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Who was number 248?

May 12, 2014

The 248th person taken in the NFL draft that is.  It was late Saturday after three days of the draft event televised on ESPN and they were almost finished with the seventh and final round.  In most years by that time the only people paying attention are the die-hard fans.  But this year all the major news organizations were waiting and watching.  They were all waiting, as they had been all along, to see if Michael Sam, the openly gay linebacker from Missouri, would be drafted.

As it turns out he wasn’t.  Thus, as in most years, the 248th pick will go down with little note.  For the record, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ahmad Dixon of Baylor.  But the 249th pick will be famous as St. Louis did indeed draft Sam with the next pick.  This became headline news on every major network, probably the first time anyone actually cared so much about this sort of late round pick.

By the next day pictures of Sam kissing his boyfriend were all over the news; President Obama and many others had weighed in with comments and it seemed as if everyone knew what was happening.  Never before had such a last round pick been so publicized and, I suspect, it never will be again.

A few Christians were outraged that Sam, or any gay person, was drafted.  Most however sided with Richard Land, former head of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, who said in response to a boycott “I’m adamantly opposed to such efforts….”A person’s sexual preference should not be an impediment to their livelihood in the sports industry….I think it’s unwarranted, unjustified and unfair to try to intimidate NFL teams from drafting someone because of their sexual orientation.”

From a football standpoint rarely is a late round pick a big deal and I suspect this one will be no different.  Sam will either make it or not, based on his ability.  But from a news standpoint it actually was a big deal; it was yet another step in our public acceptance of gays in every civil liberty sense.  I suspect that ten years ago such a move could never had been made and ten years from now it will be no big deal.  Such is the trend of our culture.

The big question for evangelicals is now what?  I suspect that, in time, homosexuality will join other lifestyles such as unmarried heterosexual cohabitation, sex before marriage, divorce and adultery that many evangelicals disapprove of but accept that, like it or not, it is out there.

There will be some, like the link above, who want to fight tooth and nail on this issue.  They will issue dire proclamations of disaster for society and the end of the church if we stand idle.  But the church, as it always has, will adapt and go on.  The church survives and even thrives in situations much more dire than this and has for centuries.

One great thing about the church is the ability it shows to go on and on in an ever-changing world.  We adapt our message and, at times – though many are loathe to admit it – change it.  One only needs to look at the church’s teaching on slavery to see an example.  Troubles and opposition, though we fear them, are always helpful and purifying.

In every situation, and this one is no different, I am glad for the way such controversy gives us an opportunity to discuss the most important thing; just what is the core message of our faith and how do we present it to the world.  That conversation will, at times, be messy and heated but I can’t help but think that God smiles on it; it shows how serious we are about being good followers of Christ.

I wish Michael Sam well in his football career.

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From → Christianity

2 Comments
  1. Well written! Though I want to stand on scripture and oppose what the Bible opposes, I feel that some Christians have developed an odd approach with regard to separation of church and state. They vociferously oppose any government regulation of church affairs, any restrictions on Christian activities, but at the same time are calling for government to legislate and/or enforce Christian conduct in secular society.

    Sin is sin and each one of us has to answer to God for our choices, but you can’t order people, with threats of legal action, to behave as Christians. Prohibition was one shining example of this: however religiously right, it was a complete failure. In this issue again it seems secular society is saying, “We’re not going to bend to religious censure anymore.”

    I believe the root of the outrage is fear. Fear that blatant sin will bring the wrath of God down on America and/or fear that evil will intensify its persecution of Christianity. Quite possible on both counts. But Jesus never called his followers to fix society; He called them to reach out to individuals, just as He did.

    “He came unto His own and His own received Him not. But to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” John 1:11-12

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