February 10, 2009
Was A-Rod blaming God?
Alex Rodriguez seemed mature yesterday when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003. Maybe even a bit contrite. But I can’t shake the feeling that A-Rod doesn’t feel true guilt for his actions – only the consequences.
“God is doing this for a reason.”
That was A-Rod’s response when ESPN’s Peter Gammons asked if the Yankees third baseman was angry with the players union for not destroying the results of what were supposed to be non-disciplinary, confidential drug tests. Implicit in those words is: God could have given me a free pass.
Well, of course He could have. But should He have? That’s for God to decide. What is clear, though, is that A-Rod made a choice to use anabolic steroids, and now he is being called to account. It’s a cop out to claim otherwise.
God is used to being the scapegoat. Michael Vick, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton – they each claimed a road-to-Damascus moment when they hit bottom. God, they wanted us to know, was the reason their lives had flown so far out of control. He wanted them to be broken so he could bring them back.
But is that really how God works. In fact, the Bible demonstrates just the opposite. It is Satan who kills Job’s family and slaughters his cattle and covers his body with sores. And Job was already a righteous man. The Christian Bible suggests the same. In urging Christians at Corinth to expel an immoral brother from their church, Paul writes: “Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”
Certainly, God is allowing this to happen to A-Rod for a reason. Hopefully it will make him a better man. But we live in a world of free will – without getting into an intractable debate about predestination – and A-Rod, perhaps the greatest baseball player of all time, chose to cheat. He needed, as he said, “an edge.” So the question Rodriguez needs to ask himself is not why “God is doing this,” but what he can learn from his own mistakes.
Personal honesty will not restore Rodriguez’s reputation, which had been troubled for a while anyway, but it may save his character. As Jesus says in the Gospel of John and A-Rod paraphrased on ESPN: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”