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. I even like to discuss with them what they have on their faith planner and like to share mine with them too. 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.

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