Friday, October 19, 2012

Texas Football, Cheerleaders, and Bible Verses. . .

They say that everything's bigger in Texas. That's certainly the case with high school football. Last month I spoke in Allen, a suburb of Dallas. On my way to the church we took a detour to the community's brand new high school football stadium. . . the community's brand new $60 MILLION high school football stadium. The next week I was speaking in Minnesota. When I showed the folks there the picture of the stadium and mentioned the price tag, they quickly noted that it cost more than the Metrodome home of the Minnesota Vikings!

Texas high school football is in the news this week thanks to a highly publicized court case regarding the fight to retain the cheerleaders' right to create and display banners emblazoned with Bible verses. I really haven't followed the case that closely to be able to comment on the legal issues at stake. To be honest, it just doesn't interest me that much. But there are some aspects of the story that I think are worth thinking about.

First, there's the whole matter of public displays of faith. Sure, our lives should reflect a minute-to-minute every-square-inch faith. The way I live, who I am, how I talk. . . it should all bring glory to God. . . in both my private and public comings and going.  But why are we so insistent on equating discipleship with in-your-face public displays. . . as if they are more influential or even biblically-faithful than faithful and obedient living that goes about its business without an agenda that includes endeavoring to aggressively draw attention to one's self? Which of the two approaches is more powerful? Which of the two better reflects the mind, heart and will of Christ? Which of the two is rooted in humility? I'm just asking. And I think these are questions worth answering.

Second, there's the matter of sound and faithful use of the Scriptures. The banner slogans and their context are somewhat unnerving. I scoured the Internet for this story. . . and I was treated to a host of photos of cheerleaders and their banners. . . a few of which I've posted in this blog. Take a look at them. Does anybody else think there's some faulty interpretation, application, and use of these Scriptures in the context of an athletic context? And what should we think if two opposing teams were to run from opposite ends of the field through banners identically emblazoned with the words of Romans 8:31? Does God really care about who wins as opposed to how the two teams conduct themselves on the field? Again, I'm just asking.

This isn't a "Texas issue." No, this is a "youth ministry" and "Christian" issue.


Adam Peterson said...

Very interesting, indeed. I very much agree with your first point but the second one got me thinking. Should we try to give them the benefit of the doubt? In the case of the Hebrews 12:1 passage, it could be that the cheerleaders just might be thinking about conduct--giving your all on the field. And maybe the 1 Corinthians 15 passage is used as a reminder of where true victory comes from, and a victory on the field may or may not come from that.

Granted, it is a bit unlikely, considering it a cultural trend to make the bible work for us, but maybe straight condemnation isn't the way to go.

That's just my two bits.

PB said...

This was a courageous post on your part, Walt. And I agree with you whole heartedly. Before reading your words, I looked at those pictures and thought the same thing – out of context and what should the “other” side take from this? That God is only for one team?

One thing you wrote was “Sure, our lives should reflect a minute-to-minute every-square-inch faith. The way I live, who I am, how I talk. . . it should all bring glory to God. . . in both my private and public comings and going.” I listen to Charles Stanley regularly and he just defined the Normal Christian Life as one where Christ in us lives His life through us”. What a wonderful description as it takes the weight off of me to “live right, talk right, do right, bring glory to God” to “allow the Holy Spirit to live through me”. I know this is off topic, but I wish Christ followers would talk more about how this is done – how to allow the Holy Spirit to live through me rather than strive to bring glory to God – whatever I think that looks like. In the case of the cheerleaders – is this the Holy Spirit living through them? How could they determine that? How can any of us determine if our minute-to-minute actions/thoughts/motives are of the Holy Spirit or myself?

Kyle Corbin said...

Thanks for blogging about this one! One thing I struggle with is the use of prayer and Bible verses for sports. "God I pray our team wins tonight" or like that banner quotes "if God is for us who can be against us?"

These things are what is important. I agree with you, our lives should be an open book for everyone to see the message of Christ. But if we are pitting God against God because we have a messed up understanding this is a problem.

This isn't their fault as those people with the banners. It just goes to show us that we need to continue to think about and teach students of the word about understanding God's message and how to understand/use the Bible in context.

Thanks again Walt.


jean rodgers said...

Thanks for posting this, Walt, but I disagree with you. I lived in Texas for 13 years, so I understand Texas culture. I lived in Plano (adjacent suburb to Allen, Tx) and in deep East Texas near Kountz, Tx. I had several close friends graduate from this very HS in Kountz, Tx in the 90's. Yes, everything is bigger in Texas, especially their football program. Many teams practice all year long. It drives the little towns scattered in rural areas.
I see this display similar to Tebow's John 3:16 display on his face. These girls are using their platform to display their beliefs. They are teenagers dealing with lots of school and social pressures. I think this is a great thing! There is far worse they could be posting on a banner or doing!
As far as praying for our team to win tonight---that's not what they are doing. Prayer for doing your best, prayer for endurance, with the Glory to God is what I see.
Let us allow all to worship God in their own manner. Otherwise we are talking about legalism!
I would be beaming as a parent if one of these teens was my child who could quote scripture publicly.