Should Christian Players Come Out of the Closet?

3 Point Wisdom ChalkdustMy plan for this website was to discuss the connections I observe between the world of basketball and the journey of life and faith.  I am reminded time and time again that I don’t have all the answers for this life.  The Bible, though, does have the answers and the lessons I learn through basketball help me to better understand God’s ways.  It helps clarify some things.

It’s also been my hope that through this site I might also engage readers and followers on all three points of 3 Point Wisdom, such as occurred this past weekend with Sex and the Pick and Roll.  While putting “sex” in the title drove readership up, it was interesting that the majority of comments I received were sent to me privately – as if Christians’ views about sex and sexual sin should remain private ( I guess that goes for the Pick and Roll, too!).  And that’s what has troubled me – not the issue of sex, but the question of how public we should be about Christian identity.  Again, I don’t have the answer and I’m hoping to get some feedback to help me answer, “Should Christian players come out of the closet?”

BASKETBALL – Here’s some background thoughts.

In recent months, Jason Collins and Brittney Griner have been applauded for their courageous decisions to announce their life-style choices (please watch ESPN’s Chris Broussard’s Interview for an insightful stance on the subject). That comes on the heels of Relevant Magazine labeling 2012 as The Year of the Outspoken Christian Athlete.  Basketball players like Jeremy Lin and Steph Curry and other athletes like Tim Tebow have made public confirmations of their Christian faith.  In a world averse to such public statements and with inevitable scrutiny of their every statement, action, and misstep, aren’t these athletes also showing extreme courage?

Christian and Gay Cartoon

Many other athletes discuss their faith openly through Christian organizations but many others keep it to themselves.  Is that OK?

And now, as the NBA Finals are upon us, we have more examples and questions to consider.  Let me share some of what I’ve found:

1.  When I think of the San Antonio Spurs, I still think of the courageous example of former Spur, David Robinson.  As an outspoken Christian, he left a legacy that still exists, as shared by his pastor, Max Lucado, in his post  Classy, Not Sassy.

2.  Tim Duncan is an enigma.  Very few people know what Duncan thinks or believes, mostly because he’s quiet and keeps to himself as portrayed in Tim Duncan Leaves It on the Court from Sports on Earth.  Off the court, the Spurs leave a positive impact on their community.

3.  We previously discussed Miami’s Ray Allen in It’s Still About Shooting, but as pointed out by Tim Briggs from Christian Sports Outreach we don’t know much about Allen’s theology.

4.  On the other hand, it’s amazingly clear that the Heat’s Norris Cole finds strength through his faith in Jesus.

We’ll get into more of the basketball as the Finals play out, but I just wanted to put the question out there – Should Christian players let it be known they are Christians?  Is there a simple answer?  Please leave your comments in the comment section or again, feel free to contact me directly.

LIFE – Do you hide your Christianity on the job?

What about the rest of us?  Should people in the workplace know that we are Christians?  Is it acceptable to just let your actions leave an impression through the statement attributed to Francis of Assisi, Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”  I’ve coached on Christian campuses and at a large state university and I thought the easy answer was , “Yes, people should know, not simply suspect, that I am a Christian.”  But, that’s kind of tricky isn’t it?  I thought it would be a simple thing when I found myself working with other Christians, but it almost made it more confusing.  As we coached under the pressure of job security through winning, I found matters of faith taking a backseat.  I look back on years of coaching when I forgot my ministry of coaching.  Does that happen to you in your job or do you keep your faith out of it?  If you work for a Christian organization, do you assume that your faith is displayed in your work?  Be careful, it may not be.

FAITH – Should we declare our faith?

Again, I’m searching for answers and clarity.  I applaud athletes on the big stage who courageously display their faith, even when they may make mistakes and falter in plain sight of the world; yet I also get concerned when athletes or coaches misrepresent the faith through insincerity and by going through the motions or by drawing attention to themselves.  What I do know is what Jesus told us in Matthew 5:14-16 and what we sang about in Sunday School:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

And for more clarity, check out Making a Difference in the Workplace from Focus on the Family as you consider the same questions about declaring your faith.  It’s a tricky question, but your light needs to shine and you better not let anyone “poof” it out!


5 thoughts on “Should Christian Players Come Out of the Closet?

  1. Thanks for the good article, Jon. Your quote of Matt 5:14-16 says it all for any Christian in whatever area of work or play he/she is in. However, the words of Jesus, I believe, mean more than simply doing and speaking good in the midst of others, at work or play. If I do something good , my neighbor, if he/she is not a Christian, will not give glory to God. He/she will give glory to ME, saying,”‘you’re really a good guy, etc…”. . I have to redirect that kind of response by “shedding light” on the action I have done. I have to share verbally with the person my motivation for doing good…namely God and Christ. Peter points this out in 1 Peter 3:15.,”…always be prepared to give an answer to any who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you…”. That is how I let my let shine, by ‘enlightening’ them with the Gospel. The problem is I don’t always do that,. I often fail to go through the door that the Spirit has opened. Our good behavior is a prelim for the main event. I have suited up as a Christian for both the prelim and the main event.

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