Super Bowl Slavery?

What’s the state of another’s conscience to you?

A man by the nome de plume of “Chaplain Mike” (not a pseudonym for me) finished an article on a blog by Michael Spencer (also not me) called iMonk. He questions honestly and decries, from personal experience, the status that sports seems to hold over many a Christian. He ends up, more-or-less, on the side that sports has become a fixture that contributes not simply to cultural adaptation among Evangelicals, but worse: hypocrisy. I encourage you to read it here.

His conscience seems genuine, so I shall not evaluate that. His rhetoric is charitable and unassuming, so I will not evaluate that, either. But his final position seems a little short-sighted: he assumes and worries that sports is a serious problem for most of the church because he himself felt called to leave it behind, and came back to an addictive behavior with it later.

Obviously, my only contention with this is that he is evaluating the stance of the cultural milieu based on solely his own experience. He being the one called away from it, he being the one addicted to its constant promise of attention-filler… he is now the one calling out for repentance by others from it. There is even a tag chosen that says, “American Idolatry.” Well, to be quite frank, who knows the mind of his neighbor, to judge it?

See my point? Is not the real heart-issue the concern for holiness and restoration of your neighbor’s soul from addictions, rather than assuming your issues are your neighbor’s? The article might serve a better purpose if it were intended to root out one’s own addictive behaviors and caution against it out of love, rather than presupposing a coverall negation of the modern arena.

I think the most I can say to this is it seems to be a conscience issue. Is the Lord your priority? Then all is well. Is sports your priority? Then not all is well, and you already know it. Is sports an addiction for you? Then you need to be more self-controlled around it than perhaps some others who are not addicted, and respect each other for your differences.

Basically: don’t be a slave to sports.

Not: stop loving something that can be perfectly kosher to your conscience.

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3 thoughts on “Super Bowl Slavery?

  1. Thanks for reading the post at iMonk.

    I guess I would respond to your analysis by saying that you miss the point of the post if you think the main point is that I’m worried about my own “addiction” to sports. I put my own example forward simply as representative of having experienced some wildly divergent views of sports over the years. The real question boils down to trying to figure out how Christians may thoughtfully participate in cultural activities such as sports in distinctively Cristian ways, rather than simply being overwhelmed by culture and letting it shape us without realizing what’s happening.

    Furthermore, the post is my response to the article in Christianity Today, from which i quote extensively, and this is the point from that article which i highlight:

    “There may be no more vivid illustration of historian Mark Noll’s ‘scandal of the evangelical mind’ than the way the community has neglected to think Christianly about sport, or has excused itself from crafting a sensible philosophy that will help them mine the spiritual riches that sport has to offer.”

    The post is my humble (and no doubt, flawed) attempt to have a discussion that will help me “craft a sensible philosophy” about sports from a Christian perspective.

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    1. Hey brother! Thanks for the response. 🙂

      I’m sorry if I misunderstood your main point.

      I think your intent is noble, and for the most part effective, so don’t think it was flawed. I only worried about how your audience would perceive your main filter for your intent as your own experience; that can lend to self-projection if we’re not careful about it, and give people false guilt. I have made this same mistake in sermons and in relationships–and at no time did my personal example yield the kind of fruit I wanted. After all, when you question whether or not you were wrong to remove yourself from sport not in your own personal story, but right after you mention how Christianity has intertwined with sports as a whole, I think that gives the impression that every Christian needs to ask if they should be called away from sport. That, I do want to be firm about: one’s conscience and behavior is not the entire community’s. In other words, maybe instead of using your own example solely, you could perhaps just stick to consequences of not engaging sports responsibly, and leave it for the reader to self-evaluate.

      Now, I also realize “addiction” is a loaded term, and I have no idea if you really were/are or not. I did choose the term, which I accept, and I based the term on what I saw of your post: 1) You were specifically “called away” from that issue by your own conscience and walk with God, even though in honesty it is not a major issue for most people. 2) You stayed away from it for a very long period of time, having no contact with it whatsoever. 3) Once your life started involving itself in the arena, you were hook-line-and-sinker for it (for example, checking scores daily or flipping through stations to find whatever sport you could). Those stages together, I do have to be frank, suggest some kind of addictive behavior or attachment. Maybe the behavior just needs to moderate out. Maybe you were exaggerating to prove a point; I don’t know. But exaggeration does tend to be misinterpreted, and I would like to save you from that since I know what you want to communicate.

      Blessings! 🙂

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  2. Michael, another reason I told my own story is because, as I thought about it, I found it strange to consider the wildly divergent attitudes toward sports that I myself have seen and experienced as part of the Christian community. I think it’s safe to say that what once was either forbidden, considered foolish, or at least put in a very secondary place by believers plays an entirely different role in our lives today. I guess I wonder how in my lifetime sports can go from being viewed as “worldly” or “secondary” to holding such a position of prominence in many lives and ministries today.

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