“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4
In the closing months of 2009, the man who earned the right to be named “Athlete of the decade” was caught in an embarrassing situation that exposed to the world that he is an adulterer. He has been condemned and ridiculed for his sin. He has suffered the loss of income and the loss (at least for now) of his family. A man that was on top of the world has been brought down by adultery. People express anger toward him, and sympathy toward his family. His name, which has enjoyed untarnished respect for years, is now in many ways ruined beyond repair. The damage has been done by his adultery.
Americans are amazingly hypocritical about adultery. Every kind of media entertainment tempts and teases us with adultery, with very little objection voiced by anybody. Adultery is a prominent theme of clothing styles, advertising campaigns, popular novels, and artistic works. Yet it is the cause of more unhappiness than any other activity in the country. Children of divorced couples don’t just get over it. Crimes are committed and emotional disorders are suffered by people whose childhoods were disrupted by homes broken because of adultery. It undermines the foundation of our society by wrecking families. It is the key factor in many of the murders and assaults committed every day. Yet it is treated sometimes as an exciting and attractive diversion from the boring routine of life, although it is actually a coiled serpent that threatens to kill everything of real value in our lives. This country condemns adultery while playing with it. Many who have publicly shamed the famed athlete as a fallen role-model, are secretly involved in the same sin. Who can doubt or deny this fact? The inconsistent, and hypocritical, attitudes of Americans toward adultery are doing serious harm both to society and to individual lives.
It would be a good thing if the Tiger Woods scandal brought some consistency and good sense to our society’s attitude toward adultery. Who would argue that adultery is ever good? It always involves betrayal, deception, selfishness, cruelty, and perversion. So then why can we not condemn it across the board? Adulterers can be forgiven, by both God and men, but adultery is always very wrong and very harmful. Adulterers should pay for their misdeed, in both their reputations and their careers. Why should we not apply the Tiger Woods standard to politicians, preachers, and even show business personalities? Why should we not treat them the way we treat liars and cheats and scam-artists and crooks? Why don’t we condemn adultery the way society condemns racism, corruption, terrorism, and drug-dealing? It damages the lives of children, women, men, and the poor as much as any of the evils that we more vigorously condemn.
Furthermore, those who are faithful to their marriage promises ought to be praised for that specific virtue. Those who support marriage are defending civilization itself and opposing a multitude of societal ills. Marriage must be protected by all in these tumultuous times: Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, young and old, male and female. And adultery must be fought tooth and nail.
Let us pray and hope for Mr. Woods to find redemption, and for his marriage and family to be restored. Let’s also pray for everyone we know whose lives have been scarred by adultery. There is hope in God for them all. But let us be unambiguous about our disapproval of the sin that has disrupted their lives. Let us hope that American culture will wake up and consistently condemn adultery, too. May story-lines that glorify it be rejected as definitely as a story that justifies slavery. May songs that promote adultery offend us as much as lyrics that promote rape. May careers be derailed by adultery as certainly as they are destroyed by prison sentences. May our nation handle adultery as the crime against love and family and society that it is.