Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tim Tebow and the Perils of Statistics

Prayers for Blowouts is featuring submissions from its readers and this piece puts some needed perspective on the whole "are you saving yourself for marriage" question:

By now most of you have already heard or read Tim Tebow’s confession that he is saving himself for marriage. Reaction was understandably mixed, with many wondering how Tebow could hold to his values while being so famous. Some of us Christians found ourselves in the midst of awkward conversations with non-Christians on how our faith calls us to sexual purity. Personally, I thought Dan Shanoff put it best: “In fact, his answer shouldn’t have surprised anyone. It is entirely consistent with his core values”.

However, I thought that there was an unfortunate moment in the analysis for a lot of people. If you listened carefully, Tebow said he was “saving himself for marriage.” People quickly took that to mean Tim Tebow was a virgin, and I do believe he is one. However, there’s a difference between saying “I am a virgin” and “I am saving myself for marriage” that is worth exploring. Suppose I show you two Christian young men. Guy 1 is a virgin. Guy 2 had sex once. Is Guy 1 holier than Guy 2? Counting and using statistics, yes. Zero is better than one, right? Guy 1, holy! Guy 2, sinner!

But that misses the point of the mindset of saving yourself for marriage. We are called to be holy in thought and approach, too, not only deeds; the Sermon on the Mount pounds this point home time and time again. Our culture has an unhealthy fascination with virginity and statistics instead of purity. Guy 1 could have wanted to lose his virginity many times, but got turned down. On the other hand, Guy 2 could be a handsome fellow with many opportunities to lose his virginity, yet he remained faithful to his values at all times except for one error years ago. Can we then say that Guy 1 is better? It’s wise to be cautious on judging too quickly in these matters. As Christians, we commit ourselves to holiness, but we also commit ourselves to repentance.

As a Christian, I am proud of Tim Tebow, not just because he is a virgin, but because he is striving towards the goal of being holy in all areas of his life. He may yet have sex before marriage; the temptations are likely to be many. (Although, I would note that Kaka, the Christian soccer player, did manage to make it to marriage, as did AC Green). But even if he does fall, I believe he will get back up and show a strong commitment to pursuing God’s will.

And that is definitely an example worth following.

One of the topics or ideas that we've repeatedly commented on is the idea that Tebow is "perfect" and how this is a disservice to both him and the beliefs that he stands for. Christian belief holds that only one man was perfect, Jesus, and that all, that's right ALL, have fallen short. And as a result, we all deserve more than one chance in life. But where do you draw the line?

What seems most unfortunate regarding contemporary American Christianity is the way it eviscerates and discards Christian leaders who do "fall from grace." As suggested above, what if a Christian leader like Tebow had fallen and then started a new again?

This happened recently with Christian baseball player Josh Hamilton, who had a relapse as a recovering alcoholic. Will someone like Tebow be given a second chance where no known history has been overcome? If Hamilton has another relapse, will he given the same latitude as this indiscretion?

Tebow is on record as saying it has not been his place to condemn or chastise his fellow teammates' off the field indiscretions, but instead to encourage them to move forward. Let's just hope when the greater public realizes that Tim Tebow isn't "perfect", like the rest of us, he'll be given the same measure of grace that he himself has afforded others, and be given the chance to "finish strong."

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