My Rashionale: Is it really fair to claim ‘it isn’t fair’ in the life of a believer?

By Jennifer Davis Rash

With the U.S. national team capturing a record fourth Women’s World Cup title in a 2–0 win over the Netherlands on July 7 team members quickly used the platform to advocate for issues of concern to them.

At the same time an earlier conversation resurfaced about whether soccer standout Jaelene Hinkle was left off the team because of her Christian faith.

The 26-year-old Hinkle plays with the National Women’s Soccer League as a defender for the North Carolina Courage and according to media reports was described as “the best left back in the league” in 2018. So it came as a shock to many when this year’s World Cup team roster didn’t include her.

Coach Jill Ellis said the decision was based strictly on the game but many speculate it was because of Hinkle’s outspoken stance against homosexuality.

What she did 

In 2015, Hinkle publicly objected to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex “marriage.” 

And in 2017 she declined to play in two matches for the U.S. women’s national team stating “personal reasons” but later shared it was because she didn’t want to wear rainbow-themed team jerseys recognizing Gay Pride Month.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club” Hinkle said, “I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey. I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what [God] was asking me to do in this situation.”

Hinkle also said she is at peace with how things have transpired because she believes she was obedient. She admitted it wasn’t necessarily easy but she accepts the path.

We may never know for sure whether Hinkle was left off the team for her public stand, but we can explore the full extent of the story to determine what we might do in a similar situation.

After all it was a supporter of Hinkle who resurfaced the conversation — not Hinkle and not the U.S. soccer team. 

And with that public poke at the team through a simple social media comment made by someone not connected to the team came the more aggressive public criticism of Hinkle.

From there the discussion has the potential to expand. And if it falls in line with numerous other discussions we’ve watched play out on social media recently then people may begin to lob opinions back and forth. 

Before long people are reacting emotionally and showing the worst side of themselves — all while the world watches.

Reports indicate other Christians are on the team who have not drawn the same harsh criticism. Is that because they don’t share their faith openly and/or aren’t as dedicated to it or because they have not landed in a public social media debate?

Is it possible for people of faith with strong convictions to serve on teams and work together with people who have different values? 

What is the key to standing on truth with grace and love? How should we function in society — be in the world but not of the world — without compromising our values while also not harshly attacking those who disagree? 

What she said

One of Hinkle’s Instagram posts reads, “My heart is that as Christians we don’t begin to throw a tantrum over what has been brought into law today, but we become that much more loving. That through our love, the lost, rejected, and abandoned find Christ.”

Yet she is being described by at least one former team member as mean-spirited.

We don’t know what Hinkle may have said to that former teammate. Maybe she calmly and nicely attempted to share her convictions and that in itself was enough to anger the player. Maybe she really was mean-spirited in her tone. 

But maybe she never had those conversations at all on a one-on-one level and all the conclusions of her ability to love and respect others have been drawn from a few social media posts — first where she stood in opposition to the legalization of same-sex “marriage” and second because someone unrelated to any of the players chimed in with a random comment. 

Is it possible this random bystander used Hinkle’s story as an opportunity to publicly indicate “it’s not fair” and thus stir up controversy rather than choosing to publicly thank Hinkle for standing by her convictions and being willing to accept what sacrifices came with the decision?

What if we spent less time being upset — and sometimes ugly in our responses — about the challenges coming our way?  

What if we stood in Christ’s strength and — like Hinkle — accept the fact that many will not understand and push back?

What if in the contentious moments we focused on shining the Light within us in a spirit of “faith, hope and love” as noted in 1 Corinthians 13:13? 

When we are tempted to be fearful or anxious about what is happening around us, a good Scripture to remember is 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

A wise Bible study teacher recently explained in a class I attended how 2 Timothy is Paul’s letter of encouragement to the younger Timothy. 

Timothy was discouraged in his ministry work and Paul wrote the letter to remind him to put his confidence in Christ rather than himself.

As believers in and followers of Christ we can maintain that same confidence no matter what the circumstance. We can stand strong amid adversity if we keep looking upward and outward and let go of self-imposed expectations of what is and isn’t fair for our lives.