All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands fast to the end will be saved.
– Matthew 10:22, NIV-1983
One Man With Conviction
Tuesday night, January 17, the Philadelphia Flyers NHL team celebrated Pride Night by wearing LGBTQ+-affirming warm-up jerseys. Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov chose to abstain from pre-game warmups saying, “I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.” Provorov is Russian Orthodox.
One man with conviction will overwhelm a hundred who have only opinions.
– Winston Churchill
The backlash was both swift and brutal.
Canadian sportscaster and writer, Pierre LeBrun highlighted his own nescience regarding matters of faith by Tweeting “But Provorov obviously does not respect ‘everyone’.[sic] If he did respect everyone, he would have taken part in warm-up and worn the Pride Night jersey. Don’t hide behind religion.”
ESPN Senior NHL Writer, Greg Wyshynski, unknowingly misfired when he asserted that Provorov “is more than happy to play pregame dress-up when it does align with his belief system,” thus describing the serious-nature of Pride Night pregame affirmations as mere “dress up” rather than a heartfelt endorsement of the LGBTQ+ community.
Arielle Orsuto, Sports Reporter at KUSA-TV, 9NEWS in Denver Colorado lashed out at Provorov and the Philadelphia Flyers organization, accusing both of “hiding behind your religion to spread homophobia,” further calling both Povorov and the Flyers “cowardly and reckless.”
Wednesday social media was rife with spirited and contentious debates. Opinions flowed freely as virtue signaling was on full parade and Christophobia was unveiled yet again on the public stage.
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
– 2 Thessalonians 2:15, NIV-1983
In my day job, I often nurture a delicate balance between agreement and alignment. Agreement denotes those instances wherein I hold the same opinion as others regarding the subject at hand. I truly believe in what is being proposed or adhered to.
With alignment, I am saying I will support a decision or direction even if I do not agree with the direction or decision. In alignment, am committed to standing with you even though I believe you’re embracing and acting on a bad idea.
There are occasions wherein neither agreement nor alignment appropriate. I do not agree, and I cannot, will not align or affirm.
Conviction or Chameleon
I once knew a woman who was a chameleon. She had the uncanny ability to sense the flavor of a crowd or the atmosphere of a room and “become” whatever was appropriate or acceptable in that context – something of a metamorph. She could be an enthusiastic fan of Rush Limbaugh at 7:00 pm and a devotee of Rachel Maddow at 9:00. She could persuade you of the depth of her faith and commitment to Christ today and then tomorrow engage in activities that completely belie that feigned commitment.
James teaches us that the double-minded man is an unstable man.1
Double-mindedness demonstrates an absence of allegiance or loyalty to either persons or ideals. Rather, one’s loyalty is to being accepted or admired by the present company, thus it is really a loyalty to oneself through achieved by preventing the rejection of others. Personal doubt and uncertainty inevitably open points of vulnerability, allowing the individual to be easily swayed by competing allegiances.
A life of conviction knows nothing of such compromises since the pressure to compromise is at odds with the holding of convictions. Conviction is not immune to the desire for acceptance, but conviction will not compromise to gain that acceptance.
The willingness to compromise is indicative of impuissance or absence with regard to objective standards. Objective standards have nothing to do with feelings or current-generation societal trends. The standard defines what is both moral and ethical. The absence of standards expedites the degradation of society to the lowest common denominator.
Principles vs Preferences
The holding of convictions does not negate the value of compromise when it is called for and appropriate. Compromise is both necessary and desirable when living anything other than the life of a hermit. Compromise is necessary for a harmonious marriage. It allows for the advancement of projects in the work environment. Compromise is an effective tool in those cases where the competing interests constitute a matter of preference rather than one of principle. Like convictions, principles apply at all times.
The very nature of compromise requires making concessions against an established standard. “You must be 6′ tall to ride this coaster. Oh, you’re 5′ 11″? Okay, we’ll let it slide this time.” That’s a compromise. Compromise, by definition, makes accommodations for violations of the standard. The standard is still the standard, but we have opted to violate the standard in this instance.
Biblical Compromise & Refusal to Compromise
When Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were held captive by king Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, they refused to compromise their conviction, and their compromise resulted in a compromise on the part of the chief official given charge of them.
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way … So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
– Daniel 1:8, 16 NIV-1983
The Christ-follower is not to dismiss the ways of God, turning neither to the right nor to the left,2
Again, Daniel demonstrated integrity by refusing to pray to King Darius.4 His refusal threatened his very life as it resulted in him spending an entire night locked in with a den of lions.5 Those who plotted against Daniel knew he would never compromise and they used that knowledge to plot his demise.
Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
– Daniel 6:5 NIV-1983
When the wife of Potiphar was smitten with Joseph and enticed him, saying “Come to bed with me,”3 Joseph refused. “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”6
When Daniel’s friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refused to bow in worship to the 90′ monstrosity of a statue at the sound of the special music, King Nebuchadnezzar became enraged and threw them into a furnace of fire, a fire so hot that it killed those who were assigned the task of throwing them in. Prior to the executing of their sentence, the three made their position clear to the king.
O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from you hand O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
– Daniel 3:16b-18, NIV-1983
Those who mock, belittle, and berate Ivan Provorov for having integrity toward his convictions have unwittingly shone great light on the courage of a Christ-follower. They have accomplished the exact opposite of what they intended. The egg is not on Ivan’s face, but on the faces looking back at the media from the mirror.
Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then you will lift up your face without shame;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
and many will court your favor.
But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
and escape will elude them;
their hope will become a dying gasp.
– Daniel 3:16b-18, NIV-1983
Charlie O’Connor, who covers the Flyers for The Athletic, wrote that Ivan Provorov’s decision to abstain from celebrating and supporting LGBTQ+ night turned the night “into a shell of its intended self and an embarrassing episode.”
You’re right, Charlie. It was embarrassing, but not for the reasons you suppose.
Well done, Ivan. Very well done.
Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, and those with clean hands will grow stronger.
– Job 17:9, NIV-1983
1. James 1:8
2. Deuteronomy 5:32
3. Genesis 39:7
4. Daniel 6:6-16
5. Daniel 6:16-23
6. Genesis 39:9b NIV-1983