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Okay, you have ten seconds–not a term paper, not a sermon, not a blog post, not five minutes–ten seconds to talk about our country’s most controversial subject with someone who wants you to say something stupid, and you have to state your mind, on the spot, humbly and articulately in a way that honors Christ, tells the truth, is shrewd as a serpent, and as innocent as a dove, go:

Do you think the NFL (or MLB, or NBA, or NHL, or whatever) is ready for a gay player?

I think every team in this league wants to win, and the coaches and the people in the front office are doing all they can to get the best people in here so we can put the best team on the field.

Do you think the guys in the locker room would feel comfortable with a gay player?

I can’t speak for the guys in my locker room. I just know we want to win and want the best players who can help us meet our goals.

Would you personally be comfortable with a gay teammate?

I’m a Christian which means I believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for my sins. It also means I believe the Bible. The Bible tells me to love my neighbor so that’s what I would hope to do with any teammate.

But would you be uncomfortable with a gay teammate?

We’d find out. I don’t really know if I’m comfortable with any of my teammates until we get to know each other.

So do you personally think being gay is a sin?

The story of the Bible is the story of grace for sinners. So naturally the Bible is going to say a lot about sin. And guys sleeping with guys is one of the things the Bible calls sin. But everyone on my team is sinner and that starts with me.

Would you draft a gay player if you were the General Manager?

I’d evaluate him like any other player and look at film, the results from the combine, his pro day, his work ethic, and his character.

How would you feel if he does get drafted by your team?

I’d look forward to meeting him once camp starts.

And if he is watching this right now, what would you say to him?

I’d tell him he probably has better things to do than watch me on t.v.

What is the first thing you will say to him if he’s on your team?

Hello.

Anything else? Would you hang out with him?

Sure, if he likes video games and talking about Jesus.

Do you worry that a gay player might feel offended or threatened knowing what you and other Christians on the team think about his lifestyle?

Not any more worried than I am about the teammates who don’t agree with my beliefs or my choices in life.

How do you respond to the stories that equate this with Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball?

I’ll stick to playing football and let you write the stories.

But do you think there is something historical and ground-breaking about the first openly gay man in your sport?

I suppose a lot of people think it is ground-breaking.

And what do you think?

I’m not sure it’s quite the same as overcoming a centuries-old legacy of slavery and institutionalized segregation.

How do you think the fans will respond if the first gay player is your team?

Depends on if we are winning or losing. I think fans are more concerned with getting wins from their football team than social commentary.

How will Christians like yourself and Christians on your team learn to be tolerant of someone when you disagree with him on something as fundamental as his sexual identity?

I hope we’ll be more tolerant of him as a person made in God’s image than some reporters are of religious people with traditional beliefs.

And why do you think conservative Christians are so obsessed with this issue of homosexuality?

You’re the one asking all the questions.

Thank you for your time. There you have it, folks, at least one Christian athlete questions whether the league is ready for this kind of breakthrough. Back to you in the studio.


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Comments:


49 thoughts on “How a Christian Athlete Might Respond to the Questions that Are Coming (and Will Keep Coming)”

  1. Tremendous, Kevin!

    Thanks so much for posting this creative (probably still) fictional dialogue. Much appreciated. :)

  2. Curt Day says:

    Except for the answer to the very last question, this has been a refreshing post. Thank you.

    The very last answer is rather disingenuous considering how Christians have been resisting equality for gays.

    But again, the rest of the post is very refreshing. Thank you

  3. Paul Reed says:

    Great article, Kevin, if you’re looking to teach people to be politicians. Quite a few of the replies the interviewee gives are non-direct, meandering, and just drip with cowardice, as if the answerer is praying that the interviewer will move on to a different topic.

    I’ve got news for you. The days are ending where we’re allowed to take a more moderate stand on this issue. In the future, if you refuse to call homosexuality normal and healthy, you’re going to be labelled a bigot.

    So given that the penalty is going to be the same for giving a direct, faithful witness for Christ, and giving a half-hearted, indirect, cowardly replies, why not just bite the bullet and do what’s right?

  4. Cindy says:

    Brilliant! And I actually liked the last answer a lot.

  5. Samuel D James says:

    Absolutely brilliant. Will be sharing this one.

  6. Samuel D James says:

    Curt Day, your post actually proves the wisdom of Kevin’s words. No one will ask a Christian a question like that with an honest intention; the conviction (as you put it) that Christians are anti-gay is what motivates a question like that, and its merely a trap.

    Thanks for proving Kevin’s point.

  7. Jim says:

    Samuel, you said it better than I could. Like Kevin said, you have just a few seconds, not a book-length theological treatise to convince people that what they “know” to be true about the root of our conviction is false.

  8. Curt Day says:

    Samuel,
    What you are forgetting is what makes the answer disingenuous is history. From the time when homosexuality was criminalized to the time when Christians called for firing of homosexuals in certain jobs to the opposition to same-sex marriage lest society things that homosexuality is normal to the support for laws like the Arizona governor recently vetoed, too many of us Christians have preferred to target homosexuals in one way or another rather than to rely simply on the preaching of the Gospel.

    If we are ever going to rely on the simple preaching of the Gospel in our response to homosexuality, we have admit our past and present. We externalize evil. Rather, we have admit our part so we preach the Gospel while understanding the audience.

  9. Jason M says:

    If Bill Belichick were a believer, that’s what it would sound like!

  10. Kevin, I enjoyed this perspective. Great piece to think on.

  11. Wesley says:

    KD –
    love it bro. I know of many solid Christian guys in sports who could answer with such candour and humility. I pray they get the chance. Great post.

  12. kb says:

    Paul Reed,

    Jesus didn’t exactly give a direct answer to many of the social questions he was asked in his day. His thoughts were clear (much like, “Guys sleeping with guys is one of the things the Bible calls sin”), but could be called indirect. Without looking it up, there’s at least one instance where he didn’t even answer the question that was posed to him, but turned around and said “I’ll answer that if you answer this…” Is that cowardly?

    Tact does not equal cowardice.

  13. Very interesting! Thanks

  14. Tory says:

    Do you think homosexuality is a sin?

    “Can I just say that one of the most important things that this conversation and people like Jason Collins and Michael Sam have shown us is that Christians have at times communicated that those who have same-sex desires are in a special class of sinners that is far worse than ours? Michael Sams’ presence in the NFL challenges the whole conversation about tolerance of one another. For that, we are all indebted. Even though we may disagree on some issues such as sexual morality, we can both suit up and do our best to make it a long day for opposing QB’s.”

  15. Curt Day says:

    In the last paragraph of my lost comment, I meant to write, “We cannot externalize evil.”

  16. Scott M says:

    Russell Wilson was asked about having a gay football player and he pretty much nailed it, especially being a fierce and open Christian.

    Here is a link if anyone is interested in reading it:

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/football/2014/02/25/russell-wilson-seattle-seahawks-would-welcome-gay-player-like-michael-sam/

  17. … That clicking sound you hear is every sports chaplain in the country forwarding this along!

    The genius of this post, of course, is that all the washed-up, has-been athletes like myself can replace “sports team” with church/community/neighborhood/etc and be instructed ourselves. Thanks, Kevin!

  18. Eric G. says:

    Great post, however you have a few typos. It would flow better if you fixed them.

  19. Warren M says:

    Amen!! Fantastic, many Christians could really benefit from reading this

  20. Cedric says:

    Thank you.

  21. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    If Tim Tebow answered these questions as scripted by Pastor Kevin DeYoung, would his answers be well received?

    I hope so!

    Even this one:

    Q: How will Christians like yourself and Christians on your team learn to be tolerant of someone when you disagree with him on something as fundamental as his sexual identity?

    A: I hope we’ll be more tolerant of him as a person made in God’s image than some reporters are of religious people with traditional beliefs.

  22. jm says:

    Gotta agree with Paul R here. This is courteous and peppy but hardly shows complete candor.

    Besides, Christians do not equate bad-temperedness and an active homosexual lifestyle as being in the same category of sin, unless they are engaging in some awfully culturally-attenuated Bible reading. As for being conscious of our past abuses here, that IS needed, but does not justify responses that suggest an I’m OK/You’re OK mentality. We are all sinners in need of grace, but not all in equally challenging states of sin. Acceptance of homosexuality suggests a cultural mindset that fundamentally rejects Christian morality at a conscious level. That’s a bit different than saying, I sometimes look at a girl and lust, bro. One sin is a slip over a line, another reflects a far more disordered manifestation of sin. Pedophilia is not a fair parallel, but it does point to the problem. Would you say to a recovered Pedophiliac, Hey, you;re just a sinner, just like me? That is actually true, but there is unfortunately more to the situation than simply that. Simply saying as much as we’d like to act like homosexuality is nothing more than a lifestyle preference choice, like couples who live together, it is more complicated than that. Anyone who has very close gay friends and is also trying to witness to them I think would ten do agree with me. But maybe not.

  23. I think Christians should show the Glory of God everywhere they go and it can be in sports, traditional or even work at home with their families. Christian principles have lost value because Christians are omitted.

  24. jm says:

    Possibly analogy:

    Alcohol/Sex

    Getting Drunk/Fornicating = sin
    Falling into the Club Circuit and Being Plastered Every Weekend/Shacking Up = Sinful Lifestyle
    Transitioning from Alcohol to Coke/Pursuing a Gay Sexual Relationship

    Would a parent, friend, or friendly coworker just say hey, it’s all just sin?

  25. Sharon Frazier says:

    Kevin ~
    This is very well thought out and well written. Thank you.

  26. Joe says:

    Being uncomfortable sharing a locker room with a gay person is a pure example of “homophobia” – which is an irrational fear. Irrational fears are common and in that sense they are fine – because they diminish when someone becomes more familiar with whatever it is that spooks them – but to ask a question like “Do you think the guys in the locker room would feel comfortable with a gay player?” only perpetuates the fear/disgust response.

    Christians have a responsibility to calm irrational fears that can lead to discrimination. There is no reason why a gay man should not pursue a career in sports because some straight men would be “uncomfortable” sharing a locker room with a gay guy.

    Please don’t say that the word “comfortable” in the questions above refers to something else. It’s clear what you are doing – as all of the questions assume the player being interviewed is straight. Quoting Christ’s instruction to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” doesn’t mean you are those things. Examine your own heart before rushing to find ‘clever’ ways to dodge your own sinful inclinations.

  27. Kevin says:

    Kevin: Fantastic work, keeping center!

    Joe: Would you say that, a woman being uncomfortable sharing a locker room with a man is a pure example of “heterophobia”-an irrational fear? If not, then I think your guilty of a pure example of the fallacy of special pleading.

  28. Wesley says:

    jm –
    “Christians do not equate bad-temperedness and an active homosexual lifestyle as being in the same category of sin”

    While this may be true i think you need to ask yourself two questions:
    1. Does God make that same distinction when it comes to our sin? viz. Does God have “categories” of sin?
    2. If He doesn’t, should that inform/change the way we make that distinction?

    You are suggesting that your lustful act (“sometimes”) of looking at a woman does not (ala. sermon on the mount) make you an adulterer. The fact that it is not habitual doesn’t mean that God is just cool with your little slip ups and not cool with the person who struggles with SSA.

  29. Kevin says:

    Wesley,

    Without identifying with all that Jim has said, I would challenge you to reconsider your slightly-loaded questions and their entailment.

    First, you emphasize the categorization of sin. But then your illustrated objection to Jim comes in the form of contrasting looking with lust and adultery. Regardless of who you’d ask, not least Jesus (Matt. 5:28), these two sins are of the same category. So, I question whether you were being perfectly clear (or honest) in your objection.

    Second, of course, on one level all sin is equally condemning before the tribunal of God; it’s all an expression of our idolatry and rebellion. However, if, on some level, God does not see sin with some sense of degrees, then the repeated motif of degrees of judgment makes little sense. Since the scriptures speak of degrees of judgment, then not recognizing some degrees in sin makes little sense, too.

    So, having answered the first question in the negative eliminates the need to address the second.

    As for God viewing some sins of greater degrees of heinousness, simply see the Heidelberg Catechism Q 100, which deals with blasphemy. On that note, that even one sin is unforgivable indicates degrees.

  30. Joe says:

    Kevin: Would you say that, a woman being uncomfortable sharing a locker room with a man is a pure example of “heterophobia”-an irrational fear? If not, then I think your guilty of a pure example of the fallacy of special pleading.

    Yeah I get – all smart talk to deflect from “gay guy in a locker room” insults. Speaking truth in love no doubt. Everyone outside of the “bubble” gets it – which is why millennials are giving up on church and Christians are going to be stuck with the hater tag for decades.

    BTW gay men are in your locker room whether they are out or not.

  31. Kevin says:

    Joe, if you believe expecting another to be logically and morally consistent in a dialogue is mere question deflecting hater smart talk then my conscience is clear, although I’m sorry for you. I suppose that was one way to answer; it’s a pure example of special pleading, commonly called hypocrisy.

    BTW: your gay-men-in-your-locker-room threat missed its target. I don’t traffic locker rooms, and I never said it would bother me, out or not.

  32. Wesley says:

    Kevin –
    1. Not sure what your meaning is. I was not emphasizing categorization of sin at all but pointing out jm’s apparent categorization of sin. So, absolutely lust and adultery are of the same category. That was the point i was making.
    2. As to the question of degrees of punishment, i’d have to check again, but my top-of-the-head remembrance of it is that degrees of punishment is always placed in the context of one’s response to revelation, not the greater or lesser “badness” of their sin on its own. So Corazin is told it will be “more tolerable” for Sodom on the day of judgement, not b/c their sins were worse in God’s eyes, but b/c of their non-response to the revelation of the Messiah. so, in that light, i view degrees of punishment referred to in the bible as Jesus saying, “hell is gonna suck for you even more when you see with perfect vision what you turned away from/missed/etc.” not “hell is going to be hotter for you b/c your sins were worse than those other guys.”
    The unpardonable sin is a bad example b/c it has to do with removing one’s self from the very source by which one is forgiven; nothing to do with degrees of punishment.

  33. Nate B says:

    Interesting commentary about how athletes might respond to these questions. I would be interested in seeing a fictional conversation about males who might be obsessed with spectator sports. While the homosexuality debate isn’t going away among the politically obsessed—–it seems that many Protestant men and semi-protestant men and secular men and many other demographics of males are intellectually obsessed with who wins the big game.

    Can we get some criticism of the consumption of ESPN/spectator sports and how that’s impacting men today? I think spectator sports today are a big distraction today and perhaps youth sports. If men today aren’t sure how to respond to questions about homosexuality it could be because many are reading up about the NFL draft or pre-planning their March Maddness bracket.

  34. jm says:

    “You are suggesting that your lustful act (“sometimes”) of looking at a woman does not (ala. sermon on the mount) make you an adulterer.”

    No, I am not at all. What I am suggesting is adultery is an abuse of a non-sinful activity, heterosex. Homosexuality is a sinful activity, period. To identify oneself by a sinful activity is problematic, no matter how you slice it. I know you don’t agree here, but it is why I think to affirm someone in the secular world for coming out is to affirm their choice of a wrong road. It may take courage, but it also takes courage to join a gang or stage a break in. Affirm the person, but in today’s climate, we need to be careful to not be watering down our beliefs to make people happy. I appreciate the spirit of this piece but I think it goes a little overboard and paints the picture we simply don’t think sex is a very big deal and that gay sex and straight sex are exactly the same in terms of dangers. Whereas from my friendships and observations I suspect gay sexuality is more treacherous terrain in terms of human weakness so should not be handled nonchalantly.

  35. Wesley says:

    jm –
    “What I am suggesting is adultery is an abuse of a non-sinful activity, heterosex. Homosexuality is a sinful activity, period.”
    Here i would just say that both are a distortion and abuse of God’s good gift of sex. Sexuality between a man and a woman within monogamous marriage is God’s intended design. Everything – *everything* outside of that is divergent/reprehensible. The target/focus of that disordered desire may be repulsive to us (say with pedophilia, etc.) but that doesn’t mean God is screwing up His nose at pedophilia and just saying “hey, hey! settle down!” to the adulterer. They both were serious enough to require the death of God’s Son to atone for.

    I actually don’t think it’s courageous at all to “come out” in today’s day and age. As someone said once: if you want to be rebellious and different in today’s world, get a job, marry somebody of the opposite sex without sleeping with them first or living with them, and then be faithful to them for the rest of your life. That takes real courage and is actually a rebellion against the spirit of this age.

  36. jm says:

    I am with you here. I imagine we would agree more than disagree face-to-face. Cheers.

  37. ptm60 says:

    I don’t want to discount any of the comments made thus far. They all are relevant. What I would like to add to the discussion is something that I believe is the central issue in this whole matter. As a Christian, God has obligated me to agree with His word on all matters, which includes sin. It is true that we all have sinned. It is true that we are to love our neighbors. It is true that we should desire to preach the gospel to all who are without Christ. It is true that “all unrighteousness is sin.” I know that many words have been spoken and many actions have been taken supposedly “in the name of Christ” that have no Biblical basis. I acknowledge that. However, the central issue I see is the demand for approval. The Christian is often accused of singling out homosexuality, when in fact it only seems that way because in reality there is so much demand for approval disguised in terms of “acceptance” and “tolerance.” Its one thing to admit THAT we lie, steal, cheat, etc. But how many liars, thieves, and cheaters DEMAND we approve theses actions? I dare say that if they began demanding approval to the same degree as the demand concerning homosexuality, it would “seem” like we were singling them out too. So, again, it is not that we all don’t sin. It is not that we should love one kind of neighbor more or less than another. We should preach the gospel to all who are without Christ. I am just saying, as a Christian, I still sin, but please, just don’t ask me to APPROVE sin, especially my own!

  38. Hassan says:

    Clean atmosphere!!

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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