In the interest of full disclosure, I like Dale Hansen. I’ve watched WFAA, channel 8, for the better part of 22 years and think the Channel 8 news team is the best in the metroplex. Having said that, I have to take exception to a recent rant by Dale in one of his infamous Unplugged segments. It was on Monday night, February 10th.
The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram said, “WFAA/Channel 8 sports anchor Dale Hansen is known for his outspokenness, but his bluntness has seldom earned him the kind of attention that he has received for his latest ‘Hansen Unplugged’ commentary. On Monday’s newscast, Hansen did a segment about the reaction to Sunday’s announcement by Missouri defensive end Michael Sam that he’s gay. In essence, Hansen told people who are ‘uncomfortable’ about gays in locker rooms to get over it. His two minute, 15 second ‘Hansen Unplugged’ commentary titled ‘Celebrating Our Differences’ aired Monday night and went viral.”1
Here’s the text of what Dale said:
“It was quite a weekend. That little dust up in Lubbock Saturday night and then yesterday, Missouri’s All American defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year and expected to be a third to fifth round pick in the NFL draft, tells the world he’s gay.
The best defensive player in college football’s best conference, only a third to fifth round NFL pick? Really? That is shocking! And I guess that other thing is, too. Michael Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL. Says he knows there will be problems and they’ve already started.
Several NFL officials telling Sports Illustrated, ‘It will hurt him on draft day because a gay player wouldn’t be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would be uncomfortable because that’s a man’s world.’ You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL Draft. You kill people while driving drunk? That guy’s welcome. Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they’re welcome! Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away? And you lie to police trying to cover up a murder? We’re comfortable with that. You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far.
It wasn’t that long ago when we were being told that black players couldn’t play in our games because it would be uncomfortable. And even when they finally could; it took several more years before a black man played quarterback because we weren’t comfortable with that either.
So many of the same people who used to make that argument and the many who still do, are the same people who say government should stay out of our lives, but then want government in our bedrooms. I’ve never understood how they feel comfortable laying claim to both sides of that argument.
I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he’s gay. I don’t understand his world. But I do understand that he’s part of mine. Civil rights’ activist Audre Lorde said, ‘It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.’ We’ve always been able to recognize them. Some of us accept them. And I want to believe that there will be a day when we do celebrate them. I don’t know if that day is here yet. I guess we’re about to find out. But when I listen to Michael Sam, I do think it’s time to celebrate him now.”2
What Dale said has definitely gone viral, with over 4.7 million hits on YouTube and, not surprisingly, he received a hero’s welcome on the ELLEN show in L.A. Ellen said, “Speaking as a gay person, we really do need people like you. We need heterosexual people that speak out … because I can only do so much and say so much.”3
What Dale said cannot and should not go unchallenged. I’m sure the easy response for many is just to ignore it. I can’t do that. Why? There’s too much at stake. 4.7 million hits on YouTube, the affirmation of Ellen and the celebration of a self-described, “old, fat, white guy from Texas,”4 doesn’t alter the truth or the consequences that come from rejecting, denying or defying the truth.
Let me explain.
#1. It’s a dangerous, even arrogant position to put yourself in when you decide you’re the only one entitled to an opinion. The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram said, “In essence, Hansen told people who are ‘uncomfortable’ about gays in locker rooms to get over it.’4 Being “uncomfortable” has nothing to do with the core issue here. More on that in a moment.
#2. Dale erected some rhetorical “straw men” to bolster his argument.
“You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL Draft. You kill people while driving drunk? That guy’s welcome. Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they’re welcome! Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away? And you lie to police trying to cover up a murder? We’re comfortable with that.”
No one I know is comfortable with that or would tolerate it for a millisecond. All of us would probably be surprised if we knew how many people in America are just as frustrated as Dale is at the double standards or lack of standards that seem to exist in virtually all professional sports. He’s right, pointing out the failure of the NFL to hold its players to the highest standards of morality and character. Something we could all agree on.
#3. He attempts to equate someone’s sexual preference and those struggles with the struggles black Americans have experienced. Just because racism is wrong, always has been and always will be, doesn’t make any kind of immorality right.
#4. Dale said, “So many of the same people that used to make that argument and the many who still do, are the same people who say the government should stay out of our lives, but then want government in our bedrooms. I’ve never understood how they feel comfortable laying claim to both sides of that argument.” The issue here is not government. It’s God.
As a sports’ anchor, Dale knows every sport has rules you have to follow. Guidelines so you can enjoy the game. Every game I can think of has lines. Football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer, even golf has stakes that mark “out of bounds.” Get outside the lines in football or basketball or soccer and you’re “out of bounds.” In baseball, if you get outside the lines you’re in “foul” territory. How do we know all those rules, guidelines and the basics so we can play the game? We have rule books.
You and I have a rulebook, a set of guidelines to help us enjoy the game of life. It’s called the Bible. Just as we couldn’t enjoy a single sport or game without rules or boundaries, the lives we enjoy would be impossible without them as well. If there are no moral absolutes, if there are no guiding principles, then civilization is impossible. What about murderers who love to murder? Or thieves who want to take everything you have? And what if they claimed God made them that way and they had no choice but to act on their desires. You might end up with everything stolen and every member of your family and friends dead?
It’s not a matter of being “uncomfortable” with homosexuality or same-sex marriage or someone who says they are “gay” wanting to play football in the NFL. It’s a matter of God’s absolute standards of right and wrong. The issue is many in our society are clearly “uncomfortable” with what the Bible says. Unlike the NFL, the Bible has a clear set of standards which cannot and will not be lowered to accommodate anyone’s personal or sexual preferences. Just because someone is “uncomfortable” with that, it doesn’t change what the Bible says; what Jesus or Paul or any other writer in Scripture said.
Whether we agree with or like the guidelines in God’s rulebook, the Bible, or not, it doesn’t affect God’s laws or standards one iota. For example, someone might be “uncomfortable” with the law of gravity. But if they jump off a building just because they want to express their freedom to do whatever they want, they’ll still suffer the consequences of breaking that law.
God’s laws cannot be broken without consequence, even if someone says, “you need to get over it.” The Bible says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). One sin isn’t singled out here. Nor does the Bible leave us without any hope. Verse 11 says,“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.”
There is no debate about any of the sins listed above. Neither is there any debate about homosexuality. The Bible is clear that it is also wrong, both in the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 1:27; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; ). Jesus was not ambiguous at all in Matthew 19 where He stated that marriage was clearly between a man and a woman: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” Jesus went on to say, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).
Unlike sports, where rules and guidelines change from time to time, God’s Word is unchanging. Some may seek to ignore, defy or even re-write the Bible, as rappers Macklemore and Ryan state clearly in their song “Same Love.” And while they might feel good now about what they’re saying and singing and might indulge themselves in the applause and affirmation of a society that doesn’t want God in their lives or bedrooms. But someday, sooner than they think, they’ll stand before a Holy God, Who will hold them accountable to what He said. Not what they said.
No Christian I know, and certainly not me, is trying to say that someone (anyone) doesn’t have the right to make whatever choices they want to make in life. However, the Bible says there are consequences: “Anyone who continues to live in sin, regardless of what that sin may be, and claims to love God and know God, etc., is living with a false hope. Because Scripture is clear: “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6).
What I, and others like me are trying to do is share the love of Christ and the truth of Scripture so everyone can know that a happy and fulfilled life is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 10:10). And that true freedom comes from following what God’s Word says, because He alone knows what is best for us (Romans 12:1-2).
To put it another way, every game is better when it’s played by the rules … especially the game of life!
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron
1 Robert Philpot, “Hansen’s Defense of gay player goes viral,” Star-Telegram 14 Feb. 2014: 1A
2 Dale Hansen Unplugged: Celebrating our differences, 10 Feb. 2014, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Olc5C4SXAYM>.
3 Robert Philpot, “Hansen gets warm welcome on DeGeneres Show,” Star-Telegram 15 Feb. 2014: 12B
4 Robert Philpot, “Hansen’s Defense of gay player goes viral,” Star-Telegram 14 Feb. 2014: 1A
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.