Everyone knows Tim Tebow is a rock star on the college football scene. He is already a heisman winner, he already has national championship rings and he is simply the most dominant player in recent history. He is also an evangelical Christian. Today I read an article about Tebow’s recent answer to the question as to whether he was a rock star virgin as well. The writer is obviously a Tebow fan, both of his football exploits and of his public stance for the faith. Believe me, I applaud both of these things as well, but the article did give me some serious pause.
A lurking question about Christian celebrities came to mind as Tebow’s life was lauded so loudly in this article. It reminds me of the peril of Christian celebritism reflected masterfly by the late AW Tozer:
How eagerly do wee seek the approval of this or that man of worldly reputation. How shamefully do we exploit the converted celebrity. Anyone will do to take away the reproach of obscurity from out publicity-hungry leaders: famous athletes, congressman, world travelers, rich industrialists; before such we bow with obsequious smiles and honor them in our public meetings and in the religious press. Thus we glorify men to enhance the standing of the Church of God, and the glory of the Prince of Life is made to hang upon the transient fame of a man who shall die.
AW Tozer, The Pursuit of Man (Camp Hill: PA, Christian Publications Inc., 1950) 44.
Now I think it fully appropriate for athletes, politicians, business people to share openly and publically what God has done in their lives, the saving work of Jesus and how others can come to the same knowledge. I worked for years with Athletes in Action where we did just this sort of work with young athletes. Yet this is different than the placing of people on high pedestals upon which no person really belongs. Think just for a moment about this quote by the author of this article:
I think everyone is afraid to ask, but wouldn’t this be the ultimate testament to his religious faith?” And then I further wrote, “And if he wasn’t a virgin wouldn’t this at least prove that Tim Tebow has violated a Bible verse? Something that, to be honest, there is no evidence of thus far. Put it this way, if Tebow got shot and we all thought he was dead, and then he came back to life, wouldn’t you be convinced that Revelations was unspooling before your eyes?
Now I realize that he is using a bit of hyperbole here, and for the most part I agree with the authors admiration of Tebow’s integrity. Yet it did provoke a question I have for both the media and for followers of Jesus who esteem the “perfect walk” of Tim Tebow: “How will the media, and Christian people, treat Tim Tebow when he screws up?” Years ago, I remember people throwing David Robinson under the bus for saying a bad word on the basketball court. Today’s star and Christian celebrity can be abandoned and left to be eaten by the naysaying dogs when sin rears its ugly head.
I reserve perfection for one person who lived on earth and that guy was God. I like it that Tebow walks the walk and I like it that he is saving his sexuality for the context of covenant marriage. It is what I want for my kids. I even like it that he has mad skills on the football field. I just hope there is “grace” for him if/when he messes up in life. For we all need forgiveness and grace…that is the point of the Christian gospel…not that we can be perfect at obeying every command in the Bible. I think Tim Tebow would agree.
(HT- Mike Heffner for the link to the article)