Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Grace, Judgement and Tiger Woods

I was checking out Rod Dreher's blog and he happened to have this to say about the recent transgressions of Tiger Woods:

He had the world -- fame, fortune, worldwide admiration, a wife and children -- and he blew it on extramarital affairs with floozies. I never could have imagined writing words like this about Tiger Woods (Tiger Woods!), but he is a contemptible human being. God help his poor wife and children. I thought he might still escape this morass with his endorsement deals intact, but that's looking increasingly unlikely. Good. Having betrayed his wife and children so grotesquely, he needs to suffer. He needs to hurt like the mother of his children is hurting. If that is possible.

That brought out some reaction from commenters who thought Dreher was being too rough on Tiger. Rod's response was rather blunt:

Nope -- not before he feels the full weight of what his sin meant to the lives of his wife and children. Anything else is false repentance. For me, the most moving scene of any film, ever, is in "The Mission," when Robert De Niro, the repentant slave trader, drags a heavy weight behind him as he climbs the jungle mountain to the mission where the Indians live. At the top, as he's covered with mud and filth, and exhausted, one of the Indians -- the same people he has persecuted -- severs the rope binding De Niro to his sins. He is free. He sobs in gratitude. If he hadn't felt the full weight of his sins, his repentance wouldn't have carried much weight.

I get so sick and tired of the cheap grace in our culture, especially attending celebrities. Tiger's publicists are no doubt already planning the Oprah interview to rehabilitate his image, and to repair his brand. How about let's remember that there are real people torn to bits by his infidelity? If I were ever to do that to my wife and kids, I hope none of you will let me off the hook so easily.

Dreher has always been an interesting blogger for me because he can get into this mode where he is calling this person or that "contemptible." His remarks have me wondering: what sort of punishments should Tiger go through? Does a Christian community have to be a place where we have people dragg heavy weights until they are "truly sorry?" And who decides that?

I don't have any easy answers, but I do worry that such a viewpoint would have us go back to the days of "shunning" and "scarlet letters" that might do more harm than good.

I dunno. I'd like to know what you all think. What are your thoughts?

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