I know very little about professional sports, but even I have heard of Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Denver Broncos. From what I know, I respect him a great deal.

He’s become a lightning rod for reaction. Love him or hate him, but you can’t ignore him.

Because he has had the audacity to publicly thank his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for his many recent victories—some of which have been spectacular—he is the subject of some rather interesting (sometimes profane) reactions.

I heard the other day that “tebow” has now officially entered into our vocabulary as a word or phrase added to our lexicon in 2011. To tebow is to bow your knee and give thanks to God.

When asked about his outspoken gratitude to his Savior, Tim Tebow said, “If you’re married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife ‘I love her’ the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity?”

He added, “And that’s how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that it is the most important thing in my life.” (USA Today, 11/22/11).

Tim Tebow’s outspoken gratitude to Jesus has provoked some strong responses. Here’s a small sample:

 

Saturday Night Live did a skit about him recently, where “Jesus” comes into the Broncos’ locker room after a game to essentially tell Tebow to cool it. I was watching the skit online and stopped midway. I found it neither funny nor respectful.
 Famous atheist Bill Maher exulted in a recent Tebow defeat, using unrepeatable and blasphemous profanity. (I was a panelist four times on Bill’s show when it was on ABC. He never seems to miss an opportunity to denigrate Christianity.)
 Former CNN pundit Bill Press said he wishes that Tebow would shut the [BLEEP] up.

In some ways these kinds of reactions are not surprising. Author Michael Novak once said years ago that in our highly sensitive age, the only form of bigotry that is acceptable in our society is anti-Christian bigotry.

I have noticed that people who clamor for tolerance are often the least tolerant of conservative Christians. About ten years ago, on a few occasions, the church I belonged to was protested by many liberals because of our opposition to same-sex marriage. I once quipped to the pastor, “Oh look, here come the shock troops of tolerance again.”

I think one of the worst criticisms of the football player comes from a far-left rabbi who implied that if Tebow kept his winning streak—which, alas, has not happened—then America would be in for some dark days brought on by Tebow devotees.

Joshua Hammerman stated in The Jewish Week:

“If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants. While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell’s first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably.”

Soon after writing this, both The Jewish Week and Hammerman issued apologies.

But I think some liberals believe the underlying sentiment. The committed conservative Christian, to some liberals, is the enemy of true freedom. The opposite is true.

To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, Jesus is the model of our liberties. In 1786, in his statute for religious freedom for Virginia, Jefferson wrote that any “temporal punishments” against religious opinion (even if deemed heretical) are a “departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its influence on reason alone.”

In other words, Jesus didn’t force Himself on anyone, nor should we, argues Jefferson.

It’s a sham to say that the likes of Tim Tebow (or Jerry Falwell for that matter) would call for “mosque burnings,” etc.

I prefer the views of a conservative rabbi I’ve had the privilege of interviewing a few times. Rabbi Daniel Lapin once told me:

“No country in the last two thousand years has provided the same haven of tranquility and prosperity for Jews as has the United States of America. And, this is not in spite of Americans being Christian; it is because of it. You might say that America’s Bible belt is the Jewish communities’ safety belt.”

Tim Tebow may have a big bulls-eye on his back. Some liberals are rooting for him to fail big time. But I am positive that if he were to pull off more seemingly miraculous plays in the future, there would be no pogroms as a result.

He would just humbly give credit where it is due. Good for him.

 

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Categories: 2012 Columns

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