I’ve been scanning the media coverage and blogasphere responses to Tiger Woods’ now-being-revealed series of affairs. They seem to hang on only a few hooks: Hook 1: “Who’s next? How Many?” Hook 2: “Advice to the Wife?” Hook 3: “How Can You Tell?” Few people focus on why? What drives a man to cheat on an attractive, loyal, apparently adequate wife?
Theologically, the Bible doesn’t explain much about the details of the dynamics of an affair. It deals more with the big picture: It’s bad; Don’t do it; God will judge it. However, the Bible does describe it as an act of the flesh. This helps. I think it provides a practical mentality to bring into play as we make our decisions in life. We all have needs. Every time we choose how to meet a need, we can opt for a path that will bring pleasure to God OR we can opt for a path that brings pleasure to us and ignores God. Sometimes the pleasurable option is also pleasing to God, like satisfying sexual needs in marriage. Other times, the pleasurable option parts from God’s ways and brings on incredible complications. Example . . . Tiger Woods. [edited insert on 1/7/2010: Click here to listen to Brit Hume saying very clearly and compassionately that embracing the Christian faith would offer Tiger what he needs at this point in his life] The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook contains some helpful perspective on dealing with adultery from a spiritual and biblical point of view.
Psychologically, we all live with a public life and a private life. Celebrities tend to live most of their lives in the public realm. Furthermore, our adult lives blend adult segments mixed with unresolved needs and issues left over from childhood. For example, if a man grows up with strict impersonal parents, he may carry a need for repetitive affirmation into his adult life. He may or may not be aware of how that need influences his choices and behaviors. But imagine how alluring it could be for such a man to have beautiful women available for him everywhere he travels! Constant, repetitive affirmation. This could easily become addictive. Of course, this is all speculative. But my advice to The Tiger (as well as anyone else who turns to women outside of his marriage to get his intimacy needs met) is to commit yourself to a competent Christian counselor to sort these things out and learn how to find happiness within godly bounds.
In the process of checking out what others are saying about Tiger’s situation, I ran across Ruth Houston’s blog which offers a wealth of advice and practical perspective in the area of infidelity. I’ve also written a paper on the topic from a counselor’s point of view. Last month, I posted some thoughts on the topic as well .