Jesus of the NBA

Basketball center Jason Collins just came out for the teachings of Jesus. “My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.

He also came out as a gay man.

Let’s all try to be sure the spiritual logic of Jason Collins gets passed around far and wide. These things go together: following the teachings of Jesus, being who you are, and treating others with tolerance and understanding.

Jason Collin’s coach at the Washington Wizards seems to be reading from this same biblical playbook:

He commented, “Black, white, Jewish or Christian. Religion, sex. It’s all the same. Who gives anybody the right to judge anybody?”

Apparently, ESPN analyst Chris Broussard didn’t get that far into reading the Bible when he ranted against Collins for “walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

Nope.  Not even close.

Not only hasn’t Broussard digested the biblical text that says “Judge not, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1),  but misinterprets the rest of that chapter in Matthew:  in his ill-considered rant, Broussard said, “the Bible says ‘you know them by their fruits.'”

Mr. Broussard, I strongly commend all of Matthew 7 to you.

In that chapter, when you judge others you are called a hypocrite and you are advised to take the log of your own eye before you point out the speck in someone else’s eye.

Just to drive the point home, Jesus gives this explicit instruction on how to treat others:

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the whole Law and the Prophets.” (7:12)

Jason Collins knows that’s real “Christian values” and the meaning of “good fruit.”


About Susan Thistlethwaite

I am President Emerita and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary; I write for the public here and in local papers. I am interested in what I call "public theology," or how deeper meaning is made and contested in the public square.
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