‘Go Play Golf, and Sin No More’

'Go Play Golf, and Sin No More' for urban faithBefore they called it an “addiction,” plenty of biblical figures fell victim to the same snare that took down Tiger. But where was their rehab?

Now that Tiger Woods is returning to golf next week to play in the Masters, does this mean he’s cured of sex addiction?

By now you know Woods was caught cheating on his wife, Elin, with multiple women, so he checked into sex rehab. Other high-profile people have done the same. Just today, it was announced that Sandra Bullock’s allegedly unfaithful husband, Jesse James, is taking his turn.

So I guess the biblical King David, who had multiple wives but just had to have one more who was already married, should’ve cried “sex addiction made me do it” too.

Face it. People cheat. Men do it. Women do it. Celebrities, politicians, executives, homemakers, and ministers do it. Crying sex addiction is not about seeking help, but saving face. It’s a weak excuse that does a disservice to people who truly have hypersexual disorders because of childhood abuse or other sexual trauma. It can also deceive the rest of us into thinking we’re immune from adultery.

There’s a debate among psychiatrists as to whether sex addiction actually exists. The American Psychiatric Association doesn’t list it in its mental disorders manual, but may add it to the 2013 edition. Experts say hypersexual activity is so difficult to manage that it interrupts everyday life functions. Like an alcoholic, gambler, or crack addict craving the next fix, it’s difficult for someone who craves sex to focus on anything else. I doubt Woods could’ve dominated golf while battling a major addiction.

During his televised confession and apology, Woods reaffirmed his commitment to his Buddhist faith. He wisely identified the problem dead on.

“The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior,” he said. “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame.”

Right. Not sex addiction. Sin.

The thing we are all susceptible to.

Sexual sin has been around since the beginning of time. It’s documented throughout the Bible. Mainly it’s us guys who have had trouble keeping our tunics and zippers up, but women cheat too. Take, for example, the desperate housewife that hit on Joseph (Gen. 39:13-16). Joseph, at twentysomething-years-old, displayed the character and discipline that few men of any faith would have. He jumped up and fled. I wouldn’t dare deceive myself by guaranteeing that I would’ve chosen the same.

Anyone who has been married for a while knows the journey has rocky turns and hills. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And without God at the center, the covenant can become a labor without love. So as a married man in the middle of a 17-plus year marathon, I feel for Woods and his wife, Elin. Things go wrong. Sin makes justification appealing. Mistakes are made. Feelings are hurt and ripped. But a couple, even a celebrity couple, ought to be able to work things out before God without cameras rolling and flashing.

That’s the advantage King David had. After impregnating Bathsheba and having her husband killed to cover it up, he eventually confessed his sin to God. He suffered the consequences — the lost of their newborn son. He mourned and moved on. No sex addiction excuse to save face. God’s grace was sufficient rehab.

When a person falls, hypocrites gather stones. Then later it’s often unveiled that they were hiding their own rocks. For example, former Sen. John Edwards condemned President Clinton during his impeachment tied to Monica Lewinsky, though Edwards voted to acquit.

Now he has a love child and is in divorce court after his affair during his own presidential run. The next time you hear someone who is adamant toward a particular sin, realize they’re probably a closet sinner.

Jesus counsels on the matter in John 8 where accusers brought an adulteress before him.

“He who is without sin, cast the first stone,” Jesus told the accusers, before offering forgiveness to the woman. “Go and sin no more,” he said to her.

“Go play golf and sin no more,” is the cure for Woods.

Tiger Woods photo by Keith Allison from Wikipedia.

Did Tiger Choose the Right Faith?

Did Tiger Choose the Right Faith? for urban faithTiger Woods was raised a Buddhist, and now he’s returning to his childhood religion. Hopefully, he’ll avoid one of the great pitfalls many of us Christians fall into when it comes to living out our faith.

Recently, Tiger Woods went before TV cameras and a roomful of journalists and friends to apologize for his marital infidelity and all the damage it has wrought. In the midst of his confession, he revealed what he considers to be a key component to his rehabilitation: A return to his Buddhist roots.

I admit, as a Christian pastor, I would’ve loved to hear him announce that he had committed his life to Jesus while in rehab, but I was nonetheless thankful that Tiger seems to be confronting the spiritual dimensions of his problems. He now takes responsibility for his actions and recognizes that true restoration will require something greater than himself. And, based on his family background, Buddhism was the natural choice.

The thing is, most Christians are as Buddhist as Tiger Woods wants to be!

Can you guess what I mean?

Tiger Woods is facing the same challenge we all do: What do we do with our desires?

Two basic answers: Feed Them or Deny Them.

Option #1 is fraught with promise and peril. When we feed our desires we can say, “We are doing what comes natural.” That is, God gave me these desires and it’s only right to follow their lead. The downside? Weight gain, broken hearts, STDs, debt, and, oftentimes, a secret life.

Secrecy sets in because something inside us knows that just pursuing our desires without limits is wrong. Tiger said as much.

Option #2, a denial of our desires, has one big downside: Suffering. We suffer when we don’t indulge our desires. There is a discomfort that goes along with not doing what you feel you have to do. Just try not to scratch your next itch and see if you wouldn’t describe it as suffering. Denial of desire carries with it ultimate satisfaction. But we rarely get to experience it, because we don’t like the suffering required to get there.

Tiger’s solution to the dilemma is to become a better Buddhist. This ancient philosophy teaches a great deal about dealing with desires.

Here’s a summary of “The Four Noble Truths” of Buddhism: Life leads to suffering; suffering is caused by desires; suffering ends when desires end; thus we should eliminate our desires.

I think that most Christians, in practice at least, are as Buddhist as Tiger wants to be … unfortunately.

Unlike Buddhism, Christianity has a very different view of suffering and desires. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Unearned suffering is redemptive.” Jesus didn’t exempt himself from suffering and he invites us to take up our cross and follow him (Matt. 16:24-25). Furthermore, desires are meant to be pursued to their fullest extent. That is, all the way to God.

That’s why Jesus is revealed as bread and water … so that we might feast on Him. That’s why the psalmist sang, “Fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Ps. 16:11) . Our soul is able to sing because it is God “who satisfies our desires with good things” (Ps. 103:5).

Like Tiger Woods, we all need to confront the root of our sins and strive for healing and restoration. I just hope we recognize that genuine healing must eventually get beyond the act of simply denying ourselves and focus on the process of allowing ourselves to be filled with the good things of God.

C. S. Lewis was correct in The Weight of Glory when he said that our problem is that we satisfy with too little. Like little children making mud pies in the gutter when we are being offered a vacation to build sandcastles on the beach.
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Tiger Woods photo by Jim Epler from Wikipedia.