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San Francisco Giants Reliever Jeremy Affeldt Turns Focus on Future, Urges Christian Tolerance of LGBT Community

( [email protected] ) Apr 16, 2015 05:55 PM EDT
San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt is a devout Christian who takes into account the status of his family when it comes to his baseball career. He also urged fellow Christians to be more tolerant of the gay community.
Jeremy Affeldt (USATSI)

San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt is a devout Christian who takes into account the status of his family when it comes to his baseball career. He also urged fellow Christians to be more tolerant of the gay community.

According to Janie McCauley of the Associated Press, the 2014 World Series Game 7 winner at Kansas City would like to play one more season after 2015; his three-year contract worth $18 million is about to expire. However, the 35-year-old baseball player has contemplated walking away for good if his three children, 7-year-old Walker, 4-year-old Logan, and 2-year-old Kolt indicate that they want him home more often.

"For me, it's all based on my children," Affeldt said. "As soon as my kids, any of them, say, 'I just miss you, I don't know if I want you to play anymore,' that's when you have a serious conversation. They haven't said much yet, but my oldest has kind of said from time to time, 'How much longer are you going to play?'"

Affeldt told McCauley that he preferred not to negotiate too much during the season and bring up potential distractions. However, he did set little goals for himself.

"I have little goals, like to get to 800 appearances," Affeldt said.

The pitcher added that he was grateful to play for the Giants, noting that even though "it's always a business scenario," he was "in no hurry to leave."

"You won't hear me complain one little bit about my time here," Affeldt said. "I respect every one of my teammates I've been very thankful to have. I've learned a lot from every single one of them, coaches, front office."

Affeldt then said that he "won't take anything personally" if the Giants decided to shift directions.

"A lot of that is out of your control," Affeldt said.

As for his Christian views, Affeldt recently wrote a blog post on March 31 urging Christians to be more tolerant toward gay people. He addressed the typical stereotype of Christians as "Bible thumpers who are homophobic."

"We've brought that on ourselves. I don't think we're showing the love of Jesus," Affeldt wrote. "Gay people are asking for equal rights under the law, and we've got Christians saying 'God hates you.' I get so angry because that's not true! God loves you! Jesus walks with the gay community!"

Affeldt confessed that he once held homophobic views. However, his views changed after playing for the Giants.

"I was wrong to fear like that," Affeldt wrote. "God reached deep within my heart and changed me. Now I have gay friends and colleagues. There is no difference between us."

Affeldt added that "God told us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves," contending that "Christians wouldn't be so hated everywhere we go" if more Christians applied that concept.

"The Church needs to go to where the people are, and then love on them," Affeldt wrote. "We need to be with people wherever they are and wherever they hurt, because that's where Jesus is."

However, some criticism has been directed at Affeldt's stance. According to Mike Oz of Big League Stew, current events surrounding "religious freedom laws" in both Indiana and Arkansas have added weight to the pitcher's views, even though he doesn't explicitly make the connection in his blog post.

"It's easy to read his words and make connections to the religious freedom law under scrutiny in Indiana because it would allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals," Oz wrote. "This even matters in baseball, where the Oakland Athletics' Pride Night has rattled some fans in the very liberal Bay Area."

Oz elaborated on the possible fallout Affeldt could face on his stance in regards to Christianity and the LGBT community. He thought Affeldt's views "might ruffle feathers among his fellow conservative Christians."

"Urging Christians to accept gays is a brave stance by Affeldt, one that will most certainly earn him criticism in some circles and one he could have easily ignored as he gets ready for another MLB season," Oz wrote.

Affeldt concluded that Christians ought to change their mindset to focus on "setting the captives free," "feeding the poor," and just "start loving."

"We need to be helping and providing," Affeldt wrote. "We should be the leaders in our communities for the simple reason that we just straight-out, flat-out love our neighbors. Just think: we could be beacons of love."

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