When Tolerance Becomes Intolerant: Standing with Chris Broussard
Chris Broussard is officially a villain. Yes, he is an outcast, the latest in a long line of social pariahs deemed to be unworthy of the dignity of his own opinions. On Monday, Chris was called upon by his network ESPN to do his job, and was asked a series of questions in response to Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay athlete in any of the major sports.
As is his reputation, he answered them openly and honestly. What flowed from his mouth were not statements of hatred or anger, but rather a simple yet nuanced explanation of disagreement based upon his beliefs. What promptly ensued was a tirade of social media venom that few of us can rightfully say we have ever experienced. “Bigot,” “homophobe,” “discriminator,” “idiot” and other more profane verbal mortars were lobbed from afar behind the safety of smartphone screens and laptops alike.
“Tolerance” has indeed devolved, huh? It’s sunken into an equivocal, ever-shifting term that only applies to who agrees with the user’s worldview. So, what is our response when the tolerant decide to no longer tolerate us? Broussard is currently living that reality. He will likely be fired, and if not, will invariably lose considerable cache in his profession. While he has become the world’s whipping boy, his voices of support have quickly come to match the volume of his detractors. See, Chris Broussard is not simply a reputable basketball journalist but also a vibrant supporter of the Christian hip hop sub genre and leader within the budding movement of urban Christianity. Sure, his case “hits close to home,” but it also reeks with implications for CHH that we must take the time to observe.
First of all, we can clearly see on a day like today that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. My heart rejoiced as countless major artists across various camps vociferously came to the defense of our brother with #IStandWithChris hashtags and uplifting messages. He needs us and will only need us more in days to come. But it should also encourage us to see that we can stand together despite what secondary disagreements we may have as “brothers (and sisters) born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). We need each other not only in this challenging period but all others as well. Why? Because we will all invariably become outcasts to this culture. There is no amount of affability that will appease people who will not accept the truth. It’s easy to be “misfits” and “outcasts” when it doesn’t cost us anything, but the truth will alienate us no matter how much we beg it not to. This verse rings painfully true on this day: “If they persecute me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
Thirdly, this reveals how limited musical artistry really is. In the same way that arguments cannot be fully fleshed out in 140 twitter characters, our songs and albums are not the end of the process but only the beginning. No matter what our “camp” is, the local church must be championed as a place where the Bible is courageously taught and explained. And finally, while we should lean on the acumen of Christian logicians, pastors, ethicists and professors; there is no “one-size-fits-all” verbal argument that can be used to shut down every opposing viewpoint. As the oft-quoted saying goes, “The man with an argument is at the mercy of the man with an experience.” The most powerful argument we will ever have is a life lived well. If you truly believe in the Biblical stance of marriage, get married, love your spouse passionately and stay faithful to them. Our support is merely faux outrage if our zippers are down for anyone else other than our spouses. “If you love Him, keep His commandments” (John 14:15). Live like a Christian, so we know its real.
Our support for Chris Broussard should be strong and powerful, but let’s not forget that his situation will be ours sooner or later. Again, what is our response when the tolerant no longer tolerate us? Take heart that the cultural term “tolerance” will never define us or what the truth is. In the scope of eternity, when we stand before God, pleasing society will be the last thing on our minds. As a prominent P4CM poet has said, “I’d rather be an outcast now then be cast out later”. If Christ, his disciples and regular guys like Chris Broussard are the world’s outcasts and pariahs, count us in too. We’ll be your outcasts.