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I’ve just finished watching Tiger Woods’ apology.
Apparently genuinely chagrined, Tiger looks straight to camera, and humbly owns his sins. “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable. And I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong. But I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks for money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them.”
The apology impressed me as honest and courageous, and as one that could only have come at the end of a great deal of soul-searching. Perhaps Tiger is on the road to becoming the man of integrity he claims he wants to be.
But in the middle of his statement of remorse and repentance, five words of explanation jumped out at me: “I felt I was entitled.”
And in that moment, I knew that he and I had something in common. For the portion of the Bible widely known as “the love chapter” came to mind: 1 Corinthians 13. Freshly planted there during church this past Sunday (Valentine’s Day) the words of verses 4 and 5 resurfaced in my consciousness.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking …”
I felt a deep sense of conviction as I heard those words read aloud on Sunday. And I felt it again as I listened to Tiger talk. For when I think about my many relationships – with my husband and children, my extended family and friends – I also recognize all too often that my love is impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, prideful, rude and yes, self-seeking.
In marriage, I think I’ve struggled with the whole “self-seeking” bit most. And I’m guessing the same struggle lies at the root of Tiger’s professed sense of entitlement.
But if there’s anything that almost 25-years of marriage have taught me, it’s that what Jesus says is true: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Real love, great love, the kind of love that a great marriage demands is the self-sacrificing kind. It’s the kind of love that puts the needs and interests of your spouse ahead of your own. It’s the kind of love that fights the impulse to yield to temptation, and to satisfy your own desires at the expense of your loved one, simply because to do so would be at the expense of your loved one.
It’s not easy to live that kind of love. And heaven knows I haven’t even always wanted to. But the rewards that come with trying – and the joy of living with a man who’s also trying – are more than worth the effort.
I hope – for Tiger’s sake and for the sake of his family – that in the days, weeks, months and years to come, they might know the joy that comes with making – and succeeding at – the effort too.
One of the best explanations I’ve come across for the Christian view of the importance of sexual fidelity is by Regent College’s Dr. John Stackhouse. You can find it here.
One recent morning, while sharing a few quiet moments over coffee in the kitchen
My hubby: “You see – being married to a billion dollars is no guarantee of happiness.”
Me: ”Neither is being married to a Swedish bikini model.”