Tag Archive for 'Sports'

Puritans and Football and Wisdom

I admit that the subject line is click bait–somewhat. Have you ever heard the argument that some men are more passionate about football than God by how they act when watching a game? They seem to show more emotion when watching football (or whatever the sport) than they would in church. I’ve always thought this was a ridiculous comparison.

Certainly there are many men who profess (or professors, as the Puritans might say) to be Christian that have more love for a sport than for God. But to insinuate that most Christian men, and some women, are more passionate about football than God, just because they get emotional during an event, is very unfair. It’s a matter of assessment.

I’ve always had a picture in my own mind about how this isn’t the case with me or many Christian men I know. As I was reading the Puritan Thomas Manton’s A Treatise Of Self Denial (a very popular topic these days, indeed), I found a perfect quote for annihilating this most absurd notion, despite the fact that it was written in the 1600s. Here he’s helping the reader to compare love of things or people with love for God. (Luke 14:26)

Though comparison be the best way to discover love, yet this love is not to be measured by the lively stirring acts of love so much as by the solid esteem and constitution of the spirit. Why? because the act may be more lively where the love is less firm and rooted in the heart. The passions of suitors are greater than the love of the husband, yet not so deeply rooted. The commotion may be greater in less love, but esteem and solid complacency is always a fruit of the greater love. […] A man may laugh at a toy, yet he cannot be said to rejoice more in that toy than in other things, because the act of his joy is more lively than it would be in a solid, serious matter. We laugh more at a trifle, but are better pleased at a great courtesy. [..] For instance, a man may have more affectionate expressions upon the loss of a child or an estate, than at God’s dishonour. A man may weep more for a temporal loss than for sin. [..] So a man may seem to have more lively joy in sensible blessings than in spiritual, and yet he cannot be concluded to be carnal. Why? because of the solid estimation of his heart; he could rather part with all these things than offend God; had rather want this and that comfort than want the favour of God. […] Therefore the judgment you are to make upon your heart, whether you love your relations and contentments more than God, is not to be determined by the rapid motion, but by the constant stream and bent of the heart.

I know the older language can be difficult. I shortened it (this is only part of one very long paragraph) so that it would be easier to read and hopefully see his point. Just because we act silly over something in the moment doesn’t mean that we love it more than something else. Suitors may swoon over a person they would like to enter into a serious relationship with, but the “love of a husband” is more deeply rooted. We may even show more delight in a humorous toy than in the serious matter of Biblical doctrine.

Though we should hate everything in this life relative to our love for God (Luke 14:26), and we should ‘order (or manage) our affections’, as the Puritans would say, we need to be careful to assess these things properly.

Extra credit:
The wisdom of some of the Puritans amazes me. Not all of their wisdom comes directly from Scripture, although it would all be in conformity to it. Sola Scriptura doesn’t mean ‘nothing but Scripture’. This also shows how reasonable they were. They didn’t usually take the stereotypical hard-line literal approach that we might think they would take. More in future posts.



In a moment of weakness* I prayed for my NFL team today (they won). If I’m not careful, next I’ll be quoting Scripture as if it applies to winning a championship or a gold medal.

How many times have we heard, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”? (Phil 4:13 ESV) And it’s only quoted by those who are successful of course. This is similar to the non-Biblical, “you can do whatever you put your mind to” except with the Biblical version God will help you be what you think you should be. One reading through Proverbs (or just James 4:13-15) should rectify that.

To make a point, how about a selective quote of:

Philippians 4:12-13 TNIV
I know what it is to be in need. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, hungry [and] living in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

This applies more to the poor and the weak.

Full quote so as not to misuse Scripture:

Philippians 4:10-13 TNIV
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Another confession: When I was the age of these fine young athletes and devout Christians, I also took verses out by themselves and used their apparent meaning for my own purposes and still do on occasion when I’m not careful.

But I would think it’s better to get Scripture out there than not. Would you agree?

*I’m not doing very well right now. If you could pray for me I’d appreciate it. I’d like the comments to pertain to the post though. I’ll remove this when I come out of it.

Husbands and Sports

Some poor soul came to this blog searching for “husbands and sports, scripture”. Can anyone help them out?

Related posts:

“I can’t follow sports too closely.”

At 2:55 in this video Matt Chandler says this. He’s talking about being careful about where his affections are. I’m the same way. I follow my team and enjoy watching sports, but I’ve had to work on making them less important because if I’m too into it, I let it become more important than God for that period of time.

I don’t have any rules, like I can only watch so many games or so many highlights or only read so many web sites (I don’t read about sports much anyway), I just pay attention to what’s going on in me.

The things he says about affections are very interesting. I’m going to try to pay more attention to what affects me positively and negatively and try to adjust things in my life accordingly.

Exodus 34:14
You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.


As the NFL football season is gearing up, here are some links for some perspective:

For all of you NASCAR fans, Football fanatics, Sports crazies… at The Church of Jesus Christ

Are you Convicted When You Watch Football? I am at Irish Calvinist

and especially:

Man with the Golden Mouth
Long before football, Chrysostom fought frivolity.
at Christian History Blog