Tiger, Tiger, Tiger
Let me begin by saying today has been a rough day. Not sure why…But facing a full frontal assault from the Enemy, among other things.
With that being said, oddly enough, this situation with Tiger has sent off a flurry of communications through facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Furthermore, it set something off in me.
In order to give a thoughtful response, I decided to craft it here rather than attempt to make snap, emotional statements via other social media (which I did and then deleted – still working on not crafting EMOTIONAL responses and messages – key word: Working on it).
1. I love Tiger. He’s my favorite sports hero. This is probably problem number one. By making him a hero, I had made him into an otherworldly idol. And Tiger’s regime certainly crafts a perfect image of him. Like Michael Jordan of the 90s, a media conglomerate has carefully and beautifully crafted a Tiger that is articulate, intelligent, thoughtful, diligent, tenacious, and a winner in all aspects of life. He certainly may be many or all of these, but the point is, we don’t know. I don’t personally know Tiger and either do you.
2. This “image” of Tiger was crushed. For those unaware with what has happened, read here.
3. Across the social media networks, people are either condemning him or condemning people for condemning him. Either a person says, “What a sleaze and loser” (like I instantly did on Facebook and wrongly so. I apologize for the initial emotional response) or a person says, “No one is perfect! He’s just human!” One person is saying: “I’ll be God the judge now” and becomes self-righteous (me earlier). The other person doesn’t fully grasp the full Gospel. Furthermore, this person is saying being “human” is doing destructive acts like adultery.
4. Like most things, the answer is in the middle. Neither response is correct or appropriate. More on that in a second…
5. We live in a world that does not possess a universal moral code any longer. In the era of Christendom (1500s to 1950s), much of our morality was defined according to biblical standards. In our post-Christendom and post-Modern era, we can no longer rightly assume that the moral “code” is biblical or Christian.
6. Furthermore, Tiger is not a Christian. Therefore, I live by the intense belief that those who are Christians should not judge and condemn not-yet Christians by our Christian standards. If Jesus can say, “For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it” then we should say something similar as well. Frankly, it is never our job to JUDGE or CONDEMN – that is God’s alone. Furthermore, how can we JUDGE or CONDEMN a not-yet Christian who doesn’t possess the identity as one in Christ? That will be up to God alone. For more our identity in Christ, read this here.
7. With all that being said, I am going to impose some universal moral code because I believe our CREATOR created us with one. Adultery is wrong. It destroys him and destroys innocent people. It can’t exist with that which is good. Therefore, Tiger did something “wrong.” Period. Just as our universal moral code says: “Killing is wrong” so I (and I’d assume most of the world) say: “Adultery is wrong.” Furthermore, is he truly sorry? He only apologized after he got caught.
8. Please note, I am hesitant to EVER speak for God in absolute terms, but I am basing this on Scripture and my theological understanding (faith SEEKING understanding) of God.
9. God loves him and there is nothing Tiger or anyone else can do to alter that. God’s love is immeasurable and independent of our condition. It is solely based on His goodness. As Brennan Manning wrote, “”For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods…It is reliable. And always tender.” This is the radical nature of God.
10. However, I believe there is a time when we reach an “age of accountability.” Either we embrace the Father’s love – or we don’t. Tiger hasn’t (and not just because he committed adultery – there are definitely people who have committed adultery who know the Father’s love). What I’m saying is, at some point we become accountable to accept God the Loving and Fair Judge or not. At some point, I believe God expects us to become accountable and responsible for our actions.
11. Take our own Fatherly or Motherly instincts: When I’m a Father, my real and fair love will be an attempt to keep my son or daughter from actions that destroy. I will literally HATE it when they commit atrocious sins. But that doesn’t change the essence of love. Love is deeper than simply brushing off horrific acts. Love goes into the realm of keeping a person from doing that which destroys life. I will embrace them and love them, but so much so that I will hate it if they have affairs with three women (like Tiger).
12. God does the same. He loves us so much that he HATES sin. He desires us to find life and life to the full. This is done by responding to the convicting work of the Spirit and PARTNERING to destroy the dark within.
13. What’s awesome about this process is grace. No matter how many times we mess up, God will forgive us! We can’t earn His love or lose it!!!
But you must question the pure intention of a person who shows up week after week and says, “Yup, I cheated on my wife again. I confess.” And then says it again the next week. Where is the battle? Where is the disgust with sin?
I would go as far as to say, if you aren’t convicted by destructive acts, maybe Jesus isn’t in you? Remember, darkness and light can’t co-exist.
To wrap this up, in response to a person that says Tiger is a sleaze and loser is to say that we are now judging someone’s character by their actions. We know a God who does NOT do that. He loves us. Period. Therefore, while his actions are sleazy and disgusting, this does not automatically make him a sleaze and a loser.
In response to someone who says, “Don’t judge. He’s just human!” I would say, committing gross, destructive acts is in fact NOT human. I would argue that becoming a Christian is becoming more fully human (and back to our original creation intent). In terms of judging, you’re right. We shouldn’t judge. There are logs in our own eyes we need to deal with before we can deal with the speck in our neighbors. But I would say, like a loving Father, we should partner in helping to keep people away from sin. When someone sins atrociously as Tiger has, I can put my arms around them, tell them I love them enough to let them know that their acts are destructive and gross and they need to change their ways. Furthermore, I hope people would do the same for me. I need help from God and from others to NOT allow sin to enter my life.
This is the beautiful paradox of the Gospel. We are justified FREELY by faith and by GRACE alone. On the other hand, we are sanctified (becoming more like Jesus, more fully human) through the work of the Spirit and OUR obedience (our actions, our works) in response to the Gospel. We aren’t saved by our actions, but we sure are known by them.
I realize this is a bit long, so here’s how I’ll conclude.
Christians are the WE:
On one hand…
We must leave the judgment work to God.
We must be known for our love.
We must allow people to not be perfect and to not be okay and embrace them when they fail.
We must love people enough to be given freedom to speak into their lives.
On the other hand…
We must hate that which opposes goodness and light.
We must never consider gross acts of adultery as simple “slip ups.” Call it what it is: Gross.
We must embrace the Father’s love and grace and pursue becoming more like Jesus.
This is long. I’m sorry. Maybe I’m the only one who will read this, but I needed to do this to process some of my own feelings regarding this situation.
Furthermore, I don’t claim absolute truth. This is just my understanding of God and this situation.
What do you think?!