Compartmentalized Christianity is the belief that Christian principles and ethics need not permeate every area of a Christian’s life. One of the best examples of compartmentalized Christianity that I know of was when a Christian brother was asked about some unethical business practices in which he was engaged. His defense? He unapologetically said, “Business is business and church is church.”
While some Christians may be guilty of living such an inconsistent life, I don’t think many would attempt to justify it. Surely we know that truth must permeate every area of our lives. Few of us would be so calloused as to attempt to defend practices that violate Christian principles. How many would actually say, “The Bible only applies at church, not at work?”
That’s what I thought, not many. So that’s why I’m a bit confused at what I have witness in the realm of sports. Have we compartmentalized our Christianity when it’s game-day? I think some have.
For example, if your spouse applied for a job and was hired over other potential hires, would you call those who lost out on the job and taunt them? Would you tell them how much better your spouse is than their spouse? Would you post on their Facebook page and “rub in” your victory and their loss? Of course you wouldn’t, nor should you. It violates Christian principles. So why do we do it in the realm of sports? Is it because “sports are sports and Christianity is Christianity?”
If your son or daughter was awarded Valedictorian of his/her graduating class, would you taunt the other families whose children did not reach your child’s level of learning? Would you make belittling comments about the intelligence of the other people’s children? Absolutely you wouldn’t! Because again, such would violate Christian principles. But why then do we apparently think it’s acceptable behavior in the realm of sports? Why is it that we taunt and belittle fans whose teams have lost to our teams? Is it because “sports are sports and Christianity is Christianity?”
I know what some of you are thinking. “Steve must be a fan of a losing team.” Well, that’s not it at all. (In fact, I waited a week to write this so that it wouldn’t be following a loss). So why do I write this? Simply because what I’ve seen Christians say and do to each other in the realm of sports hurts, taunts, angers, and contributes to bad feelings. I write this because what some are doing to each other is just wrong. Surely there’s a way we can support our team without denigrating another person’s team. Surely, there’s a way to rejoice when our team wins without taunting and angering fans of the losing team.
If compartmentalized religion really is unacceptable, then it’s unacceptable on game-day too. Give it some thought.