The Tiger Woods apology: What his words tell us

By | March 3, 2010

Pope John Paul II writes about real love being a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift of self to another. On Dictionary.com, the word unfaithful means false to duty, obligations, promises, faithless, disloyal, unbelieving, infidel. By Tiger saying he has been “unfaithful” he has admitted not only to breaking a vow to love his wife and family but he has also acknowledged his actions were faithless and false in his duty as a man and protector of the family.

Within this simple sentence he has said so much. Even the words “I was” infuses the understanding that his dignity as “person” was compromised in being unfaithful as well as the person he was unfaithful to. It was a beautiful sentence made by a man who had come forward this Lenten season to “make straight his path.”

Just as I thought that maybe Tiger’s heart had a chance to be healed, he regressed. His next sentence, “I had affairs,” becomes a watered down version of the truth. Affair is defined on Dictionary.com as an event or happening that occasions or arouses notoriety, dispute and often public scandal. It also says an affair is an intense amorous relationship, usually of short duration.

In the words of his second sentence he has moved the focus from inside of who he his (husband and father) to outside of himself (a participant in an event or amourous relationship). Although the word affair connotes scandal, the depth of his apology had been transformed from what was analogous to an ocean to that of a swimming pool.

His final sentence broke my heart. I listened to this man, who just like me was made in the image and likeness of God, and I ached listening to him further dilute his attempts to make things right. “I cheated.” Dictionary.com gives these as synonyms: mislead, dupe, delude, gull, con, hoax, fool. I cannot help but wonder if he realizes the person he is now deluding is himself with this oversimplification.

If someone cheated on a test, we would understand that the person was initially engaged in an activity that was neither right nor wrong. However, the wrong was done by the choosing to cheat as the means by which to complete the test. In relationship to Tiger, his desire for sexual union was not wrong, it was the means by which he attempted it. Rather than entering into the marital embrace, he chose a cheat, a counterfeit, a fake, a dupe, a hoax. His error, was choosing the counterfeit and his apology now went from a swimming pool to that of a puddle.

Our culture cheats us when it denies that “stamped” into our very bodies, as male and female, lies the truth that we are created for a purpose. As Tiger continued with his apology, he explained that in recent years he had fallen away from his Buddhist faith. “My faith teaches that craving for things outside of ourselves causes unhappy and pointless searches for security.” I wished to be able to share Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body with him so that I could help him understand how wrong he was.

God desires for us to connect with things outside of ourselves. If God had planned for happiness and security to be found by looking inward then Eve would never have been created for Adam. So, will this man, who by his actions has shown the world how desperate he is for love, ever find it? I pray that he does. I know God loves each of us more than anyone on earth ever could. So, God loves Tiger more than his own mother, children or wife ever could. If God loves him this much, then I would bet, that he will be continuing to make himself known to Tiger. It will then be up to Tiger to receive it.

King is a chastity and abstinence speaker and member of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Neenah.

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