This is Super Bowl Sunday. That's right. That's the name we've given it. The concept that dominates this Lord's Day is who is going to win a football game. Does that seem problematic to you? Well, it does to me. But I have to say it's only the beginning of what I see as a problem.
The game, they tell me, starts at 4:30 (at least in my time zone), so no one has an excuse to miss church today. That helps, right? No, not really, because so many already did the math. "Can I go to church and still make the game? Yeah, it will be okay." Because, you see, if not, there would be a big decision, a serious conflict, the outcome of which would not be certain. Super Bowl could very easily trump God. Hands down. You can be fairly certain that no evening services will be occurring on this Sunday. No churches want to compete with the Super Bowl. And that's a problem. In John Calvin's day they were concerned about too much recreation on Sunday afternoon detracting from the day of worship. Today we're more concerned about too much church in the day (Super Bowl Sunday or otherwise) detracting from our recreation. Big problem.
Nagging at the back of my thoughts, though, is a difficulty that you may not likely have considered. Super Bowl Sunday is a guy-thing. Few women would wonder, "If the Super Bowl starts while we're in church, which will I choose?" Oh, sure, there are exceptions, but not generally. So, what are women doing today? Or, what I'm asking, what are we thinking about women today and how does Super Bowl Sunday reflect that?
Super Bowl Sunday offers us a few basic views of women. On one hand there is the object, the sexual prize. They are in the ads and dressed as cheerleaders. They are unrealistic body types and highly sexualized. If you are to be an acceptable woman, you need to be ... like "this". And "this" is a male-oriented, selfish, sinful view.
Of course, the women who are not on the screen are also depicting womanhood. There are, in your living rooms, two possibilities. One is the dependable housewife dutifully serving the whims of the males with food and drink without gratitude or inclusion. Maybe they're gathering in the kitchen together, waiting for a command from the TV room while they chat, but they're not honored, not attended to, and not a part except as servants or, perhaps, slaves. The other type is the women right there with you. She likes football like you do. She's yelling like you are. She's a real fan like you are. This woman, in her quest to throw off patriarchy and elevate women to a higher rank, has subjugated femininity and made herself just like you. Just like much of our culture today, Super Bowl Sunday offers a liberated woman who can be just as foul-mouthed, contentious, combative, and macho as any disgustingly stereotyped evil male today.
Super Bowl Sunday, both on and off television, manages to illustrate a variety of female types. There is the sex object, the slave, and the masculine feminine. None of these are biblical perspectives. And none of them seem to register today on either male or female psyches.
Gender roles are only a part of my concerns for Super Bowl Sunday. We are quick to latch onto idolatry on a day like this. We might point to the Christian on the field -- the Christian coach who gives glory to God or the Tim Tebow who honors God when he succeeds -- but if they really intended to honor God, would they be playing on the Lord's Day at all? Sure, few Christians care much today about honoring God on the Sabbath. The fact that the idea is rare doesn't bode well for modern Christianity. Me? I'd recommend a simple principle. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31). No, I didn't make that one up myself. Whose day is it anyway? I'll let you think about that one on your own.