Aborting Tim Tebow

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The Jets released Tim Tebow this week. Now the debate is on as to what team, if any, should sign him. Great athlete. Great person. But does he have the makings to be a good NFL quarterback who can win with his arm, not just his legs? I wonder if at some point he will abort an NFL career for another career path.

Yesterday, in an ethics class, my students and I discussed various models of ethics. As we discussed outcome-based ethics, we turned to consider the subject of abortion. We reflected upon the argument that is sometimes made that people shouldn’t abort based on the possibility that their children might grow up to be someone special. I was reminded of Focus on the Family’s 2010 Super Bowl commercial featuring a mother talking about how difficult it was giving birth to one of her children, and how he almost didn’t make it. It is only at the end of the commercial that you realize that she is Tim Tebow’s mom and is talking about him. While it is not explicitly stated, the message appears to be: it is worth fighting for life in a culture of risk and death because the child at risk may become a Heisman Trophy winner.YouTube Preview Image

Now that Tim’s NFL career has taken a hit, possibly a nosedive, what happens to his value as a human being? Certainly, he has already experienced far more success and popularity than most humans. But is his value in the past? What about those who will never be Heisman trophy winners, not even close? What is the basis for risking for another’s life? Is value inherent or determined by external forces, like athletic and academic skills or looks or even gender? After all, as far as I can tell, women can’t be Heisman trophy candidates as of yet.

Of course, the light and warm-hearted commercial involving a special mom and her beloved son was not intended to address all these issues, only celebrate life. Perhaps most people didn’t even think about these ethical concerns. But we need to think about them as a society so that we don’t decide to keep or abort a baby based on Heisman trophy potential or the likelihood of being released by the New York Jets.

This piece is cross-posted at The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and The Christian Post.

About Paul Louis Metzger

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is the Founder and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and Professor at Multnomah Biblical Seminary/Multnomah University. He is the author of numerous works, including "Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths" and "Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church." These volumes and his others can be found wherever fine books are sold.

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  • Kenny chmiel

    Why Do Women Have Abortions?
    – a statistical breakdown*

    Responses listed as primary reason %

    Social Reasons (given as primary reason)
    – Feels unready for child/responsibility 25%
    – Feels she can’t afford baby 23%
    – Has all the children she wants/Other family responsibilities 19%
    – Relationship problem/Single motherhood 8%
    – Feels she isn’t mature enough 7%
    – Interference with education/career plans 4%
    – Parents/Partner wants abortion <1%
    – Other reasons <6.5%
    TOTAL: 93%

    "Hard Cases" (given as primary reason)
    – Mother's Health 4%
    – Baby may have health problem 3%
    – Rape or Incest <0.5%

    I don't think the ethics of Timmy T and his worth figured into the reality of the problem, get a grip and deal with the real world, not the false world of class room situations and discussion.

  • Ronaldo A. Sison

    I have read somewhere that in far away Iligan City in the Philippines, Tim Tebow is not the Heisman Trophy awardee or the million-dollar contract QB with both the Broncos and the Jets. He was simply “Kuya” Tim, or Big Brother Tim to many a street kids who have not even heard of mighty America or that seemingly powerful ESPN broadcasts. No, he was simply Kuya Tim not because he was bringing something to the table but because he was a loving Christian kid who probably spoke one of the Philippines’ 180 dialects and languages and played with these street “urchins”. Point being? He was loved and accepted farm from the maddening crowd of New York and America’s past time, the NFL, but in an area where people still thrive as people and communities as communities. Because he was a human being not a human doing.

  • http://www.ethnicembraceusa.net Brian Considine

    I watched the video twice and the message I get is life is worth fighting for with the underlying message it would have been easier to abort the baby then to fight through a difficult pregnancy, juxtaposed against the tragedy of abortion that devalues life. Could a non-celebrity have told the same story? No doubt but we are a celebrity idolizing people and the Super Bowl attracts a huge audience, many of whom have misaligned priorities.

  • christopher erik

    “Of course, the light and warm-hearted commercial involving a special mom and her beloved son was not intended to address all these issues, only celebrate life.” Yeah, it seems to me that there is very little reflection on the nature of our “celebrity-cult” society. In one of your theology classes you noted that in the post-modern era, poets, artists and songwriters are the new “high priests” replacing the “modern scientists” and the medieval priest and prince. It seems to me that such a changing of the guard may not have had the “post-modern” effect that we had hoped for. Rather then propagating life-affirming “affective” truth such as that which characterized the Romantic Era, we are left with “celebrity,” which turns out to be just as elitist and hegemonic as the older cult of “prince and priest.” In other words, Tebow’s life is more valuable because he is a celebrated “prince.” LeBron “King James” – need I say anymore? This is certainly an ethical issue and one that must be confronted; for as Bonhoeffer has noted, our world tends toward these polar extremes in our estimation of “man”: we either “despise” our fellowman or we “idolize” him (celebrity cult). This bi-polar condition is especially insidious in Western democracy since our public “proclamation” is “all men are created equal.” They may have been “created” equal but that was a long time ago in a garden far, far, away . . . too long in exile!

    • Steve Longan

      I think part of the difficulty in this discussion is that this ad, this rhetorical artifact, has so many elements running through it. Some elements/arguments are stronger than others, but they all go to support the idea (as you, Brian, and Christopher have all pointed out) that life is precious and should be fought strongly for. That broader assertion, I think, we are all in agreement on. It’s the secondary issues that are a little disquieting: Why Tim Tebow as authority and case study?
      And I think the bigger issue that you’re raising Paul, and that resonates with me is: what is our culture as a whole to do with this advertisement? How can Tim Tebow be read into the decision-making process of mothers? As though there’s a chance that “unborn child ____x____ ” could be Tim Tebow and therefore should be struggled on-behalf-of for preservation? So, I did a Google search of children born from pregnancies with the same risk factors (detached or partially-detached placentas), and it was pretty disheartening. While there are babies born healthy, like Tim Tebow, there are almost as many babies who will have developmental disabilities if they emerge alive into the world at all (and we’re leaving aside, for the moment, the life of the mother). Do these human lives argue any less persuasively for the preciousness of life? And, if not, where are the ads where Tim Tebow appears with a developmentally disabled child to argue for the preciousness of life? As Tim Tebow regresses to the mean, this is the question we’re left with.

  • David Springer

    Good thoughts..I think that this post does two things: 1) it reminds us of the unintentional messages we may proclaim as we (Christians) seek to influence culture. For example the Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad with Tim Tebow a few years ago seemed to indicate that “it is worth fighting for life in a culture of risk and death because the child at risk may become a Heisman Trophy winner”. However, now that Tebow has been cut by the Jets, is his life less valuable? Since girls can’t win a Heisman, are their lives less valuable? and 2) it reminds us/points out that our culture is soo commercialized, so commodified that we often find and assign value and worth based on external voices and forces and NOT on our value and worth as redeemed reflections of our Creator. What is very clear is that this is NOT a piece on abortion per se but rather our very human propensities to want to insure that our thoughts and opinions go out to the world as amazing advertisements that will quickly and convincingly turn the hearers to see the benefits of our own thoughts and opinions as well as the myriad of ways we find/assign value based on external influences (such as ads).