Tiger, the Mayor and the Church

News headlines are the most immediate indicators of cultural drift. While they are inconclusive in themselves, they provide insight as to what issues make an impact on people’s thinking. Headlines become the topic of water cooler and even playground discussions. That is why it is important for Christian parents to pay attention to headlines. Media headlines are written to attract attention, and they do. Your children will be exposed to headlines and sound bites because these are what people catch on the run as they rush through their day. Children will hear people asking what do you think you think about Tiger? And, of course, they will begin to find out about what people think from their friends at church, at school, or in the neighborhood. They will hear offhand comments by parents and other adults. Based upon these seemingly random series of connections, opinions will be formed and embraced, often without parents even being aware of the process. That is why headlines are important for parents.

For example, this past weekend the headlines concerning Tiger Woods’ infidelities continued to dominate news headlines. Some sponsors are ending their associations with the world’s number one golfer. More women are claiming to have been involved with Woods. The PGA Tour is preparing for a significant loss of revenue as it begins the 2010 season without its premier player. These headlines about Tiger’s sexual sins are unpleasant.  However, we live in a culture that is saturated with sex. On the one hand, sexual freedom has become a human right. On the other hand, infidelity by a sports figure is a sign of disgrace. The truth is that we can’t have it both ways. There is a note of hypocrisy in the controversy over Tiger Woods’ marital failings. As a culture we believe we can pick and choose which sins matter. A constant diet of premarital sex, adultery and sexual promiscuity dominates movies, TV shows and popular novels. The concept of family is being redefined to accommodate current sexual appetites. Yet Tiger Woods is now seen as an embarrassment because of indulging his sexual appetite. Of course, Tiger Woods has acted disgracefully. But why is he wrong? Why is it wrong for him to be unfaithful to his wife? Is it because the headline writers have deemed that he is? Or is it because he has sinned and violated God’s commands regarding sexual conduct?

This past weekend the headlines also praised the election of Annise Parker as the new mayor of Houston, Texas, the nation’s fourth largest city. Parker’s election is being praised because she is openly homosexual. USA Today reports the following: “”This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better, and that’s what my administration will be about,” Parker told supporters after her opponent, Gene Locke, conceded defeat.” Lives are being transformed for the better…

From God’s perspective, both Woods and Parker have chosen a sinful path with their sexual behavior. Yet, our culture has chosen to condemn Woods and approve of Parker. Why? Certainly, it is not because of anything that has to do with Scripture. Culturally, we have become our own judges of what is right and wrong. To reference God’s law in determining the appropriateness of Woods’ or Parker’s actions would be viewed by the headline writers as an outrageous violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Here is the danger of children forming their views based upon the trickle-down of headlines into daily life:  actions and attitudes are right or wrong not because society says they are, but because God says they are! God’s Word matters. The trend of the moment may favor Parker over Woods. But the truth is that both are in need of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Both are hopelessly lost apart from seeking forgiveness for all of their sins and coming to faith in Christ. That is why understanding Deuteronomy 6 is so important in raising children to honor God. Deuteronomy teaches that our children are to be taught about God’s laws at all points in their lives. Culturally, there has been a generation-long effort to have homosexuality become accepted in our everyday life and culture. And this campaign has been successful. A Houston Chronicle poll found about that three-quarters of voters said Parker’s sexual orientation wasn’t an issue. This represents the increasing failure of the church’s mission to be salt and light to the world.

The church will not regain the momentum lost simply  by being against homosexuality and adultery. Instead, we must be for the gospel message of Christ to a lost world. Our children must be prepared for the subtle yet relentless attack of cultural headlines that honor man rather than God.

Tiger Woods has at least got one thing right. Here is a quote from his most recent statement posted on his website:

After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.

While this is true, he will not become a better person apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. That is the message only the church–the true church of Jesus Christ–can proclaim. Perhaps, if we pursue our mission with courage and faith, the church will be salt and light. Perhaps one day there will be headlines that say Tiger Woods and Annise Parker have come to faith in Christ.

Help your children interpret the headlines from God’s perspective. Just as our culture has diluted and lost the message of Christmas, so we have also lost the meaning of sexual purity. The solution for both issues is the faithful proclamation of the truth of the gospel–first at home and then to our community. The headlines will only get worse until the church embraces her role of being salt and light.

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