Wild Pitch: Texas Ranger Robbie Ross and the NOH8 Campaign

Image credit: mikelachance816 on Flickr

The 2013 edition of the Official Baseball Rules produced by Major League Baseball defines a wild pitch as “one so high, so low, or so wide of the plate that it cannot be handled with ordinary effort by the catcher.”

Robbie Ross, a left-handed relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers and outspoken Christian on the team, threw a wild pitch the other day, but not from the mound at Rangers Ballpark. Ross’ pitch came on behalf of the NOH8 campaign. An article on the sports news site SB Nation suggested the idea that Ross’ involvement was wide of orthodox Christianity as it reported, “While it may seem an oxymoron to some for two devout Christians to showcase their religion on a campaign in support of gay equality, it made perfect sense to the Rosses.”

NOH8 is “a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.” The campaign uses photography to promote its message, often showing supporters with duct tape over their mouths to symbolize stopping negative speech toward homosexuality.

Ross and his wife, Brittany, were recently featured in a photo shoot for NOH8. In a subsequent interview, Ross proclaimed that he wanted to display his Christianity as part of the message. He said:

Being in sports, and being around all kinds of different people, you just want to accept everyone for who they are. My wife Brittany and I are Christians, and we believe we as Christians should love everyone and show everyone love, and if this is the best way to do it, then we want to support them.

As with many Christians who try to find biblical support for homosexuality, Ross and his wife have elevated the concept of love above God’s specific statements regarding sin. For them, love means inclusion, acceptance, and approval of all lifestyles even if they are labeled as sin in Scripture. In response to a question about biblical passages that label homosexuality a sin, Brittany Ross stated:

I just don’t think it matters if it’s a sin. We all sin, we all know that, so if we just stop focusing on sin, we can start loving each other.

The article reports that Robbie “quickly jumped in” and said:

If you went Biblically off of everything we’re doing now, during our every day, I’m sure there are one or two sins throughout our day we don’t even realize we’re committing.

There it is. In the minds of the Rosses, sin no longer matters—only love and acceptance.

As a fan of the Rangers, I really like Robbie Ross. I had been impressed by his boldness to let others know about his faith. In baseball, all pitchers miss the plate on a regular basis. It’s called a ball. However, the best pitchers don’t throw wild pitches. On this issue, Robbie Ross has more than missed the plate—he has thrown so wild that his pitch can’t be handled with ordinary effort by orthodox Christianity. This pitch requires leaving the accepted doctrines and interpretations of Scripture. It promotes the homosexual agenda in such a way that minimizes the teaching of Scripture. In baseball terms, this pitch was wild and went to the backstop, advancing a runner along the way.

After Paul discusses homosexuality in Romans 1:26–27, he continues to talk about the depravity of mankind for the rest of the chapter. He notes a number of sins that represent a depraved mind. Finally, he makes a piercing statement about those who condone such sinful behavior. In Romans 1:32, Paul writes:

And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Paul tells us that sin deserves God’s punishment. Thankfully, God has provided the way of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son. However, Christians who deny the need for repentance and salvation are like those Paul condemned in Romans 1:32. In spite of knowing what God commands, they give hearty approval to those who live in sin.

I pray that the Rosses would go back to their “pitching coach” and work on their delivery again so they can avoid throwing any more wild pitches.

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“Rule 2.00—Definitions of Terms,” Official Baseball Rules, 2013 Edition.

Cyd Zeigler, “Texas Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross and wife Brittany appear in Christian NOH8 campaign photo,” SB Nation Outsports, September 17, 2013.

8 comments

  1. Good article, Evan. While I do think that, in the current culture, Christians have elevated the sin of homosexuality above other sins (writers and pundits seem to focus more on homosexuality rather than sexual immorality, greed, or gossip, for example, as the sin de jour), this is a good example of the difference between tolerance versus acceptance as the cultural response Christians should have towards homosexuals. Unfortunately, I also think that too many Christians outwardly display a great deal of hate and derision towards homosexuals instead of lovingly and effectively sharing the Gospel while still remaining firm in their stance that homosexuality is sin.

    1. Thanks, Josh. You are correct that homosexuality seems to be the sin de jour at this moment. In my classes, I also try to talk about other issues as well. I think this one gets elevated so much right now because it is all over the secular media as well.

      We certainly need to be faithful in sharing the gospel while not accepting sin. Thanks for emphasizing that point.

    2. I would like to point out being that I am the person you are speaking about we are never quoted saying we think it is not a sin. We never say it is one either. I say, I don’t think it matters whether it is a sin or not. It doesn’t matter to me. And it doesn’t matter to robbie we love you no matter what. The way you spin articles to shame others and twist their words might not be the best approach in shining Gods light. If you are more interested you can take a look at my blog : allthingsross108.blogspot.com

      1. Brittany, thank you for the honor of visiting my blog. Since you have taken the time to visit my small little corner of the internet, I can tell this is very important to you. It is also a little surreal writing this while I watch your husband pitch against the Rays (Go Rangers!).

        It is not my intent to twist your words. I try to quote exactly whenever possible. I certainly added my interpretation to the post, but never did I intend to twist anything. I am aware of what it means to give an interview, having been interviewed for television, radio, and print media.

        Two areas of the article led to my concern. First, it was your statement in response to the question about the Bible labeling homosexuality as a sin. You responded by saying that you don’t think it matters if it’s a sin. The fact is, however, that scripture is very clear–homosexuality is a sin. That means it will impact the actions we take in expressing our love to homosexual friends and family. True love requires us not to accept sin. In 1 Cor 13:6, we read that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” The most loving response we can have to our homosexual friends is to show them the truth of Scripture and call them to repentance and faith in Christ. If they see sin in our lives, I would hope they would love us enough to point it out to us as well.

        The second part of the interview that caused me concern as a fellow believer was when you said that homosexuality shouldn’t just be tolerated but celebrated. To me (not trying to twist words) this means that we should accept, approve, and celebrate the homosexual lifestyle. This would be akin to celebrating sin. In your blog post, you mentioned the passage in John 8 about the woman caught in adultery. I think you missed the main point of the passage. Everyone knew what her sin was, including the woman. Jesus offered her grace, but it was not freedom. He told her to go and sin no more. This is the point of the passage. When we encounter Jesus, we are called away from sin and to holiness. Scripture calls homosexuality a sin; therefore, coming to Jesus includes repentance of sin. I’m not saying we have to clean up our own lives first. But we cannot come to Jesus and believe our sinful lifestyles can continue.

        You and Robbie have a great opportunity because you have the platform of being a part of the greatest team in the MLB. I want to encourage you to use that platform wisely to express the truth of Scripture. That doesn’t mean that you should address every issue of faith, but when you choose to address issues, fans like me who resonate with your Christian faith hope that you stay true to Scripture.

        Feel free to respond with any clarifications you see necessary.

        1. I by no means am promoting sin. The focus of our campaign was and is to tell people we need to love gay people.
          I explained what I meant by the celebration comment in my blog. We need to celebrate embodying who we are. When we celebrate our humanness we are able to accept that we suck and get better. And we will still suck. And then celebrate some more because we are free from the pressure of hiding. Hiding our struggles and temptations. We can grow together. I am not saying celebrate your sins.
          In my life God is the one who continues to point sin out in my own heart and I believe that is Gods job to do with gay people and with straight people. I believe we ALL already know what are sins are. We don’t need them pointed out by other people that don’t know us. Friends who keep you accountable- yes. The world- no. Just like the prostitute- the world already knew what she did was wrong. Just as I believe gay people, straight people, any person knows right from wrong and when you accept and love The Lord He will show you your flaws in due time. I am not saying all gay people get a pass. I am saying gay people are allowed to love Jesus too bc he first loved us.
          I’ve spoken to soooo many gay people who have been told by Christians that they feel persecuted and have to stop being gay before they can love Jesus. This is far from the truth. We accept Jesus because we are flawed. I have studied the bible for 23 years and this topic for months. Jesus hung out with the sinners. Robbie and I are and will continue to emerge ourselves in the people of the world. I am no better or worse. We have stood firm in the Truth of the Bible. Jesus himself does not speak on the homosexual topic – not that I am saying it is NOT or IS a sin or that it is not important. I am simply pointing out Jesus loved the people who felt unloved. And because God keeps taking me to the picture of the prostitute and how he did not point out her sins even the sins we aren’t aware of from the story I will do the same. My individual private conversations with close friends would go differently than my conversation for the world to see. Bc all things need to be handled in different measures of love. But do NOT read into these words. We are trying to do the same as Jesus. I think he came to this earth to promote love and set an example for us then now and in the future. Jesus rarely focus’ on anything but love and the High Teachers of the Laws sins and using them as an example. We are not making a political statement. We are making a statement of NO HATE.
          I can see how the words in the interview could seem but I would expect any Christian to see someone’s heart in a matter and focus in the areas that we all agree. I think your comments promote gossip and drama. As a fellow Christian I would have respected if you had taken time to contact me respectfully via any social media with any confusion you had.
          If I wanted to “play both sides” I would come out and say exactly what everyone wants to hear. And I am not going to do that. If you take nothing from this try to take these two things – I believe in the Truth of the Bible. I love people.

          1. Brittany, thanks for the continued discussion.

            I’m not really sure how I could have contacted you via social media in a way that would have been respectful in your eyes. Twitter doesn’t allow direct messages to people who do not follow you. My post was a semi-public response to your public interview (and much more widely distributed than my blog). If we knew each other or had any interaction before this, I certainly would have contacted you directly. The fact that you are a public figure means that your words are more readily accessible to everyone. If at any time you and Robbie feel a less public conversation is necessary, I am easily accessible at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth. Just click my faculty profile on my blog for email and phone contact info.

            I read your explanation of the celebration line. Since that is what you meant, I think your quote in the article was unfortunate. As a professor and an occasional interviewee, I have been forced to learn the hard way that people take your words for their most obvious meaning. The quote in the article did not give the same impression that you gave in your blog.

            I would like to offer a different perspective on what we are to celebrate. Rather than celebrating that we are all sinners or can’t meet God’s standard, we should celebrate who we are in Christ. Through salvation, Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us. God sees believers through the sacrificial blood of Christ. Those who do not trust Christ are still subject to God’s wrath (Eph 2:1-3). Therefore, we should spend our time proclaiming the saving gospel so that we can spend eternity in heaven with those we love.

            I am not supporting hatred toward homosexuals or anyone else. However, I have no shame in saying that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin. You have yet to say one way or the other on that. I am also not saying that people have to clean up their lives before coming to Christ. However, God does expect our lives to change after coming to him. That is the message of 1 John.

            Jesus talked about love quite a bit. He also talked about repentance, hell, heaven, sin, salvation, etc. In fact there were times in his ministry when the crowds hated him and left him (not just the Pharisees). In John 6, Jesus told the crowds that he was the bread of life. He told them he was the only way to the Father. After this, many of his followers turned their backs on him and left. He had the words of eternal life, which included a call to repentance, but the crowds left him.

            You are right to say that Jesus did not specifically address homosexuality, but he actually did address at least one point of the NOH8 campaign. In Matt 19, the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce. Jesus replied with his definition of marriage. Jesus said that God designed marriage to be one man and one woman. Thus, promoting a group that sponsors same-sex marriage is a violation of Jesus’ teaching.

            This continued discussion is good. It helps to provide definitions and clarity. The only bad thing is that there is no way to communicate tone in blog comments. I am not angry or mad at you or Robbie. I am appreciative of the public faith you and Robbie have. As a fellow believer, I am hoping to participate in some iron sharpening iron on this particular issue.

            Please congratulate Robbie on a great 2 innings pitched tonight. Please also feel free to continue the interaction on this blog or elsewhere.

  2. I think there is a problem when we allow ourselves to start decided, which sins don’t matter and which ones do. I understand what you are saying Ms Ross, but I think like many Christians in our society today, you are wanting to please the whole world and don’t want anything about you being a Christian to keep you from being loved by the whole world. I don’t discriminate or promote hate against gays either, I have two cousins who are gay, and I treat them not different than anyone else in my family, nor would I condone anyone mistreating them. However, I don’t hide under a rock when it comes to what God’s word says about what is sin and what is not. It obviously does matter or God wouldn’t have labeled it as sin. Why is it sin? Because it is out of the normal way he created us to be and it is destructive to the person. The thing I feel the most hurt for of those who are gay I not here actions, but the fact they are blinded by the deception of our society, which is all the more enabled by Christians like yourself, that gays are trapped in, thinking their lifestyle is not sinful, or as you say, it just doesn’t matter. You are not doing God or the gay community any favor in your stance. I know you are trying to love like Jesus, but even Jesus shot straight with people in the matter of their sin, some people were cut to the core by it and repented and followed him, others blew him off or hated him for it. But he didn’t candy coat things just to be loved or because he felt he would be accepted more if he did.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Donald. I agree, we should never promote hate toward homosexuals or anyone else. At the same time, love demands that we not condone sin. I like what Paul says in 1Cor 6:11. After naming a list of sins, including homosexuality, he said, “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 our God.” Note that those sins are past–such WERE some of you.

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