Just 3 Reasons to Thank Mr. Jason Collins…as a believer. Initially composed April 30,2013

jcollsJason,

1. Your public disclosure underscores this principle: that you cannot heal what is concealed. What is often hidden does not receive the opportunity to be healed.  This principle comes from the scriptural illustration of when Jesus confronts the Pharisees in Matthew 12. He and his disciples are charged with breaking the law of the sabbath (the law of the religious) in order to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual liberty (the purpose of the Sabbath).  When they confront Jesus about healing the man, He informs their perspective by saying “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.

THE LAWBREAKER FACILITATES HEALING: There is a man with a withered hand IN THE TEMPLE (at church). As an act of faith, Jesus requires the man to stretch out his withered hand.” Can you imagine how hard he had worked to create a life protecting himself from the initial observation of others about him based on his withered hand? Jesus could have easily said, “Be healed.” But Jesus, requires him to draw attention to his dis-uni-formity and disclose the thing that others perceive as shameful in order for him to be healed.

What a risk-taker this withered-hand-guy must be! This is something that American Christians are pretty lousy at. We barely raise our hands to receive prayer for healing in what should be a safe worship gathering with other believers. I guess we don’t indicate our need because we can’t admit before others that our lives might be less than perfect. For many people, it just doesn’t look spiritual to admit that you have brokenness.

Jason, I don’t mean to suggest that your sexuality is a withered hand. But I do mean to say, that you took a huge risk to expose the thing about you that ‘everyone else’ observing would say is repulsive so that you can experience internal healing. The church could benefit from your example if we would stop pretending and hiding as well.  After all, the Church, the people–not the organization–is supposed to be a safe space, a safe community.

2. And that brings me to my next point of gratitude. Your admission helped us discover how unsafe it is for “believers” to be honest. In that moment the sports newscaster “guy”, acting as the authority on defining a Christian, missed a really great opportunity to promote reconciliation rather than make you an enemy.  After all, it’s grace received that distinguishes a saint, not self-righteous works.  Moreover, if a Christian perceives one to be in error or lost, the scriptures admonish, “You who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you be tempted (Galatians 6:1).” If this newscaster along with countless others represent how the church will respond to believers who are honest about where they are, I suppose unbelievers ‘ain’t got a chance at restoration.’ What a contradiction of grace for him to have blasted you on national television without having first reached out to you.  His actions said, “I’m a fellow Christian brother and before I have an opportunity to talk and reason with you, I’ll use the press to advance my beliefs.”  P.S. to the sports-announcer-guy-, If you’re gonna “share” the gospel, get to the good stuff like redemption, forgiveness, grace, the blood…this is stuff that CREATES the way for change to occur. Gospel=good news, Get it?

3. As a public health professional, you have addressed a factor perpetuating the higher rates of HIV among men in the African American community.  That factor is the stigma and fear that men experience in being honest about their sexual behavior.  This stigma and fear is associated with acting out sexually that leads to risk for sexually transmitted diseases and poor psychological well-being.  Additionally, the fear and shame leads to avoiding testing and treatment.  Denial regarding health risks and avoiding help-seeking behavior is to a great extent perpetuated by the fear of rejection from their racial and spiritual communities, and ultimately feeds the virus’ growth in the secret places. Some light in this area would do our community, our families, and our churches some GOOD!

 

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