Texts: Hebrews 8:6; Matthew 19:17; Revelation 12:17; Leviticus 23; Acts 15:1-29; Galatians 1:1-12
Growing into maturity often means accepting new ideas and behaving in new ways. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton learned that lesson the hard way this past week. Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue attended Newton’s weekly press conference on Wednesday, as she does every week, and asked the Panthers quarterback a legitimate question about his receiver’s routes. Instead of answering the question, Newton put Rodrigue on the spot simply for being a woman who was doing her job as a sports journalist.
Newton said, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes. Like, it’s funny.” Newton smirked while Rodrigue asked the question before making the remark, which produced an awkward silence in the press area. Rodrigue responded to the comment with a tweet after the press conference. “I don't think it's ‘funny’ to be a female and talk about routes. I think it's my job.” She added that she confronted Newton in person about the uncalled-for commentary, and according to Rodrigue, Newton’s response was even worse.1
The NFL released a statement saying that Newton’s response to the question was “just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists who cover our league.” Newton apologized in a Twitter video post. “After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women,” Newton said at the start of the nearly two-minute video. “To be honest, that was not my intentions. And if you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera addressed the situation briefly during s press conference saying, “I think Cam made a mistake. I understand he had a conversation where he pretty much said he shouldn’t have said what he said.”2
It’s not always easy to change long-held views and assumptions. This week’s lesson explores just such a challenging time in the history of God’s church—the church council in Acts 15. Honest and faithful church leaders held onto the assumption that every male convert to Christianity must be circumcised, since that was the practice since Abraham’s time. We can understand the challenge of embracing new ways of thinking as we see our society still wrestling with discarding old notions regarding race and gender equality.
The problem for the church was that some made their old views a matter of salvation, and were willing to boot people out who did not conform to their way of thinking. This was not an easy time for the church, as the controversy regarding how to view the Mosaic ceremonies continued through much of Paul’s letters to the New Testament churches. Fortunately, they worked through their issues. As painful as it can be, sometimes it takes conflict over controversial issues to bring about needed change. After all, circumcision is no longer a requirement for baptism.