Manny Pacquiao is unquestionably one of the most influential athletes in the world. Given his broad international appeal, obvious political ties both at home as well as abroad, and cult icon status amongst Filipino sports fans all over, when he speaks on a topic, any topic, folks listen.
All of which makes the comments he offered up during an interview with Granville Ampong of the Examiner really surprising. On the heels of President Barack Obama’s recent half-step, seemingly reluctant decision to finally come out in favor of gay marriage, Ampong was able to get the Filipino champion to weigh in with his thoughts on the topic. Needless to say, they were pretty interesting.
Per the interview
Engaging a radical shift as manifested by his insights shared during Bible studies which lasted more than one hour, around 10:00 p.m., with a song and his substantive prayer, Pacquiao counsels people to "just believe" what the Scripture says.
Pacquiao's directive for Obama calls societies to fear God and not to promote sin, inclusive of same-sex marriage and cohabitation, notwithstanding what Leviticus 20:13 has been pointing all along: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Pacquiao, bearing a conservative stance on the Reproductive Bill which is still pending in the Philippine Congress for approval even after contemptuous debates, believes the sweeping campaign of Obama favoring the gays and lesbians to legally marry is nothing more than a direct attack on the moral society and against the creative power and will of God.
Pacquiao continues: "God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other."
"It should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old."
America should be the model of morality for other countries to emulate and must have the responsibility to uphold the Scripture to the highest order of God's command, he adds…
Now, Pacquiao certainly isn't the first person in the world to come out with that stance – just the first major athlete. Maybe his international status gives him a bit extra free reign to be honest on this matter, but seeing as he has more American advertiser dollars floating his way than a whole lot of American athletes, it's hard to imagine that really being the case. If anyone’s feelings got too hurt by his two cents, he’s as open as any other public figure to the usual means of public intimidation: boycotts, protests, etc.
Whether that makes him braver (for stepping out and taking a position that could hamper him financially) or hateful (for wanting to deprive gays of rights, etc.) is for each individual to decide. But the fact that he took the position in the first place is somewhat mind-blowing in its own right.
When he was once asked to take a political stand, NBA icon Michael Jordan famously said: “Republicans buy shoes too." In the years since, athletes have all but tattooed that slogan on their foreheads – completely and totally refusing to offer any semblance of a position on any issue of note. (And understandably so.)
Recently, though, the tide has slowly begun to turn.
LeBron James and his Miami Heat teammates came out in support of Trayvon Martin just a few months ago. Prior to that, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas rejected an invitation to the White House because of his disagreements with the President’s policies. Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Douglas-Roberts and a multitude of other recognizable athletes have also weighed in on topics ranging from 9/11 to Osama Bin Laden’s death over the last year.
And now we have Pacquiao’s comments.
Whether we’re at the beginning stages of athletes being less terrified to speak out or not remains to be seen, but it is pretty remarkable that, in this day and age of the general public seemingly becoming more and more pro-gay rights, an icon of Pacquiao’s stature would come out so vehemently against that support. Not because it’s shocking that a devoutly religious man (also: a former adulterer, gambler and cockfighting enthusiast) would hold those beliefs, but because of the obvious potential ramifications.
Stay tuned. It'll be interesting to see how folks react to this.