Over the weekend, 256 football players were drafted by teams in the National Football League.
One of those players is gay.
And when that player, Michael Sam, was drafted in the 7th round Saturday afternoon by the St. Louis Rams, he celebrated by kissing his boyfriend.
The internet, being the internet, blew up.
Some of the explosion was in praise, some was quite the opposite, and then of course, everyone got all kinds of angry at one another.
It’s not surprising. I mean, it’s no secret homosexuality is one of the most popularizing topics of our time. So when ESPN basically plays a Vine of open mouth kissing between dudes, nothing short of a firestorm is to be expected.
While the overall reaction didn’t surprise me, there was an element to it that really got me thinking.
Among the mass of Tweets and comments, there were plenty from people saying they were offended by what they’d seen between Sam and his boyfriend.
That got me to wondering what exactly it was that offended these folks. Like, how exactly did they feel two guys shown kissing on TV was somehow a shot at them and why did it make them so angry?
Told be told though, asking that question is kind of pointless. I can’t answer for any of them nor can I crawl inside their heads and test their motives.
But I can answer for my own motives. I can think about what I’ve actually meant the multiple times I’ve claimed someone’s actions offended me.
Now I’m not talking about an act of evil directed at me personally or an act directed at a group of people I associate myself with or care about.
I’m talking about an act which really had no impact on me whatsoever, but that either didn’t agree with, or simply didn’t like, and therefore claimed to be offended.
What was I really saying at those times? What message was I subliminally communicating?
For me, I think it was pride.
I think it was my way of distancing myself from the act and tossing up a flag to let people know I was above it.
I think it was also me hurling a rock in the direction of those acting in an attempt to draw the attention of others who might join my stone-casting club.
Did I really feel “offended?”
Maybe, but probably not.
I seriously doubt my feelings were ever hurt or my soul was ever weighed down with a burden because of the action. I mean, if I felt that way, wouldn’t I have been far more likely to express concern for the person acting or other negatively affected parties, rather than prop myself up on my offended platform?
To be honest, I’m not even sure I have the right to feel offended by another person’s sin. I mean, it’s a sin against God, not Travis. He’s the one really offended by sin, and to be honest, I’m often on that list of offenders. If I feel the need to claim I’m offended by sin, I need travel no further than my mirror and speak my piece.
Still, even when Jesus walked on Earth, rarely did he act offended by a sin, unless of course it was connected to the religious leaders of the day. Those falsely claiming to act on God’s behalf did tend to fire him up, but others he found sinning he handled differently. Sure, he corrected them, but I don’t ever remembering him standing up and letting them first know how much it offended him.
We Christians are often very fast to climb up on a mountain and pronounce that something in the world offends us, that something going on doesn’t feel right to us. I know because we can smell our own.
But isn’t that expected in a fallen world? And does my declaration of it really bring me any closer to that person? Does it communicate God’s love for that person or even help spark a conversation about it?
I’m not going to tell you whether or not you should have felt offended by Sam’s action on Saturday, or any other action for that matter. I’m also not going to tell you whether or not you should scream your feelings from a mountain somewhere. That’s not my place, that’s on you.
I am, however, simply going to advise you think about why you feel that way before you begin your announcement.
When I did that, my real motives for tossing stones of offense became unsettlingly clear.