Have you heard the news about Tiger Woods?
Yeah, right. I feel like I’m living at IHOT: the International House of Tiger with 24/7 coverage.
What is it that so captures the public’s attention? Like an I-75 car wreck, everything slows down for a potential view of twisted metal and who knows what else. And this is some serious wreckage; when indiscrete relationships hit double digits, you can count on TMZ camping on the doorstep. Pundits have taken potshots at Tiger’s past repeated references to how important his marriage is, with news clips and interviews of him espousing family-first values. Integrity is getting more difficult in a YouTube world.
It’s not unique. We could easily alphabetize a list of celebrities who got caught, from actors to preachers to politicians to sports stars to whatever the Kardashians do.
But what the public really loves is to lick its lips over hypocrisy. That’s when we smell blood.
I mean, come on. Even Jesus had his biggest rows with hypocrites. We get the word from the Greeks who used it for stage actors…a person pretending to be someone they aren’t. Jesus jumped all over that. And that’s where the media pounces: when someone espouses a view or projects a persona that turns out to be the opposite of what they say.
I think we come at this from one of three angles:
1. When someone preaches a value of virtuousness, it reminds us of how we fall short, and so we all nod like third-graders in feigned-serious agreement with a teacher’s lecture—we don’t want to be found out. Therefore, when someone stumbles publicly, we feel relieved that no one is really that perfect.
2. Or there is something grossly evil in us about secretly wishing for someone else’s downfall. It’s gossip, one-upmanship and wickedly appealing. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “How difficult it is to avoid having a special standard for oneself!”
3. Maybe we really want to see someone be true, virtuous and integrous. We want to believe that someone out there is actually who they say they are. Maybe we’re tired of people copping out with, “I’m an ______ (actor, athlete, politician, etc.), not a role model”, and wonder if there’s anyone who can step up to the plate and say like Paul, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”, or at least some secularized version of that. That’s gutsy.
It may be that whatever view we hold is dependent on how aware we are of our own brokenness or how hungry we are for “righteousness” (now that’s a quaint idea in the 21st century…). One thing for sure, Jesus has a lot to say about secret lives. Interestingly, He encourages a secret life when it comes to righteousness…and discourages any secrecy with our brokenness and sin:
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:3–4 NIV)
…“Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:2–3 ESV)
What a different way of thinking. We could probably avoid a lot of heartbreak if we practiced that. But we would do good to remember this: accountability without the pursuit of holiness is silly.
Pray for Tiger.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9 NKJV)