One of the most reliable NBA Insiders over the last decade has been ESPN’s Chris Broussard. Over the past week, Broussard got into a debate with ESPN colleague Bomani Jones over the issue of celibacy before marriage. Chris was kind enough to talk with me during a very busy NBA free agency time period. We spoke candidly on why Christians should not be ashamed and, of course, we also talked about music.
Gabe: Ok, I promise there will be no questions about Lebron or Mark Cuban.
Chris: You can ask me whatever you want!
Gabe: Tell me about your background. What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
Chris: I grew up listening to R & B and hip hop. Hip Hop was Rapper’s Delight. I think I was about 10 years old when I heard that. I lived in Indianapolis, Indiana at the time. I went and visited a friend in Cincinnati, Ohio. He had Rapper’s Delight playing when I walked into his house. I had never heard anything like it! I was astonished! From that point on, I was hooked. I went out and got the record and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I became a Christian my senior year of college. Eventually, I realized that some of the hip hop that I was listening to wasn’t really in line with my Christian faith. That’s when I discovered Christian hip hop. I wasn’t really into church music. I like it to a degree but it wasn’t like I was wanting to ride around bumping to the Mississippi Mass Choir. Having Christian hip hop, at that point, was a real blessing for me. It helped me grow in my faith. It helped me feel like there were some other young brothers out there that were similar to me…they were a part of hip hop culture and yet they loved Christ.
Groups like SFC (Soldiers for Christ), Idol King, P.I.D., T-Bone, Dynamic Twins, Freedom of Soul, Apocalypse…those were some of the early Christian hip hop I listened to. I liked some Christian R & B, Christian house music, and traditional Gospel as well.
Gabe: How has it been for you to see the growth of Christian hip hop since you started listening to it? And especially with the emergence of it lately into the mainstream culture. How has it been for you even to see guys in the NBA embrace that?
Chris: It’s been great! I think all Christians who have been into hip hop have hoped that it would start getting mainstream acceptance. First of all, you want the message to get out to those that aren’t Christians. Secondly, you want it to be recognized for it’s artistic excellence as well. I think, for the most part, Christian hip hop is on par with secular hip hop. It’s not the artistic element of Christian hip hop that has kept it from being accepted in the mainstream. It’s just the fact that the world doesn’t really want to hear that message.
I remember when I first started listening to Christian hip hop. I think the first Christian hip hop album that I had was dc Talk. To be honest, I wasn’t really feeling them. I didn’t think it was real hip hop. I was thankful for what they were trying to do with their message but I felt it was more of a pop sound. I was more into the sounds of KRS-One, Eric B. & Rakim, X Clan, LL Cool J, Run DMC…I was just into real hip hop from the streets. So the first real Christian hip hop album that I dug was from SFC (Soldiers for Christ).
You asked me about the growth of Christian hip hop. Hearing SFC felt like real hip hop to me. The first groups I listened to from about 1990 to about 1994/1995…all the Christian hip hop was overtly Christian. The message was front and center. The Gospel was front and center. And that’s what I became used to and that’s what I expected to be honest. And then around 1995, LPG came out. LPG was introduced into the hip hop world by SFC and Freedom of Soul by having them appear on their records. When LPG came out with their first album, it was almost secular. It had a Christian undertone. Christ was weaved in there a little bit…there was no profanity or anything dirty. But it was about battle rap, mike skills, and the art of hip hop with songs like Judge Not. It was such a divergence from what I had known with Christian hip hop. It was basically a transition to rappers who happened to be Christians instead of Christians who are rappers. It kinda threw me off. They were good artistically but it wasn’t as inspirational to me. As a young Christian, the boldness and aggressiveness of early Christian hip hop artists really inspired me the way they were unashamed of their faith.
I brought that up to say, even though I love today’s Christian hip hop, it’s not as inspiring. It’s good artistically. The message and the Gospel aren’t as strong. There are some artists that are putting themselves in the place of the unsaved when they rap. But to me, it’s not as inspiring. It might be because of my growth as a Christian. I don’t really need to be hit over the head with the Gospel but there probably needs to be a better balance.
Cross Movement was probably my favorite Christian hip hop group ever. They were great and their message remained the same over the years. It was pretty much the same every album. You understand where I’m coming from?
Gabe: Yeah! I know exactly where you’re coming from. They talk about Christ
but a lot of the time the music is about certain situations in life that people go through. One of those situations you have touched on recently is about premarital sex. Why does the world have a hard time grasping what we believe? You’re supposed to tolerate every other type of belief and lifestyle but when you bring up abstinence, all tolerance goes out the window.
Chris: First of all, the world is the world. I don’t really expect the world to embrace Christian doctrine and values. I’m not surprised that the world doesn’t embrace the fact that sex is only for marriage. America was never a true Christian country mainly because of the way they treated people of color. If America had been a true Christian country, we would have never had the issue of slavery. We would never have had black families broken up and children sold away.
We were never a true Christian nation but it is undeniable that the foundation and the ideals of this country were Judeo-Christian principles. So when we in America refer to something as “traditional”, we’re generally referring to Judeo-Christian principles. Most Americans… whether they’re Christians, atheist, Muslim, Buddhist…Up until about 15-20 years ago, whether you grew up in a Christian family or not, you believed marriage was between a man and a woman. We thought that was the normal way of doing things because that’s how it was in America. Even if you didn’t consider yourself a Christian, they didn’t realize their morals were based on Judeo-Christian principles.
We as Christians in America today are starting from a different place than Christians in the Middle East, in China, or in different parts of Africa. When they get saved…from day 1 of their salvation, they have lived in a culture that is somewhat against Christian principles. They were outsiders and outcasts. They weren’t in line with their normal culture. Compare that to America up until recently…when you got saved, you might be a little bit different. You might not get drunk or high. You might not do some of the things that Americans do. But you weren’t really that different. At one point, if you were a Christian, you were viewed as upstanding. But now society has gone away from the Judeo-Christian principles that it was founded on. We’re starting to be viewed as outcasts just like our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. Now our views are looked at as evil.
My situation on Twitter with Bomani Jones… The main point I was trying to make was that he would not be able to get away with criticizing any group of people for their sexual attitudes or behaviors without getting in serious trouble. If you criticized homosexuals by saying that their sexual attitude and behavior was stupid, you’d be in serious trouble. Maybe if you even said that about another religion other than Christianity, you would be in trouble. My point to him was: if you can’t talk that way about other groups, then you should not talk that way about Christians. You could say “I disagree” or even “I think that’s nuts” what Russell Wilson is trying to do…but when you say “It’s stupid”, you’ve gone too far. I believe Christians, just like other groups in this country, deserve respect. Even if we may be different from others, we deserve respect. That’s the point I was trying to get across to Bomani Jones.
Gabe: Along the lines of sex, how is important is it for us as Christians to be transparent in an unbelieving world?
Chris: We should be transparent because none of us are perfect! Russell Wilson and Ciara probably struggle with their bids to be celibate. And they may slip and fall. They may mess up and break their vow of celibacy. But as long as they are sincerely trying to live for the Lord and abiding by His teachings, then that’s the main thing. If they struggle and fall… they can repent, get back on track, and try to do the right thing. I think you can talk that way to the world and say “we’re trying even though we struggle with it.” If you have that type of transparency, it may not seem as bad to the world if you stumble.
Having said that, I do think it is entirely possible to live according to the teachings of Christ! I do think that it is possible to wait until marriage. I do think that it’s possible to do the things that Jesus has commanded us to do because we’re filled with the Holy Spirit who empowers us to do those things. We as Christians are not under the power of sin! Sin does not have dominion over us according to Romans 6:14. We can overcome sin and the flesh through the Holy Spirit.
Just as important as it is to be transparent, it’s also important for us to have examples of men and women who are willing to be bold and strong. Men and women that are willing to stand up for their principles unashamed when it comes to sex. I’m not gonna be milk toast or mealy-mouthed when it comes to being faithful to my wife when I’m on the road. Because it’s my belief that that’s how a real man lives! God created men and women so he knows what a true man is! And if He says that sexual relations were intended to be within a marital relationship, then that’s how an authentic man should live like. So I shouldn’t be ashamed for acting how I was created to be. I shouldn’t be ashamed for living how I was created to live.
We need Christians to stand up and stop being ashamed that we have sexual morality. Stop being ashamed that you don’t get high or get drunk. When you’re living according to Christ’s teaching, you’re living how a man was created to live. Stop being envious of the guy who is out there with all the women. Stop thinking that a womanizer is a real man. Jesus Christ was a real man! The apostle Paul, Moses, Joseph, Peter… Those men acted like how men were created to live! So if I’m not having sex outside of marriage, I shouldn’t be ashamed of that! I’m a man of God! This is how I’m supposed to live! That’s how Christian men should talk and walk.
Because Jesus Christ walked with authority and with boldness. He wasn’t ashamed of how he lived. And this is how we are supposed to live. He showed us the prototype of manhood.
The Bible says to boast only in the Lord. Don’t boast in the self-righteous way. I’m not saying that Chris Broussard is special…But I am saying that God has empowered me to live the way I was created to live! He empowers me when I submit to Him as my Lord and Savior. I’m empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a certain way. And I’m not gonna be ashamed of that.
You don’t have to live that way. That’s your choice. You have a free will. But as a person who calls Jesus my Lord, I am supposed to live this way. You can accept it or reject it. You can be mad but I’m not ashamed. But like you said, we also need to be transparent with each other because we’re not perfect. We may stumble. We understand the challenge of trying to live for the Lord. But we also understand that He has empowered us to live that way.
Gabe: Wow. Man, thank you so much for your time. I know it’s a busy time for you with NBA free agency. I just want to thank you for being a light in a dark world. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Chris: Thank you. I appreciate that. And I know that. I know that Christians need to see examples. I hate to say it but there are a lot of Christians that are tucking in their tails…including pastors! The world is gonna be the world. They’re gonna do what they do. The only way that we’re gonna be a light to the world is if we live how we’re supposed to live. We should live in the joy, peace, and righteousness that God has empowered us to live in. It’s a real privilege! The church, who has been divided by race, needs to unify. When that happens, maybe we could be that light and that salt of the world.