I love the Olympics. Our family watched most of the evening coverage for the first week and a half. Once the swimmer scandal took center stage, though, we got tired of hearing about the mess over and over again. In fact, we literally turned off the TV several evenings because it seemed the focus was too much on Ryan Lochte, and he wasn’t even in the pool! It’s a sad commentary about us when the national news coverage leads with a story about a guy who drank too much when floods, wildfires, and election season should have our attention.
I have gone through the same process as most people with the Ryan Lochte incident. At first, I was disgusted that the city of Rio was not a safer place (wrong!). Then, I was furious that the police and government were seeking to make an example of our athletes (still wrong!). And, as the truth emerged, I became judgmental and self-righteous (even more wrong!). Now that I am over myself and over this whole ordeal, I just feel sorry for Lochte. His life will never be the same and at this point it’s not even his fault any longer.
I imagine Ryan Lochte feels enough guilt and regret on his own and doesn’t need our help. He has lost millions in endorsements. He betrayed his closest friends. He bears an overwhelming embarrassment that will shadow him for years. Today’s news quotes him saying that his, “life is crumbling.” It seems clear that Lochte has learned from the situation.
Let’s all take a step back and learn something...
The obvious lesson is that we shouldn’t lie. However, I’d suggest another lesson. What did we learn in our personal response to the matter? Were we ready to pick up a stone and join the group of accusers? This story reminds me of the adulterous woman we find in John Chapter 8. The teachers of the law had brought this woman before a group in the temple, preparing to stone her. Jesus says the famous line, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Enough stones have already been thrown at Lochte and the weight of my sin precludes me from joining in the “fun”. I know he “officially” apologized, but has Lochte been afforded a chance to truly repent? I think our society is so quick to scandalize and condemn that it seems the stones are flying before the sinner even has a chance to hear us say, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11) If anything as Christians, we are called to forgive and love not to condemn. We should not delight in watching others fall. Rather, we should delight in praying and hoping for a path to redemption. I am already looking forward to seeing Lochte compete in the next Olympics.