Coming Out Of The Closet

Pitching For The Master links sports and religion together in order to teach lessons to promote godly living. There are many valuable lessons derived from sports that help to illustrate how men and women are to think in spiritual terms. The apostle Paul often used the language of sports to teach truths that are vastly more important than running a race or engaging in the Greek/Roman games. Having come from both a sports background as well as a life long student of the Bible, this has been a rather natural way of my tying the two together. I have used both positive and negative examples derived from sports in order to make my points. I never thought that I would need to write this particular article dealing with one of the grossest of sins, homosexuality, and tie it to modern sports. But this is the new reality of the world in which we live.

The integrity of sports is important as those who watch over sports understand. Last month I reported on the “Bounty for Hire” program of the football New Orleans Saints that was covered by the March 12, 2012 issue of “SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.” The league officials have quickly acted in this case rendering fines and heavy suspensions in order to protect the integrity of the game. I have long felt that our sports are becoming more competitive and violent; and more often than not, “sex” is used as an additional selling point. All you have to do is observe the dress and gyrations of the “cheer leaders.” Drinking parties and celebrations by fans and players are occurring more often and promoted openly in advertizing. As a baseball player at the highest levels, I realize that there is nothing new in this combining of sports and the alcohol or beer industries. I know of many people who no longer want to attend professional games because of seeing drunkenness and having beer spilled on them. As I write this, I can feel the reaction of some, “Lindy, you are a real prude. Get with the program. This is what people want!!”

When I first started publishing “Pitching For The Master” I made a long list of scriptures used by the apostle Paul referring to the Greek/Roman games. I also pointed out that neither the Jews nor the Christians participated in those games. In my research I discovered that there were three major reasons for this: 1. The games were promoted in honor of the Greek gods; 2. Open nakedness was involved; and 3. They became more and more violent in order to appease the crowds. They finally degraded into the gladiators fighting to the finish, releasing lions to kill Christians, etc. In writing this, I am not suggesting that modern sports have descended to those depths, else I would not have participated on any level. But by understanding this history, we can better understand some of the tendencies today as we move toward making sports more like the Greek/Roman model.

                 Gay Lifestyle Now Defended in Sports

Now the main point of my article is this. I am learning more and more that homosexuality is being promoted in sports. This has been brought to light from a feature article appearing in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, March 19, 2012 , on the final page under “POINT AFTER” Titled “A Cup of Kindness” by Phil Taylor.
The article is a defense of the gay lifestyle in the field of hockey, but also speaks of gay outreach associations in all sports, the listing gay organizations, hot lines, etc. The article quotes Brian Burke, Maples Leafs president and general manager, as saying: “So many athletes are tired of the image of brain-dead jocks who are intolerant of homosexuality or other differences.” I assume that he includes people like me who would dare write this kind of article. The point being made is that gays should be openly embraced in all sports. This article does not represent the official position of Professional Hockey or any other sport, but the fact that it is published in a major sports magazine without opposition speaks volumes. You will read of lying, fraud, gambling, abusing young boys, racial slurs, etc. being condemned, but not a word about homosexual behavior being improper. If I am wrong about this, I would like to see the documentation. It is not just an attempt to justify the gay lifestyle, but an effort to force others to embrace this lifestyle as well or else be called a “Homophobe”. Their goal is to link the gay lifestyle with race, and so to be against homosexual behavior is the same as being against someone’s race. Those pushing the gay lifestyle have long contended that being gay is a matter of genetics, and not environment or simply a lifestyle choice. This evil in our society has its tentacles everywhere affecting politics, the definition of marriage, etc. Now if they get their way, it is the belief of Christians that must be put in the closet and is not allowed expression. So gays can come out of the closet and feel comfortable in all situations, but it is those who oppose such lifestyles that must “shut up.”

Sports have a high tolerance for alcoholics, womanizers, cursing and swearing, using God’s name in vain, etc. as long as your perform on the playing field. Sports also have a tolerance for players who are religious, but just don’t be “too” religious by actually expressing and practicing sincerely held beliefs based upon the Bible. Now I will deal with some “lies” and “misconceptions” regarding the Biblical point of view.

                            Associating With Sinners

For one thing, as a Christian, I am well aware of the fact that as long as we live in this world we will associate with those who practice things that we regard as evil. Paul wrote: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.” (1 Cor. 5:9-10). It is unrealistic for me to think that every person that I associate with in business, sports, or other associations will have my view of life. Also, I am expected as a Christian “to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (Tit. 3:2) in my dealing with others. Why would I deliberately go out of my way to put down anyone in an ugly or personal way if I want to influence that person? This is because I have done some evil and hateful things myself and could not be saved except for the grace of God (see Titus 3:3-7).

                                  God Loves All People

God loves all people. This principle is stated again and again in the Bible. If God did not love sinners, then He would never have sent his son to die on the cross. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10). At the same time, as mentioned above the wrath of God justly falls on all unrighteousness. So, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). It is not God’s desire that anyone should die for their sins, even though he absolutely hates evil in all of its forms. These principles have always held true. For a full commentary on this read all of Ezekiel 18.

                                      God Hates All Sin

God has always made a clear distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, etc. As to the particular sin of homosexuality, God has spoken as plain on this as language could possibly be. Not only did God give is a “giant visual” in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by destroying those wicked cities, but has made special reference to this event in later history (see Gen. 18 & 19; Isa. 1:9-10; 3:9; 13:19; Matt. 10:15; 11:23-24; Luke 17:29; 2 Pet. 2:6; Jude 1:7). There are a total of twenty seven references to these cities after God had destroyed them, using this historical fact as a symbol of wickedness. Not only did God give specific descriptions and warnings in both the law of Moses (see Lev. 18:22-28 ) and in the New Testament (see Romans 1:26-27), He called such practices unnatural or against nature. One of the fullest commentaries on this is by Albert Barnes in his commentary on Romans 1:26-27 where he documents the wide spread practice of homosexuality among the Greeks and Romans in high places (their gods, kings and philosophers) as set forth in Romans 1.

                                   Shameless Behavior

“Out of the closet” refers to not hiding the practice from public view, to be proud of the practice, to openly display the practice, etc. Young people have been brainwashed for years with humanistic values taught as “values clarification” and other curriculum in public schools teaching that any practice or belief is to be claimed for oneself and publicly acknowledged and displayed, no matter how bazaar or strange it might seem to others. Of course, this open declaration does not apply to Bible believers who may be ridiculed or censored for their beliefs. I believe that all men are created in the image of God (see Gen. 1:27), and come especially equipped with the ability to think rationally, make choices, possess emotions and a conscience (a special awareness of right or wrong). However, the conscience can be destroyed by means of continual violation so that it no longer functions as a monitor of our thoughts and actions. Some practices are simply against nature, that is, the way man has been created to function. Such is the practice of homosexuality and the lack of natural affection (See Romans 1:26-27, 28-32).

Society is in bad shape when it openly defies God and shows no shame in the practice of wickedness, when evil and good are turned upside down, and the people love to have it so. These following words of the Bible describe such things: Isa. 3:9: "The expression of their faces bears witness against them, And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves."   Isa. 5:20-21: "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!  Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink.”   Jer. 6:15: 15: "'Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?  They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time that I punish them, They shall be cast down,' says the LORD."    Jer. 5:29-31: "An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?”   2 Pet. 2:12-13: "But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you.”  Sin usually falls under the category of “works of darkness” because such things are usually practiced under cover of darkness and do not thrive under transparency. (see Eph. 5:11-13). But when the works of darkness are openly and shamelessly displayed, they take on a more sinister and ominous meaning.

                  Shall the Righteous be Intimidated?

Those who advocate the gay cause hope to intimidate those who would oppose them and do not accept their lifestyle. They are not content to allow Christians to have their beliefs, but they want them to simply “shut up” and be confined “to the closet.” It is only natural that people of such diverse views will clash in open dialog. I do not hate those who practice homosexuality any more than I hate those who practice lying or stealing. But liars need to quit lying and thieves need to quit stealing. To equate homosexuals as simply practicing a “sexual preference” is total nonsense. What if I have a preference for molesting little boys and girls? Does that make it right? Some believe that it does. Have you heard of NAMBLA (North American Man/Boys Love Association)?

Yes, homosexuals can be forgiven just like murderers or thieves can be forgiven. This is exactly what the Bible teaches in 1 Cor. 6:9-11. Thank goodness, for all of us need to be forgiven of our sins. Hundreds have been forgiven of the sin of homosexuality, and have learned how to please God with a new way of thinking and acting. Anyone who tells you that you can’t change is a liar. God does not require the impossible from anyone.

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The photo at the beginning of this article is that of myself and Bobby Richardson. Bobby was an All-Star second baseman and noted for his clean living and positive influence on the Yankees during many of their championship years in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. My wife Nancy observed, “Why did you put that photo along with that title!? I sheepishly replied, “Well, I usually put some baseball photo at the beginning of each article.” “Come to think of it, it does get people’s attention.” Hopefully, no one will associate either Bobby or I with the title of this article.

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April, 2012.

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