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In the summer of 1989 following my sophomore year in college, I was faced with a seminal decision.  It was a simple decision but was not an easy one.  I had begun working my second term at a Christian sports camp near Branson, Missouri.  Prior to heading across country to work at the camp, I had attended a soccer tryout in Florida for the Olympic Festival Soccer Team.  I believed I had a poor tryout and had little chance of making the team, so I didn’t hesitate to commit to working the second term at camp. The Olympic Festival would be occurring in Oklahoma City near my hometown of Edmond, OK where the soccer matches would take place.  In the first week of the second term at camp, I received a call inviting me to take the place of an injured player on the Southeast Region’s Soccer Team.

The call brought up a mix of emotions.  This is a call I had dreamed and worked to receive.  It was a call to take one more step toward the US Men’s National Team and to play in the Olympic Festival soccer games that would take place five minutes from where I had grown up and went to high school.

However, I was committed to working at the camp.   After a conversation with the camp’s director of counselors, I felt compelled to honor my commitment to the camp: a simple decision that was not easy.  Based on my faith and desire to live with integrity, I had to call the Olympic Festival and decline the offer.

I think of this memory as I consider how I, as a Christian, would react to facing the decision to wear the US National Team’s jersey sporting rainbow-colored numbers in honor and promotion of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Questioning (or Queer) Pride month. How much more difficult would such a decision be? Is it still simple?

It was with bewilderment and disappointment that I tuned into the men’s friendly game against Venezuela on June 3rd and saw the numbers and learned of their significance.  As a Christian, I fully believe that Scripture is inspired and reveals a defined acceptable sexual ethic.  To love others as God has loved us, a main imperative of Scripture, does not in any way demand acceptance of unbiblical behaviors like those that LGBTQ Pride promotes.  According to the Christian faith, these are not on equal moral and ethical footing as those of Christian teaching.  LGBTQ Pride does, in fact, demand that all the sexual behaviors included in its descriptors be accepted and treated as normal, healthy and equal to sexual expressions between a married man and woman. These behaviors are simply incompatible with the Biblical Christian faith.

When asked about marriage, Jesus responded by pointing to the beginning of creation:  “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,  and the two shall become one flesh.'” (Mark 10:6-8)

The Apostle Paul speaks to the eternal mystery of marriage represented by a faithful husband and wife:  “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. ‘This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:31-33)

These Scriptures are not imposed on others but are accepted by Christians as the counsel of God for them.  This is what we believe and promote.

Symbols are open to interpretation; however, the rainbow colors of LGBTQ on the soccer uniforms of our national soccer teams have been defined for us by the advocacy and public displays of its proponents.   There is little, if any, ambiguity left to the rainbow symbol of LGBTQ Pride.  I have no interest in debating regarding their sexuality or trying to stop them.  Likewise, I have no intention or interest in supporting it.  I also don’t imagine that by rejecting behavior, I am practicing intolerance or rejection of people.  All people are made in God’s image and are those for whom Jesus died.

Players wearing the rainbow symbols on their jerseys are promoting behavior that is apparent in its scope and spectrum.  A Christian player is faced with the decision of whether to succumb to the pressure to wear the jersey or to stand firm in their faith and give up their place on the team.  I don’t know of any of the men’s team players protesting the shirts.  I know that two of the players, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard, are professed Christians who have shared their testimonies in past issues of FCA’s magazine.  Both played against Venezuela and have not made statements regarding the jerseys.

As a fan, I have watched and cheered for US Soccer over the last 30 years; however, I cannot support a team that actively promotes a divisive cause that I earnestly and reasonably oppose.  I may not be in the majority with my opinion, but I know that I am not alone in my opposition to this cause and action of US Soccer.  The initiative has caused division in what has otherwise been a cohesive, enthusiastic fan base for US Soccer. It has produced tremendous hostility toward its dissenters.  That alone is reason enough to judge this initiative unwise.  It is dismissive to fans who value their beliefs and ethics that oppose the LGBTQ Pride advocacy.

On an individual level, I wonder how the Christians on the team came to the decision to play and wear the Pride jerseys.  At least one player on the woman’s team has pulled out of their upcoming matches for “personal reasons.”  This player Jaelene Hinkle is a committed Christian and plays professional soccer for the North Carolina Courage.  She has not made a statement regarding her reasons, but it seems that it might have to do with the conflict between her faith and the jersey.

May God help any player that voices disapproval of the LGBTQ Pride support.  Their reward is surely in heaven.  It is sad, disappointing and inconsiderate for US Soccer to put players and fans in this position.  As in so many other cases, the LGBTQ agenda has taken precedence over any other considerations for freedom or respect of faith and decorum.  In this case, such advocacy has taken precedence over the value of national unity and the thrill of simply playing for one’s entire country.

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