Taming The Tiger - The High Cost of Marital Infidelity

 want my tone and spirit to be clear: this is not some prurient interest in scandal, or me “piling on” or kicking someone when they’re down. However, since the story first broke about Tiger Wood’s serial infidelities there have been untold articles reporting this along with all kinds of speculations to explain his behavior, not to mention the fodder for hundreds of jokes. The saga of watching the unraveling of the most well-known figure in professional sports is certainly sobering. Few have fallen so far and so fast in the public eye.

So I think we have to talk about it. First, because I am convinced of the importance of regularly addressing from the Word of God the truths about sexuality: both its God-honoring pleasures and its soul-defeating pitfalls. If we don’t preach a clear and reasoned message, trust me, you won’t get it from the world! The second reason I can’t ignore it is because in one sense there’s a little Tiger Woods in all of us. I’m not referring to our proficiency at swinging a golf club, but we’re all fully capable of messing up our lives without the grace of God.  Finally, when the National Enquirer and the Pulitzer Prize (I’m not making this up) are being discussed in the same sentence then it is a sure sign that Jesus is coming soon!

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that we are living in a wicked and sensual age. Everywhere you look in our culture sexual behavior is being promoted and encouraged which God strictly condemns and forbids. This is why you find so many vivid warnings in the Book of Proverbs that speak directly to this issue. One sampling is (Prov.5:1-9)NLT

“My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel. Then you will learn to be discreet and will store up knowledge. The lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But the result is as bitter as poison, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she does not care about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn't even realize where it leads. So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Run from her! Don't go near the door of her house! If you do, you will lose your honor and hand over to merciless people everything you have achieved in life.”

I think it’s safe to say that sexual sin is a disease of epidemic proportions among both Christians (sadly) and non-Christians. It has been called an “equal opportunity tempter” because it ensnares both kings and commoners, princes and paupers, among all genders, ages, cultures, occupations and positions. The list of recent scandals is a large one and it keeps growing. From President Bill Clinton and his liaisons with White House staffer, Monica Lewinsky, New York’s governor Elliot Spitzer as client 9 with a high-priced call girl, South Carolina’s governor Mark Sanford and his Argentinean soul-mate, Tennessee Titan’s quarterback Steve McNair being shot by his much younger girlfriend with whom he was having an affair, John Edwards fathering a “love child” with his videographer while running for President, David Letterman taking advantage of his staff in several inappropriate relationships, Louisville’s basketball coach Rick Pitino being the victim of an extortion plot because of an affair he was having. Tim Stafford summed this up well when he said, “Adultery is not merely the symptom of a disease; it is itself a deadly disease. Adultery can wreck even the happiest marriage. It often does just that. Skipping the subject in favor of positive concerns like intimacy and communication is like dancing on the deck of the Titanic. Indeed, let’s be helpful and constructive. But let’s also learn to watch for icebergs.”

The other thing the Scripture is clear about is that this will cost you dearly. Is there pleasure and excitement in “stolen waters”? Of course, otherwise people wouldn’t be engaging in this behavior; but just as certain is the price tag in the end. Listen again to some of Solomon’s wisdom, “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.” Job wasn’t exaggerating when he said, “adultery is a fire that burns the house down” (Job 31:12)TM. Please realize that the Bible doesn’t traffic in hyperbole but in straight up truth! The other feature we should be aware of is the aggressive nature to all immorality. (Prov.6:26) tells us “the adulteress will hunt for the precious life”. Maybe we could ignore all this if not for the fact that sexual immorality is always “hunting” and the prize it seeks is you and I! (Prov.23:27,28) adds to this by saying, “A prostitute is a deep pit; an adulterous woman is treacherous. She hides and waits like a robber, looking for another victim who will be unfaithful to his wife.”

My big concern is what are the lessons that we can’t afford to miss from this spectacle involving Tiger Woods? I just read where Tiger will be having his first press conference or issuing his first press release on 2-19-10. Hopefully, he’s on the road to putting his life and relationships back together. Regardless of what he says tomorrow, I’m more interested in what God is saying to us in all of this. I can think of at least four that stand out to me.

What took years to build can be destroyed in an instant. Christine Brennan wrote in USA Today, “What Tiger Woods has caused to happen to himself and his image over the past two weeks is the sport’s world’s most remarkable fall from grace. No athlete has ever held a perch so high in our culture — right up there with President and Mrs. Obama, and Oprah — and fallen so far so fast.” This is why Paul warned the Corinthians (1Cor.6:18) “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” This doesn’t mean that sexual sin is harder for God to forgive than other sins, but because it has more impact on human beings and human relationships. I was reading where a partner’s sexual infidelity is more damaging to a man, but a partner’s emotional infidelity is more damaging to a woman. That’s why God puts up stop signs and says, “Don’t go down this road!”  
There’s a little bit of Tiger Woods in all of us. One of the things we must realize in the arena of sexual temptation is none of us are immune. When I think of (Prov.7:26) “For she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men” it gives me great pause. That’s why when talking about the reality and dangers of temptation Paul began with (1Cor.10:12)TM “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.” This is not suggesting that falling into sin is inevitable, and people are simply “hard-wired” to be unfaithful. No! He’s just telling us that temptation is real and it’s everywhere, so don’t let your guard down.
Ultimate satisfaction is only found in God. Listen up, Tiger Woods is a man who had everything he could possibly want: an attractive wife, more money than he could ever spend, multiple homes, jets and boats. He has the title of the world’s best golfer and the adulation of millions. But even with all those things there is something missing in the human heart that only God can fill. King Solomon embarked on a similar and sordid path when he said (Eccl.2:10) “I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure.” It was one sexual conquest after another. Do you know what he wrote in his journal after all of this? He said, "Everything is meaningless," says the Teacher, "utterly meaningless!" He was looking for something that could only be found in a living relationship with the God who made us for Himself!

It would be really wise to have good friends to keep you in line. I’m sure that there were those in his close circle who were aware of his playing around. Wasn’t there anyone who cared about him enough to not just suck up to him but say, “Tiger, this is going to really bite you my man! All the money and fame in the world doesn’t make you any different from the rest of us.” Doesn’t the Bible’s wisdom tell us “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Prov.27:6) We all really need some people in our lives like this, especially the higher we go, the more successful we are.

OK, so how do we go about escaping this snare? I can’t be exhaustive but let me leave you with at least three things that you can hang your life on!

Tiger Woods and you & I need to call on the Savior, Jesus. Of all the commentators and pundits, which were legion, Britt Hume was the most on target. His personal plea to Tiger Woods was to convert to Christianity. He said, “I don’t think that faith [Buddhism, faith of his mother] offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.” He later explained himself and said, “Jesus Christ is something that Tiger Woods greatly needs.” Not only does Christ promise to forgive you, but He also promises to give you the power to overcome temptation!

Make sure that you invest in your marriage. Solomon’s warnings against adultery were not all negative prohibitions. They also contained some positive and satisfying advice, “Drink water from your own well — share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in public, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for ourselves. Don't share it with strangers. Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving doe, a graceful deer. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.” God has committed not only the best satisfaction but also a protective hedge in a loving, committed, giving marriage relationship.

Be sure to remind yourself again of the cost & the consequences. Time and space doesn’t allow me to go into all of these but there are a series of questions to ask yourself on the front end of temptation (not after you’ve fallen into it) that basically says, “Is it really worth it?” Is it worth grieving the Lord, dragging His reputation in the mud? Is it worth the untold hurt to your spouse along with the loss of respect and trust? Is it really worth the shame to your family, children and friends? In the end, family and marital fidelity is what satisfies the best. Don’t be deceived!
As I close I am thinking about that poignant encounter that Jesus had with the woman at the well in Samaria. Here she’s been married five times and has pretty much given up on marriage, and is now living with a man who is not her husband. When she meets Jesus, He sees the deepest needs of her soul and He says to her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (Jn.4:13,14) Dear ones, let Jesus be your everything and your all in all and you will never regret it. Not now, and not for eternity!