Joel Northrup, an Iowa high school wrestler, has been all over the news for his recent decision to not wrestle a girl at the state tournament. When Joel, a contender for the title, drew Cassy Herkelman (one of the first two females to qualify for Iowa’s state wrestling tournament in its history) as his first round opponent, he was faced with a decision that put his Christian faith up against his hope of athletic success. In a move of great character and integrity, Joel defaulted the match in favor of following his conscience; but, all the the world will see is that he refused to wrestle a girl.
Despite Joel’s explanation of his decision (in which he stated, “Wrestling is a combat sport, and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner.”), the media and countless others are hung up on the so-called disrespect Joel has shown Cassy and even women in general. Really? Since when has it been disrespectful for a young man to treat a young lady like a lady? Since when has it been chauvinistic for a boy to not seek to dominate a girl?
I don’t get it.
But, then again, neither does the world. The world does not understand Joel’s decision because it was based on Christian faith and conscience–two things the world is utterly opposed to. I feel both angry and disheartened as I read and listen to the irrational and hollow arguments of those who fail to see beyond the gender issue they have chosen to make of this. Admittedly, there is a definite gender component involved. After all, Joel defaulted on the match because his opponent was a female. But, what the world fails to recognize is that underlying Joel’s decision to not wrestle a female was his resolve to not violate his conscience.
Travis and I happen to know the Northrup family personally, and we can attest to the fact that they are an upstanding Christian family who in no way seek to diminish women. What a shame that Joel is being painted on a national level as anything less than the fine young man of integrity that he is. And, what a shame we live in a world that is rocked and shocked by one of the most honorable conscience-based decisions this generation has seen.