Published on May 2nd, 2013 | by Nathaniel0
Freedom from Condemnation: The NBA’s First Openly Gay Basketball Player
It was just three days ago that 34 year-old Jason Collins, a 7ft center for the Washington Wizards, made headlines in an edition of Sports Illustrated, becoming the first openly gay sportsman in the NBA. And subsequently, echoes and sentiments of both support and protest ensued. That same day Chris Broussard, an ESPN analyst, also made headlines for answering honestly when asked about his views. What does this say about masculinity? What does say about the black man? These are just a few of the questions that lingered after the news broke. In writing about such a sensitive and polarizing topic, I hope that this post will not start a debate but rather encourage an open and honest dialogue. Don’t be one of the many people who will read this post without engaging in the conversation. A topic as sensitive as this needs to be fleshed out.
The inspiration to write this post was sparked by a conversation I had with three other men in my Mastermind Group, a group of fellow men of who I speak with every week about goals and goal attainment. During the conversation, one of my brothers asked the question of what Jason Collin’s decision to come out means in the larger context. We dialogued and tried to figure out if there was any church or spiritual leader in the media with which we could identify our beliefs with.
Whether you are in support or disapproval of Collins, you have to respect his bravery. I highly doubt that Jason Collins is the only player in the professional world of sporting to have struggled with his sexual identity. His courage, at the very least, allows the dialogue to start.
With that said, as men and woman of God, we have the moral obligation of upholding His Word. We are first obligated to love God and each other (Matthew 22:37-38) and to hold individuals who identify in the faith accountable, even bearing their burdens with them (Galatians 6:1-2). Unfortunately, our moral obligation to maintain God’s word sometimes manifests in the form of hatred, picket signs, and derogatory slurs identified by Westboro Baptist Church protesting the NBA playoffs and taking to Twitter to call Collins a “fag.” It seems the church as a collective is either brutally vocal or extremely passive about their position on homosexuality. How can individuals with struggles feel validated and accepted by God if we as the church can’t even engage in a dialogue. And what does that potentially do to individuals such as Collins who struggle? It pushes them away from spirituality because they’re either hated or never acknowledged. I don’t know how Jason Collins identifies spiritually but I imagine he’s had a tough time there as well.
I think ESPN Analyst, Chris Broussard, in the video below, reflects an honest and biblical stance about this issue. He was asked his opinion and he answered honestly. Yet, he received flack; there was even a petition circling to get Broussard fired from his post. Broussard didn’t just oppose homosexuality, he opposed any one who chooses to live in sin, evidenced by this comment:
“True tolerance is being able to handle that as mature adults… If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, pre-marital sex between heterosexuals- whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God.”
Our struggles may not be a choice but how we choose to act on them is. If Jason Collins came to me as a brother in Christ, I would first tell him first that I love him and I respect him for having the cojones to start this dialogue. Secondly, I would encourage Him to take life moment by moment, trusting God and seeking Him first before any desire. We’ve been told by the world that we need to be happy at any cost even if that means our salvation. By denying ourselves, we gain freedom from the condemnation of being controlled by our desires. We also take on the character of Jesus and open ourselves up to the intimacy that comes with trusting God before man.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.