Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More Than Mistakes

WARNING: I am about to get on my soapbox. Let me apologise in advance if this post is a little preachy.

I am sick and tired of athletes getting caught in some discretion and then making a public apology describing it as "A MISTAKE".

Let me give you some examples. First, from the recent Biogenesis PED fiasco that infiltrated Major League Baseball.

  • Ryan Braun: In the face of overwhelming evidence (after beating a PED charge 18 months ago on a technicality) made this statement: "As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect," Braun said in a statement. "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family..."
Yes, Ryan Braun, these actions take a toll on your family. Didn't you think of that beforehand. Or did your greed and selfishness, I'm sorry, your "mistake", prevent you from seeing the outcomes. You made a conscious decision to break the rules knowing the possible consequences but believing they'd never happen to you. You ignored the stigma your parents, wives and kids now face due to their relationship with a "cheater".  So don't cry me a river about your family now. You should of thought of them long ago. It's because of you they have media camped outside the house and making phone calls seeking comments. This wouldn't have happened if you'd just majored in baseball instead of trying to minor in chemistry.
  • Nelson Cruz: Offered a qualified confession talking about his illness while saying "my illness was no excuse". If it's no excuse don't talk about it! In a statement he released Monday, Cruz said he was "seriously ill with a gastrointestinal infection" for three months from November 2011-January 2012 and made an "error in judgment" to help him recover and get ready for spring training. "I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse," Cruz said in the statement.
  • Fernando Martinez: A minor league player who also had injury problems and sought an illegal short cut to recovery now with the Yankees’ Triple-A team, said he had made “a serious mistake” during last season.
It's not as though it's just baseballers that make "mistakes" though. The Denver Broncos (NFL) star defensive player Von Miller was yesterday suspended for 6 games after having difficulties handling a urine sample. (He was suspended a couple of years ago for marijuana use.) He apparently submitted spilled and diluted urine samples. Both are considered violations of NFL drug policy. Urine samples don't get diluted by accident. Then of course he made the obligatory statement acknowledging his "mistake". I made mistakes, and my suspension has hurt my team, Broncos fans and myself. I am especially sorry for the effect of my bad decisions on others.

So being a responsible researcher, I conducted a Google search for the definition of "mistake":
  • Noun: An action or judgment that is misguided or wrong
  • Verb: Be wrong about.

Here's the thing... mistakes have a lot in common with accidents. We mistakenly recognise someone when we truly think they're someone else. We mistakenly misspell a word but the assumption is that we were trying to spell it correctly. Turnovers are mistakes, they're not deliberate decisions to break the rules.

If we were to call it honestly these players would admit to "breaking the rules". They would admit to "cheating". They would admit to stealing roster places and league honors by their illegal use of PED's. And if they're Christians they would admit to sins: If nothing else they're selfish, and greedy.

In my mind, at least, using the word "mistake" is like pleading that I only told a "white lie". It's admitting that I did something wrong, while trying to also gain acceptance that it wasn't really wrong or serious.

If this was only an issue in sports I guess I'd accept it as an irritation that I have to live with. But when I see Christians describing sin and rebellion against God as "mistakes"... that really upsets me.

  • The person who parents a child before marriage then moves in with their partner... "made a mistake". No. They didn't. They just ignored God's teaching on marriage, parenting and holiness.
  • The person who gets caught speeding on the way to church (that was me many years ago), didn't make a mistake. He made a decision to go over the speed limit enough to catch the attention of the cops.
  • The person who routinely abuses his wife and kids then turns up at church in a suit on Sunday isn't making mistakes Mon -Sat. He's violating the trust of his family and the responsibility God's given him. He's breaking God's demand that he lead his family with love.
Please don't think that I'm demanding all these people be stoned. I am 100% convinced that the Gospel of Jesus is one of grace and mercy (Acts 20:24, Jude 21) . I'm not casting rocks. But I do believe that we're a lot closer to repentance and renewal when we acknowledge the severity of our transgressions. Let's just call sin, "sin". It sounds ugly and abrasive because sin is ugly and abhorrent. Jesus didn't die for our mistakes, he died for our sins. We need to embrace that truth. (Romans 3:22-24)

Thank-you. This is me now stepping down from my soapbox.

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