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Tebowing for life

Sometimes it’s hard to write a column every single week. Sometimes an idea “sings” to me and I can pound out a column in an hour. Other times it’s like pulling teeth.

This week it was pulling teeth. I had a couple of concepts, but nothing that “sang” to me enough to put it on paper and make logical sense of it.

Then late Thursday night I read an article about Tim Tebow, the Denver Bronco’s quarterback, and I knew I had my subject.

I hate football. I really do. My husband is totally indifferent to it as well. In fact – true story – I knew my husband was the man for me when I found him on his front lawn fixing his bicycle on Super Bowl Sunday in 1988. “Why aren’t you inside watching the game?” I asked. He shrugged and said, “I’m not that into football.” I looked at him with new eyes and thought, “Hmmmm …” We’ve been happily married since 1990.

So for a quarterback to get my attention is little short of a miracle. But if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a deep admirer of Tim Tebow despite his football associations.

There’s nothing really unusual about Tebow, the man. Living amongst as many Christian homeschoolers as we do, I know dozens of clean-living wholesome young men who make their mothers proud. These young men work hard, read their Bibles, go to church, honor their elders, respect women, give back to their communities and are modest to boot.

So in that regard, Tim Tebow is a pretty ordinary guy. What makes him extraordinary is not just his football prowess. It’s the fact that so many people in the media, as well as certain rabid fans, hate his guts.

Why? Simple. He’s a clean-living wholesome young man who makes his mom proud. He works hard, reads his Bible, goes to church, honors his elders, respects women, gives back to his community and is modest to boot. Ooooh yuck, no wonder they hate him.

To top it off, he’s an admitted virgin. Yikes! Stop the presses! A famous athlete who practices sexual restraint! The nerve! “That’s how far we’ve come from any kind of sane viewpoint about star athletes and sex,” admits pro-choice sports columnist Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post. “Promiscuity is so the norm that if a stud isn’t shagging everything in sight, we feel faintly ashamed for him.”

Needless to say, Tebow gathers critics like Jesus gathered sinners. He is speared from all directions by people who take affront at his unashamed “Tebowing” after a successful play. Contrary to those who claim he’s violating Matthew 6:5 (“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others …”), Tebow isn’t blaring his prayers over the stadium’s sound system. He’s quietly kneeling on the sidelines. They should blame the cameramen for focusing on him during a moment of private devotion, rather than blaming Tebow for making that devotion in the first place.

What seems to honk off the rabid critics is the approval he inspires. How dare people admire a hunky athlete for his purity rather than his lechery? He should be hiding his light under a bushel. Instead, he has the audacity to use his God-given talents to put his lamp on a stand, which brightens the entire room. It’s well-known that the forces of darkness seriously hate the light because it illuminates their sin. Demonstrating self-control in his personal life makes other, less-controlled athletes look, well, out of control.

Today, Hollywood and the media try to make immorality the norm … so much so that it quite literally makes headlines when someone famous and manly bucks that trend and refuses to participate in shallow sexual conquests. Or, to put it another way, the other less-controlled athletes are busy loudly proclaiming their immorality on the street corners to be seen by others.

“The anti-Christians don’t want to believe that anyone is out there trying to be good,” says the Wintery Knight blog. “They feel that if they could just bring everyone like Tebow down to their level, then all the evil that they are doing will be OK. What would be great, they think, is if people like Tebow could celebrate their sinful choices so that they would feel better about them.”

What’s even more annoying is Tebow isn’t making an issue out of anyone else’s behavior. He doesn’t have to. His clean personal lifestyle speaks for itself. In this he’s following the advice attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times … and if necessary, use words.”

Some critics say they don’t like Tebow because he’s a mediocre player. I can’t say one way or the other since I know so little about football. But I do know one thing: Tebow has generated a level of interest in the game unmatched in years. Even non-football fans like me are taking an interest.

Shouldn’t sports fans applaud this development? But no, critics take it as a personal insult that the man is devout. It’s that pesky “light” thing again.

This morning I read an article which quoted Rabbi Yehuda Levin who said, “No country, no empire has historically lasted past a certain stage when it has become corrupt morally.” He said a loss of morality will be followed by a loss of economy, culture and religion.

So there you go. Tim Tebow’s morality is not only a point of light for the Denver Broncos and for football, it’s a point of light for our nation. He’s reminding us of the greatness we once had when we embraced morality and self-restraint.

There are elements at large who would love nothing more than to bring down this extraordinary young man, to involve him in a scandal, to smear his good name. But in the cynical world of high-profile athletes, Tebow’s behavior on and off the field is a breath of fresh air. And like the wind, it’s spreading.

It’s long past time the sporting world had a decent, wholesome, clean-living hero like Tim Tebow. And I say, more power to him.