I could hardly believe my eyes as I watched Luis Suarez of Liverpool FC sink his teeth into the right upper arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. Within seconds, the SKY Sports action replay provided verification of the Suarez assault.......a stonewall red card.....surely!!! Along with millions of TV viewers and the thousands of Chelsea fans attending the match, I was indignant when the referee took no action because he claimed not to have seen the incident. He waved away the protests of the aggrieved Ivanovich who was pointing to the teeth marks on his exposed upper arm. To add insult to injury, Suarez scored an equalising goal for Liverpool in the seventh minute of extra time, completing ‘a bad day at the office’ for Chelsea FC.
In Scotland, things are naturally very different. Football referees are sponsored by Specsavers, so mistakes should be minimal.....perhaps......well, actually not so,......ask any football fan.
Always fiercely partisan, sometimes football fans succumb to irrationality in their denials of reality. It came therefore as no surprise, that the Liverpool fans interviewed on SKY Sports News refused to criticise Suarez for his actions. After all he is the club’s top scorer !!
Denialism is described on Wikipaedia as, “choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid an uncomfortable truth. Author Paul O'Shea remarks, ‘It is the refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality. It is an essentially irrational action that withholds validation of a historical experience or event".
Today there are those who vehemently deny that the Holocaust either did not occur or was mostly a hoax, ignoring the vast body of historical evidence to the contrary. ‘Holocaust deniers’ range from right wing agitators to radical Islamists and various individuals in between.
Similarly, there are individuals and groups who are in denial that climate change is taking place and governments like the US which refuse to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol on global CO2 emissions.
Denialism can feature in the lives of Christians as they are bombarded by information and advertising from various organisations and individuals demanding attention. Hard pressed to attend conferences, participate in training training courses, adhere to a ‘vision’ and give support i.e. money, many succumb to the pressure, in effect, denying that what is being advertised and encouraged might not be all that it should be.
In the Bible, Christians are called to be spiritually discerning: to make use of scripture to think for themselves, rather than being pressured by others to conform. There is an excellent example of this in the Book of Acts. The Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in the Jewish synagogue in the town of Berea. The Bereans were very discerning. They examined scripture daily, “to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed.”
Christians have all that is required in the scriptures to enable good and healthy decision making and avoid the sometimes negative consequences of being pressured into ‘going with the flow’.