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‘Talk about taking a knee’

When I looked at Facebook last Sunday evening, all but a few posts — those being ads and such — dealt with the topic of the National Football League (NFL). Many people are outraged by the controversy. I was disheartened to see the arguments among friends, or at least Facebook friends, and people I love and respect have different thoughts and, mostly, feelings.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made headlines when the coach had them to stay in their locker room when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before their game in Chicago. The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans followed the Steelers’ example.

Those weren’t the only teams. Some players knelt during the anthem or locked arms on the sidelines. Several owners gave statements supporting their players’ freedom to express themselves.

I used to love the NFL. Now, I don’t know how it can survive. But I watched the NFL to forget the troubles of the day. Then it started with spouse and child abuse, drug problems, head injuries and the current protests that began last year with a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who began kneeling during the national anthem.

He said it was to draw attention to racial injustice and police brutality. Forgive me for being skeptical. I just wanted to watch a ballgame. Now I no longer care to watch the NFL.

How does the Bible help us to understand this controversy?

First, we who follow Jesus should respect authority. We are to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1; cf. 1 Peter 2:13–14; Titus 3:1). And we are to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:2). Second, we should work for righteousness. Solomon taught, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3).

Protests during the national anthem plainly offend many Americans and are viewed as disrespecting our military and especially those who have died for our country. They are not fostering a greater sense of harmony in our nation. But consider Alejandro Villanueva, the lone Pittsburgh Steeler to stand for the national anthem at last Sunday’s game. While his team stayed in the locker room, he stood at the head of the tunnel leading onto the field, hand over his heart.

Villanueva is a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan. He believes in Jesus. How will you make public your connection with God today? There is a lot of talk about taking a knee. I will be taking two. Would you join me in praying on our knees?

The Rev. John Moxley is pastor at First Baptist Church in Dillwyn. His email address is jmoxleydillwyn@gmail.com.