I’ve never had strong opinions about Urban Meyer. I knew he was a good college football coach — at Utah, Florida and Ohio State — but I didn’t know that much about his personal life. I knew he talked vaguely about faith at times, but many public figures do, so I didn’t think much about it.
Early this week, media was filled with talk about two videos showing the very married Meyer acting inappropriately last weekend with a young woman at his Columbus, Ohio-area restaurant, Urban Meyer’s Pint House. I eventually watched the videos and was mildly surprised. I had assumed he was a happily married and decent man who wouldn’t mess with other women, but I was wrong.
Because the incident had no relevance to my life, I didn’t think much about it after that, but the headlines continued about whether Meyer would be fired from his current job as coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
I felt sorry for his wife, Shelley Meyer, who I thought must be hurt and angry and humiliated about what her husband had done. But then Shelley Meyer released a statement on social media that shocked me. Bizarrely, she seemed to think her husband’s fierce critics were the ones victimizing her.
In a strange way, her statement felt almost like a way to imply, “Well, boys will be boys.”
“This will be my last post on Twitter,” Shelley Meyer wrote Thursday. “Frankly, I don’t need the hate, vitriol, slander, trash that will [come at] me (this has never stopped anyway).”
I don’t necessarily disagree with any of that, but then she said something which suggested a basic misunderstanding of the core issue here.
“We all make mistakes,” she wrote. “We are all sinners. If you think you aren’t? Then cast the first stone.”
It might very well be a “mistake” if her husband had failed to do something around the house that he had promised. It might be a mistake if he had used poor judgment about what gift to buy for her birthday. It could even be a mistake if he forgot to call her when he said he would.
There are millions of ways to make mistakes. We all make them. But there is a huge difference between a mistake and a willingness to open the door to sexually cheating on your wife.
It’s not just a mistake when you allow a young woman to grind her rear into your groin as you use your hands to guide her hips toward you. It’s not just a mistake when you slip your hand between her legs. And the two videos that came out showed Urban Meyer doing both of those things.
Those aren’t “mistakes.” They’re the behavior of a man letting his character flaws lead him toward cheating on his wife. And if you don’t think this behavior is cheating — and highly indicative of a willingness to engage in something even worse privately — maybe you’ve been brainwashed with the idiocy that “this is just the way men are.”
Was Urban Meyer’s behavior sin? I ask that since his wife’s tweet used the word. The matter of what is sin is between the man and God. I suggest that it’s sin, but that’s for him to wrestle with. His sins aren’t my business or the public’s business. I’m concerned about someone’s character, because that’s what tells me who someone is in relation to his fellow humans.
It’s no surprise that Urban and Shelley Meyer both want to bury this and get past it. He doesn’t want for his image to be ruined and for his career to be damaged. She doesn’t want to damage the public notion of an idyllic family life that she has crafted for all these years.
Mostly, Shelley Meyer doesn’t want to believe her husband is a man who would cheat on her. Just like the rest of us, she’s probably willing to lie to herself about what’s really going on. We are all masters of denial, even if we rarely admit that.
A man is going to make mistakes. That’s the unfortunate truth. (A woman is, too.) A man is also going to commit acts in his life that God considers sin. Most men are going to be aware of their sins and they’ll have to deal with them internally, whether we know about it or not.
But a man of good character doesn’t act the way Urban Meyer acted last weekend. A married man of good character simply doesn’t participate in another woman sexually grinding on him in this way. There can be no rational debate about that.
Mistakes are going to happen. And when perfection is the standard, we’re all going to sin. But a man’s character is his own decision.
If a man knows the difference between right and wrong and then makes a conscious decision to be this good person — someone who lives according to a clear code of right and wrong — he doesn’t change who he is simply because an attractive woman flirts with him. And the man who does give in to such a temptation has character issues that he hasn’t dealt with.
I think it’s smart that Shelley Meyer closed her Twitter account. People can be cruel and mean — and I see no reason for her to subject herself to that. But it seems to me that if she’s going to make public statements about her husband’s behavior, she needs to stop blaming anyone other than her husband.
Character matters more than most people in our nihilistic culture believe today — and most people seem unwilling to demand high character in the people they allow into their lives.
If you don’t have the highest standards for the character of the people you allow into your own life, you’re going to pay a heavy price when that person eventually fails you — time after time after time.
Character matters. Don’t lie to yourself about it.