Acton Institute Powerblog

Wealth and Fidelity, Golf and Marriage

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Amidst all the craziness of l’affaire d’Tigre there are some important questions being raised about the linkage between power, wealth, and faithfulness.

The Wealth Report at The Wall Street Journal asks, “Is it harder to stay faithful with large wealth?”

The initial sociological findings don’t seem to correlate wealth with adultery, at least at any higher rates than the general population of males (interestingly enough, a 2007 survey led to the conclusion, “When it comes to infidelity, money has a bigger impact on women than men.”).

Jesus gives us an apt axiom: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

And so there’s the corollary question of whether dishonesty in one area of life should lead us to question whether there is dishonesty in other areas. Tiger Woods’ apparent and alleged marital infidelities might make us wonder about his emotional control, for instance. Does his robot-like and highly-controlled exterior hide deeper emotional turmoil, as his outbursts on the golf course (both positive and negative) suggest?

And should we wonder whether Tiger would cheat on the golf course? If he’s willing to cheat on his wife, would he cheat at golf? Or does his great love and respect for golf, the ultimate gentleman’s sport, exclude that possibility? And if so, what does that say about his love and respect for his wife?

On the one hand it is clear that one need not be prosperous to be adulterous, greedy, or dishonest. But wealth can sometimes help to insulate us from the common consequences of these sins, and perhaps make facilitate their commission, while at the same time potentially exacerbating the fallout if and when it does come during this life.

Update: A timely word on the economic implications of recent events from SNL, “The PGA Tour: No Tiger, no problem!”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • C. S. Lewis uses his Screwtape (from the Screwtape Letters) in an essay for the Saturday Evening Post in the 1950’s to impugn our educational system and its dumbing down of moral education to interpret the prayer of a young woman of that period. Her prayer “Lord, make me a fully modern woman.” Screwtape tells his audience that what this young lady is asking is “Lord, please make me a minx, a moron and parasite.”

    In the wake of the revelations of Wood’s transgressions, one sees Gloria Allred representing his many victims, not assure their innocence, but to demand more money. I don’t know whether Allred is a blackmailer or a pimp. One can only think of the old punch line “That you’re a prostitute is settled, we’re merely haggling about price now.”

    I’d suggest that Woods probably takes his golf far more seriously than his marriage, since he has pursued it more faithfully over the years. He may well consider most females to be merely modern women.

  • I think Patrick Powers is correct. But his last sentence is a sad commentary on not just Tiger Woods, but most modern men:

    “He may well consider most females to be merely modern women.”

    Without old fashion morality and virtue in society, without the preservation of the marriage and the family as intended by God (one man and one woman united in Holy Matrimony), modernism denigrates women to be mere sex objects and slaves not just to their passions, but also to the passions of men who would use and abuse them.

    The answer is simple: chastity and sexual abstinance outside of marriage. But in our effort to feel good at all costs, we enslave ourselves to sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. – the list is endless. As St. Paul explains at length in his epistle to the Romans, we become slaves to the very things that we think make us feel good – our sin.

    Now we have baby murdering (called the right to choose), lethal baby experimentation (called embryonic stem cell research) and the promotion of sodomy (called gay marriage equality). It’s going to get worse before it gets better. The Tiger Woods scandal is but a symptom. We as a nation are rapidly approaching the point that Israel and Judah were at so long ago before being deported by Assyria and Babylon respectively.

    The clock is ticking. God in His infinite mercy will NOT tolerate our sexual promicuity, or our torturing and murdering unborn babies indefinitely. King Manasseh of Judah was led away into captivity with a hook in his nose by the King of Assyria, and God allowed this because of Manasseh’s idolatry and child sacrifice (he burned his own sons to death in sacrifice to the false Canaanite gods). See 2nd Chronicles 33. Defeat and imprisonment are what it took for Manasseh to repent. What will it take for us as a nation to repent? Will God have to allow the Islamic fascists to detonate a nuclear weapon in a major American city? Will a biological agent have to be released in our waterways and kill millions of innocents by the slow torture of disease and sickness? God allowed terrible things to happen to Israel and Judah in the past because He reproves those whom he loves, and if we don’t respond to His mercy, then He will allow the same to happen to us.

  • Jordan,
    Your essay may have some merit. I recall published rumors that Bill Clinton cheated at golf. I’m not certain that this ought to be the basis of selecting leaders, but might be a guide for ladies in choosing a future spouse.

  • Tracy

    Just to add to Patricks comment, at one time I read that “GOLF” stands for Gentleman Only Ladies Forbidden. I am sure golf has nothing to do with guide for ladies choosing a future spouse, but in the past the sport has not been a hit for women.