Tebow, The Bible, and the Christian Persecution Complex

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t start this post out with a certain disclaimer:  I don’t know a thing about football and have never cared much for what I estimate to be the most unintelligent of all the sports (hate mail can be directed to this address) – I’ve only recently  heard about Tim Tebow and couldn’t personally care less about his football career – I just think his recent success gives rise to a great opportunity to discuss a few things that I find to be vitally important


Tebow, God’s Favorite Quarterback:

I hang out  and socialize with an inordinate amount of Christians, it’s something I’m open to and greatly enjoy – but rather recently it seems that the most common topic among many of them is now none other than Tim Tebow, the quarterback (he throws the football) for the Denver Broncos (a team in the NFL). Tebow’s iconographic rise to Christian stardom seems to be the result of his willingness to make public expressions of his faith.

From a Superbowl commercial in 2010 with a decidedly pro-life message (and sponsored by Focus on the Family) ,to the now trademark Tebowing that seems to be a new spontaneous fad among all sorts of Christians, and frequent mention of his faith during interviews you cannot avoid the fact that Tim Tebow is a Christian and proud of it. Christians seem to have been desperate for a well known sports star to call their own and they’ve found one in this Heisman winner and are quick to defend any ill words directed his way.

In yet another example of how sometimes we atheists only need to sit back and wait for someone to say something ridiculously stupid his pastor, Wayne Hanson of Summit Church in Colorado, has even gone so far as to attribute a 6 win streak earlier this year to being “God’s Favor“.

The God of the Christian Bible has a vested interest in American Football.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

There are Christians that believe that football, and not even the good kind, is an event so important to the Christian God that he is willing to intervene in some way to ensure that his favored team or player makes the playoffs.

Floods in Taiwan, fires in Texas and California, drought in Georgia and Africa, extreme famine across large swaths of the African continent, tsunamis in Japan and India – all being ignored, presumably because Jehovah is too busy watching Tebow make the winning pass.

I believe, and I truly hope I’m right here,  that this belief represents a minority of the Christian community.


Tebow and the Bible

I don’t know this guy personally so I’d be remiss to say that he’s probably some jerk that likes to push his faith on people.  In fact, I don’t actually believe that to be the case. I believe that Tim Tebow is likely very sincere in his faith, I believe that his reputation as a kind-hearted team-mate is an actual representation of who he is. I don’t have an issue with him one bit outside of the fear that he might be evangelical enough to be a neo-conservative that believes he has the right to limit the freedoms of other people. I believe that he really wants to use his status to bring people into his faith and that he truly wants to preserve his virginity until he is married. Not one of these things is surprising to me, and they shouldn’t be, as these things are largely mandated in the Christian Bible and I personally exhibited the same behaviors (minus the ability to throw a football in anything resembling a spiral) when I was a Christian.

The issue with Tebow’s faith comes with a reading of Matthew’s Gospel 6: 5-6

5“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  ~ ESV

Maybe Tim didn’t get exposed to this verse during his rearing. When I was a young and immature Christian I ignored this verse too, it didn’t sink in until much later in my faith that perhaps any showboating I might be doing would have the opposite of a desired effect – in that it might put attention on me, rather than God. My Christian life is long gone, but I still think it important that Christians know their Bible and do as it says. Believers, take notes.


The Passion of the Tebow

“The Liberal Media” – an ever present enemy of all thing right and good,  has been apparently fixated on attacking Tim Tebow because of his faith. I’ve not actually heard anyone give an example of this sort of attack, nor have I been witness to any of these attacks myself (as if I’d listen to sports radio) – but almost every Christian that talks about this guy in my presence is sure to talk about how he is being persecuted and that somehow Evangelical Christianity is “the only group left that it’s P.C. to publicly bash.”  This, coming from Christians in the American South, is absurd – as over 60% of Southerners and Americans are Christians themselves.

Perhaps becoming an icon of American Football and being seen by millions of people a week simply makes you privy to a certain amount of increased scrutiny over, lets say, your local high-school’s quarterback. Perhaps further, the willingness to make open and public displays of your faith is likely to bring a certain amount of scrutiny to the way a person lives that faith in ways that wouldn’t apply to Christians that didn’t have an actual prayer stance named after them.  I’m only guessing, but I don’t think anyone intends to make Tim Tebow a martyr – and anyone that believes that being under the watchful eye of sports commentators is in any way tantamount to persecution needs to recheck the dictionary as well as their priority list.

Just maybe being ” P.C. to publicly bash” isn’t the result of being an evangelical Christian, but the result of what evangelical Christianity represents today; bigoted, gay hating, anti-evolution extremes of the Christian right. It’s quite possible that this bashing is as politically correct and accepted as the bashing of an extremist Islamist group that desire to push the world into Sharia law. It’s not the fact that Christian groups exist but the hell-bent nature in which they bash absolutely everything they hate so unapologetically that makes them an target for backfires of hurt and anger they so often bring. To me, it seems that Tebow may just be a victim of those that called themselves Christians before him – and he might pay a small price for that, or he may just have to accept his new role as the idol of  angry believers unwilling to take their own medicine.

To conclude, I can only give the man the benefit of the doubt. Tim Tebow is probably one of the nicest, most humble Heisman trophy winners of all time and I hope that he is as genuine as he seems. I also hope that he takes this fame and opportunity to point out that he is neither worthy of worship,  divine intervention in the NFL, and to educate the masses on all the prayers his god isn’t answering from the millions dying daily as a result of natural disaster and famine.  If you are reading this post I also hope that you’ll do something about famine either in your own back yard or around the world by finding a way to benefit those in need.

Oh, and don’t claim god’s providence in a football game; that just makes you look stupid.






  • Guy Vestal

    Your way off base Ox ol' chap…

    God is a baseball fan… Why do you think everyone hates the Yankees?

    • I still maintain that this comment rocks. Being able to troll both the theist and the non-theist, is worthy of applause…

  • Talia

    It's not "could care less" it's COULDN'T care less. They mean vastly different things.

  • Tana Schott

    Yeah. This.

  • Cuck

    Claiming God’s providence in football isn’t inherently bad. It’s entirely possible that God helped Him to win because of Tebow’s public declarations of faith. However, to think that God is more concerned with Tebow winning instead of Tebow loving others or loving God is incorrect. Although, helping Tebow win would earn him more money to give away to those who need it more. If he does that, I would say that God was helping him win. Otherwise, it’s not incorrect to claim God’s providence in football, but I doubt it’s happening in this case.

    • If it happens in any case you not only need to reexamine the god you believe in, but also the priorities in your own life.

  • Lawanda

    Okay, I'm with you on God not finding football games of importance in the whole scheme of things. However, I do think that it is worth considering that God just might be honoring Tim Tebow because Tim Tebow is not ashamed of his God. Tim Tebow is probably the most "heard" witness for God since Billy Graham. –Your former math teacher who is also a Christian.

  • Quint

    Come on dude, you state you know nothing about American football but you consider it to be the most unintelligent of all the sports. Come on now, Matt. Think that one through. If it was easy, it would be called soccer! Hahaha…

    I am not on the Tebow bandwagon as a player (he is less than mediocre as a quarterback, but he is a great football player…he just wins) but I do think he is very genuine as a man of faith. He doesn't drive his faith down anyone's throats with the exception of his opening statements, most of which consist of something like, "First, I would like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…

    He seems to be a very good role model for young people to follow. I'll say this, he is one of those people about which fathers will say, "I wouldn't mind if he dated my daughter." It is the crazy fans that are stirring up the controversy.

    • It's a game I'll never understand the appeal of.

      I do think he's genuine if still somewhat immature. I can't deny that he's likely a good role model as well. As my friend Guy would say – it's always the fan-club that causes all the trouble.

  • I am just vaguely starting to get an idea of who in the world Tim Tebow is. I've been wondering for weeks why everyone was talking about him, and when I noticed the kids "Tebowing" in many public schools it didn't take long to figure it out. I've seen many Christians of Facebook saying how proud they are of him for not being afraid to pray on the field (and also that he's being persecuted…), and I always wanted to comment that there was a verse in the Bible about praying in secret instead of making a spectacle of it. I just doubted myself in remembering that verse correctly because of how many Christians were so excited about him. Thanks for quoting that verse and making me realize I'm not crazy.

  • Dusty

    Did Tim Tebow really just get compared to Billy Graham?

    • Little do they know that Billy Graham was a doubter in his later years….heh.

      • Ben

        Little do you know that Billy Graham is still alive.

        Obviously I’m a little late to the conversation since this was posted well over a year ago. However, there are some things that I find a bit misleading in your post. You suggest that Tebow probably isn’t being persecuted and bringing extra scrutiny on himself for his public displays of his faith. Would you agree that there are several forms of persecution? While persecution can certainly be seen in physical violence towards someone of faith, there are a variety of other forms. People can be passed over for promotions, mocked, ridiculed, called unintelligent, etc., for their faith. Social and societal persecution is much more prevalent in America than other forms. Do you think it is possible for Tim Tebow to be the object of social persecution for his faith? I have seen examples in articles or on social media where people are ridiculing Tebow for his desire to remain a virgin until marriage. I have heard many more examples in person than in print or online.

        Second, your quotation of Matthew 6:5-6 is being used as a proof text and is badly misrepresented. Earlier in the passage Jesus is teaching about improper motives. He provides people giving to the poor as an example. He then moves on to prayer as a second example of wrong motives. Hypocrites originally referred to Greek actors that wore different masks to demonstrate various roles. In this passage Jesus is being critical of the Pharisees for their improper motives in giving and praying. In your post you suggest that Tim’s motivation for his public displays are to “use his status to bring people into his faith…” If this is indeed his motivation, how is he being a hypocrite? By praying in public? Jesus prayed in public as recorded in Matthew 14:19 and 15:36. In 6:5-6 Jesus isn’t condemning all public prayer but engaging in such activities with improper motives.

        I do not know Tim Tebow’s motives. If he is making public statements about Jesus in interviews for exposure or some other self serving purpose then perhaps he is being a hypocrite.

        Overall, I like the blog and appreciate your willingness to allow people of differing views to engage in debate. Cheers!

        • revoxley501

          Thanks for the comment Ben…

          I’m not sure why I put that comment in past tense.. I think maybe one of the Graham matriarchal figures had recently died and I got confused.

          What I’m suggesting is that Tebow isn’t being persecuted, but that he is being scrutinized like a sports star should be and that persecution may just be wishful thinking from the Christians I know who kept harping on it.

          Regarding my use of Scripture, can we agree that once someone is receiving attention because of an act of Prayer that perhaps the verse applies?

  • thefourwinds

    IMO you are half right about the situation, but you've also not looked deeply enough that the media and anti-Christians in the situation have pushed the situation and made it far worse than it ever would have been.

    Do many nominal Christians care way too much about this situation and talk way too much about it? yes.

    However, the sports media, the media in general, and anti-Christians have been just as vocal, if not worse.

    Even worse than that, nobody thought it was a problem early in the season when Tebow came in and was not playing well that his opponents (anti-Christians themselves) thought it would be hilarious to publicly mock him with their own "Tebowing." The sports media really yukked it up after that. Didn't see you complaining about it then. Because you weren't.

    The fact is, Tebow has submitted his character and his performance before God whether he's winning or losing.

    Regarding God's providence over football games, anyone who claims any kind of belief in a sovereign God ought to be believe God cares about the result of a football game since He claims to sovereignly govern the entire universe. He just tends to have a completely different agenda about anything like that than people typically do.

  • Moze

    It isn't that God is more interested in a football game than he is in other disasters happening around the world. It's just that God punishes those who turn their back on him or choose to worship other god's or put something else before him. Then to those that remain he uses to spread the glory of God and his word reaches out to those who need to hear it the most.

  • In fact, I did raise similar opinion in my country's leading newspaper and was bashed from all directions by the fundamentalists.

  • geohump

    I see one flaw throughout this discussion; If I recall correctly professional sports lies under the influence of Satan and that is why parents of young children who join children's leagues become possessed so often.

  • HandsomeRob

    I’m not too late am I?

    Jesus’ main point in Matthew 6:5-6 was to warn the people, especially the religious leaders, to not through around their faith to make them look mighty and self-righteous. Jesus knew what their motives were, so he warned them of these acts. Private prayer AND public prayer are demonstrated by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel alone (Privately in Matt. 14:23; publicly in Matt. 14:18,19). Again, Jesus was drawing attention to to the motives behind actions in Matthew 6:6. The point really wasn’t a choice between public and private prayer but between heartfelt and hypocritical prayer.

    I would like the opportunity to discuss other points you find responsible for leaving the faith to your now atheistic views. My motives are not to necessarily debate these points; I just want to better understand atheistic views for myself.

  • You know, Jesus was a big fan of the Israeli curling team, and the Jamaican bobsled team… American narcissisim ball, not so much…