I knew my actions were wrong. But I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have far — didn’t have to go far to find them.
I was wrong. I was foolish. I don’t get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife’s family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me.
Tiger Woods, February 19, 2010
When you list your priorities how important is your family? Your wedding vow is a promise to move your spouse up to the top of that list. As a Christian that relationship should be second only to God. When you have children the importance of protecting your family compounds. Commitment to family is the most important relationship on earth and a betrayal within your marriage will inevitably damage the trust in every relationship you have. A commitment to marital fidelity is the most significant way you can protect your family.
No matter what you think of Tiger’s public apology, it can serve as a warning for the traps out there for all of us. His situation is not unique, the temptations are the same whether you are a famous athlete, a pastor, a politician, police officer or anyone else. The numbers who have fallen to temptation, destroying their marriages and reputations are too high to count. Evangelist Billy Graham is well known for the steps he has taken to protect himself from temptation and his family from harm in this area. He will not even enter a hotel room until it is checked for unwanted guests and he will only meet women in public places, never alone. That might seem a bit extreme, but how can you set boundaries to keep your marriage safe?
Here are some things to consider:
- Admit that you are vulnerable. No matter how strong you might feel, you can be vulnerable to the right circumstances and the right temptations.
- Have an “accountability partner.” Be accountable to someone who has permission to ask you anything. Don’t lie to that person.
- Remove the stumbling blocks from your life. Identify your vulnerabilities. What are the things that tempt you most and how can you remove them?
- Have a tactical plan. Train for temptation and be prepared to escape.
- Accept responsibility. If you have already gone too far, it is not too late. Confess to your spouse and get help.
Tiger ended his public statement with a plea to the press, “I still believe it is right to shield my family. They did not do these things, I did…Please leave my wife and kids alone.” The time to honor your family, to shield your wife and kids is now, not in the aftermath.