I'm deviating from the format again this week, folks, but bare with me please.
You all may have heard the news, but the NFL draft this year included the first openly gay player. Michael Sam was drafted to the St. Louis Rams.
Sam went in the seventh round, and was overall considered a questionable player. Not bad, but not good either. So when he was cut from the Rams this past week, the sports world was fairly unsurprised. When he was signed by the practice squad for the Dallas Cowboys, people weren't surprised either. Again, he's not a bad player--just not as good as others.
Personally, I was glad to see this treatment of Sam--like he was a person, another player, an athlete...not a sexual orientation.
One News Now has a different take on the situation...Bryan Fischer wrote a post for the site arguing that Sam was discriminated against by the NFL.
And that that makes it okay for other people to discriminate against homosexuals.
If that sounds like a trip down a rabbit hole, you are absolutely correct. It is. Let's dive in, shall we?
I usually reproduce things in bits and pieces, but today, let's go ahead and look at all of it, okay? Here's what Fischer said:
Michael Sam is now, at this writing, being blatantly discriminated against by all 32 NFL teams (although the Dallas Cowboys are apparently thinking of adding him to their practice squad).*
The out, loud and proud homosexual was drafted by the Rams, and after giving his boyfriend a big, wet, sloppy kiss on national TV, he became an instant nationwide celebrity.
But the Rams have high standards of conduct and behavior, standards of performance, that Michael Sam did not reach.
As a result, they cut him. In other words, they fired him. In still other words, they refused to do business with him. In still other words, they discriminated against him.
Was it because they didn't like him? Was it because they hated him? Of course not. They loved him. They couldn't stop talking about what a great guy and teammate he was. He was the belle of the ball. Oprah wanted to follow him around 24/7 with a camera crew.
It wasn't even about his "orientation." His athletic "orientation" was to play football in the NFL. But his orientation was irrelevant to the Rams' decision. Their decision was based purely on conduct.
This discrimination had nothing to do with him as a person. It had everything to do with his behavior, his performance on the field. The Rams certainly have deeply held convictions about the kind of performance standards that must be met before they will do business with a potential player.
These standards mean so much to them they will discriminate against even a homosexual player who fails to meet them. That's how much those standards matter. They are non-negotiable standards, standards they won't sacrifice for the sake of political correctness.
The Rams' coach even said flatly "it wasn't a hard decision."
Now if Michael Sam and his boyfriend decided to get "married" and came not to the St. Louis Rams but to a Christian wedding vendor, he would and should be treated in exactly the same way. Wedding vendors might like him, even like him a lot, but be unable to do business with him because they have deeply held standards of behavior that they will not compromise for the sake of political correctness.
Would this mean that the wedding vendor would be discriminating against Michael Sam? Of course it would. Just like the St. Louis Rams discriminated against him, and for the same reason: deeply held convictions about behavior. In the Rams' case, it's athletic behavior. In the case of the wedding vendor, it's sexual behavior.
The Bible's standard on homosexuality applies equally to everybody, just as the NFL's standards of performance do. If a potential customer's behavior falls below the professional standard of a wedding vendor, that vendor should be able to take that into account in business and personnel decisions just like the NFL does.
If the Rams can discriminate against a homosexual because his behavior doesn't meet standards, so can bakers, florists and photographers.
Some will object to this parallel on the grounds that it's apples and oranges. But it's not. It's precisely parallel. In both cases, business owners are deciding whether to enter into a business arrangement with someone and making that decision based on clear, objective standards of behavior.
If the Rams can do it, in the name of fairness and equality, wedding vendors ought to be able to do it.
And if someone objects that one case is far more important than the other, I would certainly agree. Sexual behavior is a far more significant issue than athletic performance.
And God's standards are far more important than the standards of a football league.
* Since this column was posted, the Cowboys have signed Michael Sam to their practice squad.
Did you follow all of that? Good.
Stop me if I'm telling you what you already know (okay, you can't really do that, but still), but there's a glaring issue in Fischer's analogy here. That glaring issue is quite simple.
The Rams did not cut Sam because he was gay. They cut him because he didn't perform.
Vendors that discriminate against same sex couples looking to get married are discriminating because those couples are gay. They are not discriminating because of performance.
The bigger issue here is the connection between the performance standards of the Rams--standards that Sam agreed to when he went to play for them--and the idea of standards of behavior and morality that are not agreed to. You simply cannot make a connection between the two.
Sam signed onto an NFL team, and he agreed to their standards. He agreed to play the best that he could, to perform at his best. His performance did not meet those mutually agreed upon standards, and so he was let go. End of story. No discrimination.
With the recent wedding vendor issues, these are individuals being held to standards they did not agree to. They do not agree to be bound by these codes of morality and behavior. They are being discriminated against.
This analogy is a particularly bad one all around, but I simply can't get past the idea of using what I see as social progress to try to justify discrimination. My mind is blown.
It's truly stupid. Truly.