Tim Tebow, Men and Public Faith Displays

  • Tebow-Murrow

    Tim Tebow and David Murrow at a men's event, February 2011

    Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has gotten lots of attention of late – not only for his dramatic last-minute victories, but also for his very public demonstrations of faith. He regularly kneels on the field in prayer, gives glory to God in postgame interviews, and points to the heavens after every score.

    These things are nothing new. Athletes have been acknowledging God for years. But thanks to Tebowmania, the TV networks are beginning to give these moments of public devotion more airtime.

    Before Tebow, directors would quickly cut away from athletes who struck devotional poses. But now cameramen are lingering on these shots, and directors are putting them into the broadcast. And it’s not just Tebow. We’re getting longer looks when players point to the sky or bow their heads after touchdowns. Sideline reporters seem a little less irritated when players give glory to God. Broadcasters are even showing more shots of the postgame prayer circles that follow every contest. Praying men seem to be getting almost as much screen time as jiggling cheerleaders.

    Which brings up two questions: Why did the networks feel it was necessary to censor expressions of faith for so long? And why are they suddenly letting them through? A little history lesson reveals much.

    Before 1800, religious identity was public. But during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, society underwent a “public/private split,” according to Prof. Nancy Pearcey of Biola University. The public sphere included tangibles that could be measured and proven, such as science, academics, commerce and politics. The private sphere included intangibles, such as family, intuition, feelings and religion.

    Ever since the split, people have been free to discuss public matters in public, but were expected to keep the private matters private. If a man violated this code, he’d be ridiculed. “Tebow is wearing his religion on his sleeve,” critics sneer. Of course, we’d never think of criticizing someone for wearing his political views or career goals on his sleeve, because these belong to the public sphere.

    Tim Tebow is changing the 200-year-old bargain. He’s forcefully breaking through the don’t-talk-about-your-faith taboo like a burly fullback crashing through a defensive line. He’s serving the role of lead blocker – clearing the way for thousands of other athletes to be more open about who they are – and whom they serve. The media is following Tebow’s lead. And so is the larger public. In an era when everyone’s being encouraged to “come out of the closet” it seems silly or hostile to insist that Christians remain there.

    I believe Tim Tebow’s boldness is a very good thing for men and church. As Christian men see more and more athletes speaking boldly about Jesus, I believe they’ll be empowered to do the same. And that bodes well for the future of men in church.

    God’s hand may well be behind Tim Tebow’s miraculous success on the gridiron — not because the Almighty cares about football, but because he cares about men.

    Photo:  Tim Tebow and David Murrow at a men’s event in Houston, February 2011.

    Share:
    • Print
    • Digg
    • del.icio.us
    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    • email
    • LinkedIn
    • NewsVine
    • Yahoo! Buzz
    • RSS

    January 4th, 2012 | David Murrow | 5 Comments |

About The Author

David Murrow

David Murrow is the director of Church for Men, an organization that helps congregations reach more men and boys. In his day job, David works as a television producer and writer. He's the author of four books. He lives in Alaska with his wife, three children, three grandchildren and a dachshund named Pepper.

  • In Secret

    It’s silly to insist that Christians remain in the closet? Jesus didn’t think so: 
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mathew%206:5-6&version=KJV

  • http://www.churchformen.com David Murrow

    Read the context in which Jesus gave this command:

    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
    “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    Christ is not commanding us to hide our faith. He’s telling us not to use religion to build our own egos. Tim Tebow is not “practicing his righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them,” or to be “praised by others.” To the contrary – his bold proclamations have brought him much scorn.

  • http://www.churchformen.com David Murrow

    Read the context in which Jesus gave this command:
    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

    “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    Christ is not commanding us to hide our faith. He’s telling us not to use religion to build our own egos. 

    Tim Tebow is not “practicing his righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them,” or to be “praised by others.” To the contrary – his bold proclamations have brought him much scorn. 

    Only God knows Tim Tebow’s true heart, but from what I can see his motives are pure. He’s using every resource at his disposal to draw attention not to himself, but to his Savior.

  • Anton

    I’m lead organiser of a men’s event in a congregation over here in England later this year. I was given the task by our lead Elder after enthusing about your work (David) and I’m looking forward to it. I intend to find a speaker who is both a committted Christian and a Real Man. But, after some thought, he won’t be a pro sportsman. I enjoy certain sports as much as anyone, but ultimately sport is intensely egotistical, both in the extent of training demanded at top level and in performance. It is all about making up your own drama, whereas life brings real dramas. I shall be looking for a soldier rather than a sportsman.

  • http://www.churchformen.com David Murrow

    Contact my friend Carl Beech at Christian Vision for Men. CVM.org. The best source for men’s ministry in the UK.