US Soccer National Teams and LGBTQ Pride Jerseys: Divided We Fall

June 8, 2017

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.


5 Responses to “US Soccer National Teams and LGBTQ Pride Jerseys: Divided We Fall”

  1. Bobby Says:

    Thanks Craig. This is very well done. Society demands that Christians accept the LGBGTQ agenda as normal and equal expression of sexuality and is incompatible with Christian teaching and belief. I like how you stress that disagreeing with the pride movement objectives does not mean that Christians don’t love their LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

    I love how you point out the awkward position that players (and fans) are in because of public statements of support for divisive issues by the organization you work for. Where are fans supposed to turn? I also agree that players risk becoming targets by activists if they dare to stand up and refuse to participate in promoting the LGBTQ agenda.

    I do wish some of the players I look up to and respect, who are involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, would have spoken out or refused to participate. One wonders if they agree with or are in solidarity with the LGBTQ message or if they figure it’s just politics and what’s the harm? Whatever the reasons I am disappointed that the USMNT organization chose to politicize the team and make it harder to support them as a fan. Even so as I write this I see they are up on T&T and hope for them to win!

  2. Gary A Maggard Says:

    As a member of FCA, my thoughts are if these who are involved with FCA participated in this debacle I am saddened!

  3. Hi,
    Your writing is enjoyable to read. You are definitely a highly intelligent human being.

    Upon reading this article, my question to you is, do you oppose only to outward expression of LGBT or do you oppose it all around? This where I have issues with the teachings of the Bible. We are told that God loves everyone equally, while at the same time we are taught being different is wrong and cause for damnation. This is also why I stopped going to church, for I feel churches teach hate instead of love. Church wants to condemn everyone for what they do instead of encouraging people to be different. That’s my take and I have yet to see a church that does not teach this.

    I am going to read your other work, for, as I mentioned, I really enjoy your writing.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts in a compassionate manner.

    • Hi Opinionated Muse. Thanks for your comments. In answer to your question, “do you oppose only to outward expression of LGBT or do you oppose it all around?” I agree that God loves everyone and demonstrated that love especially in the offering of Jesus on the cross for “the life of the world.” In regard to sexual orientation, I interpret the Bible as prescribing a sexual ethic that confines health sexual relations to a marriage between husband and wife. Outside of that union, I think any sexual activity would be categorized as sinful. For me, that relates to behavior not identity. I think our identity is defined by Scripture as being either in Christ through his redemption or outside him through our refusal of accepting his redemptive offering of forgiveness and becoming born again. The loving arms of Jesus are open and extended to all people, and I believe he calls all people to turn to him and receive salvation–that includes people of all orientation. Nothing excludes us from his love or salvation but our own rejection of it. He loves us as we are and works in us to make us more like Jesus. I’m sorry you have experienced or perceived hatred from churches…this is not God’s intention.

      • Hi Craig,
        Thank you for the reply and food for thought. I am a believer in God. Always have been and always will be. I also believe in his son Jesus Christ.

        I understand everything you said and you’ve made very valid points. Thank you for allowing me to open my thoughts and soul to you in response to your post and you responding in a kind manner. I try to give constructive criticism and you have responded in a constructive manner as well.

        I will be visiting your blog for I do find your writing very intriguing and thought provoking. I may not agree with all you say, but I value what you say and will take it to heart.

        Again, thank you for the reply and food for thought.

        Have a blessed day. : )


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