Unless you’ve been living under a rock or were recently abducted by aliens, chances are you’ve heard about Tiger Woods’ humiliating exposure as a serial adulterer and the resulting damage to his marriage and career.
The Woods scandal has filled the front pages and dominated the airwaves, inviting commentary from pundits from CNN to ESPN to TMZ. While folks like Dennis Rodman and Hugh Hefner are speaking out in defense of the golfer―justifying his plight by blaming the pressure of fame or mocking the concept of marital fidelity―it’s clear to most people that Mr. Woods’ marital and professional crises are problems for which he bears sole and direct responsibility. By any standard of measure, his actions have been outrageous and utterly unacceptable. Undoubtedly, in the coming months Tiger will be looking for a way to restore his reputation and, perhaps, save his shattered marriage.
So how does one recover from all this?
Fox News Sunday panelist Brit Hume stunned many when he suggested on air that Tiger, a rumored adherent of Buddhism, should seek redemption and forgiveness through the Christian faith. Well, if history is any measure, that’s good advice. The Bible recounts many stories of individuals whose lives were corrupted by evil deeds but who found forgiveness and redemption through the grace and love of God. King David was an adulterer and murderer, yet because he repented and sought the forgiveness of his Maker, he will forever be known as a man after God’s own heart. The Apostle Paul was also an evildoer―the chief of sinners in his own estimation―yet he found forgiveness and redemption in the saving work of Jesus Christ. And who can forget the Samaritan woman, a known adulteress and societal outcast, who went to the local well for a bucket of water only to have her transgressions washed away and soul restored by the Savior of mankind.
Love, forgiveness, and redemption―these are the central reasons why Christ died on the cross. His death was, is, and will forever be adequate atonement for our sins.
Brit Hume, a believer in Christ, knows this well, and it is not wrong to suggest that the message of Christianity is one that Tiger Woods could benefit from embracing at this dark hour in his life. Of course, no sooner had the word “Christianity” left his mouth than the media intellegensia pounced. The Washington Post ‘s Tom Shale blasted Hume’s remarks as utterly inappropriate for a news show and suggested that his “dissing” of Buddhism calls for a public apology.
While Hume’s remarks were certainly unexpected compared to the commentary normally heard on the Sunday morning news show circuit, they were made as part of an editorial segment on a show that solicits the opinion of its panelists. And truth be told, Buddhism does not offer the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by Christianity. Buddhism is a non-theistic religion that might better be described as a school of philosophy; it does not speculate on the existence of God and certainly does not embrace the idea that man is connected to the Creator of the Universe through the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, for the purposes that Hume was discussing, he was accurate in his statement that Buddhism does not offer the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by Christianity.
But of course, this kind of theological certainty makes many uncomfortable. While Shales was quick to acknowledge that Hume’s faith has done much to help him through some difficult times, he was clearly uncomfortable with a departure from the post-modern religious relativism that rules the day. That Brit Hume has experienced the power of Christ in his own life and has suggested that a troubled young man facing the loss of his family and career might do the same makes no difference.
Regardless of what Shales or anyone else may think, Hume does not owe anyone an apology for his words. While everyone else is busy speculating as to how Tiger might strategize his way back into the nation’s good graces, Brit Hume is one of the few willing to offer the beleaguered athlete an authentic path to restoration. Tiger Woods is not a unique individual; he is no worse than the rest of us sinners. But now that his private sins have been exposed for the whole world to see, it may indeed be the ideal time for him―as so many of us have done―to drop to his knees with humility and gratitude and ask his Heavenly Father for guidance and forgiveness.