May, 2013

The Courage to Come Out as a Christian

The response to Chris Broussard’s interview on ESPN about NBA player Jason Collin declaration of his sexual orientation was predictable.
Broussard was asked as a Christian whether he thought Jason Collins could be both openly and unrepentantly homosexual and Christian. The problem erupted because Broussard had the gall to actually answer the question. Broussard’s sin was actually having an opinion about sin. Broussard did not single out Collins, the host of the show did that. Broussard never even singled out same sex attraction but rather spoke in broad general terms about sexual promiscuity. Broussard never said he hates Collins. And keep in mind, Broussard was answering a specific question about his opinion with respect to his faith. And for this he will be publicly vilified and possibly fired from his television analyst job.
The response through social media displays an ignorance and intolerance that is sadly far too common. The only sin in today’s enlightened society is to think that there is such a thing as sin. One of the most troubling aspects of this brouhaha is that the same shallow anti-Christian responses continue to get rehashed even by journalists who really should have a professional integrity that prevents it. It would behoove journalists and people in general to know a few simple rules before blasting someone with whom you disagree
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First, context is important. Context would have helped this situation immensely. Broussard was asked a specific question by an interviewer about his personal faith with respect to that of another of the same faith. He did not climb onto a soapbox to rail upon his personal agenda as much as he was pushed to the edge and forced to either violate his conscience or be turned into a piñata of political correctness. Before you blast Chris Broussard for having an opinion keep in mind that he was asked for his opinion.

 

Second, understand the argument with which you disagree before you disagree with it. It is simply ignorant to dismiss a Christian’s argument by saying the Bible is wrong or showing that it is incomprehensible to you. It is simply unfair to call Christians hypocrites because they disagree with homosexuality and not the eating of shellfish. All you have shown is that you are unwilling to make any effort to understand the basic process of the interpretation of the Scriptures. To dismiss someone as wrong on these grounds is intolerant, uninformed, narrow-minded, and bigoted. Most with a basic understanding of the principles of biblical interpretation could explain what is seemingly baffling to you. But it would require you to be willing to step out of a solipsistic mindset and encounter an argument which might prove yours false. It might require you to turn from behavior that likely offers short-term benefits but is ultimately harmful. Unfortunately, it is far easier to score the cheap shot than to engage an argument on its merits, so journalists and others will continue to rehash this invalid point. It is important to note, though, that this gate swings both ways. Christians do not get a pass on this. If a Christian cannot articulate why this is a bad interpretation of scripture or why same sex acts are sinful, then please do not enter this public debate. Speak with someone who can (this article by Tim Keller would be a good starting point)…and try to learn from them. Don’t take the bait to prove that 140 characters is just enough space to demonstrate that at least your phone is smart.
Third, making the declaration that someone else is “judgmental” is a nearly worthless statement. I fear that the irony of such a statement is often lost on those who would make it. Our society would actually benefit if we all exercised a little bit more judgment. The truth is we make judgments all the time. We don’t let the blind drive automobiles. We don’t let untrained people practice dentistry out of the back of vans. Harvard doesn’t admit everyone who applies. I will never be selected in the NBA draft. 
Being judgmental is not a necessarily bad thing. Making informed, measured, and consistent judgments between good and bad, worse and worst, better and best is a desirable trait in people. If we had a better common understanding of this it would only improve our ability to disagree without being disagreeable. It would allow people to formulate opinions about matters of greater consequence than what the Kardashians are wearing. It would, however, require a great deal more mental effort than it appears is currently exerted by the masses. That is, it might require more than clicking “like.”

It would certainly mean that the ubiquitous rebuff to a Christian’s opinion of, “You’re a hypocrite!” is no longer valid. Christians are called to be discerning. They are called to be prophetic. This doesn’t mean they are clairvoyant. It means they are called to speak the truth of God’s Word into a situation. It means if they really believe in Christ…if their faith is actually important to them then they have an obligation to give the reason for the hope that is within them. It means the Christian who refuses to call sin sin is responding in a sub-Christian manner. For a Christian it is far more hypocritical to remain silent. In fact, this should be expected by anyone who has an opinion. If you believe something and you believe it is a correct statement which is important and edifying for others; you should have the freedom to express it.
In this respect, I have no problem with Jason Collin’s statement. Make no mistake, though, Collins was doing more than simply professing his sexual preference. He shared his personal testimony, but He was more so advocating for the acceptance of a lifestyle. He was laying out his case for why society should accept same sex attraction as normative. And whether or not this is a valid assertion is debatable. Homosexuality is biologically unsustainable, socially corrosive, and spiritually deadly. This is a lifestyle which is not normative according to natural law. This is a lifestyle which undermines the foundation of the family. Given normal circumstances, is it not best for a child to be raised with a Mom and a Dad? This is a lifestyle which the three Abrahamic faiths have declared to be ultimately harmful. One can argue these points (or the opposite) without impugning the character or personhood of another. One can disagree with these statements. But it is fascism under the guise of “tolerance” to attack, marginalize, and punish someone for simply expressing a view with which you disagree. Chris Broussard does not deserve the vitriol which is being spewed upon him. He was answering a specific question about his faith vis-a-vis Jason Collin’s profession of the same faith. And Broussard answered according to the standard of that faith which has been accepted for several millennia. The contrary position is a novelty and has yet to demonstrate its validity with respect to biology, sociology, and the Christian faith. And Chris Broussard is right, a person who claims to be a Christian but is living in unrepentant sin (sexual or otherwise) is not a Christian. The difficult questions of faith that seem to be left unanswered by those professing Christ while advocating this lifestyle are if Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Savior: What is meant by Lord? From what did Jesus save you? If Jesus spoke as much about repentance from sin as he did about love…from what sins are we to repent? Is it ever appropriate to call another professing Christian to repent from their sin? If so, how do you define sin? If it comes from something other than Scripture, how is that not just some arbitrary whim? In this debate let’s evaluate some of those questions instead of allowing the undercurrent to take us all out to sea.

While you may disagree with his answer, please understand that Chris Broussard did exactly what any person, Christian or not, should have done. He answered the question honestly and not how the fickle winds of popular sentiment were blowing.