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Redemption for Lance Armstrong? Or not? By Mike Doan

I’m fascinated with Lance Armstrong's televised confession that he took performance-enhancing drugs while winning seven Tours de France. Oprah Winfrey, in her interviews, brought out the human flaws that are not exclusive to Armstrong. Since Biblical times, people have yielded to temptation, taking unethical shortcuts to getting what they want. It never ends—all the way to Bernie Madoff, to Enron exectuvies, to Barry Bonds—I could go on for days.

We are all programmed for temptation, and that is one of the things that makes life so interesting. Just how immune are we—when we cut somebody off at an intersection or take that last piece of key lime pie in the refrigerator intended for someone else?

But what intrigues me most is the idea or redemption for violators. If Armstrong is really repentant, does that make things right? Or in evangelical Christian terms, will that send him to heaven? He has raised millions for cancer survivors and cures. Are we going to demand that he refund the money?

Is everything OK now that he has enjoyed many years of fame, while honest riders who never made it to the Tour de France are unknowns, making a meager living outside of cycling?

If he had it to do over again, would he really forego the drugs and the fame associated with being a champion?

The crux of the matter for me came when Armstrong told his oldest child to stop defending him to the boy's friends. The 13-year-old is said to have responded: "I love you, you're my dad and this won't change that.”

In some ways, that is redemption. Yet, if my son or daughter said that, the guilt would create a living hell for me. I asked the Rev. Mary Kay Totty, Dumbarton’s pastor, what she thought about redemption: “It is never too late for redemption with God. It might be too late for redemption from public opinion for Armstrong. But then I do not expect public opinion to be the final arbiter of grace (thank goodness!).”