As the news broke about Jason Collins this past week and his recent decision to come out of the closet as homosexual, I sat and watched the news. Nearly every media outlet covered it, from ABC, to HLN, to ESPN. His unveiling of his homosexuality did not surprise me. I always believed sports would be one of the last places to become openly homosexual; I believe we are at that point in society now. As I continued to watch television I began to see the overwhelming support for Jason from the media and from public figures on social media. That too did not surprise me.
What did surprise me was the support for Jason’s homosexuality from self-proclaimed followers of Jesus.
The acceptance of every lifestyle has become normative in our society. I hear it said all the time, “whatever is good for you is good for you, and what is good for me is good for me.” There is this pithy pluralistic tolerance in our day that seeks to accept anything and everything no matter ones faith or belief.
Truly, Tolerance is the new American religion. In America, more people believe in tolerance than any other world religion or belief. Our culture’s desires are to seek to please anyone and everyone no matter what they believe. Many defend their religion of Tolerance by saying that tolerance is loving, and that acceptance is loving. Even some “Christians” are converting to this new faith. Any Bible believing evangelical can tell you that sexual sin is completely incongruent with the gospel. Many times throughout scripture, we see that all sex outside of heterosexual monogamous marriage is sinful. It doesn’t surprise me that Tolerance is a big-time religion in our day, but it is surprising to see many Christians jumping ship to join in on the tolerance of sin. Why do so many persons of faith back off their faith in the name of tolerance? Here are a number of reasons:
Lack of biblical knowledge: Many simply do not know what the bible teaches. I hear a lot of second hand information from those who oppose the Bible’s viewpoint. They hear things on TV or from a friend and repeat it as fact. Some of these “facts” include, “Jesus never spoke on sexuality”, “The Bible doesn’t mention homosexuality in the new testament” and my personal favorite, “even our science textbooks are updated once a year! The Bible is old and needs revisions!” Many simply do not know what scripture teaches on sexuality. Continuing to read scripture can help one to see what Jesus and the Bible does teach us.
Fear: Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed many Christians back down off of their Christian faith in fear. In talking with many people in our congregation at church, many have voiced their fear of people in their lives and their reaction. If they spoke out in opposition against sin, what would their families and co-workers say? They know that if they speak out in opposition of this new American religion that they will be hammered and labeled intolerant or a bigot.
Idolatry: Many have simply chosen something else over their God. They have chosen acceptance, money or reputation over Jesus. I witnessed Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless (self proclaimed evangelicals) on ESPN First Take effectively choose their careers over Jesus when talking about the Jason Collins story.
There are a myriad of other reasons why we back down from our faith, but the fact remains that we as a Christian faith have retreated to our churches and have decidedly remained silent or have affirmed an issue that is contrary to our faith.
Why do Christians need to voice their faith?
Jesus Christ commissioned us at the end of the Gospels to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”. The foundation of our faith is spreading our faith. This idea of privatized faith is incongruent with Christianity. In our day, Americans think the constitution says “freedom from religion”, when in fact it says “freedom of religion”. We must go forth and seek to spread the Gospel of Jesus no matter the conditions of the culture. It has never been easy to share ones faith, we cannot expect it to be easy now. As Christians, we believe the Gospel to be the true, inerrantly inspired word of God. If that is the case, we must share our faith because we understand the ramifications for not meeting Jesus.
It is not, sinner vs. non-sinner
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)” We are all sinners in this life. A Christian sharing their faith is as much a sinner as the one they are speaking to. We have all been dragged through the mud, so us sharing our faith is not a ploy to make anyone feel bad for their sin, but the goal is for others to find belief in Christ. Because while we all are sinners, Christ died for that sin. He conquered it and now we can live freely in Christ as we live according to his word.
It is, Repentant vs. Unrepentant
The problem with Tolerance is it doesn’t lead anyone to repentance. Jesus is the most tolerant man to ever walk the face of the earth. He tolerates any and all sin we bring to him. He can forgive murderers, adulterers, the sexually immoral, thieves, slanderers and the like. We ALL fall into the sinner category and we always will. But what will we do with that sin? Will we accept it as good, or will we lay it at Jesus’ feet and let him take it from us. Jesus is tolerant but the one thing he is intolerant of is unrepentance. Habitual lifestyles of sin cannot be forgiven by Christ because they do not include true repentance.
The Cross of Christ
I have no problem with Jason Collins admitting he is gay. As a Christian, it should make my job easier, now I can help show people like Jason the Cross with better clairity. We should bring the Gospel to those who are homosexual with love, patience, courage and kindness. We cannot will anyone to salvation, but let’s not forget that the Holy spirit has a say as well and can help change those who are in sin. We should not lift homosexuality up as the chief sin in the world. All sex outside of heterosexual monogamous marriage is a sin. We must speak to homosexuals the same way we approach those sleeping together before marriage, committing adultery, watching pornography and any other sexual sin: we point them towards the true Cross of Christ.
Gay rights activist Brenden Ayanbadejo has recently said “Equality trumps religion”. What he means is that his religion of Tolerance, trumps the Cross of Jesus. Jesus died for tolerance, we no longer have to bear the acceptance of our sin; we can have it taken from us by Him. Tolerance is not love, the Cross is. I think it is time we let God define love and stop relying on Man’s worldly definition
Eddie Williams is a Christian, a husband and a father, and public speaker, he also leads a ministry as a pastor at his local church. The 5 year NFL veteran speaks weekly at the young adults ministry and has spoken across the U.S. at high schools, colleges, conferences and ministries. Eddie has been a part of numerous programs for youth, including NFL Play60. He has also given back to the community at organizations like the Cleveland Foodbank, Feed My Starving Children, Veterans hospitals and the DECA. Eddie is pursuing his Masters of Divinity at Western Seminary in Portland, OR. For more on Eddie, visit Eddiejwilliams.me