Your Sports Hero is Gay

In some sports, the sexual orientations of athletes has been a topic for years. Tennis, swimming and other so-called minor sports have had plenty of people come out as gay and lesbian. But in the major American sports – football, baseball, basketball and hockey – everyone has pretended that the men are all heterosexual. Not a gay guy in the bunch, ever. Can that be true? Odds are against.

Players are starting to decide it’s time to stop denying what anyone with a fairly adequate brain can figure out: of the thousands of grown men who have played pro sports in America, their ranks have included gay men.

Now people are wondering how the fans will take it. According to this article, Arizona Cardinal head coach Bruce Arians worries that opposing fans in particular will take a player’s sexuality and use it as a taunt.

Some of the things that are said are over the top and out of control that I can imagine what some fans would say to an openly gay player.

Arians emphasized that when it comes to fellow players, he doesn’t foresee any problems at all. Let’s hope fans soon catch up and cheer on the players no matter what their sexual orientation.

Getting Over It, Looking Past It

Being gay or lesbian is losing its pariah status. Does this demand a response from those of us who belong to Jesus Christ?

I think so. Not only should we not be among those jeering players on opposing teams for their sexuality, we should look to Jesus as our example of how to embrace those players.

Who were among society’s pariahs when Jesus ministered in Israel?

Prostitutes – Jesus allowed one to touch him in ways that shocked the religious leadership.

Gentiles, especially women - Jesus healed the daughter of a woman who kept begging for a miracle until he said yes.

Enemy Soldiers – Jesus declared one Roman officer to have more faith than anyone he’d met in Israel.

In each of these situations, can you imagine how the Jews around Jesus responded? Especially that last one, to hear that Jesus considered a foreigner to have more faith than one of them!

So what should we do when it comes to the ever-increasing visibility of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and other people who identify as LGBTQIA, a classification that some still consider lesser people, a group that some still want to treat as pariahs?

Let’s do as Jesus showed us. Let’s spend time with people, get to know them, and show them God’s love. After all, it’s not really like we’re going to meet anyone new. Gays and lesbians and others are already among our family, friends and acquaintances. It’s just a matter of now knowing that.

And cheering them on to a relationship with Jesus.

***

UPDATE

I found this excellent article written by an athlete who knows the issue from the inside. Please take the time to click over and read it.

***

[Earlier posts on gays and lesbians and Christianity: Boy Scouts, Homosexuals and Jesus – churches shouldn’t run away from gay kids, and My Lesbian and Gay Relationships.]

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18 Responses to Your Sports Hero is Gay

  1. Jeannie says:

    I appreciate this post a lot — that’s all I have to say!

  2. Aimee Byrd says:

    This is a huge struggle in our culture right now. Yes, I have convictions about the sinfulness of gay/lesbian lifestyle (as well as many other sins that we all find to be more acceptable for some reason). But we should be challenged about loving someone created in the image of God–loving the person while not condoning their choices. Of course, loving them also requires that we reveal what God’s design for their sexuality is, so that they can have true joy.
    I cannot recommend Rosaria Butterfield’s book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, enough as she challenges the reader to move past their stereotypes, to the uncomfortable loving of someone who is different than you.

    • Tim says:

      Good point about the challenge of loving people. I know I create plenty of challenges for people to love me. And thanks for the book recommendation too, Aimee.

    • Erica says:

      “as well as many other sins that we all find to be more acceptable for some reason”.

      This is an excellent point. I’ve heard people who get very hateful toward gays and lesbians then brush off the idea that one shouldn’t have sex before marriage (or cheat on their taxes). Yet in God’s eyes a sin is a sin (forgive the tautology). We all have a bad tendency to forget the planks in our own eyes when we speak out about a particular sin. The Bible readings I receive daily through email speak of this exact thing: “O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”

      (On a similar note, there is also the Westboro Baptist Chipmunks video by Lutheran Satire, which pretty much sums up what I’ve been saying in musical form. :D)

      • Tim says:

        Don’t apologize for tautologies, Erica. I love being tautologically tautological!

        And now I need to go find that chipmunk video!

        • Erica says:

          Oh, it might help if I post a link, won’t it? :D Here ya go!

        • Tim says:

          Clever stuff, Erica. I think the satirists got basic Calvinism wrong (and I certainly wouldn’t want to see Calvinist satirists get things so wrong when addressing the shortcomings of Lutheran or Arminian doctrine), but their point about how some people take sound doctrine and twist it to fit their own warped purposes is right on.

    • Aydan says:

      I came here simply to say thank you to the blog host for this unusually thoughtful post, but I saw your comment in passing, and thought I should say something:

      As someone who is not heterosexual, if someone tried to “reveal what God’s design for [my] sexuality is,” I would not feel loved; I would feel insulted. Attempting to do something like this implies that the person you’re trying to “instruct” is not already aware of God’s design for their sexuality. It seems that that is something God is more likely to discuss with them than with you, after all.

      I am also suspicious of the idea that such a “reveal” would lead to true joy. There are many of us who are not heterosexual or not cisgender who already experience true joy. And in my experience, the things that people often advise the LGBT* community to engage in, whether that’s grudging sex with someone they’re not sexually attracted to, or a lifelong marriage commitment to someone they’re not sexually attracted to, usually lead not to true joy but to heartbreak for everyone involved. For example, Rachel Held Evans ran a story a few months ago about several mixed orientation marriages, and while I respect the right of those couples to describe their experiences in their own terms, I think many people would not identify their stories with “true joy.”

      I appreciate that you want to change the usual Christian conversation about the LGBT* communities. I would encourage you, as your next step, to spend a lot of time just listening to what the people in those communities have to say. Just listen to the stories, the experiences. It might surprise you.

      • Tim says:

        Aydan, thank you for your kind description of this post. One thing I get from Aimee’s comments here and elsewhere is that she is also thoughtful, but of course also constrained by the limits of a blog’s comment section. Her own blog’s posts show the full extent of her ability to express her carefully thought-out understanding of God’s word and what it means to have a relationship with him.

        I see this in her comment above as well, even if it is in the truncated nature of a blog comment and not a full-blown article. Taking the Bible’s text seriously and wrestling with it is not easy, as you know. I took Aimee’s point as being that the Bible has a lot to say about sexual behavior and we ignore those passages (just as any others) to our detriment.

        As your own comment here also thoughtfully displays, how people act and behave and understand their faith and relationship with God is not subject to a set of rules imposed by others. I would add that these are also not subject to a set of self-imposed rules or understandings. Rather, our guide for faith is Scripture, as Paul told his young friend Timothy:

        All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17.)

        As Aimee was saying, the Bible says a lot to and about us. And as you are saying too, we have a lot to tell one another about ourselves. Listening graciously in both situations will help us understand what God is saying to all of us.

        Cheers,
        Tim

        • Aimee Byrd says:

          Thank you Aydan for honestly replying to my comment. And Tim, for clarifying my intentions. I do want to say that you are right about really listening. I can always be benefitted by that reminder! Sometimes I am better at it than others.
          And while we may disagree about what the Bible says regarding sexuality, I think that listening on both sides is important. I like how Tim’s articles invite all parties to be challenged and engaged. Even in disagreement, I have found the atmosphere here to be friendly. The hardest part about these very personal and doctrinal issues is the underlying question of whether people who disagree can beneficially engage in conversation. If we can manage that, we will all be sharpened. I appreciate your response.
          So in listening to your response, I hear that my words sounded a bit pedantic, or condescending, and I apologize if they came off that way. I suppose Tim said it well describing the sacrifices we may make in cutting corners for brevity. And you are also saying that someone’s sexual orientation does not determine their happiness. Agreed and thank you.

  3. lauradroege says:

    Great thoughts, as usual, Tim. I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot this morning, ever since I went to the gym and saw the news coverage of the Supreme Court’s ruling, etc. The entire time I was riding the bike, I wondered how I should respond/think about/feel about this issue. This post helps me think about it as less of an “issue” and more about the people involved.

  4. Great post Tim. Very timely as I am bringing this topic to the Young Adults this Sunday evening. The date was set a few months ago and the timing seems to be perfect. The points you brought up are exactly what I want our discussion to be. Thanks for the insight!

  5. Aydan says:

    Thank you.
    I would simply add that there are many in the LGBT* community who are already in relationships with Jesus, and it’s important to remember that.

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