It probably began with a conversation with his mother, for it was Ryan Lochte’s mother who first told the lie publicly. Ileana Lochte told USA Today at around 9 a.m. Aug. 14 that her son had been robbed at gunpoint just hours earlier. Lochte himself retold this tale to NBC about three hours after his mother had spoken publicly. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that Lochte was trying to avoid some embarrassment when he talked with his mother. Then, after Mom went public with what she thought was the real story, Lochte felt compelled to double down on his lie and restate it to NBC, and events spiraled out of control. Brazilian authorities interviewed all involved. Video evidence was examined. Lochte’s story did not add up. It was not true.
Many have commented on the wrongs committed, including how Lochte used preconceived ideas about Rio’s crime rate as a means of hiding wrongdoing. Oh, there are lots of wrongs here. American party boys acting riotously; the manipulation and maligning of Rio’s reputation. We can enumerate those wrongs and more. However, Lochte would not have been in trouble; he would not have lost his millions of dollars in endorsements and tarnished his reputation and that of the American swim team, except for one little sin. He lied.
The Christian message is that all of us are guilty as sinners. And sin is not defined by how “big” it looks to us. It all matters, and we suffer greatly because of our sins. So we need to admit and turn away from our sin and look to Jesus and his death at the cross to forgive us. Only by admitting our failure and pleading for God’s grace can we be made whole. Sadly, up to my writing this article, Lochte cannot bring himself to say that he lied. He “overexaggerated,” he says. He wants to hold on to his pride, which is the one thing he must give up to be made whole, whether with Brazil or with God.
By all accounts, Ryan Lochte is an amazing swimmer, winner of six gold medals and numerous world records. But his life came crashing down last week because of one little sin. That sin was not that he vandalized a gas station in Rio. It was not that he was drunk. It was not that he urinated in the bushes. The sin was that he lied.
Beware of what one little sin can do.
(This post was first published in The Pantagraph on 8/27/16. See: http://www.pantagraph.com/blogs/pulpit/boerckel-what-can-one-little-sin-do/article_3ff8d0f5-4a46-56fa-a475-02d83b1409ed.html )