Like many Americans, I confess to being somewhat taken aback by the drama surrounding Tiger Woods over the last week. I do not apologize for adoring Tiger Woods the golfer and competitor, and in the aftermath of the revelations this week, I do not apologize for being utterly disgusted by Tiger Woods the person. But of course, this is not really about adultery, is it? I mean, a lot of people cheat on their spouses and we all know it. I suppose I could say that I am disgusted by every single person who cheats on their spouse, and that would essentially be true as well, but I do not spend any time thinking about those people. Why is Tiger different (besides the obvious issues of fame and fortune)? It is my contention that what is appalling to me about Tiger’s infidelity is much deeper than his disregard for his marital vows. I confess to being amused at the discussion over whether or not Nike and Gatorade would maintain their relationship with the world’s greatest golfer. Their target market is males between the ages of 21 and 45 who watch ESPN five nights per week, go to Vegas a few times per year, and listen to Jim Rome when they are driving in their car. I am not a real representative sample of that entire demographic, but I certainly meet some of the specifications. Are we as a society going to pretend that 21-45 year olds who love sports and Vegas and golf are largely appalled by marital infidelity? Are we as a society going to pretend that most people in that demographic are not, themselves, participants in marital infidelity? I may go against the grain by being brutally committed to my wife, but I think I offend people for much more than not committing adultery myself: For unlike most of the aforementioned demographic, I also feel plenty comfortable painting with the broad brush (very broad) of my anti-adultery position. The postmodern tendency to “wonder what they may be going through behind closed doors” does not resonate with me (other than the cynical smile it puts on my face). To me, these people are dirtbags, and I believe that marital vows are meant to be broken in any society that condones murdering babies, breaking business covenants with bondholders, forcing a Darwinian view of human origin that necessitates moral relativism, etc. I find all of it deplorable, but I certainly do not find it surprising. We have a recipe for a certain cake, and when the cake comes out of the oven exactly as the recipe called for, why would we wonder why the cake does not taste like a meatloaf? Media savagery, marital infidelity, and the rest of this despicable enchilada are all part of the present societal recipe. If I spend 18 years teaching my children that the highest ethic is not getting caught, and that the real measurement of their satisfaction in life ought to come from their hedonistic enjoyment of it, I am expecting to get Bernie Madoff, Tiger Woods, Andre Agassi, and Brittney Spears, all rolled into one (though sadly, with less money).
But what I am writing about today is not merely the lack of shock and awe at Tiger’s infidelity. And it is meant to go deeper than providing my own moral consternation at people who do things like this. I think we all know people (or have known people) who seemed to have no bodily control of themselves whatsoever when it came to sexual temptation (male and female). Without providing them any immunity for their transgressions, some people do not appear to have much more dignity in this category than a wild animal. Do you really think Tiger Woods fits into this category? I do not. And I never thought Bill Clinton did either. At the end of the day, while 7th commandment violations may be their “sin du jour”, I believe that the 1st commandment is where the whole deal gets started. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. These pathological narcissists break this commandment from the moment they get out of bed, because they have no functional understanding whatsoever that they are not God themselves. Tiger Woods is accountable for his adultery, but don’t you think it might be more helpful for this guy to find out that he is not God? Does someone actually believe that a 21-year old cocktail waitress whore can be expected to keep a three year secret forever and ever, just because his bodily urges so desperately hope that she will? Is he mentally retarded? No, he has a God-complex. He actually believed that he could do this in perpetuity, and nothing would come of it. The idiocy of this mess is only transcended by the offensive level of arrogance and hubris.
Tiger, the good news is that there is hope. It is not going to come by blaming the media (though they really are unspeakable vermin). And it will not come by feigning contrition a few hours after you found out you are finally caught. There is one source of redemption when your soul finally hits the shocking point of realizing that you are not God. And I am sure you have people in your life that can tell you about Him. If not, give me a call, and I will not even ask for a swing lesson in exchange for this conversation.
As for me and my house, I am done talking about this. I hope to be done thinking about it. I do believe Elin ought to divorce this guy and move on with her life. Those babies deserve a better dad. But none of that is any of my business. Tiger is the greatest competitor I have ever, ever seen in my life. I hope he will continue to stun me with his golfing ability. I am not going to stop watching. But in the meantime, may the lesson we learn from this as a society get legs: God is God, and we are not. Getting caught is not the worst sin. And there is a peace that comes from obedience. All three of these lessons seem to me to be as old as the very garden where the very first tiger was created, thousands of years ago.