The following is a post I made on a Steelers football blog. It seemed more appropriate there, than here. However, it was deemed “too religious” to stay there, so they deleted it. No hard feelings on my part. But more on the experience next week. In the meantime, I thought it was too good to end up in the delete bin of some random server. So here you go….
This is one of those posts that I’ve been putting off. I keep thinking I should write it. But then I don’t want to. Partly because it violates my “don’t talk about people” rule for blogging. And partly because it’s just opening a can of worms. But with my beloved Steelers making it into the Super Bowl, I think it’s time. And as you can guess from the title, we’re going to talk about Ben Roethlisberger.
Now before we get into the conversation I want to say two things to set the stage.
1. I have no idea what he did or what happened in Georgia or in Nevada. Obviously whatever happened wasn’t good.
2. If Ben (or anyone) assaulted someone, then the correct punishment is jail.
However I want to set those points aside and talk about something else. I want to talk about us. The fans. The nation. The media. In other words, I want to talk about everyone who isn’t Ben Roethlisberger. Specifically what are we supposed to think? Should we hate the man because of alleged crimes? Should we hold him accountable even when a court doesn’t? Does winning make a difference? Does winning mean Ben needs to work harder to redeem himself off the field?
Reading around the web we see points of view all over. We see Gregg Doyel saying he believes Ben’s changed. We see Joe Starkey saying, who knows? We see others saying that we’re all a bunch of racists because we’re treating Vick and Ben differently.
So how are we supposed to act?
Well in my mind, Ben has answered this question himself. He claims he’s changed. He claims he’s different. He claims he’s learned his lesson. But most importantly he claims he’s re-found God.
It’s that last one that really matters to me. Because as a Christian, I need to take seriously anyone’s claim to believe. Now obviously I don’t know Ben. I have no idea if he’s changed or if he’s really found God. Politicians, mobsters, athletes and actors have all “found” God just as the press was getting a bit uncomfortable. For all I know it could be a scam. Perhaps Starkey has a point.
I pray with all my heart he does believe in God. In fact I pray for Ben a lot. I pray that his life is so changed that people can’t help but notice God’s power. Is that unfair? Absolutely. It’s not fair that Ben can redeem himself through playing winning football. It’s not fair that he can be a millionaire and live in luxury, while so many of us make smaller mistakes and have our lives destroyed.
But who claimed life was fair? Certainly not God.
When I look at the Bible’s list of prominent people, three of the most important were Moses, David, and Paul. All three have something in common. They all either directly or indirectly murdered people. Heroes of faith, murderers all.
Yet God used their failures as platforms for their redemptions. They all died with a greater appreciation for God. They worked harder, trusted more, and ultimately made more of a difference to history because of their terrible sins.
Is Ben going to be the next Moses? I have no idea. I don’t even know who’s going to win the game next week. But if he’s truly changed, if he truly believes in God, then why not? God has done crazier things in history.
This brings us back to our response. Some people are going to fully embrace Ben because he’s “behaved” for 10 months. Others will embrace him because he’s winning. Still others will hate him all the more because he’s winning or because he hasn’t “suffered” to their level of satisfaction.
When you have reporters, alleged un-biased, bringers of truth say things like, “By the time Super Bowl XLV hype is done, and the Big Ben redemption stories have been told, we’ll all be confusing him with Tim Tebow” on Twitter, there is anger out there. Anger at God. Anger at Ben. Anger at the unfairness of it all.
Some of you may be angry that this is bringing faith into the conversation. But I don’t see any other way to answer the question of Ben’s redemption. How else do you know when “enough is enough?”
So if you don’t share my faith, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t have advice to offer you as to how you should look at Ben. I don’t know what defines “enough” for you. But as for anyone who calls themselves “Christian” I think there is only one path. And that’s to welcome him back. It’s to love our enemies and forgive those who hurt us. If it was good enough for Moses, David, and Paul, then it’s good enough for Ben.
For me the journey ends here. I will forgive Ben. I will pray for Ben. And I will let God decide if Ben is sincere or not.