On Cheating in Baseball and Marriage

I watched last fall with some fascination the scandal that engulfed the Houston Astros after their sign-stealing scheme was exposed.

My fascination arose not from the fact they cheated at baseball but the public’s reaction to their cheating.

I didn’t realize we held such high standards.

In the kingdom of God–that is to say, when the world functions as it was created to function, and does so under voluntary submission to King Jesus–baseball is a form of entertainment. That’s it.

That is not to diminish baseball. I’ve come to love Major League Baseball. But notwithstanding the salaries of the athletes, the merchandising and commercialization of the sport, ultimately it is merely a form of entertainment, not unlike a Bruno Mars or Beyonce concert.

Is cheating at baseball immoral? Absolutely. Does it demonstrate a lack of integrity? Surely. Would Jesus cheat at baseball? Never. We should be upset when we, as consumers, pay to see what is represented by MLB as a fair competition when it is actually rigged because one team is secretly and systematically breaking the rules. We should be as upset as if we paid to see Beyonce or Bruno Mars live and found out later they were lip-syncing.

What fascinates me though is that our culture is seemingly more outraged at cheating in baseball than cheating in marriage. Cheating in baseball diminishes a brand; cheating in marriage destroys lives. Baseball players don’t take an oath before God when they enter the major leagues to be faithful to the league, through sickness and health, richer or poorer, until their death. Cheating at baseball doesn’t destroy families, leave children without a parent, or cause divorce.

To flip things around, if we treated cheating in baseball like we treated adultery, we wouldn’t even call it cheating; we would call it an “affair.” You see fans, the Astros just had an “affair,” a momentary lapse of judgment, spurred on by their passion to win. After all, each of the Astros players had to do what was best for them individually. They had a right to seek their own happiness. The kids and the fans will understand.

If there is a bright side, I guess it’s that our culture still has a conscience. Now, if we could just redirect it. GS

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