We have probably all had our fill of news reports and speculation about the deeds and misdeeds of golf star Tiger Woods. Tiger-bashing suddenly became a popular sport early in December as his life came under the spotlight of scrutiny after a bizarre car crash and revelations of numerous extra-marital affairs. The one-time hero, his Mr. Clean image forever tarnished, suffered a dizzying decline in just a few short days from the heights of adulation to the depths of public ridicule, scorn and rejection.
It’s interesting to me how quickly people condemn Tiger – as if the rest of us were innocent. Not that his actions don’t matter. If indeed he did commit adultery – not just once but several times, according to the stories – this is a very serious matter. If there is a hierarchy of sins, betraying the trust of a spouse is surely near the top. However, those of us who are quick to condemn Tiger would do well to remember Jesus’ response to the crowd that had assembled to stone the woman caught in adultery: If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone.
Am I saying sexual faithfulness is unimportant? Not at all. I would be the first to contend for the importance of faithfulness in marriage. I’m merely pointing out a fact that we love to forget in our haste to condemn and mock such an easy target: none of us is innocent. When we condemn Tiger Woods we are in effect condemning ourselves, because although most of us may not have done what he has done, none of us has a pure heart. Only those who have had their eyes opened to their own broken condition and their need for a Saviour are capable of responding appropriately to a tragic story like this one. It is only as we surrender our pride and come to the foot of the cross that we even understand what purity is. We need to learn to see such events through the eyes of Jesus, the Lamb of God – the only one who was truly pure, the only one who has the right to condemn anyone – yet who willingly bled and died for those who rejected him, so that they could be forgiven, healed and set free.
So what do I think about the Tiger Woods saga? I think it’s tragic that his wife and children have had to undergo such betrayal. Children need fathers who are trustworthy. I feel sadness for Tiger and his wife Elin Nordegren as the most intimate and sordid details of their lives are displayed openly for the world to see. Was it naïve of them to expect their privacy to be respected? Of course. Do they deserve this? Maybe. Are we any better? No.
Does that mean Tiger is innocent? Not at all. Unless he comes to repentance, he will face the wrath of God. But if we persist in our superiority and judgments, so will we. So rather than condemning him, I choose to pray for him and his family. Yes, they are rich and famous, but they are still lost and broken like everyone else – as this unfortunate saga surely demonstrates. I take no delight in their misfortune, however deserved – Lord knows I’ve made enough mistakes in my life – and I sincerely hope and pray that they both have their eyes opened to their need for a Saviour and that they get their lives back on track.
It’s easy to condemn those who mess up – and it seems to be especially popular to point fingers at the very public failures of the rich and famous. We live in a culture that is preoccupied with celebrities. We worship them until their image becomes tarnished, and then we love to hate them. We do this because we are blind. If we understood our true position before God, we would instead ask Him to grant them mercy and the gift of repentance. Mercy triumphs over judgment. It is the one gift that all of us need – rich or poor, famous or unknown. When we look at the fallen Tiger Woods, we are in reality looking at ourselves. The sooner we realize that, the better.