Tebow and the pay-for-proof-of-sex stunt

Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow. Jeffrey Beall, Flickr.

You know the song that runs, “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket”? Try subbing out the word “Christian” for “star” and you’ve just identified one of the world’s favorite pastimes.

The most recent manifestation of this is the dating service that is offering a million dollars if a person can prove that she (or possibly he I suppose) has had sex with Tim Tebow, the popular New York Jets quarterback and outspoken evangelical Christian.

Tebow’s professed virginity has been the subject of scorn for some time, and it seems it would delight some people to no end to prove him a phony.

There’s no way to win with people like that, but let’s remember the rules of the game. Showing Christians to be hypocrites is considered proof that their belief is disingenuous, their profession bogus. Perversely, such a revelation somehow validates the unbelief and resentment of those who delight in wickedness. It’s a kindergarten stunt, but adults are its best practitioners.

When a Christian is exposed for having committed some sin or other, these people kick up their heels and dance to the news. It seems few joys are so great as confirming the prejudice that Christians are fundamentally false. But to feel better about your own immorality by exposing the immorality of Christians is the flimsiest of fig leaves.

The problem is that the whole game is flawed. Let’s just go ahead and lead with the obvious: Christians are hypocrites. For that matter, I’m a hypocrite. What’s more, it’s normal. It’s natural.

For Christians to fall short of the standards they profess and proclaim is as normal as breathing. How can it be any other way? It doesn’t mean they’re phony. It simply means they take God’s standards seriously, even if they struggle (as most of us do) to live up to them.

The easy way to avoid being called a hypocrite is to define immorality down to the point of meaninglessness, but then what do you have? I’ve written about this before in a piece called “Go ahead and live badly.” The upshot is simple enough: If Christian morality matters at all, it’s worth practicing badly.

So what if Tim Tebow is exposed and all the worst suspicions of cynics are proven true? For the cynics, realize you’ve won a worthless trophy. For Christians, love him anyway. Pray for grace and mercy and forgiveness — just like you would hope he would do for you when you fall.

About Joel J. Miller

I'm the author of Lifted by Angels, a look at angels through the eyes of the early church. Click here for more about me or subscribe to my RSS here.

  • http://www.ericamcneal.com Erica McNeal

    Love this post Joel. We are all sinners saved by grace, and hypocritical in many ways. I tell people often that the only difference between believers and non-believers is that when believers hurt us or let us down, it tends to hurt so much more simply because we do not expect it. We somehow find it unfair to hold non-believers to a standard they do not profess to believe in. On the one hand, I think that site knows they will never hand out the million!

  • http://www.ericamcneal.com Erica McNeal

    Love this post Joel. We are all sinners saved by grace, and hypocritical in many ways. I tell people often that the only difference between believers and non-believers is that when believers hurt us or let us down, it tends to hurt so much more simply because we do not expect it. We somehow find it unfair to hold non-believers to a standard they do not profess to believe in. On the one hand, I think that site knows they will never hand out the million!

  • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

    I suspect you’re right about that. It’s a silly publicity stunt.

  • http://www.jenniferspeaks.wordpress.com Jennifer

    “Perversely, such a revelation somehow validates the unbelief and resentment of those who delight in wickedness”
    Excellent point. Though the believer is not dominated by sin, we will always fall short…just like the Bible says!

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Exactly. If God is perfect, and we are through sanctification growing ever-more in his likeness, then we’ll never fully attain. We’ll always fall short in some degree. This post here on our progress in sanctification might be useful to some.

  • http://www.jenniferspeaks.wordpress.com Jennifer

    “Perversely, such a revelation somehow validates the unbelief and resentment of those who delight in wickedness”
    Excellent point. Though the believer is not dominated by sin, we will always fall short…just like the Bible says!

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Exactly. If God is perfect, and we are through sanctification growing ever-more in his likeness, then we’ll never fully attain. We’ll always fall short in some degree. This post here on our progress in sanctification might be useful to some.

  • http://www.sheliamullican.com Shelia

    Amen. Amen. and Amen!!!

    It’s the getting back up that is the victory. The willingness to go out there again tomorrow and fall back down and get back up over and over. And it seems to me the most painful criticism comes from our fellow believers. Those who should understand. Those are the daggers that pierce doubly.

    Theodore Roosevelt. Same song. Second verse. :)

    “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Wow. Great reminder about the danger of “friendly fire.”

      But you’re right: It’s striving that matters. Giving into your sin, being “true” to your passions and impulses may not be hypocritical. But it is damnable. That’s a lot worse.

      • Erica C.

        Thanks for the reminder that our strivings matter. Because our strivings empowered by the Holy Spirit can produce sanctification. The Lord can bless our attempts to honor Him and He can hone us if we’re willing to act in obedience. Anytime we are swept away by the lusts of our heart, that’s when sins of omission lead to ones of commission.

  • http://www.sheliamullican.com Shelia

    Amen. Amen. and Amen!!!

    It’s the getting back up that is the victory. The willingness to go out there again tomorrow and fall back down and get back up over and over. And it seems to me the most painful criticism comes from our fellow believers. Those who should understand. Those are the daggers that pierce doubly.

    Theodore Roosevelt. Same song. Second verse. :)

    “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Wow. Great reminder about the danger of “friendly fire.”

      But you’re right: It’s striving that matters. Giving into your sin, being “true” to your passions and impulses may not be hypocritical. But it is damnable. That’s a lot worse.

      • Erica C.

        Thanks for the reminder that our strivings matter. Because our strivings empowered by the Holy Spirit can produce sanctification. The Lord can bless our attempts to honor Him and He can hone us if we’re willing to act in obedience. Anytime we are swept away by the lusts of our heart, that’s when sins of omission lead to ones of commission.

  • Daniel Decker

    Well said.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Thanks, Daniel!

  • Daniel Decker

    Well said.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Thanks, Daniel!

  • James

    This stunt also burst society’s lie that virginity has no value.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Hilarious, actually. Great point.

  • James

    This stunt also burst society’s lie that virginity has no value.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Hilarious, actually. Great point.

  • http://www.chattykelly.com Kelly Combs

    Isn’t that the whole reason we need Jesus? Because we do fail. If Tebow could be perfect he wouldn’t need Jesus, he would be Jesus.

  • http://www.chattykelly.com Kelly Combs

    Isn’t that the whole reason we need Jesus? Because we do fail. If Tebow could be perfect he wouldn’t need Jesus, he would be Jesus.

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