March 18, 2002
Football With Jesus
The lord is my receiver; I shall not fumble. He maketh me perform the handoff, and occasionally leadeth me to the Hail Mary pass. He restoreth the point spread; He leadeth me down the field toward victory in His name. Yea, though I thread through the Valley of the Blitzing 350-Pound Defensive Line, I will fear no sacking; for Thou art with me; Thy offensive line of burly disciples they comfort me.
Let me ask the Christians out there in the audience: Would you really want your children to play football with Jesus? Before you respond in the affirmative, let me point out a couple of things to consider first.
1. Jesus is heedlessly playing contact football in a robe and sandals, those two articles of clothing being that which visually distinguish Him from, say, the lead singer of the Spin Doctors (who you almost certainly would not let play football with your children). While Jesus is the Son of God, His divinity does not preclude Him from injury; if you doubt this, take a long hard look at a crucifix sometime. Your child could, say, accidentally spike Jesus in His instep, injuring the Redeemer of Humanity and causing Him to be carried off the field, limping and grimacing in pain. No doubt Jesus would forgive your kid, but even so, your kid is going to be known forever as "The Kid That Took Jesus Out of the Game." 4th grade has enough name-calling in it without that following your kid around for the rest of the year.
2. Regardless of his protective clothing situation, Jesus is a full grown adult here, greatly outmassing any of His competitors, and offering any Pop Warner team He might play for a distinct (and some would say unfair) advantage. Imagine the terror any 60-pound kid would feel as any 180-pound opponent bore down on him, but especially one bizarrely garbed in robe and sandals and who has the power to unleash the Final Judgment upon all of humanity. Even if the kid covering Jesus attempts the tackle, what if Jesus stiff-arms him and keeps on going? What does it do to one's faith when your savior clips you into the turf on His way to the end zone?
3. Angry parents who see their kids hit by others on the field have been known to confront the other player's parents during or after the game. Do you really want to try that maneuver in this situation?
4. As alluded to earlier, when Jesus is playing football, not only is he playing for a team, he's playing against a team as well. Well, honestly, who wants to play against Jesus? I mean, the kid attempting to tackle the Living Christ has a massive theological quandary on his hands. We all know what happens to those who aren't on Jesus' team, in the larger eschatological sense -- they're going to spend eternity in a hot tub filled with kerosene and people who voted for Nader. How is being on an opposing Pee-Wee football team any different? The answer, for your average 8-to-10 year old, at least: It isn't. Jesus' team would win every game by forfeit. That doesn't make for a very interesting season.
Well, you say, simple solution: Just pack the opposing teams with the infidel children of the unbelievers. Those little Wiccan kids shouldn't have a problem tackling Jesus; they're already going to Hell. Okay, but then you have another problem. There are a finite number of spots available on any football team, so only a relatively few Christian children will be able to play in those spots (not to mention that at least a few non-Christians will want to play on the team too, not because of religious reasons but because any kid's football team with a 6-foot, 180-pound receiver has got a real advantage). And as we all know, from a "wrong end of Satan's basting syringe" perspective, simply not being on Jesus' team is just as bad as being actively against Him. You see the quandary.
5. We've been making the assumption any team with Jesus on it will automatically win: If not by forfeit, then by Jesus' height and weight advantage, and if not by that then by divine intervention, pure and simple. But intellectual honesty requires us to ask: What if Jesus' team loses? Aside from the psychological toll this would take on the children (whose team is so bad that it can't win even with the direct and active intercession of Jesus Christ Himself), think of the problematic theological issues -- especially if, as postulated in the point above, the opposing team was populated entirely by the children of the infidels. If Wotan's Whacker's consistently drive down the field, smiting Jesus' teammates along the way, you can bet that's going to have some spiritual resonance, particularly in those parts of the country where Friday Night Football is attended as religiously as Sunday Morning Services.
6. Akin to this, what if Jesus is just a really bad football player? Football was not exactly big in the Middle East 2000 years ago, after all. What if He fumbles continuously? Or is continually offsides on the snap? What if His philosophy of "turn the other cheek" translates to standing there passively while the defensive line pounds the QB into the dirt?
Well, clearly, Jesus will need to be taken off the field to be replaced by a more competent player. But who wants to be the coach that benches Jesus? Who wants to replace Him on the field? And again, there's the larger competence issue. If Jesus can't even handle a hand-off, just how well is he going to guide the souls of the saved to their Final Reward? Both activities are about getting to the goal, after all. You don't want to be in the hands of a bobbler.
All in all, while having your kids play competitive sports with Jesus might seem like a good idea on the surface, in the end it simply raises too many theological and competitive questions. It's probably best just to have Jesus cheering on the sidelines, as long as He's discreet about it and throws in an occasional cheer for the other kids, too. You know. It's the Christian thing to do.
Posted by john at March 18, 2002 08:36 PM
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John Scalzi shows that he's got the heart of a Sportsgeek in this essay positing the theological and emotional implications of Jesus Christ suiting up to play some Pee-Wee league football. While Jesus is the Son of God, His divinity does not precl... [Read More]
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