By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
With football season just around the corner, college football fans (especially those in the Southeastern Conference) were more than a little shocked when Hugh Freeze announced his resignation as coach at the University of Mississippi due to a “pattern of personal misconduct inconsistent with the standards we expect from the leader of our football team,” according to university chancellor Jeff Vitter. See Baptist Press story.
More importantly, that pattern of personal misconduct is inconsistent with the Christian lifestyle.
Freeze was outspoken in his Christian beliefs and often spoke to church groups. He is a member of a Southern Baptist church in Mississippi.
Christians, regardless of school affiliation, can’t take delight in the situation at Ole Miss where the head coach has resigned and the university is under investigation by the NCAA due to alleged rules violations.
Some people have been quick to criticize Freeze, but the fact remains that Freeze is not immune from the sin that tempts and plagues all Christians. It is easy to label Freeze a hypocrite because he has been a loyal follower of and a vocal advocate for Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are not his judge and jury.
Mo Baker, director of the Old Miss Baptist Student Union, offered some wise counsel in the BP article, cautioning Christians to not excuse Freeze’s actions or to be judgmental.
“The tendency is to give a knee jerk reaction of either exceptionally leaning toward free grace or being extreme in our judgment and condemnation,” Baker told Baptist Press. “The Christian community needs to be very cautious, first of all, because we don’t have all the information. And second, whatever he was guilty of … there needs to be evidence of repentance in order for grace to be fully given.”
As Christians, we can’t cast stones. A Christian brother has fallen and Christianity has a black eye in a secular world that rejoices when that happens. We need to pray for Hugh Freeze, his family, and his church. A non-believing world is watching.