Once upon a time, there were 10 brothers who were charged with guarding a gem the king had given to their village — a beautiful stone that promised them the king’s favor and protection.
When charging the brothers to secure this precious gem, the king gave them clear instructions: “My enemy will constantly be scheming to take this gem away from you. He will threaten you with violence. He will mock you and turn your friends against you. He will try to convince you the gem is not really yours or you don’t really need it. But no matter what approach he uses, don’t fall for his tricks.”
One day, the king’s enemy approached the 10 brothers with a small army behind him.
“I imagine you’ve come here to steal our gem,” the oldest brother said.
“Absolutely not,” the enemy insisted. “I think it’s wonderful that you have it. I just hate to see the way your brother is using the gem. His tone is always abrasive and arrogant when he talks about protecting it. It gives the rest of you a bad name. Dismiss him from his post guarding the gem, and my army will leave you alone.”
The oldest brother always found his youngest sibling a bit irritating and embarrassing, so he considered this a no-brainer and immediately gave the enemy what he asked. A week later, the enemy returned with his army, now claiming he had problems with the second-youngest brother. “This guy has been saying the gem doesn’t belong to certain people in the village, people he doesn’t like. This is unloving and cruel. Disavow him too, and we’ll be friends.”
The oldest brother wasn’t especially fond of that brother either, so he once again gave the enemy what he wanted. But week after week, the enemy kept returning and asking for the oldest brother to separate himself from another one of his brothers until, eventually, the oldest brother stood alone — the sole remaining guardian of the gem. Seeing that the man now had no one left to defend him, the enemy walked up to the oldest brother, whispered, “You fell for it,” into his ear, stabbed him through the heart, and walked away with the gemstone.
Hear the parable of the guardians explained. The king is Christ. The gemstone is his salvation. The brothers are Christians. The enemy is the devil, and his army is the mob of anti-Christian voices in the world. And the moral of the story is this: No matter what they say, the devil and this world won’t be content until they’ve taken Christ’s salvation away from you. So don’t throw your fellow believers under the bus to escape persecution. All you’ll do is hasten your demise.
The Demise of Drew Brees
Recently, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, a self-identified Christian who frequently speaks about his faith, filmed a promotion for “Bring your Bible to School Day,” an event organized by Focus on the Family. He encouraged students to bring a copy of the scriptures to school on Oct. 3 and to use it as a means of confessing the gospel to their friends.
Drew Brees Created a PSA Video for an Anti-Gay Religious Cult That Believes in Conversion Therapy & Fights Against Any Anti-Discrimination Laws; Wants Kids to Bring Bible to School to Convert Other Kids (Vid) https://t.co/gywLbmzOfL pic.twitter.com/xDoxP4q3cr
— Robert Littal (@BSO) September 4, 2019
Brees quickly released a video seeking to clarify his position on the issue. The Super Bowl champion accepted, at face value, the charge that Focus on the Family was an anti-LGBT group. He then insisted he was previously unaware of these views, did not share them, and considers those views antithetical to Christianity. Then the Twitter mob told him his apology wasn’t good enough and continued attacking him.
In other words, the enemy approached Brees, guardian of the gemstone, and told him, “Get rid of your Bible-believing bigoted brother, and we’ll leave you alone.” Brees obliged, and the enemy stabbed him through the heart anyway.
Chris Pratt and Nathan Pyle Fell For the Trick, Too
Brees is not the first Christian celebrity to be fooled by this method of attack. Last February, actor Chris Pratt subtly distanced himself from his congregation’s teachings on homosexuality after actress and professional scold Ellen Page criticized him for attending a supposedly anti-LGBTQ church.
“My faith is important to me but no church defines me or my life, and I am not a spokesman for any church or group of people,” Pratt wrote. “My values define who I am. We need less hate in this world, not more. I am a man who believes that everyone is entitled to love who they want free from the judgment of their fellow man.”
In other words, “My church may officially oppose gay commitment ceremonies, but I do not.” The mob, however, wasn’t placated. Pratt couldn’t just disagree with his “homosexuality is a sin” brother. He had to kick him out of the room.
Likewise, in April, after cartoonist Nathan Pile found himself facing a storm of criticism for a years-old, mildly pro-life tweet, he quickly informed those growling in his direction that he wasn’t so pro-life as to actually vote for those dastardly Republicans. “Our votes go toward the Democratic Party,” he said.
Again, the mob was not satisfied. It wasn’t enough for Pyle to keep his opposition to abortion private. He wasn’t allowed to oppose it at all:
Yeah if your conception of Christian faith includes "not supporting reproductive rights" I'm out. To think that someone whose better known creation is a comic called "Strange Planet" wouldn't understand the necessity of questioning his own beliefs is… more than disappointing.
— Knowledge Pigeon (@Syrrigald) April 9, 2019
It’s understandable that Brees, Pratt, and Pyle were fooled by the devil’s trick. When cancel culture comes for you, threatening to hound you at work (Brees) or to stop you from working altogether (Pratt and Pyle), it’s understandable why you might panic and look for the quickest method possible to get the mob to call off its attack. Indeed, many Christians are, in fact, brutish in tone, foolish, and ignorant, so in the heat of the moment, it can seem like a no-brainer to disavow someone you don’t think you need to satisfy for someone who won’t leave you alone.
Never Sacrifice Your Brothers
But what all these men proved with their acquiescence is that you don’t gain friends by sacrificing brothers. You won’t escape trouble by becoming the kind of Christian who rejects the church’s historical teaching on homosexuality. Rather, you’ll just become more vulnerable to an enemy that won’t leave you alone until you become the kind of Christian who rejects Christ himself.
Likewise, what these men also need to understand is that, as a Christian, not a single one of your brothers is expendable. You are called to defend and serve all of them. You need all of them, and you especially need those who are most reviled in the eyes of the world, as those are often the ones who are showing you what it looks like to say “no” when the culture demands you bow before its idols.
As a Lutheran, I have less in common with Focus on the Family than Brees does, theologically speaking. I disagree with them deeply and profoundly on many issues, such as the conversion of man and the nature of the sacraments. I pray God will one day make our sad divisions cease. But in the meantime, I am happy to have them as a faithful ally on issues of human sexuality.
So to speak in their defense, it’s worth noting that Focus on the Family is not an “anti-gay” organization, despite the histrionics of secular torch-wielders. It does not preach hatred or rejection of people who identify as LGBT, nor does it support cruel or unusual methods of dehomosexualizing people. It does not encourage people to withhold food or friendship from their gay neighbors. Rather, Focus on the Family encourages people to treat them the same way they treat everyone else — by saying, “Christ died for your sins, so you can let go of them now, whatever those sins may be.”
Granted, because unbelievers don’t want to let go of their sins or admit their need for Christ to give them the salvation the Bible says they failed to earn, the anti-Christian mob will not be able to see the distinction between telling gay people, “You are subhuman,” and, “I want you to have peace with God, and you won’t find that in homosexual acts.” Such is the nature of unbelief. As St. Paul told us, “Natural man is not capable of understanding the things of God.”
Drew Brees Should Have Known Better
But as a self-identified Christian, Brees ought to understand the difference between hating people and calling them to repentance, just as he ought to remember Christ’s promise that those who belong to him should expect the world to persecute them. So when persecution came knocking a few days ago, Brees should have recognized what was happening.
Instead of chastising the media for unfairly aligning him with the views of Focus on the Family, he should have chastised the media for unfairly distorting those views, and then he should have properly presented them. Then, for good measure, he should have asked journalists why they weren’t criticizing self-identified Catholics such as Nancy Pelosi or Stephen Colbert for aligning themselves with a religious organization that shares Focus on the Family’s views on gay marriage. He should have defended his brothers instead of dismissing them.
I hope the social media mob simply caught Brees off guard and that he didn’t fully consider his response in light of Christ’s call to stand firm in the face of persecution. Likewise, I hope the next time the enemy approaches, he doesn’t abandon another group of Christians to gain the favor of a sinful world that will never give an ounce of its love to those who have received the sinlessness of Christ.
The next time the enemy asks Drew Brees to sacrifice one of his gemstone-guarding brothers, I hope the former MVP doesn’t fall for the trick. Otherwise, it won’t be long before he has no brothers left to defend him and no gemstone left to guard.