Last year, former Texas Tech star and current North Carolina Courage defender Jaelene Hinkle got the call that she had dreamed of her entire life — she was being called up to play for the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) in friendlies that June.
But Hinkle never ended up stepping onto the pitch with her teammates.
As it turns out, when Hinkle discovered that the jerseys the USWNT planned to wear for their matches would include rainbow lettering as a show of support for the LGBTQ community during Pride month, she quit the team because she felt that wearing such a jersey went against her Christian religion.
At the time, soccer fans and Christian media fueled speculation that this was, indeed, the reason she decided to leave the team last June. But in a recent interview with the 700 Club, Hinkle has confirmed that this is the case.
“I felt so convicted in my spirit, that it was not my job to wear this jersey,” Hinkle said in that interview. “And I gave myself 3 days to just seek and pray and determine what he was asking me to do in this situation.”
“I’m essentially giving up the one dream little girls dream about their whole lives, and I’m saying no to it,” Hinkle said. “It was very disappointing. I think that’s where the peace trumps the disappointment, because I knew in my spirit that I was doing the right thing. I knew I was being obedient, and just because you’re obedient doesn’t make it easy.”
Of course, it’s difficult to imagine Hinkle being blindsided by the national team’s embrace of LGBTQ Pride. U.S. Soccer — and women’s soccer in particular — have long fostered a close relationship with the LGBTQ community. Multiple members of the USWNT — including Megan Rapinoe, Ashlyn Harris, and retired star Abby Wambach — are members of the queer community, and, as writer Katelyn Best wrote in OutSports, “the women’s national team fanbase is among the gayest in sports.”
In fact, at most games in the National Women’s Soccer League, the pro league in which Hinkle competes for the Courage, fans prominently display rainbow flags in the stands.
Hinkle plays with and against members of the LGBTQ community on a daily basis in professional soccer, and LGBTQ fans pay the money that allows her to play the sport she loves professionally. Wearing a Pride jersey for two friendlies is basically an affectionate acknowledgement of a vibrant part of the sport’s fanbase — one that has played a big role in elevating the women’s game, but who are still marginalized in the world at large. Hinkle doesn’t have to be comfortable with homosexuality in her personal life, but the fact that she won’t even wear a jersey that acknowledges the humanity of the LGBTQ community that surrounds her sport verges on bigotry.
Jesus didn’t come to save those who already believed in Him. He came so that the lost, rejected, and abandoned men and women would find Him and believe. I believe with every fiber in my body that what was written 2,000 years ago in the Bible is undoubtedly true. It’s not a fictional book. It’s not a pick and choose what you want to believe. You either believe it, or you don’t. This world may change, but Christ and His Word NEVER will. My heart is that as Christians we don’t begin to throw a tantrum over what has been brought into law today, but we become that much more loving. That through our love, the lost, rejected, and abandoned find Christ. The rainbow was a convent made between God and all his creation that never again would the world be flooded as it was when He destroyed the world during Noah’s time. It’s a constant reminder that no matter how corrupt this world becomes, He will never leave us or forsake us. Thank you Lord for your amazing grace, even during times of trial and confusion. Love won over 2,000 years ago when the greatest sacrifice of all time was made for ALL mankind. ❤️💜💛💚💙
It’s interesting to note that Hinkle has, in the past, managed to navigate these waters in less alienating ways — allowing her to maintain the firmness of her personal convictions while simultaneously extending an open hand to those who may disagree with them. When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, Hinkle expressed her disappointment with the decision on social media, but said that, “My heart is that as Christians we don’t begin to throw a tantrum over what has been brought into law today, but we become that much more loving.”
She clearly hasn’t heeded her own advice. In the interview with The 700 Club, she painted herself as a courageous martyr, without ever mentioning that the thing she is fighting for is hate and exclusion.
“I don’t question [God’s] goodness. Like, I know he’s good, I know he’s faithful. And if I never get a national team call-up again, then maybe that’s just part of his plan, that’s okay,” she said. “And maybe this is why you were meant to play soccer, just to show other believers to be obedient.”