May 13, 2013
We should have seen it coming.
“President Barack Obama called Jason Collins on Monday to express his gratitude after the NBA player publicly announced that he is gay, two sources familiar with the call told The Huffington Post. A White House official confirmed the call, saying that the president wanted to ‘express his support’ and tell Collins that ‘he was impressed by his courage.’… Several politicians have applauded Collins’ decision to come out as well. First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support, while former President Bill Clinton – whose daughter went to school with Collins – offered a statement exalting his courage.” (Huffington Post)
Courage used to be the stuff of heroes: people who sacrificed their self interest and risked personal injury or death to protect values or the safety and security of others. Courage earns medals and launches parades; it secures speaking engagements and affects name selection by new parents. Courage?
Concerning his profession of Christian faith, Collins self-describes: “I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.” (Sports Illustrated)
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error… Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Paul, in Romans 1)
“ ‘He (Tim Tebow) seems like a great guy to have on a team, and I’d be tempted to bring him in as our backup,’ one NFC head coach said. ‘But it’s just not worth dealing with all the stuff that comes with it.’ An AFC head coach said, ‘You don’t want to put up with the circus.’” (Sporting News)
Just one year ago, Time Magazine posted their annual 100 Most Influential list… and only one NFL player made the cut: it was Tim Tebow. In the explanation for his selection, Jeremy Lin – also a Christian, from the New York Knicks, wrote: “He is unashamed of his conviction and faith, and he lives a life that consistently reflects his values, day in and day out…” Most influential… and unemployable because of his “stuff” and the “circus?”
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness , for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Jesus, in Matthew 5)
So… the culture wars have been in live-fire forever. Is the conflict finished – like the Cold War – or is it ubiquitous, and never-ending? What are we supposed to do: go on strike? March in protest? Form a new political party? Isolate? Is there a strategy for living in a world-gone-nuts?
The First Century was crazy-making, as well: Roman culture embraced hedonism with fervor. Moral boundaries either did not exist, or were not enforced. Paul was a Roman citizen, a world traveler… and an effective ambassador of a better way. His counsel still stands: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone… If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 13)