NFL Protests

I’m going to tell you some things about myself. Like many Americans I enjoy the game of football. Like most Americans, I hate racism. I applaud justice and freedom.  I dislike bullying and thuggery.  God commands me to love all people, whether they are nice, rude, fun, irritating, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, gay, straight, old, young, fat, thin, sane or mentally ill.  And I try my best, with His help, to love them all. I love Colin Kaepernick. I want the very best for him.  I love the 1,696 NFL players who are currently on the 32 teams, along with their coaches, staff, and owners.  I love Donald Trump.  I love Hillary Clinton.

But love doesn’t mean that justice should not happen. God loves all of us, but to those who reject His love He will also reject, and they will feel the wrath of His justice for eternity.  I would love it if all men (meaning “human beings alive on earth) would get saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, but the Bible says that the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

Love also doesn’t mean “being nice” all the time.  If my best friend is contemplating having an affair with a woman from work, even though the “nice” thing to do is to support what makes him feel good, I should warn him away from this, because it will destroy his relationship with his wife and his children, scarring him for the rest of his life.  If my sister becomes addicted to heroin, I should do the not-nice thing and hold an intervention, telling her what she doesn’t want to hear in order to save her life.

And so sometimes the loving thing is to point out when someone is wrong. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee last year, it bothered me.  It did not bother me that he was pointing out that racism exists.  It does.  It also wasn’t because he was pointing out that sometimes the police shoot and kill people they shouldn’t.  They do.   It bothered me because, like so many people in this country, I believe this country to be the greatest country ever (so far).  I think the founding fathers looked back through history and tried their best to ensure that it would be very difficult to destroy the freedom that they established here.  That’s why we have a justice system.  That’s why we have laws.  Our laws are supposed to protect our citizens from people doing things they aren’t supposed to do.

Sometimes we have to make changes to the law because we realize we’ve been doing something wrong.  Such was the case with our country’s treatment of people who didn’t have white skin.  We are getting better in this area. If you think we aren’t, then compare the treatment of black people and Asian people in 1800 compared to the 1890’s.  Now compare their treatment to the 1960’s. Now compare their treatment to now.  It’s obviously getting better.  Yes, there are still people out there who believe that white people are somehow better than black people, but there are also black people who believe they are somehow better than white people.  There are people who still believe the earth is flat.  All these things are flat-out wrong.

So we’ve established that racism still exists in America.  It’s wrong, but it’s there. The question is, what do we do about it?  Is racial discrimination illegal?  Yes it is.  Can you force someone to stop being a racist?  No, you cannot.

So what’s the issue here?  It’s priorities.   Who comes first in your life?  Is it your family?  Is it God?  For me, God is my number one priority, followed by my family, then my country, my job, and then everything else in varied order (including my spectator sports).  If I am trying to determine if an action is right or wrong, my first question is simply, “What does God say about it?”  If my wife asks me to do something that goes against what God has said, my first allegiance is to God, so I should refuse her.  If my country tells me that I should do something that goes against my family (like China’s mandatory abortion policy did), I should refuse, no matter the consequences.  Sometimes these lines blur a little, but there’s a clear order.

And so we come to the NFL.  I personally believe that people should have the right to peaceably demonstrate.  I am 100% in agreement with the kneelers there.  I am also in agreement with them that racism is bad and should be fought at every turn.  I agree that police brutality exists (though probably not to the extent the kneelers believe it does).   However, I also agree with those who believe that the flag of the United States is a symbol of freedom.  It’s also a symbol of those who have fought, sacrificed, and died for that freedom.  That flag is draped over the coffin of every service member who dies. That flag is then presented to the family of the service member in appreciation for their service.  And so, to me, when the Star Spangled Banner is being played or sung, I stand out of respect for my country, the armed services, and the sacrifice of those who have died protecting the flag and the freedom it stands for. I place my hand on my heart to show that I love my country.

There are those who say, “The kneelers aren’t disrespecting the flag, they’re protesting the injustice in this country.”  To this I say, “malarkey.”  If you dance on someone’s grave as a protest against whatever, you aren’t just protesting, you’re disrespecting them and their family.  This is similar to that, in my mind.

My allegiance to my country is more important to me than my allegiance to the Colts, the Chiefs, or any team in the NFL.  I did not stop watching NFL games last year because it was just a few players here and there, and the NFL was mostly ignoring it.  But when the NFL makes a statement that they support those who kneel and those who hoist the Black Power (which is a violent racist group) fist, my support ends.  When the owners and coaches say they support the protests, and even participate themselves, my support ends.  The NFL has effectively drawn a line in the sand and said (in my mind and in the minds of many who agree with me), “The NFL disrespects America.”

Since my allegiance to America is greater than my allegiance to watching a sport, I no longer watch the NFL.  I have friends and relatives on both sides of this debate.  Quite frankly I’m tired of arguing about it.  If you ask me, the protesters haven’t done a thing to advance their supposed cause. All they have done is given America something else to argue about.  Has the kneeling changed the minds of any racists out there? I doubt it. But it has changed the minds of people like me who love our country, our soldiers and sailors, and the flag that represents them.

I will close with an analogy.  Let’s say you have a friend. He’s funny, smart, and you enjoy spending time with him.  Now let’s say he starts making jokes about your wife,  your mom, and being mean to other people  you love.  At what point do you say, “We can’t hang out anymore”?

For me, it was this past weekend.



About Steve Picray

I am a conservative Baptist Pastor in the midwestern United States. Every day I commit my life to Jesus Christ. This blog is my view on life. My prayer is that, by reading what I write, you will learn more about me, more about God, and be assisted in becoming the person God means for you to be. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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