It was bound to happen. After all, it is the year 2013, not 1947.
This week, for the first time in history, an active player from one of America's four major team-sports organizations announced that he is gay.
Jason Collins, an NBA player, did so — and immediately began drawing praise, criticism and comparisons to Jackie Robinson.
First, the comparisons to Robinson.
In 1947, Robinson was at risk for being beaten, harassed, arrested, discriminated against, threatened, hated, suppressed and verbally assaulted — just for being a black man
As of April 29, 2013, being gay carries virtually none of the same risks as being black did back then.
Collins will not face anywhere near the level of hatred Robinson faced.
Sure, there will be random lunatics and other homophobic individuals who will say awful things and think awful thoughts. Very little of which will find the mailbox, Twitter account or ears of Collins.
He has opened himself up to a great deal more scrutiny by fans, the media and teammates, and for that it is logical to conclude that his decision took guts. But to compare what he will face and what he means to gay people with Robinson is severely misguided.
As to whether he deserves the praise that many have showered him with is also questionable.
What are we praising? Is it his lifestyle? Is it his willingness to openly tell America that he prefers to have sexual relations with men? Is it the fact that he is an athlete and somewhat famous and therefore a more important gay person? Is it the opening of doors for other gay athletes to announce they prefer sex with their own gender?
Do we openly praise Tim Tebow for being a virgin? Do we openly praise athletes who are heterosexual and faithful to their wives? Do we need doors opened for other heterosexual athletes to make it easier for them to announce that they do not sleep around and father children with more than one woman?
Which of the two is more worthy of praise?
Finally, the critics...
To others who have characteristics closer to what is "normal" in our society, please note that the U.S. Constitution protects three rights: our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Collins is not killing anyone; neither is he taking away anyone's right to pursue happiness or enjoy our liberty.
For those who would argue that there is something wrong with Collins and that his announcement is another sign of America dying under the weight of immorality, I would ask the following:
Does the Constitution give us the right to do things that others might disapprove of, as long as no one else's rights are violated? Yes, it does.
Is liberty important enough that we need to be tolerant of people who use their liberty in ways we dislike so that they will be tolerant of how others use their liberty? One could argue that it is.
Does the Bible say anything about heterosexual lust, adultery and fornication? Yes, it does. For many of us Christians, the challenge will be to not judge a man for announcing what we call sin while we engage in other sins that we announce to no one.
I would hope that we could all look at this announcement as one man who has decided to say something about his view of liberty and his view of himself. His teammates — whose liberty is still intact — have the right to reach their own conclusions about working alongside him. That is the nature of freedom, too.
There is really nothing more or less to it than that.