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What You Need to Know About Real Courage

With sincerity and boiling passion, hear me clearly: Courage was hijacked when ESPN pulled the ridiculous and delusional stunt to honor Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPY Awards.

Much different than the circus act at the ESPYs, real courage is evident in the single parent who tirelessly works multiple jobs in order to provide for his children. It’s evident in the mother who, with unflinching endurance, battles cancer and fights for life to see her children grow-up. Courage drives the parents of a special needs child to create a household of joy and normalcy amidst unforeseen challenges. And true courage is embedded in the heart of a young athlete faced with an inoperable brain tumor. Indeed, courage has many faces.

But elevating a man to strut across a stage in a glistening dress to celebrate “freedom” from his lifelong confusion isn’t one of them.

That’s not courageous. And it’s not true freedom. It’s lucrative. And ESPN’s agenda makes me sick.

Freedom from Fake

Bruce Jenner is not a woman. Nor will he ever be. Plastic surgery, hormone replacement therapy, and airbrushed makeup cannot change God’s original design. At the very least, his parade is an insult to women. So in order to proselytize an agenda, true courage was prostituted. Fueling that agenda are comments like those from a 23-year-old behavioral specialist serving the Army: “Your definition of what or who a hero can or cannot be is irrelevant,” he wrote. “What if I told you that her speech last night saved even one human being from attempting to take their life. I’d call that a victory on any scale.”

And that faulty-at-the-core prerogative is precisely one of the problems. Saving lives is vitally important, but as a society, we have been indoctrinated to believe that life should be lived according to what feels right, “thinks right,” and what works best for us according to the impulses of our flesh; but that shortsighted, selfish perspective is bound to backfire. Point being, putting Band-Aids on issues that require deep healing won’t set people free from the inside out. There’s a more effective way to save lives.

The Issue Isn’t the Issue

Understand that the greater issue isn’t about transgender people per se; it is about an agenda propagated by a media giant that has captured the attention of popular culture. The last thing we should do, therefore, is ostracize, demonize, and isolate confused, hurting individuals from receiving the very thing they need: healing, wholeness, and true freedom. But it also doesn’t mean we are to stand aloof. It just means that we have to stop fighting a spiritual issue with natural methods, behaving like “mere men.” (See 1 Cor. 3:3)

Living in this world takes courage—real courage. And as Christians, we must be committed to demonstrate the Father’s love to a planet full of orphans. So before we jump on the bible-thumping, militant religious bandwagon, take a look at how Jesus modeled the method in John 8 when confronting the woman caught in adultery:

“The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?’ They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, ‘The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.’ Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. ‘Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?’ ‘No one, Master.’ ‘Neither do I,’ said Jesus. ‘Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.’

Love is the answer to the mess, but many people make the mistake of believing that love is a message of universalism and tolerance. Yet that couldn’t be further from the truth. We are the solution and need to have answers, but we must present them in the correct, life-giving manner.

Something the ESPY committee failed to do miserably.

The Media Distraction

As a teenager and young adult, I watched genuine heroes most mornings on ESPN’s flagship program, SportsCenter; people who exhibited tremendous courage in athletics and in life. To watch the same network celebrate such an “accomplishment” is disheartening. My belief is that this really isn’t about Bruce Jenner as an individual. His transformation on a public stage is a distraction, pawn, and symptom of the greater issue: the redefinition and diminution of courage, the desexualization of men and women created in God’s image, and the propagation of a humanistic agenda spread throughout culture like wildfire. And so for eleven minutes, amidst scattered applause, one man’s lipstick-caked, riddled monologue dripped with confusion and a cry for identity, but not courage.

And that is really heartbreaking.

Why This Matters to You

As someone who aspires to be a voice of clarity and courage in your life, I couldn’t let this slide. I just couldn’t sit back and drift down the river of apathy and blissful ignorance as utter nonsense swept the airwaves. If he were alive, I’m confident that Arthur Ashe would have choked on applesauce after the winner was announced, especially when the late Lauren Hill, a terminally-ill collegiate athlete, was considered for the award. So what are we to do?

Put courage back in its rightful place of honor.

Trophy or not, courage is an inside job found in those who exercise strength in the face of adversity, exhibit courage in the face of peril, and demonstrate willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter the cost. Hopefully someday, ESPN will get back to celebrating heroes like Jason:

Robin Roberts did it. Nick Vujicic did it. Rosa Parks did it. Martin Luther King, Jr. did it. Lauren Hill did it. My mom did it.

And you…

Single parent
Hard-working student
Medical Professional

…will do it, too.

Be strong and take heart. Bravery is within.

FREE BONUS: Just because I think you’re awesome, I want to give you my NEW Decision-Making Guide Map. Simply click on the download button below and watch your email inbox for the free guide! The next time you have an important decision to make, print this out, answer the questions, fill-in the blanks, then say “hello” to clarity!