If you are a Christian player in the NFL, it's time for you to say to the league, "Stop making us pawns in the culture wars. Enough is enough."
It's time for you to threaten a boycott if the NFL continues to be an aggressive tool of gay activism and an aggressive opponent of religious liberty.
You already put your bodies on the line every week, playing one of the world's most exciting and yet most dangerous sports.
You already make all kinds of sacrifices to give yourself to the sport, the team and the fans, and even though you are paid well for your efforts, your career on average is just a few short years and after that, you have the rest of your life to deal with the injuries you endured as a player.
And when you stand between those lines to play on Sunday, you show grit and determination and courage and discipline, and millions of Americans cheer you on.
But don't let yourselves be used to smash the religious liberties of the people of America.
Don't let yourselves be used as pawns for gay bullies and their allies.
Send a message to the league with respect and honor, making it clear that the NFL has crossed the line one too many times and that you, as a person of faith and morality, will not be a part of it.
A few days ago, the Georgia legislature passed a very modest bill designed to protect the religious liberties of the people of that great state.
There was nothing radical or extreme about it, and it did not strip away any essential rights of gays or lesbians living there.
Instead, it "would have safeguarded clergy from having to officiate same-sex weddings, prevented faith-based organizations from being forced to hire someone who publicly undermines their mission, and prohibited the state government from discriminating against churches and their affiliated ministries because they believe marriage is between a man and a woman."
Yet the NFL threatened to remove the city of Atlanta, home of the great Falcons organization, form consideration from future Super Bowls over this. Can you believe it? And the governor vetoed the bill!
The NFL was indignant about a bill that would have protected a pastor from having to officiate at the "wedding" of two men; that would have protected a Christian nursery school from having to hire a man who dressed as a woman; that would have protected a church from lawsuits for defining marriage as Jesus did, namely, the lifelong union of a man and a woman.
Your league played the bully here, and they used you to attack the religious rights and freedoms of fellow-Americans, since without you, the world's greatest football players, there is no league.
Gay activists were thrilled with this last Super Bowl, Super Bowl 50, claiming it was the gayest Super Bowl yet, from Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem, to more gay-themed commercials, to lighting up the Super Bowl in gay colors during halftime in celebration of "love."
As one website noted, "The Super Bowl's pro-gay marriage moment was refreshing and unexpected, and illustrated just how much public sentiment on the issue has changed over the last several years."
Dear athlete and fellow believer, you are being used!
Not that long ago, rumor had it that the NFL really wanted to see Michael Sam drafted, and the league quickly disciplined any player who expressed the least problem with it. How dare you be uncomfortable with an openly gay man sharing your shower stalls and locker room? How homophobic of you to think that a healthy, young homosexual man in the prime of life, together with other, testosterone-charged athletes, might want to check out one of the other players.
Now, sports commentators like Jason Whitlock on Fox Sports 1 are saying, "Michael Sam was a stunt by the NFL. It was a play to the politically correct crowd. The guy's too short, not fast enough off the ball, he's not an NFL player, and I think people did the homework on him and said, 'You know what, I don't know if he really, really loves the game.'"
It is being reported that the St. Louis Rams actually made a deal with the NFL to draft Sam so as to get out of appearing on HBO's Hard Knocks, thereby sparing the NFL of not drafting the first openly homosexual player, even if he was not a good fit for the league.
Do you want to be a party to nonsense like this? And how did you feel when some of the biggest news of the draft focused on a seventh-round draft pick while the NFL picture seen around the world showed Sam and his boyfriend kissing?
Is this what you want your league to be known for? Is this why you're putting your health on the line?
We know that there are many fine Christians playing in the NFL, and you use your incredible platform to set good examples for young people, to get into schools, to encourage others to live right, and to share your faith with a hurting world.
That's an incredible witness, and it's one that can continue for many years after your career is over.
But right now, you need to stand up like the men of courage you are, and you need to say to Roger Goodell, "Mr. Commissioner, we are privileged to make our living playing professional football, and it's the honor of a lifetime to have this international stage. But we are asking you to leave us out of the culture wars. The NFL is about sports and achievement and excellence, not about political correctness or gay activism or attacking religious freedoms. So we're asking you to quit threatening states for protecting our liberties and to quit using us as tools of a political agenda. And if you refuse to modify your position, we will have to sit out the next year."
We all know that the NFL will not risk losing some of its most respected and prized athletes, so in a sense, all you need to be is sincere, and the NFL will have no choice but to back down. And there are countless millions of fans who will stand with you in sending this non-hateful, non-discriminatory message.
And if taking a stand costs you in any personal way, you know that many others before you, like the heroes in the civil rights movement, determined to do what was right rather than what was expedient, and we call them blessed to this day.
Will you say, then, to the NFL, "Stop using as pawns in the culture wars"?
And to every NFL fan reading this article, how about sending this link to the Christian players on your home team, encouraging them to stand up for what's right and telling them you have your back?
It's time to make a difference. It's time to make your voices heard.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
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