Living Richlee: Hating Tim Tebow

All Tim Tebow does is Win and Talk about Jesus. Why do so many hate him?

Richard Lee is the Lead Pastor of Bethany Well Church in Fort Lee, NJ. The views expressed here are his own and not those of the church.

When a noun becomes a verb, it has reached a level of transcendence in the vernacular of the culture.

Go and Xerox a memo. Facebook me. Just Google it.

Tim Tebow has now reached that rarified air that few nouns reach. His name has now become a verb. "Tebowing" is now the word that people use to strike a pose in the prayer position above. It is most often used derisively of the Denver Broncos QB ("Tebowing" has a website dedicated to it. It has become a mild internet phenomenon, a la 'planking'). But his name has now transcended the football culture.

The fact that Tebow has transcended the NFL is clear. He's been written about in the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, and countless other news outlets. And I'm not talking about their Sports sections. In fact, in the perhaps the most telling evidence of his transcendence, a woman in my church just "facebooked:" Out of curiosity I googled Tim Tebow cause everyone has been talking about him lately. Woah, I gotta start watching some football!

Even if you're not a football fan, you've probably already heard about Tim Tebow and wondered what the big deal is about him. You've probably heard two things.

1. All he does is win. The Broncos were 1-4, in last place and were headed to a dismal season under QB Kyle Orton. But once Tebow took over as the QB, Denver has gone 7-1, and has propelled themselves to first place. But more than that, it's the way that Tebow has done it. He's won in come-from-behind fashion late in the 4th quarter. And usually he's done it after looking very mediocre as a QB for the first three quarters. Thus, the 4th quarter in a close game in Denver has become known as "Tebow Time."

2. All he does is talk about Jesus. This is the other thing that he's known for. Every interview he does, he first thanks his "Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Seriously. Every time. There are plenty of Christian athletes playing. Every once in a while you will see a circle after an NFL game with dozens of players praying in a circle. This circle happens after every game. But we rarely see it. And none of those players have ever been known for their faith. Tim Tebow is known for his faith. 

There's been quite a reaction to him and his outspokenness of his faith. Some respect him for his character and leadership, but want to hear less about his faith. Some have flat-out mocked him for his faith*. And it's the mean-spirited, mocking backlash that I find the most troubling. It's one thing to think he throws a wounded duck for a pass. But to mock, root against, or even hate him for his faith is another altogether.

* Although, to be fair, most of the criticism in football circles has been around his throwing skills as a Quarterback, or lack thereof.

I think the reaction to him has shown that as a culture, we are, in many ways, unable to have a civil conversation about God and faith. At face value, all Tebow does is thank Jesus. If an athlete started every interview by saying, "First of all, I'd like to thank my mom and dad," no one would make a big deal out of it. Or if they thanked their high school football coach or wife, no one would care. In fact, I think people would admire that. 

But, mention God—or worse, JESUS!— and suddenly, there's a backlash. He's not proselytizing. He's not saying, "You're going to hell." All he's doing is acknowledging the one to whom he's thankful. And here's the thing, I'm convinced that if he thanked "Yahweh" or "Allah" no one would think twice about it.

I'm not quite sure why that is. I'm not naive that Christians haven't always been the best examples in society historically or currently. However, it does remind me of a certain Bible passage that may be pertinent.

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

~ Romans 9:33, quoting Isaiah 8:14 

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Kee Won Huh December 18, 2011 at 03:25 AM
Will reply at length later, but in the meantime, you guys might find this article a worthwhile read - http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7319858/the-people-hate-tim-tebow By the way, nice post, Rich.
Andy Schmidt December 18, 2011 at 03:41 AM
>> a form of intolerance and religous bigotry << of course! >> mostly occurs from people that say they are Agnostic or Atheist << Can you support this claim? My personal observations would be just opposite - but I couldn't state them as "fact", just as those cases I've noticed Aghnostics and Atheists truly could care less what someone else believes in because they have no stake in it one way or the other. As long as you don't infringe on their right NOT to belong to your club - they have better things to do than to engage themselves. I've found that people who feel that their religion is the "absolute truth" are the worst offenders of the teachings of their own religion by being incapable to tolerating other views (whether agnostics - or practitioners of other religions). They think it's their calling/duty to honor "their" diety by bring in more people into the "flock" - and root out anyone who "dishonors" their diety by calling it into question. The people who burned "black" churches in the South had not been agnostics! The people with the white hood who stand around a burning CROSS are not atheists! The people who feel that any sort of different sexual tendency is "sin" claim to "know" what their diety wants (the one who preached tolerance towards even the biggest sinner). In order to "hate" you have to have "conviction". By definition, an agnostic or atheist has no "stake" in your believes - thus lacking the motivation to hate someone because of it.
Tracy December 18, 2011 at 01:04 PM
WOW! Judgement central here! I will leave his truth where it belongs, between Tebow and his God. I am just grateful that he is not one of those dancing, pelvis thrusting, kissing up to God end zone characters. While their entertaining, I am glad my kids have an option to see out there!
River Edger December 19, 2011 at 02:59 PM
@Buddy: Nail on the head. He's a great athlete, but an awful quarterback that has won a few games out of pure luck. The fact that he's being discussed as an MVP candidate proves the further ignorance of the general public. All this nonsense regarding this as a great story of "faith" is exactly that: NONSENSE. Anyone who prays to Jesus about a football game and then credits Jesus for positive results is living in a fantasy world.
FL4LIFE December 20, 2011 at 11:40 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul2dhNaQgxM this really puts it into perspective


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