Shortsighted compassion

Jason Collins as a Celtic (Credit: Wikipedia)

Jason Collins as a Celtic
(Credit: Wikipedia)

He’s the first active athlete of the four major sports in America to announce to the world that his is homosexual. Jason Collins, the 34-year-old center for the Washington Wizards, had an interview with George Stephanopolous on ABC’s Good Morning America after his announcement. When asked what he would say to a gay 12-year-old boy dreaming of playing in the NBA, Collins said, “It doesn’t matter that you’re gay.”

He’s right.

Playing basketball has nothing to do with your sexual preference. Collins continued with his counsel for the young, hypothetical athlete by telling him that hard work and commitment to your teammates is what counts. I couldn’t agree more. If Collins ends up playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, then I’ll cheer as hard for him as I do for Kyrie Irving or like I will for Lebron James when he comes home ;-).

However, I won’t cheer for him just because he’s gay to prove that I’m a modern Christian with up to date morals.

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Support from fellow NBA stars, celebrities and even the President of the United States went out to Collins, validating another response in the interview about the timing of his announcement, “America is ready.” That pains me not just because it’s a sign of the times, but because part of me wants to be able to do the same.

Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle note in Erasing Hell, a book refuting Rob Bell’s argument against the existence of hell, that they like the idea that there is no hell because that’s easier to understand and accept. It’s hard dealing with the notion that God has a place of eternal torment for people who reject him. But as much as they dislike the idea of hell that doesn’t make it go away even though the sentiment is based on concern for people who will suffer. God has always been just and he always will be.

I’m writing a book where I note how unfair it is to have such a strong desire toward gluttony when others don’t. But, let’s call it what it is, or, more accurately, what God has decided it is. To say that eating everything in sight is okay because that’s how I express the real me is to say that I’ve defined morality for myself and that God can stuff his. Though I’m often tempted, I’m just not willing to do that (anymore).

Compassion is the emotion that leads to relieving people of their suffering. The homosexual community has been struggling for a long time. It is right to want to see that pain end. However, real peace is being in a right place with God on his terms.  Trying to alleviate suffering for others by redefining divine concepts will not work for them in this life, and certainly not in the next. And it doesn’t do us any good either.

Giving my blessing to sinful actions because people are struggling with them is a cowardly and ineffective approach to following Jesus just as much as judging and mistreating them are. Christians, we’ve erred to one side for much of our history, let’s not err to the other now.

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NLT)

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12 thoughts on “Shortsighted compassion

  1. The problem is that we have forgotten that as Christians, modern or otherwise, we are called to love the sinner but hate the sin. The world seems conflicted, because they see loving the sinner as condoning the sin, or else to hate the sin indicates that we reject the sinner too. They always tell us that Jesus forgave the woman taken in adultery but forget the rest of Christs words “go and sin no more”>

    • You’re right. Many Christians still get this wrong, and we have to expect that other people will get it wrong as well.

      And, it comes down to more than this one issue. There are many sins Christians accept more than others, yet they all separate us from God. I remember playing basketball with a guy known as a Christian in the community. Yet, he would get so angry that others, including people who didn’t go to church, just let him have his way. It’s the same thing.

      Thanks for commenting, Frank.

  2. CS Lewis in Mere Christianity has a whole chapter on sexual sins. He shows the difference between wanting too much food and sexual issues. Just read it the other day.

    • I have no doubt that there are differences, but what they have in common is that they are both sins. There is the similarity of satisfying our desires in ways God does not accept.

      I’ll see if I can find my copy of Mere Christianity and read that chapter.

      Thanks.

  3. Dave,
    I think what you’ve written is right on. Hold fast!
    Before you beat yourself up about the above mentioned article by someone who calls himself a gay christian, read my article about the actual science regarding the false assumption that people are born gay.
    I grew up with five older brothers, two who where gay and died of AIDS. I know this subject well from a unique vantage point.
    Titled “DNA Proves Homosexuality is Choice and not a Race Issue- We Are Responsible for Our Choices”
    One issue that is vital but not discussed is that all sin, sexual and otherwise, can have such a strong allure that we THINK we have no choice.

    Let me know if you agree.

    C.C.T.
    http://wp.me/p1Lr49-NZ

  4. Great post. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s getting so hard to discern God from what we want from God. So now more and more people want God that is okay with various forms of sin, and they’re getting that. It’s scary. We don’t want God, we want our version that is comfortable and safe to whatever pet sin we want. This can be said of MANY things, not just homosexuals.
    I like the new look to the site (haven’t been on here in a while, so not sure how new it is)!

    • Great to hear from you again, Teryn! It’s not easy to show gentleness in a culture that isn’t used to hearing it. Thanks for stopping by my friend.

      Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID

  5. If there was one religion, AND that one religion hated on gays, you’d have more of a point. I see too many different religions and have too many gay friends to let your claim to knowing what God wants to give your view much merit.

  6. Kirk! Great to hear from you again. I’m sorry if you’ve inferred from this blog that I or God hate gays. If you take another look you may discover that I’m saying the opposite, while not denying the many Christians have (including myself in the past), and some still do, hated on gays.
    You’re rejection of my view of God is based on your compassion for your friends, which you’ll find from this blog is an emotion we have in common. Where we differ is that I’ve decided to take God’s word on what is right despite what I might feel, because even when I am genuinely moved by the plight of people struggling, like Jesus is with Jason Collins, my limited mind and spirit are unable to see the beauty of his Truth without him revealing it to me.
    It gets very confusing when there are so many different takes on what God is saying, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying. That’s why God’s Word is so valuable to me. Otherwise I’ll be defining what truth is all by myself, and I make too many mistakes on a daily basis to consider myself a viable moral compass.

  7. My identity is not my sexuality. Sex is something my body is capable of doing to further intimacy with someone and reproduce my species, but it isn’t truly who I am. I think we see instability within human beings whose sexuality is so intertwined with their identity as a person – gay or straight.

    Also, if my rememberance of Rob Bell’s book is correct, he wasn’t arguing that hell does not exist, he simply posed questions about the idea. Which, from my experience, questions are always the greatest threat to those who don’t truly know what they believe.

  8. I’ve heard the argument that a person’s sexuality isn’t their his/her identity, and to an extent I agree. One aspect of a persona doesn’t describe the whole, it’s only a part of it. As a Christian, I believe sexuality is closely intertwined with how we relate to God because there is such strong imagery in the Bible between marriage and our intimacy with the Creator. So, in a sense, it has a great deal to do with our spiritual identity. However, I strongly agree with your idea that instability comes when a person’s sexuality is overemphasize: gay or straight, Christian or not. There are many more facets to people.

    Rob Bell says he believes in Hell, but it’s not Hell as described in the Bible. He’s basically made up a lighter, very inaccurate version. He emphasizes God’s love while de-emphasizing his justice – particularly with respect to unrepentant sin. Coincidentally, that fits in well with my point about people above: it’s not proper to choose to identify with only one aspect of a person (or God). Just as it causes instability with our self image, it causes us to be inaccurate with understanding who God is as well. Bell redefines Hell to fit what he feels is a more compassionate view of God, but it’s a distorted view.

    You make another awesome point, Saunsea! Questions are the greatest threat to people who don’t know what they believe, inside and outside of the church. So, I don’t take offense at them, and I even toe the line with respect to blasphemy at times to get a the tiniest morsel of truth. So, keep asking, my friend – and so will I.

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