Local Church Sports Ministry and Gender Issues
The blogs in this series are excerpts from Dr. Linville’s yet to be released book. They explore the realities occurring in local church Sports Outreach Ministries in relationship to an evolving culture and shifting trends within sport, The Church, and society in general. The end goal of this series of Biblical exegesis is to aide local church Sports & Recreation Ministers to comprehend, and proactively structure, their outreaches with theological clarity, biblical philosophy, relational love and cultural sensitivity to all involved. This blog specifically provides a summary of the Biblical teaching concerning homosexuality and begins a discussion of “What’s a Sport Minister To Do.”
Summary of the Biblical Passages Specifically Addressing Homosexual Issues
The previous blogs which considered Bible passages specifically relating to the issue of homosexuality revealed revisionists have not succeeded in providing a convincing Biblical defense of homosexual activity based upon passages commonly agreed to specifically address the issue. This is perhaps best voiced by two strong advocates for homosexuality: a) Dutch scholar Pim Pronk (himself Gay), and author Dan Via. Via states he agrees with those who believe Scripture gives no explicit approval for same-sex intercourse (see his book cited below). Pronk agrees homosexual intercourse is condemned wherever it is mentioned in the Bible and states rejection of homosexual intercourse in the Bible is a foregone conclusion (see his book cited below). To be fair, these men, and others, base their support for homosexuality on extra-Biblical authorities and/or other Biblical principles they believe supersede the clear teaching of passages reviewed in this series of blogs. Thus, local church Sports Outreach Ministers can rest assured that homosexual activity cannot be justified by the verses in the bible that specifically deal with homosexuality.
Dealing with the two remaining arguments of the revisionists would take far longer to deal with than is relevant for this venue but briefly the first is problematic because it assumes the Bible is inherently contradictory. The second is problematic for two reasons: a) it gives a higher credence and authority to other fields or disciplines than Scripture, and b) as yet, there is no conclusive proof of the biological basis for homosexuality. So, with the final assessment being that homosexual activity cannot be Biblically defended, the question becomes: “What’s a Sport Minister to do?”
Identifying the Issues
Issue #1 - What should be included in a “vice list?” Warning: the following may be offensive to many because it is written from the perspective that includes homosexual activity in a list of other “sins.” It is not written to be intentionally offensive but if what has been previously written is valid, then the sin of homosexual activity is rightfully included in such lists. This is far different however, than indicating it is a worse or more heinous sin than others on the lists or that those engaging in homosexual activity are any worse than those who engage in other “sins.” Moreover, let me make a statement that might surprise and even anger many…
Followers of Christ who believe homosexual activity is sinful (I acknowledge many followers of Christ do not take this stance), have much more in common with people who believe in committed, life-long, monogamous relationships (even if they are same gender), than they do with serial adulterers, child abusers, alcoholics, abortionists and murderers! None-the-less, homosexual activity makes the “vice list” and is characterized as an “abomination.”
Issue #2 – How to interact with those who are involved in homosexual lifestyles and/or in a same gender marriage? The simple answer is: handle this issue (serving people who have differing views and lifestyles) in the same way you would with any other person who might be described by the “vice lists” found in the Bible. In other words, would you allow an envious person or a glutton to work in your snack bar; an Idolater to referee in your leagues; a child who is disobedient to his parents play on your travel team; a gossip to organize the youth leagues post-game treats; a prostitute to listen in to post game devotionals; an adulterer to captain one of your adult basketball teams or a murderer or child abuser to coach in your youth leagues? The hope is that other than refusing to let an abuser or murderer coach children, you would warmly welcome all others. More significantly ask yourself: "Would you ever hire a person who was greedy, lustful, quickly angered, hateful, dishonest and/or mean-spirited to be the Sports Minister of your church? If not, then perhaps you and I should resign!
Next week’s blog will make a few suggestions of how to envision, organize and implement a strategy for dealing with gender issues in a local church Sports Outreach.
This blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's yet to be released book. All rights reserved. For any reproduction right, including copying, computer reproduction, etc. contact:
Dr. Greg Linville at CSRM International C/O The World Outreach Center 5350 Broadmoor Circle N. W. Canton, Ohio – USA 44709 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports, sports theology and ethics written by Dr. Greg Linville are archived at: www.csrm.org
A Plea For Grace
This set of blogs discusses the most socially charged issue of the current day. The author seeks truth; desires to provide both questions and answers to further the discussion; engage in civil discourse; and most importantly provide a haven for love and grace. I encourage all readers to: “know your mind, but not have your mind made up.” As Martin Luther stated, I believe we should be open to being persuaded by Holy Scripture and evident reason (logic). I start by asking for grace when I don’t use the right term to describe something or someone, and I plead for forgiveness when I offend someone due to my own fallen nature which may lead to unintentional insensitivity, ignorance or hurtful language. My intent is not to hurt or injure anyone, but rather, it is to seek Christ’s will for all of us who are attempting to follow Jesus as we travel this path together.
Recommended Books & References consulted for this series of Blogs – A select list of references relevant to this week’s blog (see previous blogs for a more extensive list of references)
Dr. Greg Linville was one of the founding members of CSRM and has served as the Executive Director since 2000. He served for 15 years as a local church sports and recreation minister and coached over 30 years at the junior high, high school and collegiate levels as well as 30 years in rec. leagues. Dr. Linville has consulted with churches from Australia, Africa, Asia, Australia, Caribbean, Europe, New Zealand and North America. He was awarded the world's first honorary Doctorate in Sports Ministry and holds an earned Doctorate as well. He is the author of Christmanship: The Theology of Competition & Sport. Dr. Greg has been married for over 35 years, is the father of two married children and the grandfather of a growing number of grandchildren.