I went to see my first live football match in 20 years last week. The last football game I went to was a Liverpool game when Kenny Dalglish was the Reds’ manager and there he was again in the dug out. It was a strange feeling as I had changed a lot since my last game. But had the game changed?
With the controversy over Andy Gray and Richard Keys’ off air comments in front of a camera crew with the tape running (!) making it on to youtube football seems to be changing quite quickly. Its a reminder that we expect integrity even in the world of football. This seems quite a change when compared to President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky – an abuse of power and surely inappropriate behavior that seemed to have no real impact on his job. Andy Gray was rightly disciplined for derogatory remarks against women and for lewd behavior towards a junior female colleague. The clean up and clamp down against racist comments and now sexism is very commendable in my eyes.
The trial by Youtube is a difficult dilemma though. Rather than leaking the evidence to the world – could the whistle-blower have used the due process of a complaints procedure and allowed the culprits the right to reply? The other side of the story is that this was a huge story and has helpfully raised the issue of sexism into the public discourse. Gray and Keys both seem apologetic now, and we do all make gaffs. I for one have definitely put my foot in my mouth at least twice… today alone! We do need a spirit of grace and forgiveness in all areas of life so maybe the punishment should have been suspension with a probation period rather than an outright sacking? I am torn here, because I like the fact that the sacking is a very clear signal that this kind of abusive language is unacceptable.
The dignity of all human beings made in the image of God is the underpinning of biblical anthropology. Whatever your views on the role of women in the church there is no place for derogatory or demeaning language, it’s time for the church to speak up on this issue. I guess many are fearful that speaking out on this issue will mean issues such as women bishops and for some women leaders will be raised and that would leave us in the uncomfortable position of trying to reconcile the Bible’s clear teaching on equality with differences some churches have in roles and authority. It is worth reflecting on how radical the statement in Galatians is when it states:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
The ethnic, class and gender distinctions that used to control someone’s value in society have been nullified by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The church is to be the showcase of the new humanity that refuses to let sexism, racism or “classism” shape our common life, but is instead ruled by the love for one another that transcends these social barriers.
These are my immediate musings on events, what do you make of it all?