In the deluge of coverage following the death of former Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali, I hope you indulge me as I write about a different boxer who arguably is just as talented as Ali in the ring, and whose religiosity, like Ali’s, is making many people uncomfortable.
If you don’t follow the fight game, he is 37-year-old Manny Pacquiao, who is considered by experts to be one of the finest boxers ever to step into the ring. In 2015, Forbes ranked him as the second-highest compensated athlete in the world, taking in $160 million.
But it wasn’t his skills as a pugilist that have dragged his name into the news this year but rather his comments on homosexuality. In the end, the Pacquiao episode has demonstrated just how far out of favor God, as he is portrayed in the Bible, is with our modern American culture.
Pacquiao, a convert to Pentecostalism, hasn’t been shy about sharing his views on homosexuality and how it is in conflict with his Christian beliefs. In February, on local Filipino TV, he said the following: “Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better. They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve male on male, female on female then man is worse than animals.” Later Pacquiao apologized, saying, “Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt. I still stand on my belief that I’m against same sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I’m not condemning LGBT. I love you all with the love of the Lord. God Bless you all and I’m praying for you.”
As you can imagine in our politically correct times, the fallout in America against Pacquiao was swift and certain. Nike ended a lucrative endorsement deal with the fighter, saying in part, “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.” He was also “banned” from a shopping mall in Los Angeles. How American merchants feel empowered to ban someone from a public shopping mall for their Christian beliefs, while conversely, Christian bakers cannot legally turn down work that violates their religious beliefs, lets you know what low status traditional Christianity now has.
In response to being dropped by Nike, Pacquiao posted on Instagram Biblical verses including Leviticus 20:13, “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own head.” This posting set off another round of criticism of Pacquiao, who for the most part seems unaffected by the brouhaha he started, as last month he won election to the Filipino Senate, with some speculating he may even have a chance to become President of the Philippines someday.
Without question, Pacquiao may be rough, crude, and at times an uninformed spokesman for traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs. That being said, if we are to be honest we must acknowledge that anyone who endorses certain Biblical verses such as Leviticus 20:13 or Corinthians 6:9-10 in a public forum will quickly become a persona non grata to not just the corporate titans at Nike and the Grove shopping center but to millions more of their fellow citizens who will gladly label them homophobes, bigots, haters, and much worse. The Bible, especially parts of the Old Testament in the minds of many progressives, is now hate speech.
It is easy to say each side is entitled to its own opinion and move on, but that is not the rule to which the left subscribes, and experience tells us it will use every quill in its arsenal including trying to ban, censure, or defund anyone with whom they have a fundamental political disagreement. In this, one is reminded of the old Bill Buckley remark, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”
Despite a near media blackout on the subject, the 21st century finds us with a one-sided war being waged against Jews and Christians. In many places such as the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, thousands are being slaughtered for their beliefs. In the West the battle is more civilized and is fought not with bullets but legal briefs, corporate decrees, and public shaming. In this fight a boxer’s skills are useless, but how this war plays out will determine our future.
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