Linda M. Downing
It is hard to believe that there is a bigger "god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4) than the sports god, but the Sochi Olympics, which begin today, are bringing forth a more heinous idol - the god of causes. Call some of us na´ve, but we thought the Olympics, whether held in Russia or elsewhere, are about sports, the competition and testing of the world's best athletes. Fun and games are not the only things being hijacked in the current atmosphere.
Causes make good gods because there are so many to choose from, and it is so easy to form them in our own image. Jewish-American intellectual and writer, Will Herberg, wrote: "Ultimately all idolatry [in the guise of a cause] is worship of the self, projected and objectified: all idolization is self-idolization."
The over-riding cause of this year's Olympics has become the gay-rights agenda. Russia's take on that subject was plain way before Sochi, the nation's largest resort city, was selected. This past July, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning pro-gay propaganda that is accessible to minors. According to the Associated Press, the "eclectic protest" to that ban for the past seven months represents an international outcry.
"Eclectic," by definition, is "selecting the best from various sources" (Roget's). If the promoting of equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people is the best or most pressing of the world's causes, then where do we place sex trafficking, torture and martyrdom of Christians, starvation of thousands in famine-ridden lands, animal cruelty, global warming, inequality of women, deaths of thousands by their own governments in war-torn places like Syria and Ukraine, and a host of other disturbances?
"We won't be looking to violate the law," says Hudson Taylor of Athlete Ally, a promoter of the gay cause. That may be the intent, but we all know outlandish things will happen. Athletes, having trained their whole lives for these events, will be overshadowed by this "eclectic" cause. In fact, it has already happened.
George Orwell penned this definition of "sports": "War minus the shooting." That is much truer than that old nonsense of telling us that "sports build character." The spending of money by the masses, salaries and perks of coaches and players, frenzy of the fans, arrogance of the whole business in view of the world's needs, has already stripped the Olympics of any moral value. Maybe that truth is what has really opened the door to causes bigger than the sports god.
If any common sense or any real caring about the purpose of the Olympics had been exercised, then Russia would not have been considered as the place to hold the games. And, what is President Barack Obama's statement on these things? He is not attending. He will represent the god of causes by sending a U.S. delegation that includes Billie Jean King and two other openly gay athletes. Putin's laughter can be heard from here.
Here's the fuller quote of 2 Corinthians 4:4. "For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers' minds." Now there is a cause - to take the blinders off all this chaos of emptiness and point us to the one who is The Cause of anything of lasting value.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.