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Michael Sam: One Christian's Response

Grace & Truth

Michael Sam, a defensive end just graduating from the University of Missouri and about to enter the NFL draft came out last week that he was gay. NY Times did a short piece about it. Sam so far has seemingly been very accepted by the community and society at large. Of course questions swirl about how receptive they will be behind close doors, especially those of the NFL locker room that he will likely find himself in, as he is expected to be an early round draft pick this next season. My concern is not chiefly how Michael Sam will be received in an NFL locker room, but how the Christian community will view him. Will we turn our faces away ashamedly when we are watching and he comes on our screen, and his sexual orientation comes into our mind? As Christians will we watch a fairly brutal sport for our entertainment and enjoyment and think not of the players safety and well being, but instead primarily of their sexual orientation? Often as Christians we struggle to know what our response should be when it comes to the topic of homosexuality. How do we help people feel loved and accepted, yet not send a message condoning something we believe is wrong? I am certainly not saying it is an easy topic to tackle, primarily because we have next to nothing from the scriptures in terms of how to deal with it on a societal and public scale, especially with the advent of governmental acceptance of homosexual marriage, except that homosexual acts are explicitly sinful as outlined by the scriptures (Rom 1; 1 Tim 1; etc.). But the scriptures outline heterosexual sins such as lust and adultery as well, not to mention pride, selfishness, idolatry, jealousy, envy and many, many other things (Gal 5; 2 Tim 3; etc.). So why do we as Christians tend to single out homosexuality and get uncomfortable in how to respond when we don't feel the same level of un-comfortableness when dealing with people steeped in other sins? For instance we have no problem 'supporting' (or watching) another one of our favorite sports athletes that is a publically known adulterer or 'playboy'. Now certainly if Michael Sam or the 'playboy' example are claiming Christ and belonging to Him while living an openly unrepentant life, then the scriptures would instruct us in how to respond (1 Cr 5; etc.). But to my knowledge, that is not what we are discussing. I believe the apostle John's words about Christ can give us insight into the question of how we as Christians are to respond in a way that we balance helping others to feel loved and 'supported' while not compromising our convictions about the word. Christ is said to have come in 'grace and truth'. He was able to manage dealing with sinful people so comfortably, that the religious people around him condemned him for it (Lk 7) and yet he was able to maintain righteousness and calling them to repentance (Jn 8). And many times, repent they did! A frame of reference that helps me in discerning my dealings with the LGBT community is to think about how I would deal with a heterosexual not following Christ in the same circumstance. Would I watch them on T.V.? Would I go to their wedding? Would I have lunch with them? Would I try to share my heartfelt beliefs about Christ and His redemptive work and power to set captives free, both in my life and in theirs? I cannot allow the secular influence of discrimination and the singling out of the homosexual community infiltrate my own mind and heart, most especially not in the name of Christ.


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