This past winter I was sitting in an Intro to Psych class when my professor began discussing the evolution of thought on psychological disorders. She mentioned that some years ago, it was believed among psychologists that homosexuality was, indeed, a disorder. Looking around the enormous 200-plus lecture hall, she asked us to raise our hands if we thought the same thing. No one raised their hands. She chided us, “Ooh, you guys are so progressive.” We laughed, and went on with the discussion.
Our generation really is progressive though—it seems that young people nowadays are more accepting and open than they ever were. With that, though, comes enormous backlash against people who might not feel the same—with Chris Broussard’s comments on NBA center Jason Collins’ coming-out announcement, we definitely saw that.
The same day that Jason Collins became the first active athlete in a major sport to come out as gay, ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’ held a reactionary segment featuring NBA analyst/Christian Chris Broussard. The anchor, explaining to Broussard that Collins was a Christian as well, asked him for comment. Highlights of Broussard’s response include that Collins is “walking in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ”, that “homosexuality . . . is a sin”, and finally saying, “I would not characterize that person as a Christian.”
Yeeeeeeeeeesh. Could that have gone any worse? Short of damning Jason Collins to hell, probably not. Yikes, Chris—that was embarrassing.
I can tell you that, sitting there at home and watching the playback of this interview, I was begging Broussard, for just this once in the world of Christians and the media, to not botch it. He botched it badly, and once again we have a situation where believers look like the narrow-minded jerks sitting on the outside pointing fingers while the rest of the world shakes their heads and wonders why we do not understand. It sucks. Ninety-nine percent of Christians are not like that, but I feel like in this progressive society, that one percent has all the attention. Now, these Collins-esque situations feel like traps.
Broussard was really wrong in his statement that, just because Collins was gay, his faith was invalid. That was ignorant. The other stuff though? Well, according to the Bible, he was right. Christians think homosexuality is a sin—that is true—to Christians marriage is designed to reflex Jesus’ marriage to the church (his bride, as it is explained). That is not to say, though, that Christians think that gays and lesbians are terrible people. Rather, the Bible says that despite this sin, we should love these people anyway—especially so, in fact. No one goes past the sin part though. I feel like we live in a world that likes to think that if you are a sinner, Christians hate you. You go to hell now. End of story.
That is not the end of the story though. As I said before, ninety-nine percent of Christians do their best to feel compassionate and understanding toward homosexuals, because they realize that, according to their own religion, they sin too in one way or another. No one is faultless, so why should one group of people be condemned just because their sin is different? To them, it is up to God to judge—it is not even their place to say who is right and who is wrong. As a Christian, I promise you that I do not sit across from my gay friends at lunch and just think about how sinful they are. It does not even cross my mind, and that is partly because my faith tells me that the act of judgment in itself is just as condemning. Judging them makes me a hypocrite.
Our progressive society seems to be making some of the core beliefs of Christianity (marriage, sexuality, drug use, etc.) more and more irrelevant. Twenty or thirty years ago, homosexuality was seen as outlandish and strange—I mean, the gay community used to take the blame for the AIDS virus, for crying out loud—but now things are entirely different. Huge movements to stop negative connotations of even just using the word ‘gay’ have seen a ton of support. Progress for equal rights has never had more momentum than right now. Acceptance is rampant in the United States at this very moment, and Christians, who look to follow the pristine model and example of openness and acceptance himself in Jesus Christ, are suddenly the kids playing by themselves on the playground. We are not allowed to show our faith because that makes us narrow-minded and rigid, and we are not allowed to be accepting because the only people in our group who have the public eye, that “one-percent”, will insult us. Then, we are still in trouble, because we are still a part of those people who will not let anyone support the gays.
So what is the modern Christian to do? It seems, ironically, like a two-way street with no way out. This might be one of the hardest times for Americans to have faith. It would be easy to say that all Christians have to do is to set positive examples, or for the Chris Broussards to not blow it when they are put in the limelight. Those answers are easy, but impractical. One can suppose, though, that the real answer is in the issue itself. It is a hard time to have faith, but . . . maybe you just have to have faith. It might be lame, but that is about all the modern Christian can do. Who knows? It might be all they need to do.
The story of Jason Collins has inspired a lot of people in the past week, but the fallout might have done the opposite for some. In the world of Christianity, some of the responses might seem like more nails in the proverbial coffin—there you go, another person ruining it for everyone. Not to fear though, because there is still hope. Remember: Jason Collins, at the root of all of this, is a Christian too. Imagine the trials he faced in his life. Imagine the times when he felt like there was nothing but dead-ends in front of him. Imagine how similarly that man must have felt to the modern Christian, all while being a modern Christian. He had faith—and wow, things really worked out for him after all.
Modern Christians seem to be looking at a two-way street with dead ends in each direction, but there has to be a way out, and Jason Collins found it. He did not do it through judgment or desperate self-defense or accusations; he did it by simple, quiet trust. He knew his faith, he knew what Chris Broussard called his “rebellion”, but he kept on.
Last week, Collins was an exceptional example of courage for the gay community, and that is what the record will show. Beyond that, though, he was an example of courage for someone else—incredibly and improbably—he was an example for the faith community too.