broussard's consistency in his statements and am not surprised that he is being demonized by many. His statement is as follows:
The above statement was actually a clarification of what was said earlier and it is apparent that he has thought through this and is not being swayed. While some have seen and will see it as hateful words, the reality is that a proper reading (if an unbiased one is even possible) shows nothing more than an individual stating what he believes based on his faith and personal mores.
"I'm a Christian. I don't agree with homosexuality. I think it's a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. [ESPN's] L.Z. [Granderson] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We've gone out, had lunch together, we've had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don't criticize him, he doesn't criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.
"In talking to some people around the league, there's a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don't want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That's what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.
"... Personally, I don't believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you're openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that's a sin. If you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."
I know there are many who see the LGBT lifestyle as wrong. For some, it's based on their faith. For others, it is based on personal feelings. Regardless of the reason, it is true that those who dare speak out against the lifestyle, especially in our current culture, will find themselves marginalized and considered uncaring, unloving and wrong, in addition to many other labels.No, homosexuality is not the biggest sin out there. It's not the only sin. It's not the worst sin. But, it is sin.
I don't know Jason Collins, but from all that's been said about him from former teammates, coaches, friends and current players, he is a great guy. He is the kind of friend anyone would want. He is now more than a journeyman basketball player. He is the face of the gay athlete in America (sorry, Martina and Greg Louganis) and will be touted as an inspiration for high school, college and other pro athletes to declare their LGBT affinity publicly.
I don't think he should be demonized by those who disagree. That will happen and it's unfortunate.
What should be the response of Christ followers to Collins and others who struggle with same-sex attraction? (Yes, I used the term "struggle with same-sex attraction" rather than "who are LGBT" and that was intentional.) We should respond as Jesus stated when asked what the greatest commandment was. . .
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” - Luke 10:27 (ESV)
We must remember that love does not mean affirm. Jesus loved sinners (that would be all of us, by the way) but did not say "Just stay the way you are." Sin is a cancer that spreads quickly. We are all infected and all sin is equal (that's hard to fathom) and we all need a Savior.
Oh, I understand there's an agenda. I know there's a concerted movement at work. Still, in the midst of all of that are individuals in need of life, a life that is full and free and clean.
That's what Jesus offers.
That's why we're here.