Football madness, idols & domestic violence
The football season has one weekend to go – but cheer up the World Cup is almost here and as a football fan I am as excited and as anxious as any England supporter. As a church, at Wallingford Baptist Church, we will be showing some of England games live on a big screen in a family friendly environment – you would be most welcome to join us.
However I am also sympathetic to my wife, who is no football fan, who feels we have all gone mad. Football is a form of lunacy, she comments, and she is right at specific times and seasons – the World Cup being one of them – many of us lose our minds and accepted norms of behaviour are forgotten.
Bill Shankly famously said ‘Football is not a matter of life and death – it is more important than that.’ And, at times like this, if we are not careful football can become a religion, our idol. The bible warns us in Psalm 115 that we take on the characteristics of what we worship. Is it therefore any surprise that there is an increase in ‘lunacy’ at World Cup season. Recent research shows clearly a link between England football games and an increase in domestic violence by almost 1/3.
Even apart from football, domestic violence is a worryingly growing trend in our society and one that we must talk about and give those who suffer from it a platform and a voice. I am also not saying that the church is immune from this problem. However I do believe that what we choose as our gods will effect our behaviour. That is why we need to be careful about making football, alcohol, work, money, success our gods or goals. And perhaps the reason we also struggle with the same problems in the church as non Christians is that many of us have not destroyed these idols in our lives.
So enjoy the World Cup but don’t let it become your god – combat this danger by worshipping the true God at a local church. And contrary to the Bill Shankly quote, football is not greater than life or death. I write this as a church we are still mourning, Bryan, one of our church leaders who died at Easter time . We thank Bryan for all his contribution to church and community life and we’ll miss him. But Bryan was confident, as I am, that we will become like the one we worship and as Christians we worship the one who rose again from the dead with an imperishable, immortal body (1 Cor 15:49-57)