Chris Broussard had an opinion about the Jason Collins coming-out party, and I commend him for being willing to stand his ground in the face of what appeared to be a tidal wave of rationality. And I'm tempted, you know, to love the messenger and hate the message. But I can't here, because the two are so irrevocably intertwined that his message cannot be loosened from the grips of the psychological, moral, and intellectual deficiencies that power it.
Chris Broussard took to the air to not only push back against Jason Collins, but to outright deny that Collins - and by extension, any homosexual - could be a Christian:
"Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly ... like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says 'you know them by their fruits.' It says that, you know, that’s a sin," Broussard said during a segment that also included gay ESPN columnist LZ Granderson. "And if you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality -- adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals -- whatever it may be, I believe that’s 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."Very bold, that pundit, what with his ability and willingness to speak on behalf of the version of God that he's conveniently created for himself.
Broussard's words aren't exactly groundbreaking except for the medium that carried them. Most of the reaction coming out of major sports networks was positive, or at the very least inquisitive. What Broussard's message does embody is a level of cowardice displayed by all of the fundamentalist crusaders who choose to make homosexuality their pet cause among the myriad of sins in the Bible.
If you read Broussard's statement, you will see that he tries to equivocate, adding in additional "ongoing" sins that he believes to disqualify a person from Christianity. But here's the thing - I've never seen Chris Broussard speak out against fornication or people who cheat on their wives. I missed the part where he ran to the airwaves to condemn Kobe Bryant as someone damned to hell when he cheated on his wife. If he's criticized those things before, it's certainly true that he did not do so in the form or fashion deployed in this situation. Because I know for sure if Broussard wanted to crusade against pre-marital sex among athletes, then he could choose any number of the probably thousand of guys who do it on a daily basis.
But he hasn't. And he won't. Because he's a coward.
That brings us to the seminal question: why then is he speaking up now? And why do all self-appointed defenders of God cling to this singular issue?
It's because this issue is easy. Like frightened 12-year olds new to Pony League, they're unsure how to lead off of first base. So they stay, foot affixed to the bag, right where it's comfortable. Because for the demographic that runs the fundamentalist movement - straight males like me and Chris Broussard - "gayness" is a sin that will never tempt us. When I watch movies with the two Ryans - Reynolds and Gosling - I'm just not encouraged to take off my pants and dance.
But you know what does tempt me? Pre-marital sex and practically every other sin in the Bible. Because most of those things are actions. Choices. Decisions that can be made by me and have been made by straight men in the past. Railing against those "sins" is dangerous for a fundamentalist like Chris Broussard, because there is always a chance that he could fall victim to one of them in the not-so-distant future. But homosexuality is a safe haven, and he uses his shield of straightness as cowardly cover.
It's really a modern attempt to do what humans have attempted to do for centuries. He and the others are looking to justify their own goodness, and like most, they seek that goodness in comparison to those around them. By focusing on a "sin" that they have never committed and one that they will likely never commit, they can elevate their own moral authority over those people they perceive to be weak or, in the simplest sense, "bad."
This is moral and intellectual bankruptcy at its finest. Even for someone who believes in the efficacy of the entire Bible, there is a myriad of sins - even "ongoing" sins - that could be condemned. Discussing the ills of ongoing greed is scary, especially for someone pulling down a suitable ESPN salary. Discussing the worship of the American idol of money is off limits for a driven male in love with the religion of unfettered capitalism. Even discussing other forms of so-called sexual immorality is tricky, since these are things that regularly tempt straight men.
But talking about homosexuality? That's easy. And it's lazy. And most of all, it's cowardly. Chris Broussard displays the lowest form of human judgment: standing in judgment not of an action, but of an immutable status, while pretending that his "decision" not be gay provides him with some sort of moral authority. It's a perversion that harkens on the white-is-right philosophy that equates a non-chosen, birth-imposed physical status with superiority.
What Jason Collins did this week was brave, and it was liberating. In return, Chris Broussard shrunk from the moment, and his response showed the sporting world that he's little more than a man left with one foot on the shore of modern bigotry as a ship called Progress sails away.