When James said the tongue was a fire, truer words were never spoken. The Message Bible says it like this, James 3:5-6, It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
As I watched the news media’s response to Tiger’s statement, I was reminded of the depraved state of our nation. The depravity of Tiger is not what stood out. Half of the people attacking him had probably committed adultery. The shocking immorality is the depravity of an entire industry that is devoted to nothing more than spreading gossip and slander, and a nation that lavishly funds the media’s corrupt agendas.
While I in no way endorse or condone Tiger’s behavior, if we are assessing the damage we are underestimated the true factors of destruction. The greater damage to his family, friends and the golfing industry was not caused by his behavior but by the media who passionately pursues every gory detail. The News media’s role is not to report and analyze the personal morality of individuals. If they would report fairly and honestly on the things that affect our nation and our communities we would not be facing the political destruction that is looming on the horizon.
Personally, I think Tiger’s response was adequate and healthy. It was all that a man receiving therapy and attempting save his marriage should say. The news media has become accustomed to bullying people into talking about things that should never be publically discussed. Had he opened himself to questions, it would have negatively affected his personal development and exacerbated his family’s pain. In the end, segments of the media would have picked apart his every word. Every answer would have been judged, scrutinized and ultimately twisted to fit the personal bias, then exploited as a means of boosting his or her personal rating, i.e. income. Not one thing he said, had he answered questions, would have been used to help him, or his family by a single reporter. It would have only provided more fodder for an industry that demonstrates no concern and accepts no responsibility for the lives and relationships it uncaringly destroys.
Sometimes we in the church think that gossip and slander is something unique to the church, but it’s not. It is a sign of our times. We, like the news media, act as if we are entitled to every gory detail of people’s failures. And like the media, we fail to see that our slander and gossip is usually a far worse sin and does far more damage than the original offenses.
Listening to the commentators was like sitting in a restaurant after church. “I don’t think he was serious!” “His tears were fake!” “If he had cried I would have believed him.” He didn’t show any emotion!” “He’s just emotional because he got caught.” Like the commentators we attempt to play god, judging the motives of the heart… and for what? Just like those commentators who benefit from their slander we benefit from ours. While we gain whatever ego benefits our gossip serves, I have to wonder: do we ever put that much effort in praying for the fallen as we put into gossiping about them? Are we blessing them the way Jesus taught, or cursing them through our negative speaking? Are we putting as much effort into their recovery as we put into their destruction?