I’ve asked that question a thousand times during my life and ministry. I’ve asked it about famous preachers who have been caught with prostitutes. I’ve asked it about friends who have lost their ministry because of adultery, pornography, and infidelity. I’ve asked it about church members who have thrown their lives and marriages away for a moment of fleeting pleasure.
If we are honest, all of us have wondered about such things. Why? What were they thinking? How could they not see the consequences of such actions? Yet, at the same time, we know we are all susceptible to besetting sins and the temptations of the flesh. None of us is immune. By the grace of God, most avoid these traps. By the grace of God and the power of the indwelling Spirit, we refuse to take the bait, even when it is alluring and enticing.
But what was Tiger Woods thinking? Here’s a man who has been (apart from his inability to control his tongue) a role model for African American males. He has excelled at his game. He’s raised the bar. He has it all. But he might lose the only thing that matters: his family.
The first billion-dollar athlete in history has blown it. Every day it seems another woman comes out of the woodwork (pardon the pun). Woods is in the woods, if not the woodshed, with his wife, family, fans, and sponsors. While most of the sponsors say they are standing by their man, the reality is that they must be cringing at that face—the face of adultery, deception, call girls, lying, and uncontrolled passions—representing them.
Tiger is a public figure. He is a phenomenon. He is an amazing golfer. He is as disciplined an athlete as you’ll ever find. Apparently there are two or three things he can’t control: his tongue (rebuked by other golfers and the PGA for his constant use of profanity on the course), his temper (when he hits anything less than a perfect shot…and nobody is perfect), and his sex life.
While it is common knowledge that many athletes have a woman in every town, we’ve never seen an athlete like Tiger Woods. What was he thinking? He is married to one of the most beautiful women on the planet. A friend of mine and I were at the Masters several years ago and were standing about six feet from his wife. She’s prettier in person than she is in pictures. I’ve seen the pictures of some of the women Tiger is supposedly involved with, and they don’t hold a candle to Elin.
Did he think about those two beautiful children when he was playing romper room with those other women? Did he ever think about how this would affect and impact all the kids who look up to him as a role model? Does anyone really want to wear a Tiger Woods hat right now?
The problem with power, fame, and fortune is that you begin to think you are immune from scrutiny and consequences. You can begin to think you get a free pass. Isn’t that what preachers like Jimmy Swaggart did? They thought, “I’m serving God…I’m doing good…I’m building a great ministry…surely God understands these “minor” indiscretions.” Somehow, these situations are justified as a “right” in light of all the pressure the person is under. It’s their escape valve.
We have seen it increasingly with politicians, athletes, and the rich and famous. Faithfulness is out the window. Doing what I want, when I want, with whomever I want is now the standard. Why? The constant effort to remove moral absolutes from our culture. The desire for relative thinking leads to men justifying themselves.
Tiger and others work so hard to protect their image, and then one camera phone picture, one email, one voicemail brings their world crashing down. It’s a sad story of how easily the devil can deceive. His goal is to get folks who are at the top of their game to blow it so as many people as possible are wounded by their fall.
According to David Schmitt of Bradley University, “Overall, the best estimates are that between 15% and 40% of men will cheat at some point in their first marriage—best guess, 25%—whereas about 5% to 25% of women will cheat at some point in their first marriage –best guess, 15%.” According to an article in USA TODAY (December 8, 2009) by Sharon Jayson, “A news study suggests that narcissism and other personality traits affect short term mating.”
Narcissism, unbridled lust, surrounding yourself with people who will not speak truth into your life, a failure or refusal to be held accountable, these will lead to a life on the eve of destruction. When you start believing your press clippings or your fan club, or even your church members, who say you are the greatest this or that, you are in trouble.
David, a man after God’s own heart, fell because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. At the time when kings went to war, David was taking some “r and r”. That decision to be in the wrong place led to making the wrong decision. Although David was a man after God’s heart, his life was blemished with adultery and murder. His son Solomon took it further and had more wives and concubines than you can count. (Imagine having that many mothers -in- law!) These women called for his attention. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, but women were his downfall.
The key difference between David and Solomon is that both were great sinners, but David was a greater repenter. We see Solomon talking about lessons learned from his pursuit of happiness in Ecclesiastes, but we see David’s public confession of his sin in Psalm 51.
What was Tiger thinking? I’m not sure. He is now the public face of a deep personal problem. I wish I could find a way to get him to see a biblical counselor. Tiger is now vulnerable. He will forever wear the badge of adulterer, even if his marriage survives. The thought of “I wonder if he’s still doing that?” will hang like a cloud over his next trophy. He needs to learn a new way of thinking about God, himself, his wife, and his moral obligations as a role model.
I wish I could give him a copy of The Love Dare and have him and his wife sit down and watch Fireproof. Not that I think those two things are the only things he needs, but maybe it would be a start.
What was he thinking? I don’t know. But I pray he will start thinking about how his private life has tainted his public persona. I hope he starts thinking about the impact of this stress on his marriage and his kids. Not just now, but for years to come. I hope he will find someone who can speak into his life and be brutally honest. Tiger needs to put himself in a cage for a while until he can domesticate his animal instincts.
What about you? What comes to your mind when you say, “I wonder if I could get away with (blank)?” It could be stealing from your company. It could be an affair. It could be the click of a mouse on your computer. It could be a thousand things. The question you must ask yourself is this: What will the end result be for me, my family, my reputation, and my future if I take that step?
One last word of caution: it’s never too late to make the right decision.