Posts tagged ‘ESPN’

Jason Collins’ Big Announcement

Jason CollinsThere have been plenty of splashy and flashy headlines sprawled across newspapers, news stations, and news websites concerning NBA free agent Jason Collins over these past several days, but I prefer the simplicity of CNN:  “NBA’s Jason Collins comes out as gay.”[1]  The reactions to Jason Collins’ revelation, as expected, have been wide and diverse.  The Huffington Post reports that President Obama called Collins to tell him “he was impressed by his courage.”[2]  Sports analyst Chris Broussard sparked a firestorm when, speaking on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” he said, “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.”[3]  Finally, the Human Rights Campaign likened the effects Collins’ “coming out” to that of Jackie Robinson being the first African American to play baseball in the modern era.  HRC President Chad Griffin released this statement:

Jason Collins’ commitment to living openly is a monumental step forward toward greater equality and he immediately becomes a role model for youth all across this country. His actions today tell LGBT young people that what will define our success in life is our character and dedication, not our sexual orientation. At a moment when millions are reflecting on the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, Jason Collins is a hero for our own times.[4]

So what is a Christian to make of all this?  Chris Broussard summarizes the orthodox Christian position quite well when he says, “I think [homosexuality is] a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is.”  The second part of Broussard’s statement is key.  As we watch the story of Jason Collins’ “coming out,” we must see it as only a piece of a bigger puzzle.  For decades, sexual immorality has been rampant in professional sports.  One can’t help but think of the offer AshleyMadison.com put on the table shortly after Tim Tebow joined the New York Jets.  Noel Biderman, the founder of Ashley Madison, offered one million dollars to anyone who could produce evidence that the backup quarterback was not, in fact, a virgin.  Biderman said, “Sports and sex (and of course, infidelity) go hand in hand…If Mr. Tebow is indeed abstaining from adult relationships, I would encourage him to find a nice lady or two and enjoy his youth and fame as much as possible.”[5]  His assertion that “sports and sex (and of course, infidelity) go hand in hand” is, sadly, true.  Story after story could be enumerated of professional athletes behaving badly – engaging in everything from infidelity to rape to premarital sex which has become so culturally accepted, it is no longer disconcerting enough to raise even an eyebrow much less make a headline.  Thus, Chris Broussard’s embrace of an openly homosexual lifestyle is only one instance in a long parade of what the Bible would deem sexual immorality.

In a culture that has such radically different sexual mores from that of the Christian ethos, there are a couple of things Christians should keep in mind.  First, we should remember that, no matter how winsomely and well Christian sexual standards are explained or packaged, there will be many who will reject and ridicule them.  This has to do with the foolishness of the Scripture and of the gospel itself to those who do not trust Jesus.  As the apostle Paul says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).  The Scriptural reservation for sex between a husband and wife is simply unintelligible to many in our society.

Second, even if the world considers God’s wisdom foolish, this does not mean that we should not share God’s wisdom with our world.  Christians can and must speak to the issues of our day.  After all, if we truly believe that God’s way is the best way, and if we truly love our neighbors as Jesus commands, how can we not share God’s desire for them out love for them?

Finally, as we share God’s Word – and especially as we share God’s Word concerning human sexuality – we must do so with an attitude of humility rather than with a spirit of arrogance.  Jesus makes it clear that all struggle with sexual brokenness:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).  Jesus’ standard for sexual purity is one that none of us have kept.  When we speak to others about sexual purity, therefore, we must do so as fellow strugglers rather than as self-righteous sermonizers.

In a culture that celebrates and sanctions sexual sin, we are called to hold out a message of hopeful purity.  By God’s grace, may we hold out that message with the clarity, conviction, and compassion that it deserves.


[1] Joe Sterling and Steve Almasy, “NBA’s Jason Collins comes out as gay,” CNN (4.30.2013).

[2] Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel, “Obama Calls Jason Collins, ‘Impressed By His Courage’ In Coming Out,” The Huffington Post (4.29.2013).

[3] Scott Collins, “ESPN’s Chris Broussard sparks uproar with Jason Collins remarks,” LA Times (4.29.2013.)

[4] HRC Staff, “Jason Collins Changes the Face of Sports Forever By Coming Out,” Human Rights Campaign (4.29.2013).

[5] Danny Cox, “Jets quarterback Tim Tebow’s virginity worth a reported $1 million dollars,” Examiner.com (4.24.2012).

May 6, 2013 at 5:15 am 1 comment

Kicking Back

They’re doing terribly this year.  My fantasy football team, that is.  Last weekend, my quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, scored an underwhelming grand total of fourteen points.  My wide receivers are putting more points on the board than he is.  To add insult to injury, the other day, I caught a few minutes of a game on ESPN Classic when Roethlisberger was still in college playing for Miami University in 2003.  I wish he played now the way he played then.

Most people know that I am a football fan.  There is nothing like kicking back on a Sunday afternoon taking in an NFL game or two, dozing in an out of consciousness, especially since my Sunday mornings, as a pastor, are generally action-packed!  And of course, I love watching my beloved Longhorns take on their toughest rivals.  The pageantry and suspense of college football is unlike anything else.

I’m not the only one who loves a good football game.  The NFL’s popularity has been rising steadily and startlingly over the years, this year reaching an all time high of 59 percent of Americans who say that they follow professional football according to an annual Harris Poll.[1]

As a football fan, I would be the first to say that there’s nothing wrong with following the game.  I would also add that there’s nothing wrong with all sorts of other things people do to kick back and relax – from golfing to finding your favorite movie on Netflix to fishing to surfing the internet.  And yet, if these are the only ways we spend our leisure time, we are cheating ourselves out of something transcendent.

The Lutheran theologian Gene Edward Veith wrote an article recently titled, “The Purpose of Work.”  In it, he noted a disturbing trend in the way Americans view their leisure time:

In our culture today…most people probably do not use their leisure to contemplate the good, the true, and the beautiful.  Our leisure is filled with more entertainment than contemplation.[2]

Veith’s last line is key.  When we find leisure only in what entertains us – be that a football game or a golf outing or a movie or a fishing expedition or a favorite internet site – we miss the more profound blessings that leisure has to offer.  For a bit of contemplation – on family, on work, on friends, and, most importantly, on God – can yield key and transformative insights for life and engender a thankful heart for all the blessings God has given.  But first, we need to take time away from being entertained to think and to thank God.

The Bible’s portrait of leisure can guide our us on our journey from liesure as solely entertainment to liesure that includes contemplation:

Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.  Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

Notice that in Israel, the celebration of the Sabbath – a day to rest from the work of the week – is specifically tied to contemplation.  The Israelites are to remember their slavery in Egypt and how God brought them out.  For Israel, leisure was not just time to be entertained, it was time to spend with God.

How do you spend the bulk of your leisure time?  Entertainment is good, but not when it comes at the expense of reflecting on your life and on your Lord.  After all, He is the One who gave you that leisure time in the first place.  As the Psalmist reminds us, “God gives rest to His loved ones” (Psalm 127:2).  Maybe you should use your leisure rest not just to be entertained, but to say “thank you” to God.


[1] Michael David Smith, “Poll finds NFL more popular than ever,” NBC Sports (10.6.2012).

[2] Gene Edward Veith, “The Purpose of Work,” The Gospel Coalition (10.7.2012).

October 15, 2012 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


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