Commentator David French argues that those who label Biles’ actions as cowardly are mistaking the virtue of prudence for a vice. “A sport is not worth your life,” said French. “It’s not worth your spine…The virtue in play was prudence. The vice was recklessness.”
Far from being cowardly, French believes that Biles demonstrated courage according to C.S. Lewis’ definition in “The Screwtape Letters”: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” Essentially, Biles was brave enough to be prudent when the time called for it.
Simone Biles’ decision also puts a spotlight on how we are defining purpose and identity. Former NFL player and Christian Emmanuel Acho tweeted his support for Biles, praising her for resisting the temptation to define herself by her skills. “Never let your work define you, even if you’re the greatest to ever do it!” he said.
Raymond Chang, a pastor and president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative, similarly saw Biles’ actions as a way of resisting an unhealthy identity. “You are worth more than anything you could ever accomplish,” he said. “God loves you! We love you!”
Former gymnast, survivor advocate, and Christian Rachael Denhollander agreed. “I’m so deeply thankful you knew you are #worthmore,” said Denhollander. “Your example showed my daughters that their value and identity is in who they are, I’ll be holding you up for them even more now.”
And as Stetzer said, the situation reveals whether or not we are truly living out the compassion that Jesus had for people. A widely circulated TikTok video demonstrates a response that is quite different from the Christians who are criticizing and condemning Biles. The video has the text, “When your dad starts a prayer circle for Simone Biles’ mental health at the cruise ship pool” and has audio of a man praying that God would take care of Biles, protect her, and let her feel “no condemnation.”
“I think [mental health] should be talked about a lot more,” said Biles on Tuesday, “especially with athletes because I know some of us are going through the same things and we’re always told to push through it, but at the end of the day, we’re not just entertainment, we’re humans, and there are things going on behind the scenes that we’re also trying to juggle with as well on top of sports.”