Yesterday was a pretty significant day for the sports world as Jason Collins, NBA veteran and Stanford alumnus, announced that he was coming out as homosexual. Collins becomes the NBA’s first active player to identify themselves as an open homosexual. In fact, Collins becomes the first active player to do so for any of the 3 major sports, NFL, MLB, and NBA. His decision certainly will have a long-lasting affects going forward on those who decide to make a similar admission. Following his announcement, Collins received support from former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, NBA Commissioner David Stern, tennis star Martina Navratilova, former NFL star Michael Strahan, and fellow NBA players, Kobe Bryant, Baron Davis, and Steve Nash, among others. Each of these and a list of many more, offered their encouragement to Collins most of which included worlds of admiration and praise for his bold and courageous decision. These actions by Collins’ supporters are what I’d like to focus on by looking at what Romans 1 addresses within the context of God’s wrath against unrighteousness. Note the following:
“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
Notice here in Paul’s opening discourse of Romans, he states fully God’s displeasure against sinful behaviors which flow out of the idolatrous heart. Following the idolatry of the heart, “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity.” God gives the idolater over to the thing that they most desire and in the end, it is this lust and desire for sin over desire for God that leads to their ultimate destruction. Again, in verse 26 Paul says that, “God gave them up to dishonorable passions.” It is here in this 3rd level of manifested debauchery that Paul highlights God’s judgment of homosexuality. As a side note, so many people think that homosexuality will lead to judgment, i.e. that a nation who gives into homosexuality will be judged. God clearly states here that HOMOSEXUALITY IS JUDGMENT. It is the fruit of the idolatrous heart that worships the creature rather than Creator. So when you see a nation, such as America, giving itself over to the acceptance of homosexuality you don’t need to look for the coming judgment, for the judgment has already come.
As Paul progresses through a list of sins, he concludes with the following, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” This is where the Jason Collins story ties in. All those who have given their approval and commendation to such a “bold” and “brave” act have done nothing but condemn themselves by giving acceptance to the very thing that God hates, namely sin, and they show their delight in that which He abhors.
It should be stated also that this decision by Collins was not without its detractors; including several outspoken Christians from the NBA such as Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson,
“As a Christian man, I have beliefs of what’s right and what’s wrong. That being said, I know Jason Collins, I know his family and I’m certainly praying for them at this time.”
Also, NBA analyst Chris Broussard,
“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly 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’s a sin. 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. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”
Here’s the full clip from Broussard on ESPN:
Before I conclude let me be clear to say that homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. It is not the bottom of the barrel of sins, so to speak. It’s more like the outward manifestation of the inward condition of an idolatrous heart. As wisely pointed out by Mr. Broussard above and certainly as can be seen in the verses from Romans, those who commit sins of any kind are in open rebellion to God. Paul’s concluding statements include such sins as disobedience to parents and lying in the same paragraph as homosexuality and murder. Far from “picking on homosexuality” God’s Word gives an equal opportunity objection to all sin, including homosexuality.
Some will say that it is unloving to not accept a person for who they are. But that’s the wrong response. The real response is, how unloving is it to allow someone to continue down a path that dishonors God and will ultimately lead to eternal death and separation from Him by doing nothing but saying “I’m proud of you”. God’s forgiveness is available to all those who seek Him in repentance and faith, regardless of the sin.