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This past Monday, Jason Collins exploded on the national scene with three simple statements: I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. There is little doubt that in the coming weeks, months, and even years Collins will be revered for his courage and honesty. Some have already heralded him as a trailblazer who dared to brave new frontiers by “coming out” as the first openly gay athlete from the four major sports. By all accounts, Collins is a well educated, sincere, and genuine human being. He has received overwhelming support from almost every sector of society making his revelation all the more meaningful and rewarding.

How could anyone look at Jason Collins, after reading his candid and at times heartfelt account of his struggle with being a closet homosexual, and not walk away thinking–here is a man who has done nothing wrong, he has not committed any sin, he just wants to be what God made him without fear of being treated as a social pariah? Maybe the Christian response to this question (or an attempt at a Christian response to this question) should not start with trying to discredit Collins, but rather, start by affirming some general truths about the world we live in; and how the word of God can serve as an excellent source for responding to questions like these.

General truth #1: Sincerity alone is not enough to judge right from wrong.

Everyone appreciates sincerity. It is a quality that is hard to fake and even harder to cultivate. The best kind of sincerity comes when you are not consciously trying to be sincere; you are just simply being vulnerable and sharing your heart with others. There is an element of transcendent truth in being sincere that we readily see and embrace once it is seen. Yet, we never for one moment question the fact that someone, though sincere, can be sincerely wrong. It has happen to all of us at one time or another.

As little kids we sincerely believe that monsters are under the bed. As adolescents we sincerely believe that we are in love with our third or fourth dating partner for the month. And as adults, we sincerely believe that we are a one man army able to conquer the world. It’s not that we are not being sincere; it’s just that we are sincerely mistaken. Our sincerity alone is not enough to judge reality from fiction or right from wrong; as a believer we must remember that the word of God alone is able to judge the heart and establish reality as well as the truth (Hebrews 4:12).

General truth #2: Truth has to come from the word of God and not by general consensus.

At various points in our lives, we can all recall a time where we were swept away by the general consensus of the group. In some cases it was for our good and in other cases in was to our peril. General consensus isn’t always bad, but it takes great discernment to know when to follow the crowd and when to go in another direction. For a believer, general consensus is not the starting point for issues of morality; God’s word is the starting point for issues of morality (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

If general consensus was the starting point for morality, then the civil rights movement never would have gained steam. A great majority of the men and women who fought for equality between blacks and whites did so on the basis of scripture, not on the basis of general consensus. Our society seems to be enamored with polls showing what the majority thinks, how the majority feels, or what the majority do. But the way the majority thinks, feels, and acts has no bearing on the way the believer ought to think, feel, and act. That power is reserved for the word of God.

General Truth #3 It is possible to be loving and speak the truth.

When it comes to the issue of homosexuality Christians are often branded as being intolerant, not accepting, and ignorant. And while you may find some Christians out there that do fit perfectly into this mold, there are many that do not. Christians have always been on the vanguard of social justice and reform.  To say that Christians are intolerant, not accepting, and ignorant is to totally ignore the contributions that Christian thinkers and labors have made to our society. Furthermore, simply calling someone names in an effort to silence their convictions seems to go against the very essence of what the homosexual community stands for.

If there is a point of contact between Christian and homosexuals it is on this one issue: Christians must change the way we dialogue regarding our views on homosexuality. For too long our speech has been corrosive and vitriolic. It is possible to speak the truth in love. It is possible for us to love Christ, affirm our Christian beliefs, and at the same time be gracious to those that are in sin (1 Peter 3:15). We have fallen into the trap of believing that we have to sacrifice love for the truth. Or worse, redefine the truth in order for us to appear more loving. Truth is the very foundation for love. You cannot have one without the other.

Jason Collins may be the first major sport athlete to come out as openly gay, but he is not the first person to come out and publically support an agenda that is antithetical to the Bible. There will always be winsome heartfelt sincere pleas to shy away from our Christian beliefs and reevaluate our convictions in light of the general consensus. What are we to do? The same thing Christians have done for the past two thousand plus years: by the power of the Holy Spirit, affirm the truth of scripture with humility, love, and grace.

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