Latter-day Saint professional athlete Bryce Harper, 22, is an all-star baseball player for the Washington Nationals. Along with Jimmer Fredette and Jabari Parker, he has been one of the Mormon role models to capture the heart of America with their spark and religious convictions.
Sadly, Bryce Harper chose to be involved in ESPN’s Body Issue in which famous athletes pose nude, showing off their sculpted Roman-like physiques. I thought about this before writing, but I came to a simple conclusion.
If you’re going to be a role model for Christ and His church you better not defile it.
He wasn’t always like this, though. In 2013 Deseret News highlighted the Bryce Harper I looked up to: “Bryce Harper: MLB slugger has high standards on and off the field”
Here are a couple quotes from the Deseret News article showing how Harper felt 2 years ago:
“I feel I can be a walking Book of Mormon and help people on the baseball field and off it.”
“Like I said, my body is a temple and I’m not going to put anything in it that will affect me or the way I play because I want to give everything I can for this team and this city every single day.”
2 years after making comments of being a “walking Book of Mormon” and stating his body is a temple he posed nude for a sports magazine.
There are a few reasons this disturbs me.
1. With all the trouble and constant reminder to stay away from Pornography Harper participates in this type of destructive media. I don’t care whether you’re male or female you are representing Christ. Posing nude for the world to see defiles self-worth and encourages lust.
2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ focuses on uplifting others, not glorifying yourself. I don’t know all his reasons for posing naked in front of the world, but Harper tweeted this:
A dream come true…Hard work does pay off! Can’t thank @espnmag enough for the opportunity! Baseball players do work out!
He continued in an interview with ESPN “I can squat 405. I’m proud of that — that’s one of my favorites.”
3. He’s giving young men an unrealistic body image to keep up with. “I wish my abs were a little bit better. God gave me a great body, but I think my abs could be better than they are.” Instead of reminding us to eat healthy and happy he talks about how he eats 8 eggs a day and fish and meat. His attention seems to be focused on getting ripped, hot, and sexy.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” -1 Corinthians 3:16
As society’s standards continue to fall we must stand for truth and make sure not to crumble with it. We need more role models who are men and women of God who consistently stand for righteousness. We need people who use the limelight for good, shedding light on truth and morals and standards that are dwindling away. That IS a billboard for Christ. And THAT is what our young people need to see.