Thursday, September 16, 2010

Questionable Cultural Norms: Sports

It is necesarry from time to time for us to take a step back and question the common. In every culture traditions are developed that become commonly acceptable. It is tempting for Christians to see these cultural norms as morally acceptable for this reason. There are many areas in American culture that I believe Christians commonly compromise in.

One that I will raise a question regarding now is competetive athletics, both professional and recreational. I am not attempting to raise an accusation of any essential moral qualms with athletics, only the abuse of them. I will give two examples of common cultural behavior that I have observed and comment on them:

1. A father grows up playing baseball and hopes to pass that passion for the game to his son. The son grows up playing on little league teams and works his way to a college scholarship for baseball.

2. A husband has a devout following of his favorite football team. He finds personal enjoyment in watching games. It gives him rest among the stress of the week. He has formed friendship with other men, with whom he watches games with on a consistent basis.

The first thing I will point out is that neither one of these two things are wrong in themselves. However, both of these can become idolatry. If made idolatry, either situation can be argued by the Christian who is participating just as I stated before, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with either one of these.

There is something that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds however in order to be sure to keep from making sin out of recreation. This is a recognition of Christian virtues. I don't know a Christian who would disagree that the Bible teaches us to be humble and to do our best to keep peace with all people. Are these priorities carefully maintained in our ambitions to be great athletes or in our obsession with great athletes?

In the situation with the son who is raised to be a baseball player, is athletic self-confidence placed at a higher priority and talked about more than Christian humility? Does the father emphasize athletic success more than Christian virtues? If that child were uninterested in baseball and had a Christ-honoring proclivity toward another hobby, would the father be disappointed?

For the husband who has a passion for his favorite team, does he justifiy an obsession just because "that is what guys do?" Does he ignore his wife when the game is on? Does his family feel that they need to leave him alone when his team loses? If so, this is a far cry from Biblical masculinity. It is too often that I have seen a group of middle-aged, church-going men, when either playing or watching sports, act like the boys they were when they began their obsession with sports.

In our culture, we can be blinded to idolatry by normality. A Christian is to carry the name of Jesus Christ primarily. Is it possible that the wearing of athletic jersies in honor of an athlete, the boasting of that athlete among friends, and the heart and passion behind cheering for that athlete in a game situate can become human worship?

Again, I am not finding a problem with athletics. I just think that we should ask ourselves if our hobbies are in healthy perspective.

"When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." -1 Cor. 13:11

1 comment:

  1. You well know that I agree with you on this point. People excuse idolatry over sports far to quickly. Thanks for your words.