You cannot circumvent history. If an openly gay football player wasn’t selected in the NFL draft this year, it would have happened next year or in 2016. And it will happen again and again.
When linebacker/pass rush specialist Michael Sam was selected by the St. Louis Rams, it was newsworthy because it happened in the last bastion of “real manhood” – professional football. Homosexuals are not supposed to compete on the battleground of blood and guts, which is utter nonsense to this born-again Christian writer.
Sometimes I think the tag “born-again” is as difficult for some people to handle as the word “gay.” Depending on the audience, “born-again” and “gay” can evoke the same degree of disdain.
For example, you can’t convince me that there weren’t football fans who hated hearing former Rams and Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner praising Jesus after a football game. So Kurt was different and wasn’t as likable to all football fans.
I never thought of Martina Navratilova as “that gay” tennis player. She was a fellow left-hander who won a boatload of tennis titles and played some classic matches against America’s sweetheart, Chris Evert. But Martina was different and wasn’t likable to all tennis fans.
Now I am no self-appointed judge who is going to publicly decry the sexual orientation of a football player. Instead I cling to the words of The Bible and here are two of my favorite scriptural passages:
- “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17, New Living Translation)
- “And Jesus said, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:37-40, NLT)
One of the most difficult questions each of us must answer is: "Who is my neighbor?"
Dr. Martin Luther King, who I heard speak during my teen years, offered an answer in a famous speech in Washington, D.C. The words that ring in my heart are these:
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!”
Dr. King spoke out against intolerance regardless of its nature and he was killed by an assassin’s bullet in 1968. I don't believe he died in vain. Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and persuasions and there are still some who cling to dreams of peace, mercy, faith and love.
Listen to your coaches and work hard, Michael Sam and the rest of you rookies in St. Louis . You just may make the 2014 roster of the Rams and it will be because you earned it.