Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, recently publicly admitted he is gay, according to an article in The Week Magazine (11/14/2014, page 18). In a Bloomberg Businessweek essay, he said, "While I have never denied my sexuality I haven't publicly acknowledged it either ... Let it be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay one of the greatest gifts God has given me."
The comments were varied:
· "Cook send an important signal to young gay Americans still living in fear and demonstrated how far our country has traveled on gay rights in recent years."
· His announcement "was blissfully mundane."
· "No one cares ... liberals act as if its 1950 and the townsfolk are ready to grab their pitchforks and torches."
· "If anything, the Apple CEO should have spoken earlier, rather than stay in the closet until He'd made his millions."
· "Don't expect more Fortune 500 CEOs to follow suit."
· "Coming out in ... Silicon Valley is one thing ... Corporate America is still dominated by long standing stereotypes of gay men being weak, passive or inferior."
· And so on - there were many more.
Sports stars, movie stars, celebs of every sort, newsmen, even politicians, have been coming out as gay for quite a while. Each time they are met with similar reactions. And, of course, there are other reactions - often more negative - that don't get published. They can be heard in any office, bar, coffee shop or even church parlor.
As I read these various comments, the question that came to mind was, what if Cook had "come out" as a follower of Christ? What would be the comments be? So I re-read the article aloud to Uni, substituting the word "Christian" or some appropriately related word wherever "gay" was used. We had a few chuckles.
I suppose the reactions would be quite similar, some negative and some positive and some ho-hum. In some locations in America, the coming out would be expected; isn't everybody a Christian? Elsewhere in America, he would be the object of mockery and derision. If he were in some other profession his position would be threatened.
Of course, in some nations of the world, coming out as gay or Christian would invite the death penalty.
Gays want acceptance and in many ways and places they are accepted, though they're not there yet. They merely want what they feel various ethnic groups have found. Isn't that what Christians want for ourselves? And we have it, though there appears to be a rising resentment of us here in America.
Why are Christians accepted in America? Well, for one thing, Christianity dominates our culture. Most Americans still consider themselves Christians, so it's no big deal, is it?
But there are many who would object to any public figure who openly professed Christianity. To many, "Christian" has become a dirty word. It is equated with ignorance, superstition, bigotry, right wing politics, etc. So we're either bland - who cares? - or we're hypocrites.
Shouldn't our profession of being a follower of Christ make a radical difference? We're told in Acts 11:26 that "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." Note that they "were called Christians." It doesn't say that they called themselves Christians. Apparently it was outsiders who gave them this label.
And it was the ”disciples" who were labeled thus. There's no reason to think that Luke changed his definition of disciple from that found in his gospel (see: Luke 14:26, 27, 33). Being a Christian does not mean being part of an ethnic or cultural group or a philosophical school or a religious sect. Being a Christian means being a disciple - a radically committed person who has placed his loyalty to Christ above all else. It means being a person who actively loves every one of his or her fellow human beings.
What would happen to the public figure who would come out of the closet as one of those people?
Of course, it's possible that if a person was truly living such a radical lifestyle, he wouldn't have to come out of the closet. Everyone would already know what he was.
"Let your light so shine before men
that they'd see your good works
and glorify your Father who is in the Heavens."