Yesterday Jason Collins, a 12 year NBA veteran, came out and announced he is gay. Both the blogosphere and the twittersphere has exploded with this news. NBA stars like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Bradley Beal, among others, have tweeted their support of Collins. Collins has also received encouraging tweets from people like Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Spike Lee. The Sydney Morning Herald’s headline for this news was “‘I’m raising my hand’: basketball star reveals he’s gay after being inspired by bombings“
There are a few things to say here. Firstly this is not as big news as it seems. Contrary to the SMH Jason Collins is not a star or never has been a star. He is coming towards the end of his 12 year career (which is a very good stretch in the NBA!) and is a free agent that no one probably wouldn’t have been signed regardless of whether he is gay or straight. If Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin or Lebron James came out and announced they were gay this would have been a far greater news story. This fact is in ten years time no one will remember Jason Collins as a great basketball player only as a gay one which I think is sad for Jason Collins.
Secondly, it has been interesting to watch how to media has reacted to people voicing their religious belief that practicing homosexuality is a sin. For example, the NBA team I support, the Golden State Warriors have a lot of Christians on the team and a lot of those guys are Christians. The coach, Mark Jackson, is a pastor and was questioned about Collins coming out: Here is the transcript:
Q: “Did you hear about Jason Collins today coming out as the first gay athlete still in the game?”
Jackson: “I will say this. We live in a country allows you to be whoever you want to be. As a Christian man, I serve a God that gives you free will to be who you want to be. As a Christian man, I have beliefs of what’s right and what’s wrong. That being said, I know Jason Collins, I know his family, and am certainly praying for them at this time.”
Q: Is there a stigma attached to him now? Will he be able to get on another team?
Jackson: “That’s not for me to answer.”
Q: “Would he be welcome as a Warrior?”
Jackson: “If he had game.” (Jackson laughs, as do several members of the media.) “If he can help this basketball team. Today he can’t help this basketball team.”
Q: “You said you knew Jason. How well do you know him and were you surprised to hear the news, knowing him a little bit?”
Jackson: “I called Nets games for three years and he was a member of the Nets team. Also, living in LA, his parents, his mom, I don’t know if she does but works for one of the private schools. We had interactions in terms of attempting to get one of my kids into school and she was instrumental in it. Comes from a great family, and he’s a great guy.”
Q: “Knowing the locker room atmosphere as you do, Would any player in general have trouble gaining acceptance around the league not just this team or not just with Jason, but in general? Would that be difficult?” Jackson: “It’s something that obviously being around Jason, and I played with John Amaechi in Utah, that there’s a reason why in these situations these players are at the end or done. So obviously that answers itself. Right, wrong or indifferent, it is something that’s new to people.”
Q: “Are you shocked?”
Jackson: “Shocked? That there’s a gay man?”
Q: “That he came out.”
Jackson: “It’s like asking me if I was shocked that he came out and said that he liked women. It is what it is. To each his own. And like I said, I know him as an individual, he’s a good guy, and I’m certainly praying for him. I’m not shocked at anything these days.”
After these words were reported the Twittersphere exploded. Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe), the Warriors beat writer for the Bay Area News Group and a Christian, went on twitter defending the rights of Mark Jackson to say what he thought. But the guy who has really copped it was ESPN NBA writer and Christian Chris Broussard. Broussard was asked whether Collins could be Gay and a Christian because Collins has said he is both. This was Broussard’s reply:
Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly, like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the bible would characterize them as a Christian.
This was a very bold statement! But did you notice how Broussard carefully says that all sex outside of the confines of marriage is sin. He is therefore not saying that homosexuality is worse than any other sin but he is standing on his own convictions and saying it is a sin. Ironically, many people have spoken out and called what Broussard said wrong. It seems you can’t call things a sin today because that would be, well, sinful right?!? Whether or not you agree with Broussard’s thoughts about homosexuality I am sure you can agree with what he said in the same show about name calling and bigotry:
In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.
We need to be truly tolerant about this issue and many others today. To call each other names like “bigot” or “intolerant” is, in the end, not tolerant at all. If we are to be mature adults about this we listen respectfully to each other and we can all agree that even though I may disagree with your moral choices or your sense of morality and you me disagree with mine we need to hear each other out on the issue of sexuality as well as many others.
Maybe you are reading this and you aren’t a Christian, I would add one more thing. The Bible doesn’t say that homosexuality as the worst sin, nor does it permit abuse or vilification of homosexuals. If any Christians vilify Gay people they are in deep sin and God hates all sin, especially the ones religious people commit. But the Bible does hold to a high standard of sexual morality that we all fall short of (e.g., Matt. 5:28). That means we are all sinners and that all of us are in desperate need of a savior. The good news is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), no matter their sexual orientation. Because he loves us he died on the cross and took upon Himself the punishment that we deserved. Then God raised Him from the dead three days later. This is what Easter is all about. Now anyone can receive forgiveness and eternal life when they trust Jesus as their lord and saviour and repent of their sin. God loves you and has done everything you need to be right with him. The choice is yours as to whether you come into relationship with him or not.
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