Friday, December 11, 2009

A Matter of Balance

The Tiger Woods situation has some people arguing that adultery is a private issue between a husband and his wife. This post takes a look at two scriptures that have been used by those who think the media and everyone else should be quiet about Tiger's infidelities.

One scripture, "...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..." seems appropriate because Jesus said it in a passage about a woman caught in adultery:

John 8:
2. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4. They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6. This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11. She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

The problem with trying to use it to convince others to leave Tiger alone is that doing so misapplies the verse; no one has condemned Tiger to death. No where does Jesus say that the adulteress shouldn't have been exposed as such, only that he without sin should be the one to begin her execution which has never been an issue in Tiger's situation.

Moreover, the passage shows that public exposure was the path to God's mercy and the woman's repentance just as public exposure was the path to Tiger Woods' reluctant but eventual statement of guilt and intended repentance.

The other scripture is, "Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:4).

Frankly, I'm appalled that anyone would trivialize breaking the Seventh Commandment (Exodus 20:14) by equating adultery to a mote (speck). What then, considering that the Commandments aren't ranked by magnitude, might be equated to a beam?

In defense, a more appropriate verse is likely, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," from the same passage in Matthew 7:

1. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

The problem with using this passage is that because God doesn't see any sin as being worse than another as we might see murder as being worse than stealing, and there's a distinct comparison of magnitudes in this passage, this scripture isn't about sins but is about the non-sinful things some may criticize or think they need to help other people fix about themselves.

Also countering the erroneous belief that "Judge not, that ye be not judged," is about sins is that Jesus instructed us to "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).

Even so, we weren't given much of an opportunity to judge Tiger because his lovers began confirming his infidelities within a few days and God has already judged adulterers:

1 Corinthians 6:
9. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

The fact is that Tiger's philandering has been the worst kept secret and the media has known about it for a long time without printing a word.

What changed?

When Tiger crashed his vehicle, the accident became a matter of public record. The public wants to know how and why accidents happen as well as if people were injured or property damaged and to what extent. It's the media's job to keep the public informed. Reporting accidents also helps keep the public safe because it's the easiest way for us to learn what to do or not do.

After that, it's simple back-tracking from the accident to its underlying cause: Accident -> reckless driving -> upset over argument with Elin -> his texting Rachel Uchitel -> adultery. Thus, Pandora's box was opened.

Another reason adultery shouldn't be a private matter is because such a violation of the Ten Commandments erodes the fabric of society which is everyone's concern. Too often, silence is interpreted as consent and in no way should we ever allow anyone who breaks the interpersonal Commandments the illusion that s/he's behavior has gone unnoticed or will be without consequence. While a person not in the public eye deserves the attention of family, friends, associates, and church; a public figure who travels the world needs the watchful eye of the public to hold him or her accountable especially after years of concealing the behavior from the public has failed to effect a change.

Although we've all heard or read about how intrusive the media can be in regard to the personal lives of celebrities, especially the tabloids - and I do not condone the excess or the fabrications - however uncomfortable it may be, the situation is one that Tiger Woods brought upon himself.

By committing adultery, he proved himself to be immoral.

By texting Rachel where Elin could catch him at it, he displayed poor judgment.

By blaming Elin for ruining their Thanksgiving, he exposed himself as a blame-shifter.

By driving recklessly, he unleashed the media.

While I'm sure those who use the two scriptures examined here think they have the best intentions, taking scripture out of context and picking scriptures to the exclusion of others in the Bible leaves them on the slippery slope of using the Bible to say whatever they want it to say instead of having a balanced outlook of the scripture.

Everyone else needs to be aware that since there is what people say the Bible says versus what the Bible actually says, they need to study the Bible for themselves.

Tiger Woods is a great golfer, but not a good man and it's better for us to see him as he really is than it is to hold an unbalanced view of him as being like the other celebrities who manage their lives without engaging in the scandalous behavior that Tiger has.

If Tiger's lucky, having his adultery exposed publicly, like the adulteress in the Bible, resulted in true repentance rather than mere lip service and the painful memory of his exposure will keep him from behaving badly in the future.

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