Invisible to everyone but me."
~ Tiger Woods in an ad for TLC Laser Eye Centers
If the wording of that advertisement isn't thick with irony, I'm not sure what is. Tiger thought Lasik eye surgery had cured his handicap. But he had a bigger, more debilitating, handicap than we knew -- a hideously deficient lack of moral character. Though Tiger knew all about it, it was invisible to the public that admired him. Now the whole world sees it with crystal clarity.
I am not here to judge or condemn Tiger Woods. The apostle Paul tells us that we Christians should not expect those outside the faith to live up to ethical standards they have not accepted. But that doesn't mean they don't know any better. Paul also points out that God-denying "men are without excuse ... their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools ... they exchanged the truth of God for a lie." (Romans 1).
My only point is to show that, in Tiger's case, we have a textbook example of the ways in which the human inclination toward depravity can be ignited and accelerated by a worldly, vacuous philosophy based in an ethic that is not grounded in the character of God.
Bad ideas lead to bad consequences.
In 1996, the year Tiger pounced on the world of professional golf, Sports Illustrated labeled him Sportsman of the Year and praised him as The Chosen One who "was raised to believe that his destiny is not only to be the greatest golfer ever but also to change the world."
That is a lot of pressure to put on a 20 year-old kid. But that Messianic view of Tiger's human potential did not begin in 1996. It started many years earlier in the mind of his father, Earl, who his wife Kultida later described as someone who "... couldn't relax ... [was always] searching for something, always searching, never satisfied. I think because both his parents died when he was young, and he didn't have Mom and Dad to make him warm. Sometimes he stayed awake till three or four in the morning, just thinking."
Shortly after Tiger's birth, Earl enrolled himself in "EST - The New Life-Changing Philosophy that Makes You the Boss," an intensive self-discovery and self-actualizing program. Tiger's father also used techniques he learned in Erhard Seminars Training (EST) to condition his son. The result, Tiger Woods once said, is that, "I'm the toughest golfer mentally."
Tough indeed. But the mental toughness was not just an optimism founded on the practice of envisioning positive outcomes. It was a human-centered mindset based in a growing religious Humanism ...
... a part of the Human Potential Movement which "took as its premise the belief that through the development of 'human potential,' humans can experience an exceptional quality of life filled with happiness, creativity, and fulfillment. As a corollary, those who begin to unleash this assumed potential often find themselves directing their actions within society towards assisting others to release their potential. Adherents believe that the net effect of individuals cultivating their potential will bring about positive social change at large.Tiger wasn't just a really positive guy. His father had taught him that his own "self actualization" should be his primary focus, that he was the director of his own destiny and the center of his own universe. The problem with this view is that it denies what we see to be true about the world -- a proper anthropology that recognizes the inescapably sinful nature of man. In doing so, it also rids itself of any need for a transcendent God. It is a worldview that makes each of us into our own version of a god with no one else to answer to -- a god like Tiger Woods.
We should pray for the redemption of Tiger Woods and for his reconciliation with the wife and children he betrayed. I hope that Tiger comes to the realization that he is not the center of the universe and that The Real Messiah demands his worship. But if nothing else, the downfall of Tiger Woods serves as further confirmation for all of us that every bit of misery and chaos we bring upon ourselves has its source in a perversion of our proper relationship to the Creator.
Our purpose is not to win in the world. Our purpose is to join the Threesome that has overcome it.