My Michael J. Fox Dilemma

Posted on March 17, 2023


By David Ettinger

An Admirable Man
In a recent interview, actor Michael J. Fox said of the Parkinson’s Disease he has been living with since 1991: “Pity is a benign form of abuse. I can feel sorry for myself, but I don’t have time for that. There is stuff to be learned from this, so let’s do that and move on.”[1]

In other words, Fox doesn’t feel sorry for himself. Admirable words from an admirable man, and far from today’s “woe is me” victim mentality.

I became acquainted with Fox as an actor when he appeared on the popular TV show Family Ties. He became a star from that show and attained superstardom as Marty McFly in the 1985 movie blockbuster Back to the Future.

His career soared throughout the 1980s and 1990s despite his Parkinson’s diagnosis at age 30 (though he didn’t publicly disclose it until 1998). Despite his misfortune, Fox continued acting well into the 2000s, even as the disease grew in intensity and afflicted him more and more.

Besides continuing with his career, Fox, now 61, has been a staunch and conspicuous advocate for finding a cure for Parkinson’s, launching a foundation in 2000 to help fund the cause.

In the midst of this, Fox has proven a rarity in Hollywood as his marriage to Tracy Pollan has lasted 34 years and produced 4 children. She, too, has proven a shining example in her own right – and example of marital faithfulness and selfless love and devotion.

I am just one of millions who admire Fox – the battles he has fought, the good he has sought to accomplish, and the fine marital example he has displayed.

Admirable Not Enough
But my admiration of him is tempered.

As much as I admire Fox, I see no evidence he is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He attends a Reformed Synagogue with his Jewish wife, but his views on God, Jesus, and the Bible are unclear. If he has truly given his life to Christ, he has not publicly declared it; therefore, an assumption that he is unsaved is a safe one.

And a sad one. And one I hope changes.

No One Righteous
No matter how good or admirable people are by human standards, they are nonetheless unrighteous in the sight of God. Scripture tells us:

There is no righteous person, not even one; There is no one who understands, There is no one who seeks out God; They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, There is not even one (Romans 3:10-12).

That is, there is no one outside of accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior who is regarded as righteous.

And for all who are “good” only by this world’s standards, Isaiah 64:6 says: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”

The word “filthy” is a translation of the Hebrew word iddah, which literally means “the bodily fluids from a woman’s menstrual cycle.” The word “rags” is a translation of begged, meaning “a rag or garment.” Therefore, these “righteous acts” are considered by God as repugnant as a soiled feminine hygiene product.[2]

Specifically, this verse is referencing the self-righteous acts of the Israelites in Isaiah’s day, but has application today. As much as unsaved individuals strive to do “good” – which of itself is commendable – in the long run, it will not bring them any closer to salvation.

Salvation comes only through accepting Christ’s shed blood on the cross at Calvary – the atonement only He can give to all who “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As such, we are in danger of being separated from God for eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15).

This goes for everyone regardless of good and admirable deeds and intentions, Michael J. Fox included. If we die without having confessed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will “have been weighed on the scales and found deficient” (Daniel 5:27).

The Dilemma
And hence my Michael J. Fox dilemma: I admire him greatly, but know that no matter what he has done, nothing short of bowing the knee to Jesus will save his eternal soul.

In fact, there are quite a few unbelievers I admire and care about, but know that same truth applies to them. I realize that the thought of praying for “Hollywood types” galls some evangelicals, but I feel inclined to pray for Fox.

It’s the least I can do for someone I admire.