DALLAS – On Monday, NBA player Jason Collins stepped forward and said he was gay, making him the first athlete in professional sports history to “come out” while still an active player. He also claims to be a Christian despite his choice to engage in such a lifestyle.
Chris Broussard, an NBA analyst for ESPN and president of a men’s ministry named K.I.N.G., was asked to join ESPN’s Outside the Lines to discuss the matter.
When asked if he believes that Jason Collins is a Christian, he said this: “Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly 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’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be – not just homosexuality, [but] adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be – 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.”
Of course, the backlash against Broussard is in full effect. ESPN issued a statement, arrow-shooting columnist Gregg Doyel of CBS questioned his “decency,” and social media was abuzz. On the flip side, Christians worldwide are lauding his bravery in standing on scripture.
The question is, how do we as Christian respond to this story?
- Be clear and gracious. Those in defense of Collins are calling Broussard a bigot, judgmental, hateful, ignorant, intolerant, and so on. (Which is ironically intolerant.) If you’re like me, you may have the gut-response to respond with biting words. However, Christians must be particularly aware of how we frame this discussion publicly. We should be prepared to show grace, mercy and love to those who struggle with this sin. There will be plenty of rhetoric to go around, so we should avoid anger while being clear about our beliefs.
- Be prepared for backlash. Publicly defending Broussard and scripture’s stance on homosexuality is not and will not be without repercussions. People will insult and misrepresent you and your faith. Some will not listen to reason, no matter how kind and gracious you are. Don’t be surprised, and don’t respond with hate. Boldly stand on truth and take the lumps as they come.
- Preach Christ. Opposition to homosexual behavior is surely a part of the Christian message. We cannot compromise this. The gospel demands that “we know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6). But it’s imperative that we avoid overt homophobia that is destructive to civil conversation. We should pray that God might open the door for opportunities to share the message of reconciliation with our gay neighbors. They are sinners in need of a Savior, as we all are.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This column first appeared at CBMW.org, the website of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Brandon Smith is a freelance writer, associate editor of CMBW.org, and is studying historical & systematic theology at Criswell College in Dallas.)