I’m sure you’ve heard the “big news” by now, the first openly homosexual man to be drafted by an NFL team was drafted by the St Louis Rams. I was watching the NFL channel coverage of the draft and you would think a cure for cancer, or getting rid of ref’s entirely and having entire games called by video had just happened. There are about 1,700 players in the NFL at any one time. The NFL has been around since the 1920’s, (albeit with far fewer teams), so conservatively somewhere around 100,000 men have played in the NFL and one of them is finally homosexual. Listening to the coverage you’d think that because Michael Sam is homosexual that this is somehow as Sporting News called it, “A Draft for the ages”. Huh? Not too hyperbolic?
A little context and a lot of this is coming out of the Boston sports station that I’ve listened to for years and no, these guys are actually pretty liberal. But they did have some context. The guy was drafted 249th, way down. By a team that is in desperate need of any kind of notoriety, the St Louis Rams. It seems clear there were better players, but hey, despite the fact that there have been tens of thousands in the NFL, and no doubt some were homosexual, does tend to undermine the argument of the number of homosexual men in the population, significantly less then the guesstimated 10% that the liberal media likes to throw around. One of the guys commented that this guy will probably be playing arena football in a couple of years and it will be an “oh yeah, he was the guy back in the 2014 draft.” They also made an interesting comparison to the Tim Tebow drama of a couple of seasons ago. This is a guy who turned around the Denver Broncos and got them into the playoffs. What happened to a guy who has done so much good humanitarian service in the Name of the Savior? The Patriots gave him a shot. A team with the best winning percentage of this century, three Super Bowls, a team with integrity. A coach Bill Belicheck who uses that lame red flag as sparingly as any coach in the league. (May his tribe increase, I want to watch football, not a bunch of legalists fussing about the latest rule changes and video checks. Play football, get on with it and quit whining) Well frankly the NFL is by far the whiningest sport in professional sports. Anyway a team stacked with talent, always in the hunt, but always looking for guys with integrity. They couldn’t keep Tebow, but the whole scenario is, I don’t know, odd?
Interestingly enough in my devotional reading today Henry Blackaby writes on this very subject. Do we coddle people in their sins? No! Do we love them? Do we care for them, do we keep trying to reach them for real life in Christ? Absolutely! Hey, we are all sinners, we all have our issues, but as Blackaby writes: “You are not acting in true friendship if you condone disobedience or even if you look the other way.” Amen brother! Now of course I will probably end up taking heat for this, but for the life of me, help me, explain why it is somehow commendable that we are supposed to be dancing in the streets because a guy who will probably never be on an NFL roster and sleeps with another guy who was drafted 249th. Have we really gotten this messed up as a society?
We have no business telling someone that their sin is just skippity do da and you just go ahead and do whatever you want. Sam is 24 years old, actually a little aged for a NFL draftee, but still, let’s face it a kid. Someone who has a long way to go in life. Where do we adults come off encouraging this guy in his lifestyle? “Jesus never gave relief to people who were under conviction… Jesus brought no comfort to him [Zaccheus] as he dealt with his sin (Luke 19: 1-10)… Neither did Jesus excuse disbelief. We never find Jesus saying, ‘Well, that’s all right. I know I’m asking you to believe a lot and that’s not easy.” This nonsense that Jesus was the Great Enabler, is just that nonsense! Did Jesus give love and compassion? Absolutely! He is always helping us in our sin, we are always sinning. But when our lifestyle is just basically “I don’t care what God wants or doesn’t want, I only care what I want and that’s what I going to do!” This bizarre idea that Jesus is supposed to tell someone “that’s ok, it’s not your fault, you’re a victim or subject to your genetics, blah, blah and whatever you need to do, well that’s just ok (Oprah style)” is just not faithful to Scripture and is just not what we want for a society. Haven’t we seen enough in a society that says I don’t care what’s good, bad or indifferent to anyone else, I’m going to do what I want to do and how it damages anyone else (including me) well too bad. These are the same people that are going to expect a government agency (read the taxpayer) and yes, even more bizarrely, the church to swoop in and pick up the pieces after the inevitable crash and burn.
“Don’t ever try to ease the discomfort of someone whom the Holy Spirit is making uncomfortable! Be careful not to communicate to your friends that you find their lack of faith acceptable … or being comfortable with sin.” That just makes so much sense, the Holy Spirit is pushing on someone to really look at their life as a whole, outside of Jesus, and their sin. Trying to get someone to really realize how far they are lost in their sin and some nice gooey “Christian” in true Oprah style tells them: “…don’t you worry baby, it will be alright, you’re not a bad person, don’t let people tell you, you do what makes you happy…” Ok, that might help their self-esteem, but it’s the same old idolatry. Our feeling good about ourself is more important than what the Holy Spirit is trying to do. “God, what I want, is more important than what you want!” How do you think that will play out in eternity?
Peter King of Sports Illustrated in his blog says that the Michael Sam selection is his pick as the highlight of the draft. He glorifies ESPN’s decision to run uninterrupted and unedited the saga up to and including when Sam kissed his, oh I don’t know, companion, SO,… Really??? So much for unbiased journalism. How on earth does this rate anymore then a shake of the head? If this is what this guy wants to do, if this is what the NFL wants to do, hey you’re grownups, you make your own decisions. But somehow lionizing this moment, trying to make it comparable to some major points in American history? Give me a break and as I wrote before, a 249th pick, someone who will probably never wear an NFL uniform in a regular season game, in a league that has numerous issues with players dealing with legal issues, questions involving gambling and who can forget the great “wardrobe malfunction”, drug abuse, a league that is often derisively referred to as the “National Felon’s League”. There’s no doubt in my mind that the majority of people in the NFL are people of integrity and good judgment. But more and more those in the NFL who just push for the buck, cheap publicity, a general disregard for common decency are dominating professional football. How do you think that will work out for football, for fans of a league that is becoming more debased?
When do those in the NFL who long for a sport of decency, integrity, sportsmanship, an inspiring product, start to push back against the element in the NFL that seems to want to drag the league down to the lowest common denominator? A league that disposes of a Christian who wins (Tim Tebow) and then two years later lionizes a 249th pick solely on the basis of the fact that he sleeps with another guy?
I will admit it, I will probably stay a Patriots fan, because, despite their own situation with former tight end Aaron Hernandez. To their credit, they immediately cut all ties, they did not play around with the situation. It’s an organization that is generally recognized to be high quality in many respects. But it’s teams and people like the Patriots who are going to have to start to restore the credibility of a league that is becoming more of a symbol of questionable virtue.
Yeah, all will be held accountable by God, even those of the great and powerful NFL. The NFL may be an American icon today, but what does that really matter when the final judgment comes. In the meantime, as Blackaby so aptly points out, we don’t do anyone a favor by patting them on the head, telling them not to worry about what God says and send them on their way.
Please do me one more favor, for all you amateur theologians who love to do the “judge not…” that’s not what it means, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, do yourself a favor, stop making yourself look ridiculous and either learn or just be honest and say, “We don’t care what God says, we are going to sin, our blood is on our hands.” Hey so be it. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 4: 1-3: “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,…” This is Paul giving directions to a pastor that he is mentoring. Likewise directions to me a Christian pastor. I’m really tired of the world trying to make a virtue out of obvious sin, admit it, quit trying to justify it, be honest. The world is steeped in sin and trying to justify it with utter nonsense. Christian teachers, the Bible, tell me what is God’s will, that’s what I’m responsible for, that’s what I will teach, convince, rebuke and exhort. At the end of time I can stand before the throne, and yes I will have my own sins to deal with, but in the end I look forward to hearing those words from the Father “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
That’s my responsibility, the Holy Spirit put me where I am, and I can only be responsible to Him and not to a world that loves to rationalize, justify, cavalierly flout was is virtuous and what is good. If the NFL and the media treated this as a note, fine and move on. But the hyperbole surrounding this has been absurd. Don’t tell the rest of the world that this is a “draft for the ages”, it’s a footnote, if you think it’s otherwise, you really do not live in the real world.