After the First Openly-Homosexual NBA Player, What Do We Need to Remember?

Jason CollinsNews broke yesterday that Jason Collins, a professional basketball player and twelve-year veteran of the National Basketball Association, has announced that he is a homosexual. With public opinion shifting more and more toward the acceptance of homosexuality as a moral and common practice, an announcement like this was inevitable. Now that Collins has come out about this, we can probably expect more professional athletes to do the same.

Whether we like it or not, professional athletes, like other celebrities, can have a big influence on the thinking of people in society. This announcement will only further the efforts to normalize the practice of homosexuality in people’s minds. In light of this news, it is important that Christians remember a few things.

Truth Does Not Change

When Jesus prayed to the Father, He said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The psalmist affirmed this as well: “The sum of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Furthermore, David wrote, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). Peter wrote, “The word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25). The truth of God’s word has not been left for man to change as he sees fit. Truth is of God and no one may alter it (cf. Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 22:18-19).

Since God’s word cannot be changed by man, we certainly cannot change the teachings of God’s word in regard to homosexuality. In every dispensation, God has condemned the practice of homosexuality. During the time of the Patriarchs, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, primarily for the sin of homosexuality (Genesis 19:4-5, 13, 24-25; Jude 7). Under the Law of Moses, the practice of homosexuality was labeled as an “abomination” and a “detestable act” (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13). Then in the New Testament, Paul wrote to the saints in Rome and described the practice of homosexuality as “degrading passions,” “unnatural,” “indecent acts,” and “error” (Romans 1:26-27). He told the brethren in Corinth that “homosexuals” were among those who would “not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9). In writing to Timothy, Paul called the practice of homosexuality “contrary to sound teaching” (1 Timothy 1:10).

Though public opinion may change, the truth of God’s word does not change.

The Remedy for Sin Does Not Change

Sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2). But through Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, all people can be reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:13, 16). It is “through His blood” that we may obtain “the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Ephesians 1:7). Peter said we have been redeemed “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19).

But there is an important prerequisite to our salvation – repentance. This is why Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). It is why Peter, in preaching the first gospel sermon following the ascension of Christ, said, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). It is why Paul, in addressing those present on Mars Hill, said, “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30). To repent means we give up sin, not remain in it. As Paul asked: “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).

Since homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10), the remedy for it is the same as any other sin – forgiveness through the blood of Christ. But like every other sin, man must meet the condition of repentance in order to receive that forgiveness. In fact, after mentioning homosexuality as one of the sins that would prevent one from inheriting the kingdom of heaven, Paul told the brethren in Corinth: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Paul’s statement indicates that there were some in Corinth who at one time had practiced homosexuality. Yet they gave up that practice in order to obey the gospel. The same is necessary today.

How We Should Treat Others Does Not Change

Those who practice homosexuality should not be made into targets for bullying, ridicule, or abuse. However, that does not mean that the practice of homosexuality ought to be condoned. There is a phrase we often hear: “hate the sin, love the sinner.” This phrase is not specifically stated in the Bible, but the principle is certainly taught. Jude wrote: “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (Jude 22-23). We are to hate the thing which defiles men – sin. But we are to be loving and merciful toward those who practice sin, so that we might help save them from it.

We are to hate the sin of homosexuality. But we are still to love those who practice it. We should not treat them any worse than others. Jesus died for them, just as He did for us (John 3:16). Salvation is open to them, just as it is to all (Titus 2:11).

Some will single out homosexuals and specifically target them for ridicule or even physical harm. Christians must have no part in this. We are to do good and show love to all (Galatians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 6:14), displaying a Christ-like example (Galatians 2:20), and looking for opportunities to reach others with the gospel (1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:6).

How Others Will Treat Us May Change

As homosexuality becomes more accepted, intolerance for those who speak the truth on this issue will continue to grow. There are already many examples of people being persecuted for speaking against the sin of homosexuality. Since the story of Jason Collins broke, Chris Broussard of ESPN is under fire for correctly calling homosexuality a sin. This sort of intolerance and intimidation is only going to get worse as more people in society accept homosexuality as a legitimate alternate lifestyle rather than a sin.

As Christians, we must be prepared for persecution whenever and however it comes. Paul told Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Peter said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). He went on to say: “If anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:16).

Rather than alter the message contained in God’s word to fit popular opinion, we must be content to believe and teach the truth revealed in Scripture, no matter what the consequences might be. After Paul stated that those who preach a gospel contrary to what has been revealed are to be “accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9), he said: “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). No matter what the majority believes about homosexuality – or any other topic – we must believe and teach what God has revealed in His word.

Conclusion

Announcements like this one from Jason Collins will become more common. Eventually, they may not even be newsworthy anymore because of the level of acceptance for the practice of homosexuality in society. Regardless, we must know the truth from God’s word, be prepared to teach and defend it, and show the example of a Christian to all those around us. Remember the words of the apostle Paul: “Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Philippians 2:15-16).


When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on Unity, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Thankful.


Comments

  1. I must say a loud “Amen” to your fine article on homosexuality.

  2. Thank you, Wayne. It’s sad that an article like this is even necessary.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Andy Sochor writes, “Whether we like it or not, professional athletes, like other celebrities, can have a big influence on the thinking of people in society. This announcement will only further the efforts to normalize the practice of homosexuality in people’s minds. In light of this news, it is important that Christians remember a few things.” […]