An Open Letter to Tim Tebow

An Open Letter To Tim Tebow
Tim,

I’ve been following your career for years—but not by choice. I went to Bartram Trail High School in Jacksonville, the rival of the school you later played football for, Nease. After graduation I attended Florida State University (go Noles) who you famously defeated, leading the Florida Gators to two national championships. I’ve listened to countless friends and family members praising you for your athleticism, all while I’ve seethed. You’ve been causing me pain since 2005.

We do however, have one major thing in common, besides our hometown.

We’re both Christians.

When I fell in love and married a life-long gator, I knew discussions of you would not be ending anytime soon. To my surprise, after the Broncos and Jets debacles, I brought up the conversations—and I began defending you. Coaches, players, fans, it seemed that overnight, everyone in the NFL turned on you. Nastily. Even I, a die-hard Nole, thought you were being treated unfairly. When talks surfaced about you joining our home NFL team, I actually admitted (to the joy of my Gator friends) that I wouldn’t mind you being a Jaguar. I’ve come a long way towards accepting you, since the days you destroyed FSU in Doak.

That’s one reason I was so sad to hear you were going to speak at a Dallas church with an anti-gay pastor. When you cancelled, I was relieved, and proud of you. But still, something felt not right. Something that I felt I needed to say to you, despite my blue and orange blooded husband pleading me not to.

Related: Reconciling Tim Tebow’s Ability to Inspire with his Public Demonstrations of Faith – by Ian Ebright

Tim, right now, the world is watching you. You have everyone’s attention. And what I want you to know, is that you could do immeasurable good, if you’d come out as a Christian LGBT ally.

Now, before you get argumentative, remember the thing we have in common, the thing that is more important than our alma maters. Christ. And I can assure you, I am committed to Christ above all else. Even the Seminoles. Christ is the one who has led me to see the great harm the church has caused to LGBT communities, and itself.

In his book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate, (that you and every Christian should read) Justin Lee says this:

Political issues matter, from war to abortion to poverty to same-sex marriage. As Christians, we ought to care about these issues, because they affect people’s lives. But Jesus was known for his compassion, not for his politics. The messiah people were expecting was a political leader; the Messiah they got was a suffering servant. If his followers are now known more for our politics than for our grace, something is wrong.”

Judging by the way my gay friends have been treated by their Christian friends, family, and churches, something is wrong. Christians aren’t doing their job to spread love and compassion to their gay and lesbian neighbors. A divide has been drawn, one that’s only growing wider by the day.

I’m doing what little I can to try and reverse the bad information and theology that leads Christians to think you can, “pray the gay away,” or use the Bible to justify treating gay people like second class citizens. But you Tim, you could do so much.

Brave New Films

You might not know this, but the church in Jacksonville you are a member of, lobbied this past summer to deny LGBT citizens legal protections. Your pastor said that Jesus would not support a bill that would prevent gay people from being fired over their orientation.

That bill failed in City Council, thanks to Christians like this pastor.

Think of what could have happened, if you had came out in support of that measure. If you had made a stand for the people in your city, who have been told by the largest church in Jacksonville, that their rights don’t matter. You can make a difference Tim. You can choose to take a stand that some NFL players have, and show love and compassion to their LGBT friends, family, and communities. Only you can do it from a position of faith. One that will show the world that not every Christian out there is more concerned with protecting their own rights, than loving those without them.

I urge you, when choosing churches to speak at, writing up press releases, or answering interview questions, to think about the millions of fans you have. Think about the ones who are gay. Or the ones who have parents, friends, or loved ones who are gay. Think about those fans who have heard, from the mouths of Christians,  that there is no place for them in the church.

Related: Sexual Orientation, It’s Not a Sin – by Kathy Vestal

Think about your young fans who might have been struggling their whole lives to change their sexuality, only to be told that they’re not trying hard enough. Think of the players you may know who are still too scared of backlash to come out. Think of the church, who desperately needs more people like you to make a stand and say, “it’s not OK for us to keep acting like this towards our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

I’ll be praying for you, professionally, and personally, to succeed and realize your full potential. Not because I’m a fan of what you did for the Gators, like so many others who follow you. But because I’m a fan of your character, and faith. And I know that despite how much you’ve done, there’s still so much good you can do.

There’s still so much that needs to be done. Good luck, and God bless.

Sincerely,
Emily Timbol

—-
Emily Timbol is a blogger and author who writes faith, life and humor related essays. She has published multiple pieces on the Huffington Post, the Burnside Writers Collective, and RELEVANT magazine online. She is currently seeking representation for her first book, Leaving the Religious Lifestyle, about her journey from religious fundamentalism to faith based support for gay rights. You can find Emily on her blog and on her Twitter, @EmilyTimbol. She can also be reached by email, at emily.timbol@gmail.com

Photo Credit: Photo Works / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Emily Timbol

Emily TimbolEmily Timbol is a blogger and author who writes faith, life and humor related essays. Her work can be found on the Huffington PostThe Burnside Writers CollectiveRed Letter Christians, Christianity Today's Her.Meneutics, andRELEVANT magazine online. Her first book, Two Words: Why Hearing "I'm Gay" Changed My Straight, Christian Life is available now on Kindle, and paperback. You can find links to all her published works on her blog and on her Twitter, @EmilyTimbol. She can also be reached by email, at emily.timbol@gmail.comView all posts by Emily Timbol →

  • Frank

    Why would any Christian encourage another Christian to reject Gods perfect plan for sexuality and marriage and support sinful behavior?

    Stay true to the word of God Tim Tebow. Gods opinion is the only opinion that matters,

  • fantasticrice

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Many Christians have realized that using the government to force the change we believe in is no better than societal ills we aimed to cure. I hope you’ll realize your own political bias and take the log out of your own eye.

    • Eric

      How, exactly, does the recognition of the legal rights of gay and lesbian people “force” you to do anything?

  • I’m afraid I must disagree. And this comes from someone who many would label “gay”. Its not Tim’s responsibility to repair damage done by anyone other than him. Unless the SPIRIT leads you to support GLBT rights, then feel free to remain neutral. Not everyone has to have an opinion on everything. A perfect man once said “Who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” (LK12:14). I would say to Tim and anyone else: Dont let leaders or friends *or the media* pressure you into supporting anything that you have unanswered questions about, including gay rights / anti gay rights legislation. I assure you that as sure as LOVE is what Christ demonstrates to every person, He doesnt wish to force us to act according to his will. His patience is unending; and until we receive peace and love (and/or other fruit of the Spirit) regarding an issue, its best to remain silent. The Tempter is at the door eager to cause division.
    Mature Christians will understand that proximity to those with different or incorrect beliefs and values, does not mean that you support or agree with them anymore than Christ supported the actions and beliefs of the prostitutes, pharisees and tax collectors.

    • Eric

      And the SPIRIT can’t speak through other Christians?

      • Yes of course He can, but He is not coercive. The key wprd I used is “pressure”. The Spirit does not behave in a manner which conflicts with the fruit of the Spirit.

    • Jonathan

      Sounds like dualism. A mature Christian should be able to spot that.

      • Jonathan

        When the Nazis came for the communists,

        I remained silent;

        I was not a communist.

        When they locked up the social democrats,

        I remained silent;

        I was not a social democrat.

        When they came for the trade unionists,

        I did not speak out;

        I was not a trade unionist.

        When they came for the Jews,

        I remained silent;

        I wasn’t a Jew.

        When they came for me,

        there was no one left to speak out.

    • For the immature will always find something to disagree about. if we look for fault we will always find fault somewhere, even if it means creating the illusion of fault where none exists. Part of being a Christian means accepting others even when they don’t accept me. It also means that I don’t have to live up to others’ expectations. We are more often harshly judged by man for not having a “publicized” opinion, than for minding our own business.

  • Dennis L

    She does to Tbow what she accuses the churches of doing to gay people.

    • Eric

      Huh? How is she excluding and demonizing and marginalizing Tebow?

      • Dennis L

        She’s trying to control his speech, where he speaks, why and how… She’s marginalizing him as she tells him where to speak and not speak, and who to associate himself with when he speaks. She’s doing exactly what the churches tell their members to do to gay people.

        • Eric

          If you can’t tell the difference between making a request of someone and trying to “control” them–you might have a persecution complex.

          If you think a blog post has the same power as the law to “marginalize” someone–you might have a persecution complex.

          If you think supporting LGBT rights does to churches “exactly” what churches do to gay people–you might have a persecution complex.

          • Dennis L

            If you weren’t such a smart-ass and know-it-all you might be able to listen and then have a decent dialog.

          • Eric

            Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system! Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

            Help! help! I’m being repressed!

            “Smart-ass”?! Ooh, what a giveaway!

          • 22044

            Not helpful.

          • Dennis L

            I agree. Having a decent discussion is long gone on RLC website. Sad really!

          • Eric

            22044: Sorry. Mom.

            Dennis: Yes, because misrepresentations and exaggerations should be taken seriously. There was nothing in your comment or your reply to me to take seriously. Nothing that served as the basis for a discussion. Only fantasies about reverse discrimination.

          • 22044

            Eric,
            You’re the one trying to make a point. It isn’t helpful to you when you become a clown – including calling me Mom.
            Maybe you do need a Mom, since you don’t know manners.

          • Eric

            You two crack me up.

            Dennis: Ah, so it’s all my fault! Gotcha.

            22044: Actually satire and sarcasm are quite helpful, to me and to my point. As for your concern with my manners, well there ya go. Not sure which is funnier: your need to police the comment thread or your failure to mention Dennis’ oh-so-serious name calling.

          • 22044`

            I have no concern with your manners other than they trip you up. I guess you’re a legend in your own mind. Not a good place to be.
            Remember, you replied to Dennis. But your reply did not engage or help.
            You would hurt the cause that you claim to advocate for, if you continue to blather like you do. Think about it instead of using “debate” tactics of a twelve year old.

          • Dennis L

            Eric, I notice no one taking you seriously… because you do not allow anyone to take you seriously. You have ended all discussion and discourse with your bizarre pseudo-Socratic sarcastic statements and questions . You’re need to talk down to others is on a grandiose level.

          • 22044

            Pretty rare for sure. Definitely impossible with Eric the Clown.

          • Eric

            22044: I’m moved by your concern to elevate the discourse. It might be more convincing if the comments hadn’t begun as a farce, but I’m still touched. 0_o

            Denny-boy: I’m getting business cards made with that title now. Thanks!

          • 22044n

            Eric,
            Tell you what, I didn’t read your last comment.
            God loves you, even when you slander two of your brothers on a blog and openly disobey Him. Hopefully you’ll at least think about that. My final comment here.

          • Eric

            Slander? Openly disobey? That might be the funniest thing you’ve said yet! It certainly makes the least sense. Ta!

          • 22044

            I forgive you, Eric. Go and sin no more. That means do not call strangers on the Internet “Mom”.

  • 22044

    Emily has replaced one form of “fundamentalism” with another. Too bad.

  • Daithi Duly

    Sadly a very typical post. The Red letter Christian said that it formed itself to be about more that Abortion and Homosexuality, however the site itself has numerous posts on Homosexuality. The judgmental attitude so heavily condemned only seems to work one way. I feel quite sorry for Mr Tebow as he is an individual who unlike us, does not have the luxury to live a private life and therefore is scrutinized at a deeper level that us. How would all of us feel if we had reporters, cameras, bloggers and all the like hounding us daily. It seems that the RLC website seems to have a marked position on giving a fair chunck of the website to people with bullets to shoot at others.

    • 22044

      I’ve been noticing this a bit. In an effort to support what was an idea that is becoming more a farce, as more posts are related to homosexuality, it seems like RLC is trying to paint other evangelicals into a corner and make easy caricatures of them.
      Surely Jesus cannot be pleased with that.

    • questioning

      The two most debated topics in Christianity now are Abortion and Homosexuality, so it’s not at all surprising that many blogs run in that direction. Don’t believe me? Just look at the comments. Tim Tebow is famous because he’s a football player. Without that, we would probably have never heard of him. No offense to him, and I strongly suspect he would agree, the fact that we look to him and people like him to form, reinforce and validate our beliefs is disturbing.

      • ” The two most debated topics in Christianity now are Abortion and Homosexuality.” This may be true, but it shouldn’t. These may be rwo of the most visible culture-wars topics, but this has more to do with the sociopolitical agendas of noisy “wings” of the church. Replacing the externally-driven right-wing obsession with an externally-driven left-wing one is not discipleship, it’s merely redirected focus on the world’s priorities. True Red-Letter Christianity calls both wings to account for their ungodliness…which includes the hateful exclusiveness of the right and the sexual amorality of the left.

        • questioning

          No argument there, except before any accounting can take place, the two sides have to agree that, what you are calling ungodliness, exists. Since there is no agreement on that and likely never will be, we have to figure out how to deal with the tension in a Godly manner.

          • Questioning

            Based on the tenor of the comments thus far, it seems we have a long way to go. :>)

        • 22044

          I agree, these topics only come up in a small subset of American Christianity. Most churches rarely discuss them.

          • questioning

            That’s because everyone is afraid to discuss them. It’s usually only here where we can either remain anonymous behind a screen name, or in private, when true feelings come out.

  • Jim

    Hi Emily,

    I hope you sent that letter to Mr. Tebow personally. Because if not, then you are short cutting the ability to dialog with him. Also, if it did or did not get sent to Mr. Tebow, the letter, in a literal sense the letter is just gossip.

    Maybe Emily was hired by Tony to “tick off the peeps”. It is a clever marketing technique these days. Fox ticks off peeps. MSNBC ticks off peeps. Billy Maher ticks off peeps. Hannity ticks off peeps. Newspapers tick off peeps. Why doth our society do such things? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Jesus ticked off peeps. But not for cash. But because He actually had the knowledge, power, and holiness to do so. Plus a infinite number of other attributes.

    • emilytimbol

      Not hired by Tony, but that would have been fun! And I could have sent him a snail mail letter, but chances are far greater he’d actually see this, than a piece of paper in a bag with hundreds, sorted by an assistant.

  • Jonathan

    Reminds me of Clint Eastwood talking to Obama.

  • Jonathan

    I think Christ was very political and subversive. One should read through the scriptures with a political lens, and you’ll find that Christ was not just some nice merciful Apolitical healer.

    Read: Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of the Book of Mark by Ched Myers

    • 22044

      Why not read Scripture just to see what it says with no lens?

      • Jonathan Starkey

        Because if you don’t it would just be words. You have to ask the question what was Jesus doing that was making everyone angry.

        • Jonathan Starkey

          You have to ask what was the political, sociopolitical, religious climate in the first century. If you don’t then you may not understand the scriptures. Ask what was the dominant religious and dominant sociopolitical atmosphere? How would a first century Christian understand these scriptures.

          Even ask these things today. Ask what was the dominant religious and dominant sociopolitical atmosphere?

          • Jonathan Starkey

            When you know the dominant religious culture in Jesus day. Then you’ll know why healing on the sabbath was such a big deal. And it’s deeper than petty legalism which the reformed church makes it out to be.
            —-
            Pick heads of grain says, something about the economic and political atmosphere.
            —-
            The healing of demons can be seen also of the need of the whole culture needing an exorcism.

          • Jonathan Starkey

            Jesus wasn’t crucified for being a nice guy and a healer.

  • Seriously,do we read our bibles?and does it impact our lives or is it a question of selective spiritualism,granted,we are supposed to love the whole mankind regardless of their background,but still our Lord Jesus Christ after showing one His greatest act of compassion and in fulfilling the scripture in John 3:17,still told the woman caught in adultery,go and sin no more.
    Seems to me that Choice is actually beginning to become god.

  • So, in essence, despite the fact that you quoted Justin Lee who wrote, “Jesus was known for his compassion, not for his politics. The messiah people were expecting was a political leader; the Messiah they got was a suffering servant,” you’re asking Tim to become inextricably involved in politics.

    Why, if you went to so much trouble to point out that Jesus did NOT get involved in politics — which I argue against vociferously but that’s for another time — do you want Tim to?

    Shouldn’t you wait to lobby him until he decides to enter politics — if he ever does — after his football career is over?

    And as was said repeatedly at CPAC2013 — and which Jesus said repeatedly in so many words — if you think something should be done within politics than wo/man up and run for office yourself; this might be regarded as theologically equivalent to Jesus saying to His disciples, “YOU give them something to eat!”

  • Sandy Pryor

    So sad to see professing Christians in support of sins of any kind, including homosexual sins. I hope Tebow points those involved in any type of sin–including homosex, fornication, adultery, incest, theft, murder, drunkeness, lying, pride, and so many more–to Christ for repentance and forgiveness of all sins and restored to fellowship with the God who made them male and female.

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