Timothy Hatfield asked me what I would tell Tebow if I were his pastor. Since I have offered some positive observations of the Tebow phenomenon in the past, I felt compelled to offer a few brief words of pastoral advice:
One: Don’t sexualize the gospel…your image is important to many Christians in this country. You have developed a great reputation and God has blessed you with tremendous gifts not only in the field, but as a voice of the broader evangelical community for many Christians who have felt oppressed in the world of sports. Two: These types of ventures do not reflect the gospel which you embrace. Desist/stay away from these types of endeavors because they only prove the point that many have made that Christianity is only a means/ a form of manipulative tool to accomplish success in life. Three: Tell the congregation that what you did is beneath your call as a servant and representative of the Most High God. Your actions have only served to accentuate the sex-driven/image-saturated vision of the world. So, repent of your actions. Use your body as a gift in the sport you love and for the wife you will one day have. Finally, flee youthful lusts and turn to your Church and to godly leaders for wisdom. Read Proverbs, then read it again, and place your career and your life daily at the mercy of Jesus your righteous Lord.
Update: It is now known that Tim Tebow did not take these pictures recently, but rather six years ago.
Comments: Tebow may be blameless in this situation, but he did not the “avoiding the appearance of evil” principle. GQ’s reputation is far known as a metrosexual magazine. Tebow in an interview simply expressed the discrepancy in the dating of the picture. As far as I am concerned he made no reference to the rightness of wrongness of the matter. In a conspicuously sexualized culture and in a culture where pictures last forever and pop up at the most inopportune time, players who claim the name of Jesus need to be even more aware of their presence and involvement.
The issue is that the picture was a mere continuation of a culture replete with sex symbols. If Tebow desires to be an image of godliness–and I believe we need thousands of more Eric Liddell’s–then he needs to be aware of his surroundings. Since he has been given a greater spotlight than others his testimony requires an even more intense watchfulness.
Further, Tebow needs to distance himself from these pictures immediately. He should make that clear in the media, since the majority of people–and the media–believe he intentionally posed in a cruciform manner posing as a “sexy Jesus” (to quote major on-line news sources). If this is the public perception, then he needs to distance himself from it. Repent publicly and affirm that that particular lifestyle does not represent who he is today as a man. This is not much to demand from a national icon who has become known as a the poster boy for authentic Christianity.