The news of Las Vegas defensive end Carl Nessib’s announcement that he is gay should come as no real surprise to any enlightened Evangelical. It was always a matter of time before an active member of a professional sports team in America made such a public declaration. Several athletes have revealed their homosexual orientation after playing, but Carl Nessib is the first prominent athlete to do so while still playing.
Thus, the pressing question for the conscientious Evangelical, seeking to be faithful to the Holy Writ AND being a loving neighbor, is how Evangelicals are to respond to yesterday’s headline news? Do we ignore it and allow the media to trope Nessib’s proclamation as a momentous achievement in the moral acceptance of all people to be accepted as they declare? Do we rise up in righteous anger and threaten to boycott companies who join in the gleeful celebration that this declaration constitutes a brave new day in the moral revolution? Or do Evangelicals take a mediating middle ground and posit everyone is entitled to their opinion and Nessib’s personal affairs are his and his alone? In a word, do we just mind our business and let Nessib be?
Of course, I believe none of these arbitrary options are palatable to the Evangelical seeking to be Light & Salt as commanded by Jesus Christ. Evangelicals have long believed the Great Commission compels us to lean forward and speak forthrightly yet winsomely into the culture. Evangelicals are expressly upon Planet Earth to call those who the Devil has currently trapped in darkness to the glorious light of the Gospel. Evangelicals are here first and foremost to herald the Good News of the Gospel.
Evangelicals are not here to simply raise families, important as that may be. Evangelicals are not here to advance the culture through the arts, as beautiful as that may be. Evangelicals are not to achieve incredible feats of technological advancements, as beneficial as that may be.
No, Evangelicals are here for one compelling and unalterable reason. We are here to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, period, full-stop, end of story. We are here to sound the alarm of the bad news so we may then proceed to announce the Good News that Jesus Christ is the only option to avoid an inevitable and eternal Hellfire with no hope of escape whatsoever.
The Great Commission is a solemn task, and it is not a small or trite task. Quite literally, eternity hangs in the balance for every descendant of Adam and Eve, which means the dilemma before the reader of this blog post has real import. We are not merely moving around pieces on an abstract chessboard. We are talking about issues of real substance, of real consequence. That is not a matter where we can agree to disagree though many will choose to frame the narrative in such a manner.
Now, I readily acknowledge the chance of Mr. Nessib reading this blog article is basically nil, but I will press on nonetheless. Why? Because I take very seriously my responsibility to be Light and Salt. It is my meat and drink to do the Father’s will just as it was Jesus Christ. Thus, I will not bow to peer pressure and proclaim that Mr. Nessib is a hero, courageous, or a symbol of liberation.
Mr. Nessib is none of these things. Absent repentance of sackcloth and ashes, Mr. Nessib’s trajectory is one of eternal torment. I do not speak such a word glibly, smugly, or with any sense of highmindness. I do so with extreme fear and trembling. Yet, I do so with an overwhelming sense of humility that but for the Grace of God go I.
I speak because I must do so, for that is the very nature of what a witness, an ambassador, an emissary exists to do. I do so without apology or embarrassment. I do so with no sense of moral superiority. I do so with a clear realization I am just one beggar trying to tell another beggar where he may find bread.
The current road that Mr. Nessib is traveling final destination will only dead-end at the intersection of Weeping & Gnashing. The most loving message I could ever deliver to the Carl Nessibs of this sin-sick world is that God is abounding in endless love but a love that is grounded in His Holy Wrath against sin.
I would tell Mr. Nessib that God loved him enough that God created Mr. Nessib in God’s very own image. I would say to Mr. Nessib that God’s Word reveals without error what is the best means for human flourishing, that God and God alone possess the requisite and inherent authority to impose moral obligations upon us without dispute or debate.
What I would never tell Mr. Nessib that he is free to disregard God’s creative freedom to create them male and female as God sovereignly decrees. I would never say to Mr. Nessib that he is free to ignore God’s Will for his life with impunity or free of divine and eternal consequence. Doing so would not be a demonstration of love because it is not grounded in biblical truth. Biblical truth is the only objective means humans have to determine what is good, what is beautiful, and what is true.
Despite the secular culture’s unabashed celebration of Mr. Nessib’s pronouncement, yesterday’s news only profoundly saddens and grieves me. Yet, another of God’s little ones ensnared by the Adversary. Yet, another of someone created in the Imago Dei encouraged and celebrated by the larger culture. Just this morning, football players J.J Watt and Saquon Barkley took to Twitter to give their full-throat support to Nessib.
Let me stress at this junction I harbor no ill will to or for Mr. Nessib. I hold no hate, malice, or animus toward homosexuals. Homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. When I think about sin, the first person my mind drifts to immediately is ME. I hate sin, and the sin I hate the most is mine, and there is no close second.
I abhor sin because it is a direct and frontal assault against a thrice-holy God. But, unfortunately, even the Church has fallen prey to a depiction of God as some genteel divine being who is only moderately agitated about sin when the Bible never presents such a scaled-down portrayal of God.
Our depraved mind and our seared conscience have allowed us to view God’s disposition of sin as “well, boys will be boys.” So we think God just winks and chooses to look the other way. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. We have changed the vernacular that sin is not really regarded as sin. No, we choose to dress up sin and refer to it as a mistake, miscalculation, or misstep.
Consequently, I use my limited resources and my limited influence to sound the warning that it is still a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. I will use my platform to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who are held captive by the Evil One.
To not do so is to betray my Lord and Savior. To do so is wholly inconsistent with all the weight of most Holy Scripture demands and commands from cover to cover. God’s intent is crystal clear from the opening chapter in Genesis to the closing word of the Book of Revelation and every word in between. It does so with full disclosure of the blessings and the cursings. Divine blessings for those who are courageous and obedient, taking the narrow road. Divine cursings for those who shrink back and conveniently take the broad road.
I repeatedly share with my friends these are troubling times, but they are still exciting times. The blood of the Martyrs has always been the Seed of the Church. In no way do I delight in the persecution of the Saints, but this I know: Suffering is what Jesus Christ called the Church, His Bride, to endure joyfully.
Jesus Christ’s sovereign call on our life was and is not now optional or for only those who reach a certain level of spiritual formation. It is for every rank and file member of the Body of Christ. It is for you, the reader, no matter your current station in life. It is for you, Sister Housewife. It is for you recent Brother Retiree. It is for you, Brother College Student. It is for you, Sister Entrepreneur.
We will endeavor always to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We will love our neighbor, and we will strive to love our enemies as much as it depends upon us. Yet, we will refuse to call evil good, and we will not celebrate sin no matter what the culture demands.
We do so because Jesus Christ has bought us at a great price. That price being His very own life. We understand our lives are no longer our own. Our minds, our thoughts, our desire are held captive to Jesus Christ and His most Holy Word.
So, how do we respond to yesterday’s new and all future news that openly contradicts the explicit teaching found in the only objective source for what pleases and angers our Creator? We respond with the Truth in Love; we respond with humility and a frank confession we, too, are gross and heinous sinners. Our only difference is the finished work of our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, has redeemed us from the slave market.
That would be my message to Carl Nessib. I would plead with him to repent and turn in repentance to Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I do not hate Carl Nessib. Just the opposite, I love him so much I do not want him to spend eternity separated from His creator, and it is highly likely I will never come face-to-face with Carl Nessib.
I would respond to Carl Nessib with the Gospel. When we finish with our pontifications and our musings, my fellow Evangelicals, the only remedy available to fallen man remains the same. Preach the Gospel, whether they hear it or not; Preach the Gospel. If we lose our standing, Preach the Gospel. If we lose our influence, Preach the Gospel. If we lose our job or our tenure, still, Preach the Gospel.
I wish I could promise you if you are faithful, you will be lionized or pointed to as an example of great courage as you will probably not, but I can declare that the words of Jesus Christ will always suffice with extreme unction. He says, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father for the gospel who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).”
To the unregenerate mind, this is an empty, hollow promise, but to the born-again, to the Evangelical, that is why we rise each morning. We do so with the expressed desire to do the will of the Father. We are the first to admit we do so imperfectly but doing so is our meat and drink.
As always, let me know what you think. Until then, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.