A few church leaders who have just gone too far.
I haven’t really posted a lot lately from my heart because I’ve been slammed with graduating chiropractic school, starting a job, and just generally rocking at life. But after seeing the backlash and nastiness coming after Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend in celebration of being drafted, I can’t stay silent. I try to avoid most controversy, but I can’t keep quiet with this one.
We claim to be a religion of love, first and foremost. And yet we condemn the love of some people as being unworthy and sinful.
This is the NFL, people. All of this silly talk about not glorifying a gay man because he’s such a terrible “sinner”. But it seems weekly, there’s a story about a pro football player raping, murdering, doing drugs, driving drunk, beating a woman, making racist comments, or finding out he has yet another baby mama. None of these are ever picked out. No one ever says, “Look at these sinners that we’re glorifying! What is wrong with us? Let’s write angry blog posts and post bigoted Facebook statuses about them.” That just doesn’t happen.
We brushed off Richie Incognito’s nasty, racist voicemails and said “boys will be boys”. We turned Ray Lewis into a hero when he paid someone enough money to get out of murder charges. We think it’s funny that Antonio Cromartie has a seemingly endless list of illegitimate children. BUT THESE ARE SINNERS TOO!
And Matt Walsh, people make fun of Tebow because he’s a terrible NFL quarterback. No one thinks he’s a horrible person because he’s a Christian. He’s just an awful pro-style quarterback. This is coming from a Florida Gators fan who loves Timmy. Stop it.
I remember sitting in my American Religious History class at Taylor University, with my ancient professor and discussing gay marriage. This old, balding guy teaching at a private Christian school in the middle of nowhere Indiana, said he thinks that if a man loves another man, or a woman another woman, and they want to dedicate their lives to each other, they should be able to do so. This man stood there and broke stereotypes and shattered some little only-child, home-schooled, freshman girl’s brain. He said he doesn’t condone homosexuals or heterosexuals sleeping around, but by all means, make a commitment and get married. It was brilliant. This same professor later explained why his Christian beliefs led him to vote for Obama instead of McCain.
But I digress.
Michael Sam’s sexuality has nothing to do with his football prowess. He is a good football player. He was the SEC defensive player of the year, an award that usually earns a third round draft pick or higher. Anyone who thinks he came out publicly to get drafted easily is an idiot. A 7th round draft pick is a slap in the face to a defensive player of his caliber. He is a beast. The end.
And he can love whoever he darn well pleases. He can kiss whoever he wants to on live television. We see young men kiss their girlfriends. I don’t see why young men kissing their boyfriends should make us so concerned.
So my challenge to those angry bloggers and social networkers is this: if you’re going to call out Michael Sam for his horrendous sinfulness, call out the rest of the professional athletes too. And while you’re at it, call out your best friend. And your neighbor. And your mother. And just keep on going and publicly admit your own sinfulness. Not just in general. Get specific.
Because to be totally Biblical, your sins are no better and no worse than those of anyone else in this world.
Derek Webb preaches that our current Christian culture is so hung up on hiding our sins and making ourselves look better than anyone else. He calls it “this culture hiding game” in which we are “constantly checking the knots in this great suit of fig leaves that you’ve sown for yourself”. He calls us to be “comfortably exposed” in our sinfulness and to boast in how amazing our Savior is and how much he can impact and change our lives and our communities if we just let ourselves be naked.
In Derek Webb’s song “T-Shirts”, he writes this:
They’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear.
They’ll know us by the way we point and stare,
Telling them their sins are worse than ours’,
Thinking we can hid our scars
Beneath these t-shirts that we wear.
So let’s stop being known for preaching from our high horse of righteousness that we like to ride around. Let’s stop being known for our billboards and our picket lines. Let’s stop being known for the hateful rhetoric. Let’s stop being known for the homophobic blog posts and Facebook rants.
Let’s be known for love. Love and nothing more.