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FIRST-PERSON: An open letter to Olympian Jennie Finch

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Dear Jennie,

Congratulations on your Olympic performance. Your superior pitching helped secure a gold medal for the U.S.A. softball team. Way to go!

I also understand that you were married in January. Congratulations again. I hope you and your husband will have a long and happy life together.

Jennie, I have to admit that I had never heard of you prior to the Olympics. I am not much of an aficionado of fast-pitch softball — men’s or women’s. However, what brought you to my attention was an article I read which highlighted your Christian faith.

In the article you were quoted as saying, “Yes, I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; He is my Lord and Savior.” You also added, “My faith has affected my career greatly … God gave me this talent to use and He helps me daily to continue to pursue His will.”

As I read the article, I have to admit to being a bit skeptical. When it comes to athletes and celebrities talking about Christianity, I possess a significant measure of cynicism. Too many of them say one thing while their actions reflect a totally different reality.

You helped to allay some of my skepticism when I learned that you had turned down an offer to pose for Playboy.

“No, I would not pose nude,” you wrote on your website. “I don’t feel that there are any pros to posing nude. No amount of money could influence me.” You further commented, “My morals and my standards come first. I am here to be a role model for young girls and show them what really counts … and that is what is on the inside.”

When I learned that you had not posed alongside other Olympians in skimpy swimsuits just prior to the Olympics, my cynicism evaporated. According to ESPN.com you said, “I can’t see myself doing something like that.” It seemed that Jennie Finch was the real deal.

You can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I learned that you are featured in Sports Illustrated’s 2005 swimsuit edition.

Jennie, what prompted you to strip down — to what amounts to your underwear — for SI’s annual festival of flesh? Why would you appear in a publication that features models wearing only body paint?

The SI swimsuit edition is tawdry, sleazy and pornographic. What purpose does page after glossy page of airbrushed photos of women, wearing next to nothing, serve except to titillate the male libido?

I am sure (and I hope) you are wearing more than the models sporting only paint. However, your presence only lends credibility to the debauched display. What happened to your “morals” and “standards?”

In my estimation, Jennie, your decision to appear in SI’s salute to skin was very naïve. I can assure you the males who ogle your image will not have softball on their minds. By God’s design men are stimulated by sight and the SI swimsuit edition provides an eyeful.

You state on your website that you are “here to be a role model for young girls and show them what really counts … and that is what is on the inside.” How will you explain the flaunting of your sexuality to all of your young fans? What will you say to those who can never hope to look like you?

Jennie, I am not questioning the sincerity of your faith. I am not qualified to do that. However, I am criticizing your judgment. I hope in the future you will choose to accentuate your skill and your character rather than your skin and your curves.

A common response to a letter like this is, “Christians are not supposed to judge.” Jesus did say, “Do not judge lest you be judged,” but He also added, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

The day that I appear in a magazine marketed to women — or any magazine for that matter — wearing only a skimpy Speedo, I will disqualify myself from criticizing your decision. Until then, I will stand by my judgment.


Kelly Boggs
Kelly Boggs is pastor of the Portland-area Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore. His column appears each Friday in Baptist Press.

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