Tim Tebow: Living my religion

I couldn’t watch. After the Patriots made their first touchdown two minutes into the game I found myself covering my … Continued

I couldn’t watch. After the Patriots made their first touchdown two minutes into the game I found myself covering my eyes like I do in horror movies.

Tim Tebow had converted me into a huge Broncos fan; actually a huge Tim Tebow fan. It’s not the football that attracted me to Tebow but the good works he does.


View Photo Gallery: The quarterback for the Denver Broncos has become a polarizing figure in football, in part because of his outward displays of Christian faith.

There was also something really annoying about how people made fun of him for being a person of faith. I can see that for some, the kneeling or “Tebowing” on the field might seem a little much. But then you see players cross themselves all the time and nobody seems to have a problem with that. If Tebow didn’t live his faith it would be another story. But he does.

Because I couldn’t watch, I picked up a book I was reading, “The Last Testament: A Memoir by God” (with David Javerbaum.) Yes, it’s a satire. I thumbed through the book and found a chapter titled “Games On Sports.” Now, before Tebow I would never have read that chapter. But I was thinking, maybe there will be something revealing in here about this Tim Tebow phenomenon.

And here I quote “God” from his memoir, 1:6. “Sport is mythic; sport is epic: sport is a condensation of all human activity; it is often said that sport is a metaphor for life; it would be more accurate to say that life is a metaphor for sports.”

This definitely got my attention so I kept on reading, even though I was still listening to the roar of the crowds as the Patriots scored another touchdown.

“As a sports fan,” continues “God” in 1:18, “ I understand how much the games mean to both other fans and the athletes: the passions they stir, the tempests they roil, the loyalties they build, and above all the rivalry, violence, and rioting they so justifiably evoke.”

What drives a lot of people crazy is the fact that so many fans (43 percent in a recent survey) actually believe that Tebow is being helped by God, that God has overseen his fabulous six game winning streak and his overtime shocker over the Steelers. Some even called that a “miracle.”

Charles Krupa

AP

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow walks off the field following an NFL divisional playoff football game against the New England Patriots Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass.

Tebow has never credited God with helping him win though he does pray before and after games thanking God for the opportunities He has given him. But tell me what team doesn’t pray before the game, and during the half to win. How does God choose?

God has an answer. In 1:19 he says “And so that is why I have never, ever, ever influenced the outcome of a sporting event to determine the winner.”

For Tebow, the pressure, though he doesn’t show it, must be enormous. Not only does he have to be a great quarterback, and an exemplary Christian but he has to hold the faith of so many others in his hands.

Broncos safety Rahim Moore said after the game, “People put too much pressure on him. He’s going to have some good and some bad. I believe in him and I would like him to be our quarterback. Our team gels around him. “

Tebow himself was gracious and cool after the game. It must be, on some level, an enormous relief to him that the season is over and that he won’t be in the extreme spotlight he’s been in all season. When asked about the pressure, he said, “There are pros and cons with everything. Sometimes you don’t want it at all. You just like to be able to go to dinner, hang out with friends, be a normal 24 year old. So that makes it sometimes hard. But I wouldn’t change it for the world, because by having that, I have the platform to walk into a hospital and share with kids. I have the opportunity to hang out with Zack before a game. I have the opportunity to go build a hospital in the Phillipines (which he is doing and where he does missionary work) or to do a lot more important things than football.”

I continued reading the “Memoir” as the score got grimmer and grimmer. Finally I couldn’t take it any more. In the third quarter when the score was hopeless, I turned off the TV and went to bed. I was obviously more depressed than Tebow.

Though Tebow has never credited God for a win, many others have. Here’s “God’s” take on that from 2:17. “To repeat, I do not intervene in sporting events; not because they are beneath me, (for what isn’t), but rather because – and if I sound old- fashioned here, then shoot me Bill Simmons – I care so deeply about the integrity of the game.” 2:18 “Athletes come and go, but the sports themselves remain; and I will never let my feelings toward the former corrupt my oversight of the latter.” 2:19 “I am the Lord thy Ref. I cannot be worked.”

I think Tim Tebow is the last person in the world to think that he can “work” God. He believes that God has given him the chance to do good and he is doing it the best way he can. And he is using all of his abilities to their fullest.

Listen to what he had to say after the game.

“It still wasn’t a bad day,” he said. “It still was a good day, because I got to spend some time before the game with Zack McLeod (a 20 year old with a brain injury sustained from playing football) and made him smile, and overall, when you get to do that it’s still a positive day. Sometimes that’s hard to see, but it depends what lens you’re looking through. I choose to look through those lenses, and I got to make a kid’s day. That’s more important than winning the game so I’m proud of that.”

He should be.

And his God should be proud too.

Though the “God” in this “memoir” is satiric, he has an important message which Tebow learned long ago. It isn’t about him. It isn’t about praying to win. It isn’t about believing that praying to win will influence God. It’s about believing that praying to do good in the world can work. “God” cannot be worked. Neither can Tim Tebow.

About

Sally Quinn Sally Quinn is the founding editor of OnFaith.
  • kevinkellyit

    The concern with Tebow is the intentional over-hype by the corporate sponsored, conservative Evangelicals, which Tebow is a member. Evangelicals are to Christianity, what the tea party is to a grass roots movement. In fact, both are controlled by the same people. As a QB, Tebow has yet to complete 20 passes in a game. Last week we could have changed ESPN to TSPN. No talk of Brady, a multiple MVP and SuperBowl winning QB.

    Do I like Tim Tebow? I never met him. I don’t see him having the skills to become a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. What I don’t like is using our Savior’s name for your own personal glory, political agenda and personal wealth. Sure seems to me that Tebow and the Evangelical movement are guilty in that area. And I disagree on the point that our Heavenly Father cares at all about the integrity of a sport. With all the hatred, greed and unchecked corruption in humanity today, sports is simply a distraction to make sure we don’t interfere with the plans of the evil one.

  • scribb

    As someone annoyed by the “Tebow” phenomenon, let me state for the record it’s not the fact that he makes his faith visible–as you pointed out, there are many athletes who give God the glory by pointing at heaven, crossing themselves, or wearing a cross. The difference is that Tebowing is *SO* attention grabbing–why else do we all know about it?–it crosses the line of being sanctimonious. That’s not just my opinion–it was Christ’s opinion as well. Matthew 6.5: “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”

  • ThisJustIn

    Nice article, Sally. I never thought I would say that

  • Jerry_R

    The christian god created by the feeble intellect of bronze-age goat herders is such a glory-hound. Sickening really. And pathetic people still believe the superstition…

  • Jerry_R

    …and no Joe, no affiliation with the ACLU…

  • Mainer1776

    If the tv cameras didn’t watch for him to give thanks, then you’d never know that he was doing it, would you?

  • ccnl1

    Dear Timmy T,

    A prayer to sooth your loss:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

  • ccnl1

    Ooops, make the “soothe your loss”.

  • erm439

    Ms. Quinn,
    After seeing you several times guesting on Fox, and wantng to throw whatever was handy, I applaud your insiteful article on Tim Tebow.
    I only wish that others will read your piece, and better yet, understand it.
    Thank you,
    Gene M

  • RainyDayIntern

    It is nice to see Tebow setting an example, but it was even better to see the Patriots rip into Denver over and over on Saturday.

    Beliefs are one thing, but the Patriots showed that teamwork, practice, and experience will always carry the day in the long run. THAT should be the REAL take-home lesson.

  • sallygoodell

    I don’t think he prays to win — but to be able to do all he may do to the Glory of God.

  • mageick9

    wow, with all the other crap going on in the world: famine, murder, global warming, solar rays, women being raped and abused, you people actually think God is helping this loser win a football game?

  • tlbuddy

    My whole family loves football and I have never really had a team that I called mine for some reason I just dont feel a connection to the team in my area. I am so glad for Tim Tebow I just loved reading about his attitude and he and his team will probably always be my favorite team cant wait till next year and even if they lose there still so much left to his personality that i will be one of his best fans.

  • lettersnumbersperiods83

    I think it’s a well accepted fact that Jesus was buried in a tomb and three days later his body was no longer in it. Hence the reason why people who do not believe in the resurrection are forced to come up with varying explanations for the missing body.

  • James210

    It’s pretty sad state in a society, that we exhume prayer for the sake a Gladitorial theater?

    I’m disgusted, with the emphasis that elders place on achievements of personal success (material,,leveraging) instead of achievements of Service to our communities, sorry i don’t have bars or eagles on my shoulders and, I don’t like boats and, that I have been a shame, to so many in my “community” (personal).

    “no matter what they say”, dedicated community service (rogues) does help promote a better world, for our children and our grandchildren, unlike federal oversee’ers, who’s only desire, is to see blood spilled in the streets to satisfy their own agendas? it is a positive refreshing peace. yes jealous.

    I’m ashamed to call myself American with having learned so much the last couple of years. I spend many a night reading at Jefferson(?) and wonder, what does it truly mean when, the coat no longer fits.
    futility? at fixing this garbage hole!
    of a so called democracy.

    Rumor sighting, something very large and furry roaming around the Memorial Bridge at the water line, at night, 25 pounder- nutria?

  • FreetoThink

    Enough, Sally. You’ve proved you have the hots for Tebow; so do my granddaughters. They’ll outgrow it. Now try to write about something meaningful.

    The reality is that Tebow is paid a lot of money to move a ball across a field. That’s not actually productive, although it gives fans the primitive, vicarious pleasure of proving that their tribe is better than the other tribe, all with no real damage done except for an occasional brain injury.

    And yes, Sally, the kneeling on the field does seem a little much.

  • 57nomad

    James210 said:

    “I’m ashamed to call myself American with having learned so much the last couple of years. ”

    You are ashamed to call yourself an American? Well, that makes it unanimous because everyone else is ashamed to call you an American also.

  • Carstonio

    Praying before the cameras and wearing the numbers of scripture verses – these aren’t about worshiping according to individual conscience. This is about religion as flag-waving and team loyalty, as if worshiping were no different from wearing a Redskins or Broncos jacket. When someone of any religion does this in private life, it merely goes against the principle of religion. But when the person drags it into the workplace, as Tebow is doing, it constitutes inappropriate conduct regarding one’s co-workers and customers. This isn’t about any particular player’s choice of religion – the principles I’m talking about apply equally to Islam or Judaism or Buddhism or any other religion. Any player in Tebow’s position would be respected if he discussed his religious beliefs off the field in ESPN interviews but kept the symbols of his religion out of the game.

  • ThomasBaum

    Sure does seem that Tebow is doing something right for it to bother so many people.

    God made each and every one of us and God did not make any of us to be clones of anyone else.

    Have you ever given any thought that Tebow is not looking for “respect” but, in his way, doing and saying what he feels Jesus is leading him to do and say?

  • Carstonio

    The self-righteous attitude in your first paragraph is unworthy of anyone no matter what his or her position on religion. As for your third paragrah, Tebow is an employee just like a restaurant server or a bank teller, and he’s hired to play, not to advertise his religion. That’s like a server or teller slipping a religious tract to customers. Whatever he believes about his responsibilities to the gods he worships, that’s not the concern of his employer.

  • ThomasBaum

    Would it be “self-righteous” to point out that you seem to be one of those that are bothered by what Tim Tebow is doing?

    If it is not the “concern of his employer” why is it the concern of yours?

    Does it also bother you when a football player puts in a plug for Disneyworld?

  • ThomasBaum

    Carstonio wrote:

    “It’s my concern because Tebow’s conduct amounts to proselytizing, which shows disrespect for fans fellow athletes, even the ones who share his religion.”

    Who are you to speak for all these other people ” fans fellow athletes, even the ones who share his religion”?

    I think that if they feel that they have been “disrespected” than they can speak for themself.

    Do you think that it is being “disrespectful” when someone uses their freedom of speech just because someone else doesn’t like it?

    What is freedom of speech if one is not allowed to use it?

    If I were you I would avoid coming to America because some people actually think that the freedoms enshrined in writing are actually one of the good things about America and the fact that some actually exercise these rights might bother you.

    Do you really think that it is “proselytizing” or does the fact that many people have taken notice of it bother you?

    Should all of those that make the sign of the cross be made to walk in lockstep with those that this action bothers and stop “proselytizing” if you also consider this proselytizing?

    I don’t really follow football but isn’t what is referred to as “Tebowing” when he gets on one knee and says nothing out loud?

    And then, ” No one is telling Tebow that he can’t pray by himself in the locker room away from the cameras.”

    So you think that he should go and hide to express his freedom of speech and freedom of religion?

  • Carstonio

    The “freedom of speech” argument doesn’t apply here because an employee doesn’t have the same freedom on company time as he or she does in private life. Employers have a legal and moral obligation to strive for workplaces that are welcoming to employees and customers of all faiths. That means in part that the workplace is religion-neutral. Otherwise, co-workers and customers amount to captive audiences for the person’s religious advertising. Sure, they could find different jobs r patronize different businesses, but the point is that they shouldn’t have to do so.

  • ThomasBaum

    What you seem to mean by “religion-neutral” is anything but neutral.

    If it bothers you so much, you do have an off button and as far as you being part of a captive audience you are captive by choice.

    And as far as “welcoming to employees and customers of all faiths”, the scenario that you depict is that the only “faith” that is allowed is no faith at all which I would like to point out is a faith in and of itself since there is no proof that there is nothing beyond the physical.

    If Tebow or anyone else after some play wishes to thank their mother or father or coach or whomever should that also not be allowed?

    I am not talking about some big extravaganza that would interrupt everything.

    Why would someone not be allowed to thank whomever or Whomever they wish to thank?

    Not allowing someone is sometimes the equivalent to forcing someone, is it not?

  • Carstonio

    Your “no faith at all” argument isn’t valid because the point I’ve been making applies just as much to atheism, which qualifies as taking a position on religious matters. Atheist proselytizing is no different in principle from proselytizing by believers. If Tebow declared after each touchdown that he beleived that no gods exist, I would still say that this was inappropriate in a work setting. For the thousandth time, secularism is not the same as atheism, and (I’m talking to you, Justice Scalia) neutrality among religious positions doesn’t equate to hostility to all religion. Neutrality in religious matters includes neutrality on atheism by default. Personally, I’m neither an atheist nor a theist since I don’t know whether gods exist.

    And it’s ridiculous to comparing sectarian prayer during a game to thanking one’s parents in that setting. That’s because religious issues are partisan ones. The issue would be little different in principle if Tebow was using the NFL’s air time to back a specific presidential candidate.

  • ThomasBaum

    What I consider secularism to be is not what the definition that some dictionaries give.

    I consider secularism to be that one is free, legally, to practice one’s beliefs if they don’t infringe upon anyone else and by infringing, I do not mean if it bothers them.

    Also, one is free, legally, to have beliefs, without being discriminated against, that there is nothing more than the physical.

    I do not consider secularism to be that one has to hide their belief out of fear of insulting someone else’s sensibilities.

    You may consider “Tebowing” as a sectarian prayer whereas I don’t but since you do:

    Just why is it “ridiculous to comparing sectarian prayer during a game to thanking one’s parents in that setting” seeing as many think of God as their Father and they should be able to thank their Heavenly Father whether or not it offends others considering the fact that they are not making a time-consuming distraction.

    As far as, ” The issue would be little different in principle if Tebow was using the NFL’s air time to back a specific presidential candidate”, really picking at straws here aren’t you?

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