The Unfair Treatment of Ben Roethlisberger

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Category : faith

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.

what to do when you make a mistake

Category : Paul, bible, failure, faith, sin, taking action

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What do you do when you make a mistake?

That’s a question I think very few people actually think about.  Oh sure we all do something when we’ve made a mistake.  But very few of us actually think through our actions, we usually just react.

The way I see it, there are only a few options.

  1. Do nothing – we essentially say, “I did something wrong and I am so scared of doing it again, and so scared of the consequences, I will never do anything again.”  When we do nothing, we shut down.  We can’t be used by God because we aren’t interested in being used by God.  We become like the ostrich who shoves his head in the sand, thinking he is hiding.
  2. Do the same thing – we make a mistake, but choose to do the same thing over and over.  This is the whole, “I am sorry I hurt you/ was a jerk, etc…” line.  And then the next day you’re back to your old habits.  We say it, and maybe in the moment we are sorry.  But not sorry enough to actually change.  This is where we are when we continue to commit one of our “favorite” sins  (for instance, you repeatedly get angry at a coworker).
  3. Repent - True repentance.  This is where we truly turn to God and say, “I am sorry, help me never to do this again.”  Where we fully turn away from our actions and embrace God.

Why do I bring all this up?  Because Carrie Prejean, a former Miss USA winner is involved in another controversy.  It turns out she was involved in making a “sex tape.”

For some celebrities this wouldn’t be a big deal.  Society often seems to reward people who do this.  We’ve all read the stories about a celebrity “losing” provocative pictures in a PR attempt to revitalize a career.  But for Prejean, who has started teaching and talking about “family values” this is a big issue.

Rarely do we talk about current events on R3.  I believe that the Bible offers us timeless principles that apply no matter the event.  And I almost never talk about a specific individual.  There’s enough gossip and junk out there, we don’t need to add to that.  But sometimes I make exceptions.  And that’s where I am with this.

I have no idea what’s on the tape.  I don’t know why it was made.  And frankly I don’t want to know.  To me that’s irrelevant.  What matters is how Prejean decides to act.  And to a lesser extent how we, as a society, respond.

We all have made mistakes.  How many of us would really feel comfortable having our mistakes be national news?  What Carrie Prejean did was wrong, and it was a mistake, and that’s not an excuse.  But does this prevent her from ever talking about family values?  There are many people who very much want that to be the case.  (As I was flipping the channels late one night I saw one panel of “experts” gleefully declaring this meant she could no longer talk about family values.)

Personally I don’t know if this tape excludes her from talking about family values.  I know there are a lot of people who are gleefully hoping that will be the case.  For her to fall, would be a major victory for them.  This situation brings legitimate questions that she must answer.  But when I look at the Bible I see people who aren’t perfect.  I see people lose their temper, act in fear, commit adultery and murder.

Yet God still uses them in powerful ways.

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. But he does ask us to repent.

Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament was actively seeking to kill Christians prior to his conversion.  Does that mean he can’t talk about sin?  Or does it mean he has unique insight into the redemption that Christ offers?  Moses murdered someone before God chose him to become the leader of Israel.  Did that exclude him from talking about freedom to Pharaoh?  Peter acted in both anger and fear in the last hours of Jesus’ life – but God used him as the rock upon which the church was built.  Was God wrong in all of this?

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect.  But he does ask us to repent.  And in each of these cases, they repented and turned away from their sins.  So I ask you, what do you do when you make a mistake?

Carrie has the same three options that we do.  She can do nothing.  She can do the same thing.  Or she can repent.

I don’t know what she plans to do.  Right now it sounds like she wants to repent.  But saying you want to repent and actually repenting can be two different things.  It’s much easier to offer false promises than to take the hard work of repentance.  Is it any different for us?  So again, I ask you, what do you do when you make a mistake?