Why do so many people love Jeremy Lin (for now) and hate Tim Tebow? Or, more specifically, why do the same people that hate Tim Tebow so vociferously love Linsanity? Jeremy Lin, is also a devout Christian, but so far he’s not faced the acrimonious hate that Tim Tebow inspires. For that matter, other outspoken Christian professional athletes (i.e. Colt McCoy) are not catching the flak the Tebow does. The question is why?
I think I have an idea what a major factor may be, but lets admit all kinds of reasons people may not like Tim Tebow:
- He played for the Florida Gators.
- He’s a Denver Bronco.
- He’s a rich boy (earned more than Aaron Rodgers this year).
- They hate football.
- He’s white.
- He talks with a almost-feminine voice.
- They’re sick of hearing about Tebow even before he started professional playing.
- He’s a hunk.
- They think he’s lucky.
- They don’t like his throwing mechanics.
- They think he’s getting opportunities that other guys don’t get.
- They have a bias against lefties.
- They don’t like religion.
- He won’t date them.
- In contrast to Lin, it seems like Tebow was groomed for the spotlight by his parents and handlers, giving the impression that he’s benefitting from culture wars. Whereas, Lin’s story strikes everyone as a pure Cinderella story.
It’s too soon to know what is going to happen with the amazing Jeremy Lin story. I am enjoying every moment of it, having never witnessed anything like it in my life. And I love the fact that Jeremy seems to have some more depth to his Christianity than what is immediately obvious in Tim. I don’t mean that disparagingly of Tim. I respect Tim Tebow a lot, but there is nothing on anything that I can find that shows much about what Tim actually believes, what he reads, etc. Jeremy Lin, on the other hand, reads Stott, Piper, and Mahaney. He has articulated a strong understanding of sovereignty, etc.
But all that misses what I think is the real reason for the hate on Tim Tebow. Indeed, he is one of the most loved and popular, but he’s also one of the most hated. I venture an answer:
Tim Tebow is one of the most hated athletes in America because he poked his finger in the eye of American immorality.
Americans embrace McCoy and Lin and their Christianity. After all, most Americans declare themselves to be Christian. But Tim Tebow, whether in naiveté or in bold deliberation, took his fame and said, “Abortion is wrong.” With his unashamed claim to virginity, he makes immoral Americans squirm because they hear him saying in unmistakable clarity: “Fornication is evil.”
Americans don’t like people who make them feel bad about themselves. We love Christian athletes. We just don’t want a Christian athlete making us feel ashamed because we don’t want to take the right position on abortion. We don’t want a Christian athlete making us feel bad about the fact that we have no morals. Even as Christians who believe as Tim does, we don’t want Christian athletes making us feel like we are cowards in our witness!
We Americans don’t mind that Tebow is a virgin. For that matter, we don’t care if Lin is. We just don’t want Tim saying so. Or Lin. Tim’s outspoken morality is intrusive to our immorality when he doggedly insists on bringing up his relationship to his Lord and Savior while we’re being entertained. We love darkness. We hate light. And light penetrates darkness by showing us that our works are evil. Much of the reaction to Tim proves John 3:20. And I wish Tim would wear that verse in his eye black:
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
I’m not saying that Lin must do as Tebow has done. Perhaps Tebow could have been more savvy and would do things differently if he could get another chance. Perhaps he’s ashamed that he hasn’t been more vocal! God calls each person to serve in a particular way. But I do think that we ought to avoid self-righteously frowning upon Tim Tebow for all the hate he’s inspired when it’s very possible that much of the hate is because he has courage that too many of us lack.
There are plenty of normal reasons to not like Tim. People love to hate athletes. However, some of the hate is clearly irrational and I think it is because Tim has scandalized the American conscience –not by doing something evil — but by being simply what was once more normal: moral and unashamed.