Friday, September 26, 2014
Derek Jeter: By What Standard a Role Model?
Last night, September 25, 2014, was a great moment in baseball history. Derek Jeter played his last game in Yankees Stadium, after an illustrious, Hall of Fame-worthy career.
To spare those of you who are not comfortable as I am in the realm of Baseball Geekdom, I will share but one amazing stat from Derek Jeter's career. In more than 2,900 games played, which included over 12,500 plate appearances, Derek Jeter was never ejected from a game. Let that sink in. Derek Jeter saw a minimum of 37,500 pitches as a batter, in his career. 3,820 times he threw runners out from his shortstop position. He was involved in 287 double plays. He was on the field for an unknown number of bench-clearing incidents. He played for the New York Yankees, the team fans around the world love to hate. Yet in all that time, amidst all those numbers and circumstances, Derek Jeter was never given the heave-ho by an umpire.
By all baseball standards, Derek Jeter was a class act. He quietly went about his business, allowing his bat and glove serve as his spokesmen, and both spokesmen did an outstanding job stumping for their candidate. And Jeter was as quiet off the field, as he was on the field.
By media standards, Derek Jeter was scandal-free. With the sports world, especially professional football, suffering from acute, self-inflicted media disasters, with player after player establishing criminal records instead of setting records on the field of play, Derek Jeter's 20 years of positive media presence is like a breath of fresh air.
By societal standards, Derek Jeter is a humble philanthropist and the consummate gentleman. His Turn 2 Foundation has been serving communities, helping kids, and awarding excellence for 18 years. Well-dressed, always well-mannered, publicly showing his love and respect for his parents--moms around the world hope their daughters bring home someone like Derek Jeter, and not for his money.
By baseball, media, and societal standards, Derek Jeter is a role model. Kids look up to him, men respect him, and women adore him. I, too, am one who respects Derek Jeter for his play, his demeanor on the field, and his philanthropy.
As I've watched Twitter activity over the last week, culminating in a rarely-before seen flurry in the wake of last night's game for the ages and Jeter's final farewell to the ballpark in the South Bronx, I read tweet after tweet from the simple fan to the prolific sports writer. Over and over again, people lauded not only the almost-magical end to Derek Jeter's career, but also his character. It made me wince a bit, for a reason, which I am about to explain. However, what truly troubled me were the number of posts by Christians, including pastors, who, like the general populace, touted Derek Jeter's character and his place as a role model.
Again, according to the world's standards, there is no argument that Derek Jeter is a positive role model. But that's not the standard by which Christians are to judge character, whether their own or someone else's. The standard by which the Christian is to judge character is the Word of God and Christ Himself. And according to that standard, Derek Jeter is not a positive role model. How can I say that?
Derek Jeter is a fornicator and an adulterer.
Did I lose you? Are you angry? Are you already whipping out the eisegetical, Matthew 7:1, "Don't Judge!" card?
Derek Jeter's history with women is the stuff of legend, in the eyes of men who don't know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I made the mistake of doing a Google search for Derek Jeter's girlfriends. The images associated with such a search are the stuff of a soft porn site. Men: if you struggle with lust of the eyes or lust of the flesh, do not make such a search on Google. You've been warned.
Derek Jeter has been romantically involved with many women, none of whom are his wife. He's a bachelor. Regardless of how well he has treated each woman, regardless of how well he has tried to keep his private life out of the spotlight, regardless of how well he has tried to protect the privacy of the women with whom he has had romantic relations, Derek Jeter is known to the world as a fornicator and an adulterer. But the world gives him a pass. Why? The world gives him a pass because he's a great baseball player, a positive media presence, and a philanthropist. The world gives him a pass because fornication and adultery are good things in the secular world.
As a Christian, I cannot hold up Derek Jeter as a role model. According to a biblical standard, Derek Jeter is not a role model.
So, my brother in Christ, before you positively tweet again about the character of Derek Jeter, please consider by what standard you are making him a role model? And pastor, before you use Derek Jeter in your sermon this Sunday as an illustration of character, please do the same. Please consider by what standard you are making him a role model.
And, no, I don't hate Derek Jeter. I love him enough, as a fellow human being, to write this article with the hope that somehow, some way he might read it.
Derek, if you've read this far, I hope and pray you go the extra mile to read this article, too. My hope for you, Derek, as it is for every human being, is that you will come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ the Lord.