Tiger Woods Should Embrace Christianity
To what extent can the hapless golfer recover from the scandal that has exposed his life? It likely will depend on what he does with his faith.
The Tiger Woods adultery saga won’t go away quickly. The picture of Woods trying to flee from his wife in his 2009 SUV as she shatters the rear window with Tiger’s own golf club was so striking that it must have seemed to reporters like a dream come true. Add to that the sheer quantity of girlfriends that have since come out for “show and tell” – 12 that we know of – and we have a story that will continue to grab headlines, including tales of how the hapless golfer has just finished six weeks of sexual addiction therapy.
Golfing entrepreneur Mike Caldwell, of Kelowna, B.C., has produced the Mistress Collection, a set of 12 golf balls, each one bearing the portrait of one of Tiger’s lovers. Sales have reportedly been brisk. One alleged mistress, Joclyn James, called a news conference denouncing the ball sales as hurtful and in bad taste.
But far more controversial than entrepreneurs selling golf balls was the comment made by Brit Hume of Fox News just over a month after the story broke. Hume said, “Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether or not he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it’s a tragic situation for him. I think he’s lost his family, it’s not clear to me if he’ll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal – the extent to which he can recover – seems to me to depend upon his faith.
“He’s said to be a Buddhist; I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith…So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”
Wow! I take my hat off to Brit Hume for his courage in crossing the politically correct line that says you can’t publicly speak about faith. But his remarks suggesting that Tiger might find something in Christ that he could not find in Buddhism go much further, and many would have seen them as beyond the pale.
So I ask readers at this point to put aside politically correct blinkers and look at the broader issue. Hume simply contrasted the worldview of Buddhism versus Christianity and pragmatically concluded that Jesus offered the better deal. Now what do I mean by that?
Many people have the quite mistaken idea that all religions are basically the same. But a quick comparison between Buddhism and Christianity reveals that as worldviews they are vastly different.
According to a Buddhist friend of mine, Buddhism doesn’t offer forgiveness – not surprising since it doesn’t have a concept of sin. As she told me, “There’s no such thing as forgiveness, you, yourself have to pay, pay, pay.” In very general terms, Buddhism teaches that foolish actions result in bad karma and bad karma keeps one in the cycle of reincarnation until this bad karma can, as it were, be paid off. How many life cycles that would be, or in what kind of existence, no one can possibly know.
Christianity, by contrast, views certain actions as morally wrong or sinful, not merely foolish. To sin is to transgress against both God and one’s fellow man. Christianity also teaches that although all men and women commit sin, God in his mercy has provided a way through his Son, Jesus Christ, so that the blemish of sin can be washed away and formerly guilty people can receive forgiveness and cleansing.
So Brit Hume, who himself came to faith in Christ as the result of his son’s tragic suicide, is simply saying, as one beggar to another, that Christianity offers a really good deal. He’s not denying that serial adultery is serious, but is pointing out that in Christ, even serial adulterers can be forgiven and find a place of acceptance with God both in this life and the next.
Oh, I know, I know it’s just not politically correct to say such things in such a public way. And, according to many, Hume should be ashamed of himself for bringing religion into the public square. He has, in fact, been savaged by some for his audacity in doing so.
On the other hand, in an age of supposed tolerance and honest inquiry, how can it be bad that various worldviews and religions be examined for what they can deliver to their devotees?
Hume found renewal, peace and hope in his own time of brokenness in Jesus Christ. How can it be so bad that he should offer the same medicine to a crushed fellow traveler?
Royal Hamel is a former pastor of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and a freelance journalist in Guelph
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God’s Word, except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, then I’m not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him” (Martin Luther).
Royal Hamel is a former pastor and missionary. At present he is the director of Light the Darkness Ministries, www.lightthedarkness.org. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Originally published in The Guelph Mercury, February 26, 2010.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2010 Christianity.ca.