Charisma news editor Jennifer LeClaire, who has been freaking out about the prospect of an openly gay player in the NFL, today responded to the news that NBA player Jason Collins came out of the closet by calling on him to begin “declaring war on homosexual tendencies” and “repent before it’s too late.”
LeClaire writes that homosexuality is “a choice” and claims that Collins is “in bondage to a sin,” hoping that “Christian NBA players—and fans—will reach out to him in love and pray for him.”
I am a huge basketball fan, and I admire Collins’ on-the-court skills. Throughout his career, the seven-footer has been a difference-maker for his teams, averaging nearly 4 rebounds per game and adding a few points for good measure. He can take a charge with the best of them and has been dubbed “the pro’s pro.” Indeed, he’s made a much-appreciated contribution to the game of basketball.
Yet as I read Collins’ 33-year struggle over his sexuality, my heart breaks for this basketball giant. In the Sports Illustrated article, Collins admits to wrestling with envy and fear. He talks about not sleeping well. He shares about his years of misery and what it was like to “live a lie.” He even opens up about the battle with “insane logic” in the context of suicide.
As I read his article, I found a sincerity in his words, but I was also disturbed. Collins says he feels free now that he’s come out. He says he feels blessed. He says his parents instilled Christian values in him. He says he enjoyed lending a hand when they taught Sunday school. He says he takes the teachings of Jesus seriously.
It’s heartbreaking. Collins, bless his soul, has not made himself free by coming out. Not truly. He just feels relieved because he doesn’t have to wear the "mask" he referenced in his article anymore. But he’s not free at all. He’s in bondage to a sin that doesn’t line up with the Christian values or the Sunday school teachings he heard as a child. Collins may feel free because he confessed, but he won’t truly be free until he repents. I pray that Christian NBA players—and fans—will reach out to him in love and pray for him.
Collins wants to keep his personal life private, but he just opened himself up to all manner of attention for his lifestyle. Some will celebrate his decision. Others will follow him out of the closet. Still others will be confused or hurt. Collins says he doesn’t mind if fans heckle him. I hope they don’t. Heckling anyone isn’t appropriate, much less someone who has struggled his whole life and continues to struggle—very publicly. Collins says he’s walked a tough, lonely road. And he will continue walking a tough and lonely road without Jesus, who is the only one who can truly set anyone free from envy, fear, misery, living a lie, suicidal thoughts, homosexuality—or any other sin.
God bless you, Jason. I admire your courage. I know how hard it must have been to take this step. Keep banging the boards! Keep setting those hard picks. Keep being the pro’s pro. But, please, consider that acting on gay tendencies is a choice, and repent before it's too late. The freedom you feel from confessing Jesus as Savior and declaring war on homosexual tendencies is far greater than the freedom you feel from coming out as gay to the sports-loving masses.