The Merriam-Webster definition of Courage says, “Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” According to a definition in Wikipedia, Moral courage is the courage to take action for moral reasons despite the risk of adverse consequences. Under the current “Cancel Culture” environment, it is rare to find people demonstrating courage to say or do anything that goes against “wokeness.” And if you are a Christian, it takes moral courage to object to the belief Black Lives Matter espouses. In the 2016 Martin Scorsese movie Silence, Japanese Catholics exemplify true moral courage when asked to renounce their faith or die. The movie was based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō. Set in Nagasaki, Japan, the story involves two 17th-century Jesuit priests who travel from Portugal to Japan to locate their missing mentor and spread Catholic Christianity.
The story is set in a time when it was common for the faith’s Japanese adherents to hide from the persecution that resulted from the suppression of Christianity in Japan during the Shimabara Rebellion (1637–1638) against the Tokugawa shogunate. These are now called the kakure kirishitan, or “hidden Christians”. In the story, the Christian laity show more courage than their priests, giving up their lives for their beliefs demonstrating great moral courage.
In our current environment, being a NBA, MLB, of NFL player and not submitting to Black Lives Matter idolatry requires courage. On the first day of NBA reopening, Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic stood, while everyone else took a knee. He also chose not to wear a Black Lives Matter shirt.
After the game, Isaac faced a hostile press. Note the wording of the first question to Isaac:
Reporter to Isaac: “So you didn’t kneel during the anthem, but you also didn’t wear a Black Lives Matter shirt? Uh, do you believe that black lives matter?”
Isaac, who is black, handled the biased question gracefully:
“Absolutely. I believe that black lives matter. A lot went into my decision. And part of is, my first thought, is that kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt don’t go hand in hand with supporting black lives.”
“My life has been supported through the Gospel, Jesus Christ and that everyone is made in the image of God and that we all fall short of God’s glory and that each and every one of us, each and every day do things that we shouldn’t do. And say things that we shouldn’t say. We hate and dislike people that we shouldn’t hate and dislike. Sometimes it gets to a point where we point fingers about whose evil is worse. And sometimes it comes out as whose evil is most visible. So I felt like I just wanted to take a stand on, I felt like we all make mistakes but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that there’s grace for us. That Jesus came and died for our sins and that if we all would come to an understanding of that and understand that God wants to have a relationship with us, that we can get past skin color, we can get past all the things in our world that are messed up, jacked up. I think we need to look around. Racism isn’t the only thing that plagues our society, that plagues our nation, that plagues our world.”
Isaac reiterated that we can and should get past skin color, and he believed kneeling and wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt does not deliver the message he wants to deliver. This courageous 22-year-old Christian can expect to take criticism for standing and for not wearing the officially approved shirt, but he seems ready and able to handle it.
Similarly, San Francisco Giants’ second-year relief pitcher Sam Coonrod decided not to kneel for their season opener, explaining:
“I’m a Christian, like I said, and I just can’t get on board with a couple of things that I have read about Black Lives Matter. How they lean toward Marxism and they’ve said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can’t get on board with that. I meant no ill will by it. I don’t think I’m better than anyone. I’m a Christian. I just believe I can’t kneel before anything besides God — Jesus Christ. I chose not to kneel. I feel that if I did kneel, I would be being a hypocrite. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Like I said, I didn’t mean any ill will toward anyone.”
At a time when everybody, it seems, is willing to take a knee, a few are beginning to show moral courage.