Brit, Tiger, & Religion, Oh My! And: Is Christianity Shunned From Public Discourse?

A couple arguments surround the Brit discussion: One, should anyone be talking about Tiger’s relationship to God? Two, can Buddhism “save” Tiger like Christianity can save Tiger?

Charlie Martin and I both write pieces for Pajamas Media today talking about this issue. Here’s a bit of what I say:

There was a time when discussing one’s Christian faith may have been less controversial, but I don’t know. Even fifty years ago, there would have been a presumption that people would view Tiger Woods’ actions as immoral and a sign that he had some sort of emptiness in his life. Back in the day, such wanton infidelity was simply not spoken of publicly. It would be too shameful. Now the media spreads every sort of salacious detail of a celebrity’s life, and everyone is free to comment. Why should there not be a comment on his faith, too? We know that Tiger likes rough sex and sex without condoms and sex with porn stars and has super-human, possibly steroid-enhanced endurance. Should his spiritual beliefs be off-limits while his sexual exploits are fair game?

Discussion about either seems unseemly. Tiger’s sex life should be personal, and his relationship with God is even more intimate than that. His own careless actions made his sex life public. Does that free people to speculate about his spiritual life? It seems a personal relationship with Tiger would give a friend some cause to talk with him about God. A calling out like Hume’s seems destined to fail.

Then Charlie says:

Hume’s right that Buddhism doesn’t offer Tiger forgiveness from a deity or redemption. All Buddhism can do is remind him that he’s responsible for his actions and the consequences of those actions (the real meaning of karma) and remind him that his suffering now is one of those consequences. With that comes the recognition that you need to make amends to those you’ve hurt and try to remedy your behavior in the future.

Maybe that’s not as good as being forgiven and redeemed, but to me it seems a lot more productive.

To which I respond:

As to Brit’s theological assertion that Buddhism would not offer Woods the sort of redemption that a relationship with God and Jesus would offer, Buddhists like Charles Martin admit that Buddhism won’t give redemption or a relationship. The emphasis is on karma – what goes around comes around – and how Tiger is reaping the rewards of it.

In Christianity, the karmic notion is nothing new. Galatians 6:7 makes clear that God is not mocked and that we reap what we sow. The Christian philosopher C.S. Lewis noted a “Tao” of belief that most great religions share, and how this is centered around some version of the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do to you.

Charles implies that in Christianity, there is no attempt to “make amends,” while in Buddhism that is the core tenet. As for remedying faults, the Greek word metanoia – translated as “to repent” – means to change. It implies a before and after. A Christian demonstrates his change by actions. “By their fruits you shall know them.” (Matthew 7 is a good book to read about condemning and discernment and repentance.) It’s not repentance or forgiveness of sin. It’s both.

Please go read both of our full articles.

Also, Brit Hume on O’Reilly said something interesting last night. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, that just mentioning Christianity is inflammatory, that no one wants to hear it. Do you agree?

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