Now, granted, Jameis just turned 20. I remember being 20. I was pretty stupid. Yet, Jameis has been on a roll for about the last month with foot in mouth statements. Winston was not accused in a sexual assault case that stemmed from 2012. It all came to blows in late November and early December this past year. Winston's attorney claimed for him that the sex was consensual. The accuser had alcohol in her system and Winston's DNA on her underwear. At the Heisman Trophy presentation, where Winston won the award, and on Saturday to the New York Daily News, he proclaimed, “I didn’t do anything wrong." Then, postgame, Winston said that FSU winning the National Championship was 'all God.'
As a pastor and passionate sports fan, this really, really, really, really bothers me. And what bothers me most is that THIS is what non-Christians see out of Christianity over and over again. This is why the American Church is struggling in mainline denominations. At the very least, we know Winston had premarital sex with a girl that was a little tipsy. And he did nothing wrong.
Our student pastor is teaching that THAT's wrong to our teenagers. I teach that's wrong to singles in our church. Youth ministers across the world have been teaching that's wrong. Now, the world outside sees the behavior and hears the proclamation that winning and getting through all the Seminoles went through with the allegations as "All God." And, apparently, God was for FSU winning the game Monday night.
Winston is 20, but who taught him that what he did wasn't wrong? Where is the pastor, coach, parent or spiritual mentor that is in his ear saying, "Jameis, you made a mistake and it almost got you into bigger trouble. It'd be best to admit that and thank God for his forgiveness and the opportunity to keep playing ball." I like Winston's charisma, but I can only imagine what every girl that has had a guy sleep with them when they were a little tipsy to never follow through on the heart promises their body made.
The Florida State Attorney didn't see evidence to press charges, but that doesn't mean Winston didn't do something wrong. Non-Christians see Winston's actions and hear his words and think, "That's why I don't go to church. They don't do what they say they believe in, then they claim God is on their side."
Listen, none of us are perfect. I constantly fight temptations of selfishness, stubbornness, pride and a host of other things. Daily, I ask God to forgive me for those and a myriad of other things. It'd be foolish for me to say, "I didn't do anything wrong." I do stuff wrong all the time. Winston just needs someone in his ear, and I wish a non-believing world could hear something closer to what seems more in line with a heart for God: "You know, I made some mistakes and disappointed God and my family, but I knew I had not broken any laws. I'm thankful for God's forgiveness, and for the opportunity to keep playing football. We played a great team tonight with a lot of good guys on it, too. I'm grateful for healthy bodies to play the game we love." We've got to do better at this. When we're wrong, we've got to admit it. The world doesn't need our brashness or perfection or some kind of persona. The most radical statement to the world is that we are broken and messy and make mistakes, and God's Grace overcomes it all. When we sin and claim to be without sin, the power of God and His grace is muffled:
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claimed we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." 1 John 1:8
From one sinner to another, my hope is that Jameis gets some people around him speaking more truth, and less adulation, in his ear. But for the grace of God go I.