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SPORTS: LeBron James’ wife, er, girlfriend

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Somebody ought to buy LeBron James a dictionary, because the Cleveland Cavaliers star apparently needs a vocabulary lesson.

In a recent interview, James referred to his “wife” Savannah. The reference confused reporters, as they were unaware that James had married his longtime girlfriend.

One reporter asked about it, to which James replied, “Same difference: wife, girlfriend. When she’s living with you, she’s your wife. When she isn’t living with her mother anymore, she’s your wife.”

Hmm. I’ve never heard that before. Let’s see here (thumbing through dictionary) … Ah yes, here it is: “wife — a married woman,” according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. That doesn’t sound to me like the definition of “wife” has changed.

But maybe I’m behind the times. Let’s try something more high-tech, something more contemporary, like dictionary.com: “wife — a woman joined to a man in marriage; a female spouse.”

Now, just for the fun of it, how about a definition of “girlfriend” — “a girl or young woman with whom a man is romantically involved” or “a favored female companion or sweetheart.”

OK, so I’m not going crazy. A wife is exactly what I thought it was, as is a girlfriend. And according to the dictionary, despite what James thinks, these terms are not synonymous.

Look, LeBron James seems like a decent guy. He’s a hugely talented basketball player. At age 21, he’s averaging 31 points per game and has led his team deep into the NBA playoffs. He is arguably, already, the best player in the game.

He’s a team player. He’s personable. Reporters like him and fans love him.

But his ideas about marriage are sorely lacking.

That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as all of society’s views about marriage are sorely lacking these days. James isn’t even alone in the NBA. In case you missed it, a few weeks ago a story came out about Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz, who has the permission of his wife to commit adultery one night a year.

His wife, Masha Lopatova, said that the sexual temptations NBA players face are too much to resist, so she gives her husband an “allowance” of one night per year with another woman. (Kirilenko says he has no intentions of taking advantage of his wife’s offer.)

These are just a couple of examples of how our society holds marriage in such low regard. If you need further proof, just look at the number of divorces. Everyone thinks they’re entitled to jettison their marriage vows if they’re not happy or fulfilled in their marriage.

God thinks otherwise, however, and expects marriage to be a commitment to one person for life.

The fact is, a girlfriend is not the same as a wife, even if you’ve had a child with her (as James has done). If James loves his girlfriend and desires a lifelong commitment to her, he ought to marry her. Only then will he have the true privilege of calling her his wife.
Tim Ellsworth is a columnist for BP Sports, online at www.bpsports.net.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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