An Answer to Ndamukong Suh’s Question

If you are a football fan, then you have seen the video of Ndamukong Suh (Detroit Lions defensive lineman) pounding the head of an opponent into the turf and then stomping on that player.  You probably have also heard the post-game response of Suh.

In his response Suh resorted to a line of defense that is used far too often by people.  We might call it the “Why Would I Defense.”

So why would I do something to jeopardize myself and jeopardize my team, first and foremost?

–Ndamukong Suh

Since this defense is so often used, it must appear to have some validity.  However, when we examine this defense in the light of biblical and theological truth, it becomes a pretty lousy rationale.

It is interesting that Suh twice made reference to God in his defense.  Well, he sort of made reference to God.

I know what I did, and the man upstairs knows what I did.

Honestly the most important person in this whole thing that I have to deal with is the man upstairs.

Instead of being “the man upstairs”, this is how the prophet Samuel describes the one who is above:

And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.

–1 Samuel 15:29 (ESV)

So how would God above answer Suh?

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God describes the heart of a man.

The heart is deceitful above all things,

and desperately sick;

who can understand it?

–Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

The reason Suh would do what he did and not understand his actions is that he has a deceitful, sick heart.  He is not alone.  We are all sinners with deceitful and sick hearts.  We cannot trust our motives or reasoning.

One of the greatest Christians struggled with this and penned words that should be said by all of us.

I am of the flesh, sold under sin.  For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

–Paul in Romans 7:14-19 (ESV)


Suh did what he did because he could not control the anger in his heart.  Our sin may not be anger or rage, but we probably could make our own list.

Why would I cheat?

Why would I steal?

Why would I lie?

Why would I chase after lust?

No good answer exists for any of these questions.  What Suh’s statement indicates is that he has looked at the results of his actions and found them undesirable.  Instead he should be looking at the motive for his actions.

His motive was anger.  The results included disqualification, hampering his team’s efforts, possible fines and suspension, and a besmirching of his name and reputation.

If you look at the results, why would he do it?  He probably would not.

To help us avoid our sinful actions, we should focus on the negative consequences of our sin.  This will help, but because we are sinners we will even do what we do not want to do.  We need more and more reliance on the power of Christ living in us.

When we do sin, we need genuine repentance and confession.

Suh began his remarks with what seemed to be heading towards a repentant apology.  However, he quickly detoured from that direction.

I’m first and foremost only going to apologize to my teammates, my coaches and my true fans for allowing the refs to have an opportunity to take me out of this game.

He did not apologize for his actions.  Instead he apologized for giving the refs an opportunity to eject him.  Make sure your repentance is better than that.

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