I don’t get it. Why is the topic of Manti Te’o’s love life (or lack of it) such a big deal to everybody? I’ve been doing pre-marital counseling with an awesome couple from my church. One of the topics we looked at last week was the importance of empathy. It’s helpful in all settings, not just holy matrimony. So, I’d like to empathize a little with Mr. Te’o.
If he’s telling the truth about being duped with an imaginary girlfriend, why do we find it so hard to believe? I don’t know what it’s like to be a famous linebacker that will most likely end up in the NFL. It must be difficult to find a meaningful relationship. If he is a Christian, which I’ve heard, it may be even more difficult. Besides, we seem to have virtual everything nowadays – even church. I’m not saying it’s the way to go, but it is a way to go.
If he’s a scammer, why do we care? Say he made the whole thing up to stir up emotion to win games. Poor choice, yes. Maybe he didn’t realize how outraged people would be. But, he’s only 20 years old (roughly). And, what harm has his fiasco brought on everybody else? If it were any other 20-year-old, it would barely get a tabloid mention or possibly make it as a Leno joke.
My conclusion is that this approach of empathizing with Manti won’t give the best clues as to why his love life is such a big deal to everyone. I started off this blog by writing that I don’t get this fascination with young Te’o and his romantic faux pa. Actually, I think I do. But the key is knowing whom to empathize with.
People in Western culture don’t like to be fooled. The media know it and make a big deal about it so that you’ll watch. And, I love to watch sports as much as the next guy, but our problem is that we invest too much of ourselves in what amounts to entertainment. We willingly identify with people we’ve never met to the point where their successes and failures affect us. So, if they rob us of our heartfelt emotions, we want retribution. How silly.
I have a suggestion for people who struggle with Manti Te’o: Get a life! Or, more accurately, get your own life! You’ve staked so much on a kid because he is great at tackling? Redirect all this passion for other people – people who are as fallible as you – into a life that really matters: Jesus Christ.
People will try to dupe you to get what you want. Jesus knows that. The Thief he was referring to in John 10:10 wasn’t Satan, but the religious leaders that fooled the people into following them instead of God.
If Te’o was duped, I hope he gets on track. If you were duped, it’s up to you to avoid all the senseless drama and focus on what really matters – with a God that will never dupe you.
Maybe I’m wrong about this. I’d love to hear your take on it.