Friday, February 1, 2013

On Forty-Niners, Boy Scouts, and the Bible

Man, what a week this has been!

There was much made of the Boy Scouts of America's announcement that they are preparing to vote on a resolution to drop their across-the-board ban on LGBT members and scout masters. Phone calls, and emails, and petitions on Facebook. The BSA has been so ardent in their opposition to gays that you've had former Eagle Scouts returning their badges and corporate sponsors closing their wallets. So, for the BSA to say, "Well, let's vote on this policy," seems like a huge step forward.

Until you realize that the fine print allows for discrimination to continue on the local level. Perhaps this is to appease another one of the major supporters of the BSA, the Southern Baptist Convention, who were none to pleased to hear of the new, more inclusive development. "Do this, " the SBC said, "and churches will withdraw their willingness to host and support Boy Scout troops." And so, even if the BSA adopts a non-discrimination policy at the national level, local troops don't need to comply. Some probably will. But then there will be those that won't, and more young boys and men will have to choose: camaraderie and camping or being true to one's self? Not a good choice, in my opinion.

Speaking of bad choices, the San Francisco 49ers have managed a couple of public relations fumbles with the gay community leading up to the Super Bowl. It started with defensive back Chris Culliver telling a radio shock jock that he don't "do no gay guys." This was in response to questions about sex and the Super Bowl. Culliver went on to say that there aren't any gay players on the 49ers, and that he wouldn't feel comfortable in the locker room with a gay teammate. The team owners and management quickly tackled this situation, the coach had a sit down with Culliver, and the second-year player apologized to the fan base, saying that his remarks didn't reflect what was really in his heart and that he loves San Francisco, which has a very large gay population.

But then, it just got worse when two other players, Ahmad Brooks and Isaac Sopoaga, denied that they'd been involved in the team's "It Gets Better" video, aimed at LGBT youth who are bullied and harassed. Brooks said he thought the video was anti-bullying and wasn't a "gay video." Sopoaga, apparently, believes somebody stole his likeness and is disavowing his participation. The message: we'll stick up for kids... just not gay kids, even though we play on the team that represents one of the gay meccas in the United States.

For the 49ers, this is horrible publicity, especially as they face the Baltimore Ravens, a franchise that, at the beginning of the season, came to the defense of one of its players, Brendan Ayanbadejo, who is a straight ally working with Marylanders for Equality when a Maryland legislator wanted to silence Ayanbadejo for speaking out on marriage equality. It also resulted in Dan Savage, the founder of the "It Gets Better" viral video campaign, sacking the 49ers offering on his website. We might as well throw a flag, give them a loss of down, and back them up to their own goal line while we're at it.

And so now you ask, "Where's the Bible in all of this?" For me, there are a couple of things that come to mind. There's the story at the end of Genesis of Joseph and his brothers. After all the rotten stuff the brothers did to Joseph, it is this youngest, the dreamer, who emerges as a powerful right-hand man in Egypt, and ultimately saves his brothers and his people from a famine. When his identity is revealed, and the brothers fear retribution for their evil deeds, Joseph tells them that what they had meant for evil, God has used for good. This is a biblical theme that comes up again and again. And it reminds me that for every idiotic, boneheaded, and terrible thing the Boy Scouts, a football team, or anybody else does to disrespect the dignity of LGBT people, it's their shortcomings that will bring them up short in the end. Love will not be denied.

I also think people such as Culliver, Brooks, Sopoaga, and any number of Southern Baptists might want to go study the words in the Fourth Chapter of the First Letter of John, especially verse 20: Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters,* are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.

This is in keeping with what Jesus says in the Gospels repeatedly and in many different ways: we are to love each other, look out for one another, and there are NO exceptions to that rule. Denouncing your participation in a video, and advocating for the exclusion of gays from sports and scouting are anti-Christ positions. There's just no way for me to sugar-coat that one.

You want to be righteous? Stop bashing the LGBT community and let us be your brothers and sisters.

1 comment:

Phoebe McFarlin said...

"Stop bashing the LGBT community.." we ARE your brothers and sisters.