Public Apologies. Necessary?

The number of public apologies for indiscretions seems to be on the rise. After being “discovered,” politicians and celebrities have stood in front microphones and with national, or even global coverage, have confessed to marital affairs or involvement in illegal actions.

But I wonder . . . are these televised public apologies necessary? Or even helpful?

The latest spotlight hit on Tiger Woods, known for his skill as a professional golfer and reputation as a family man. Yesterday, the media actually continued to give the countdown in hours, and then minutes, during the time leading up to Tiger’s public statement pertaining to his numerous affairs. There was much speculation as to what he would say and how he would say it.

I happened to see the TV show Nightline last night, which aired a taping of Tiger’s statement. Was this a part of his treatment for sexual addiction? Possibly. Was it a way for him to begin making amends with family, friends, and business associates who he’d let down? Very likely.

But it disturbed me when people began analyzing and criticizing Tiger’s appearance – questioning if he was sincere, or just acting the part. It also made me feel sick inside when it was ridiculed during the Jimmy Kimmel Live! late night show. Maybe I’m naïve, but what I saw was a broken and embarrassed man. Maybe I’m not only naïve—I’m blind. Or maybe I just want to believe he wasn’t staging a show.

Did Tiger do wrong? Of course he did. His actions hurt a lot of people. He has a lot of work ahead of him to make amends.

But he didn’t hurt me. I didn’t deserve an apology and neither did millions of other people. Tiger needed to apologize to his wife, kids, family, and friends. And I supposed he owed an apology to his sponsors, who may lose money due to a drop in his popularity. I don’t fall into any of those categories.

Why is it that we, as a people, believe public figures owe us knowledge of their intimate and private lives? And then when they do come clean – we crucify them? Do we really want to forgive people? Or do we just enjoy focusing on other people's mistakes, so our own aren't noticed?

It makes me wonder if we’d feel differently if during church on Sunday, every person had to step up front, confess their sins, and apologize to the congregation. Followed by several members analyzing whether we were sincere or not. And if we took it a step further, we’d send out a live feed to the Internet for anyone out there in cyber space who wanted to view.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8: 7 NIV)

Put down your stones, people.



  1. Anonymous11:39 AM

    Tiger is a public figure who touted himself as a good family figure. He let a lot of families down, thus the public apology. I truly enjoy his golfing. I was devastated when he 'fell,' knowing of his background. For him to speak publicly was to diffuse embarrassment and apologize for his failures. It will hopefully lift up family life--I'm praying Elin can forgive him, which won't be easy. But as she said, the proof will be his actions.
    I'm thankful he's spoken up. Though none of us is faultless, he's more a public figure. His apology puts us on the same playing field in regards to 'failures.' Only wish he'd find the forgiveness in the Lord.

  2. I agree. I hope the apology is the beginning of healing for him and his family.

  3. I like what you are saying here.
    It's easy to feel a bit caught up in the "was he really sorry, or just sorry he got caught" thinking, since a lot of TV shows are having their panelists comment on it.

    I think your example of confessing our sins in front of the congregation is a great way to help us put things in a bit of perspective.

    Thank You!


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