Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Profiles in cowardice

This may be an occasional series.

We're in a day where heroes have never been more needed, nor more in short supply. Who can blame them? I daresay they'd be pilloried and left hanging, even by the very people on whose shoulders they should be borne. In fact, there may be a thousand, a hundred-thousand heroes now, toiling in anonymity. More's the loss for us.

So today I think of the situation of the sexually perverted basketball player and the sports commentator.

A basketball player named Jason Collins decided to tell everyone that he was subject to unnatural, corrupting sexual desires — and that, so far from seeking help or freedom from them, he yielded to and pursued their indulgence.

But Collins, didn't stop there; he had to add that he was a "Christian."

ESPN reporter Chris Broussard was asked his thoughts and, as a Christian, Huffington Post reports his response thus (bolding added):
"Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly ... like 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, you know, that’s a sin," Broussard said during a segment that also included gay ESPN columnist LZ Granderson. "And if you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality -- 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."
(More here.)

That's not at all a bad statement. But of course, Broussard had committed today's unpardonable sin: being a Christian out loud in public.

So Broussard added this:
Today on OTL, as part of a larger, wide-ranging discussion on today's news, I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before. I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that. As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA.
To that, ESPN felt compelled to add:
“We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.”
Ah me, so much to comment on.

Who was brave? Of course, only Chris Broussard was to any degree brave, by to any degree indicating that he might agree with God's view of sin. He did it rather timidly, but to do it at all today is potentially to commit career hari-kiri.

Who was cowardly?

Well, I have to say Chris Broussard again, for saying that "Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today." How? In what universe? Surely not in America. In America, this instantly guarantees Broussard protected-martyr status (see below). Further, how is it brave to say "I'm giving in to base desires"? I guess in a perverted way, it's a kind of bravery to dare to associate yourself with a God who so totally condemns such behavior while insisting that you intend to rebel against Him and still count on His approval... but still, I'd chose words like gall and arrogance and lunatic hubris. Not "bravery."

And of course ESPN are cowards. They have to apologize for a Christian answering a question like a Christian. They have to say that "ESPN ...welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement." Why do they? What business of theirs is it to do so?

But worse, in so doing, they throw their own employee under the bus. They welcome Jason Collins' announcement — but do they welcome their employee's enjoyment of his First Amendment rights, and his conscientious practice of his own religious faith, which they have to know will surely expose him (not Collins) to excoriation and abuse?


MSC said...

We live in a day of staggering moral confusion.

DJP said...

I could take that in two ways, and both would be true!

Jay T said...

I think that Mr. Collins was brave in some sense. I'm sure he has legitimate fear of rejection by loved ones and is doing what he thinks is right.
So I don't think Mr. Broussard was cowardly. He risked his profession for righteousness sake. I haven't heard other Christians in prominent media positions issue anything but glowing approval for the whole thing.

DJP said...

So, it would be brave in some sense for someone to say "I am a rapist, and intend to continue committing rape," or "I am a child molestor, and I intend to continue to look for vulnerable children," or "I am a drunk, and intend to keep getting smashed as often as I can," and so forth?

If not, you'll have to explain the difference.

Anonymous said...

It seems that for a celebrity to "come out" as gay in our day and age is one of the "least brave" things he could do. Because, even though he might feel some trepidation, he has to be aware that immediately the mainstream media and a cowed-down general populace are going leap to his "defense," laud him publicly, publish safeguards against anyone who might disagree with his sin, and hail him as a hero. It's a two-for-one publicity special. You get praised for your sin, and heralded for standing up to imaginary enemies which were never allowed to criticize you to begin with.

Unknown said...

I think Mr. Collins showed extreme bravery. It is no longer brave to declare to the world that you are a homosexual. In fact, to make that declaration in our world makes you a hero. It is considered a virtue to confess your wickedness and wallow in it before the world. Coming out of the closet before the world does not make you brave.

The real bravery is the declaration of this sin with every intent to embrace it before God. To have the audacity stand before the Almighty God and declare with impunity identification with this sin rather than repentance is true bravery. To stand knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them is bravery.

Perhaps though it is really not bravery but stupidity.

Jay T said...

Mr. Collins is doing something he thinks is right despite being afraid of the consequences (rightly or wrongly). In that isolated sense, I agree with Mr. Broussard that it was brave (I believe that's how he meant it).
Given our current, screwed-up, cultural milieu, I understand why Mr. Collins thinks what he's doing is right. Conversely, I would not understand a hypothetical rapist/drunkard/child molester thinking they're some kind of martyr.
From a cultural standpoint Mr. Collins' statements are brave. From a biblical standpoint he's calling what God calls bad good. I agree with the biblical standpoint, but understand why some call him brave. Again, given that Mr. Broussard is a sports analyst, I think he has handled himself faithfully.

DJP said...

Thanks, but that's just not working for me, Jay. Isn't bravery a virtue? Can it be a virtue to tell the world you're yielding to the embrace of a vice?

Unknown said...

I think I understand Jay's point. Even in the act of committing suicide, which is a weak and cowardly thing to do, there is an isolated element of bravery.

DJP said...

Thanks, B, but I stubbornly insist that bravery is a virtue, and saying "I'm going to pursue degrading perversion" isn't an act of bravery.

Maybe it's exaggerated self-opinion, audacity, bluster, braggadocio, brass, cheek, chutzpah, conceit, conceitedness, contemptuousness, ego, egotism, gall, haughtiness, hauteur, high-handedness, hubris, imperiousness, insolence, ostentation, overbearance, pomposity, pompousness, presumption, pretension, pretentiousness, pride, self-importance, smugness, vanity, defiance, effrontery, forwardness, impertinence, impudence, insolence, or shamelessness.

But not bravery.

Unknown said...

Yea, I pick chutzpah, that would be a better word for it.

Jay T said...

OK. But I still disagree with calling Chris Broussard a coward given that he did something for which I'm almost positive I'd be fired. I don't think a lack of bravery is the only possible explanation for why he called Mr. Collins brave. Just like you wouldn't say that my (apparent misuse) of the term "bravery" is out of cowardice.

BTW, TWTG is one of my favorites and is something I recommend around my church, so I can't be that dumb.

Andrea said...

This is the part that gets me:

To that, ESPN felt compelled to add:

“We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.”

Sure, ESPN (sorta) acknowledged that Broussard was giving his personal (Biblical) viewpoint respectfully. But if his "viewpoint" given upon request was a "distraction" from actual "news," then what is ESPNs unsolicited opinion on this matter? Which is significant to Collins' performance in his sport how exactly?

Definitely feeling like I live in opposite world.

DJP said...

Well Jay, I imagine you'd be fired for saying you were an inveterate pederast or rapist or thief, too, or for turning up drunk day after day. What is the difference? Saying that you have every intent to yield to a loathsome vice, and no intent to seek freedom from it, is simply not bravery. Bravery is admirable; nothing about yielding to homosexual cravings is admirable.

And nobody's saying you're stupid. Just...ah... er... differently correct? Like, in the sense of not?


Anonymous said...


Carl C. said...

I saw the progression of this story along these lines: a professing Christian's fairly sound response to 2 other professing Christians living in unrepentant, rebellious sin (Collins, plus the openly-homosexual ESPN correspondent involved in the interview), followed by a back-pedaling comment to mitigate backlash. Concerning the latter: as a Christian, I really don't see how 'bravery' can be nuanced in any way to mean something associated with bald-faced rebellion against God. See Dan's exhaustive list of alternative words for clarity.

One of the most appalling pieces of this story is what both Dan and 'Unknown' have pointed out: not so much that a worldly person would act worldly, but that in the midst of his rebellion he would defame Christ's honor by claiming to be one of His adopted sons. Collins would do well to hear Jesus' words in Matt 7:21-27, especially the warning that he will disown those who claim His name, but were not obedient to Him:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matt 7:21 WEB
May he hear the true Gospel and come to repentance and faith in Christ. The follow-up to that hopeful ending to this story just might give us a real example of bravery: a new man, facing the consequences of taking up his cross and following Christ.

Robert said...

I'm very late to the party, but just wanted to add a little context to what Collins did. He is a 12 year veteran journeyman in the NBA. He is looking to pick up a contract for his 13th year...he has been on 6 different teams and has never averaged double figures in any statistical category. One could say that this was very much a calculated risk and some team will gain a whole new following if they sign him.

I think this is an aspect that has been overlooked by many who are discussing just how brave Mr. Collins is in coming out publicly. One would think that plenty of people already knew.