Caitlyn Jenner vs Tim Tebow

The “soldiers are brave” meme, as an attack on Caitlyn Jenner, pretty much flopped, so conservative evangelicals have come up with a new meme to spread the word about what a poor, persecuted majority they are.

The people applauding Bruce [sic] Jenner for “being himself” [sic] are the same people who condemned Tim Tebow and told him to “keep his beliefs to himself”. That’s what is wrong with America.

You remember Tim Tebow, right? They guy they loved so much when he won some championship or other, and “gave God the glory” for his victory? The guy they immediately forgot once he quit winning championships, because nobody wanted to associate God with losing at sports? Yeah, that Tim Tebow.

Well, I’m happy to criticize Tebow’s public display of religion (Matt. 6:5), and at the same time to applaud Caitlyn Jenner’s courage. And here’s why.

Tebow’s grand-standing was self-serving, calculated to win him the scorn of thousands and the adoration of millions (which it did). But that’s not why. Tebow can pander if he wants to, and Jenner’s announcement isn’t exactly free of self-interest.

Tebow’s claim was silly, and rather ironic, pretending that he was essentially cheating and that God was improperly influencing the outcome of multiple contests by supernaturally giving one side an unfair advantage over the other. By making such self-indicting claims, Tebow is practically begging for criticism from thoughtful observers. But that’s not why either.

The real reason I criticize Tebow and applaud Jenner is because Tebow is appointing himself as a champion of mindless conformity to the irrational beliefs and superstitions of the majority, whereas Jenner is standing up as a champion of individual liberty and the right not to conform.

By appealing to the dominant, majority religion, Tebow is asserting the privilege of the powerful, and profiting from it. His financial future is absolutely secure now, because he can raise money any time he likes just by giving pious speeches to church-sponsored gatherings all around the world. The criticisms even help his financial success, because they let him play the martyr card, as long as he sticks to preaching what the majority wants to hear.

Jenner, by contrast, is taking a stand against what the majority wants to believe, and it’s going to cost her. Yes, she has already done very well financially, and it’s a good thing she has because she’s going to need it. Tebow may have to endure the schadenfreude of skeptical sports fans when he blows another game, but Jenner is going to face millions of people, including many in positions of power, who now want to see her finish her life in poverty and misery, because she no longer conforms to what they consider the cultural norm.

In doing so, she is becoming the celebrated and privileged icon of many less-privileged transgendered individuals who face similar opposition—and worse—from the self-same majority as was championed so publicly by Tebow during his victory days. She herself is not above criticism, but what she is doing now may have lasting benefits for millions of people who fail to fit the cultural cookie-cutter. And overall, that’s a good thing, worthy of applause.

So yes, I’m happy to point out the self-serving, self-defeating silliness of Tebow’s pandering, while at the same time cheering for Jenner’s brave and bold stand on behalf of individual rights and the freedom to be whoever you really are, mindless conformity be damned.

And speaking of which, if you really care about what’s wrong with America, maybe you should have another look at that mindless conformity thing. It’s kind of a problem.


  1. lorn says

    I agree that Tebow’s self-serving implied claim of being favored by God because he shines the light back on God, as is an all-powerful being would need additional glory, was self-defeating. It kind of worked as long as he was winning. It was silly but it made sense in a perverse kind of way. Problem was that Tebow simply wasn’t all that. His press clippings and self-estimation overestimated his talent and the whole ‘glory to God’ thing doesn’t work when you aren’t winning. Not in the context of the Christianity that Tebow espoused.

    Which gets to my objection. The narrow Tebow story is just an indicator for a wider issue. That of people narrowly focusing attention on some small part of a story and declaring it ‘God’s will’, ‘a miracle’, or ‘the work of the devil’.

    The typical story goes something like this: A bus load of orphans drives off a cliff after a tire blows and all but one of the 40 children and the driver all die. In Tebow’s world people declare this ‘a miracle’, ‘an act of God’. Never mind that God, if such a thing was to exist, would, by definition, be in charge of the event and everything surrounding it. Not just looking after one kid. Which means that the manufacturing of a defective tire was an act of God. The failure of the driver to inspect the tire before the trip was an act of God. The failure of the highway department to install effective guard rails on that stretch of highway was an act of God. All the pieces that make up the surrounding situation are all acts of God. As is the tire blowing out at just the right time to send the bus off the cliff.

    If your religion tells you that there is an almighty and all-knowing God that, as the Bible tells us, is aware of every sparrow that falls from a branch you have to attribute all the detail, depth, and context to that God. You can’t logically point to just some part of the sweep of time. Like a kid surviving a horrible wreck, or Tebow making a touchdown. Other kids died in the hypothetical and every touchdown Tebow made was a score against the other team, there is always a wider context and that wider context usually nullifies the good, or evil, of the small part they want you to focus on.

  2. busterggi says

    “The guy they immediately forgot once he quit winning championships, because nobody wanted to associate God with losing at sports? ”

    Well he quit winning games before he quit winning championships so they had a ‘good’ reason.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      It’s making the rounds. One version has a picture of a soldier under fire with a caption along the lines of “Here’s a reminder to liberals what real bravery looks like,” and a comment expressing disgust that anyone would call Caitlyn Jenner “brave” for coming out as trans. I think someone made a similar meme using pictures of kids battling cancer, etc.

  3. tecolata says

    While the post is true, it leaves out one thing. Well, actually, two things.

    First, when NBA player Jason Collins came out, the trope was “Jason Collins came out and was treated like he cured cancer but when Tim Tebow talked about being a Christian he was told to shut up”. I saw letters to the editors in 4 papers in 4 cities all saying those exact words. So I googled and found 12 pages of conservative and Christian blogs, articles, and journals all saying the same thing in the same exact words. Now they are recycling the comment about Jenner. Originality is not, apparently, their strong point.

    Second, it is simply not true. Collins coming out, like Jenner’s transition, was news and treated as such. But for Collins at least, coverage paled in comparision to the widespread and adoring coverage of Tebow’s Christianity. Both print and television, sports and news, national publications, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Newsweek, among others, ran positive articles about Tebow’s faith. I researched at the time and was actually able to find only 2 examples of Tebow being told to shut up. One from a teammate, during a 4th quarter time out in a close playoff game; timeouts have a given length and while the coach wanted to discuss plays, Tebow wanted to have team prayer. The teammate, unnamed, told him to shut up so the coach could do his job. The only case I found of a journalist saying so was when a sports caster asked about a controversial play and instead of answering, no matter how many times the question was repeated, Tebow started going on about Jesus. The frustrated sports caster finally asked him to stop talking about Jesus and answer the question.

    So not only was Tebow hardly brave for publicly embracing the dominant culture, all the garbage about his being ignored and/or told to shut up is pure invention.

  4. says

    I will point out one legit point on that memes side. Nobody should be applauded just for being who they are. Hannibal Lector is just being who he is when he eats people. This is what the right hears when they hear people defending LGBT people with things along those lines. And it’s a legit point. Praising someone, saying they’re okay, because that’s just who they are is the naturalistic fallacy. Instead, we should praise them for the details of who they are.

    I won’t really praise Jenner, it’s relatively easy to come out and do this kind of thing now when you’ve got a decent chunk of the country on your side, and a lot of money to deal with the rest of it. I’m not saying she’s not doing any good, but doing what you want in spite of people being jerks to you about it, when you have enough money and influence for them to not really hurt you except through words? That’s what Tebow is doing.

    However, what Jenner is is nothing wrong or harmful. The evidence for their claims of TG people destroying society is thin. There’s nothing wrong with being transgendered, except in the sense that Jenner would have prefered to have been born a woman in the first place and spared all the hassle (to understate things). That’s the real point, and I wish it’s one the left would focus on. When I was on the right, I’d hear a lot more arguments about “That’s who they are” which I could easily dismiss as a fallacy, but very few pointing out that there was nothing wrong with this in the first place. The bad arguments made me spend less time listening, and so it took quite a while to hear the good ones.

    Tebow on the other hand, well, he’s not harmful. But he is pretty gosh darn wrong if he thinks the all-powerful creator of the universe personally endowed him with the ability to be really good at throwing around a ball for the sake of entertaining people and making lots of money. And I’m not even saying that in the sense that Yahweh doesn’t exist. Even if he did exist, and he was as grand as Christians say he is, it’s remarkably arrogant to say that he singled out you to be just so gosh darn awesome.

    So I’ll feel happy for Jenner that she’s happier, as I would for anyone. And I’ll continue to chuckle at the clueless Tebow for being a clueless nincompoop. Because who Jenner is doesn’t bother me, but who Tebow is is laughable.

  5. shadow says

    Jenner coming out and transitioning was, essentially, letting the public into her private world. She was saying “This is who I’ve always been.” She knew there would be those who show the xtian ‘love’ by condemning her. She did it anyway, in spite of knowing there’d be opposition

    Tebow, on the otherhand, kept himself ‘special’ by wearing his faith on his sleeve. “I won these championships thanks to God!” is his statement (expressed or implied, doesn’t matter — he’s god’s favored). It is never about his teammates, and he never (to my knowledge) out the blame for losing on god (or himself). He uses his ‘faith’ and ‘humility’ to put himself forward, secure in the knowledge that there are many who look up to him for doing so.

    • Bonnie Chisenhall says

      If people would read their Bible, they can see the truth. Criticizing Tim Tebow for his opinion and beliefs is not the answer. The Bible clearly states the truth. I admire Tim for giving his opinion as I believe the same.
      Christians need to stand up for their beliefs.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        In that case, the truth is that Christians are forbidden to make a public display of their religion, as Jesus said in Matthew 6. They’re also forbidden from judging (Matthew 7), and especially from judging non-Christians (I Cor. 5). So it’s biblical to criticize Tebow for making a public display of his religion, just as it’s biblical to criticize the fellow who made the original meme as a judgmental condemnation of Jenner.

        I would recommend using a higher standard of truth, however. The ultimate, infallible standard of truth is reality itself. Whatever is not consistent with reality is not the truth, no matter how much we might wish it were. Whatever “truth” is different from reality is no truth at all, but merely an illusion (or delusion, or outright lie). So the Bible itself can be judged according to a higher standard of truth, and if we’re unwilling or unable to do that, then we can never really know the truth at all. All we can have is faith. But truth is better, because if we have truth then we have whatever faith is pointing to, unless we’re putting our faith in something untrue. And if we’re putting our faith in something untrue, then we’re only deceiving ourselves, so it’s still better to have the truth.

  6. rhonda says

    Bruce Jenner is not “going against social norm” in the least. He will not be facing opposition of any kind from people in power today! He is being treated like a hero when he isn’t.
    Tim Tebow isn’t perfect, no one is, but he has and will face plenty more oppositions that the acclaimed hero that is Bruce Jenner.
    We are all created in the image of Christ, in His likeness, in His splendor. He is perfect, and he created us exactly how he wanted us to be. Bruce Jenner is lost, many people are lost, I was lost before I came to know the grace and love of the Savior, but that does not make sin ok. God is a forgiving God, He forgives, with repentance, but Bruce Jenner was created to be a male, and no matter what he does to his body, he is one.
    I do not “hate” Mr. Jenner, but I do disagree with choices that he has made, just like others disagree with choices that are made by Christians. We are called to love him with the same love of God, but also, we are called to pray that he realizes the mistakes he has made.
    Christians sin too. It doesn’t make right. We are not better. But God is. We are not here to condemn, or judge, but we are here to spread the unending joy of Christ.
    While I love Bruce Jenner as a person who has been created in The Most High, I do not, nor will I ever agree with his choices. He will be applauded by his choices, he will be given rewards such as a television show, but Tim Tebow will be applauded by Christ, in his desire to take a stand and spread the love of The Most High, when it truly matters.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Hi rhonda, thanks for commenting. I think, though, that you’re making some unwarranted assumptions. You are assuming, for example, that God created Jenner to be male. You do not know that. In fact, the physiology and endocrinology and psychological makeup that Jenner was born with are just as much a part of what “God created” as the genitalia. You could just as easily, and as accurately, say that God created Jenner to be trans.

      You are also assuming that every birth is a declaration by God that He intends the person to remain that way for the rest of their lives. Yet you know this is not true. We routinely do surgery on children to try and correct birth defects and other congenital causes of physical suffering. According to the New Testament, Jesus even healed a man born blind. It is not a sin to take action to correct congenital conditions that have an adverse impact on the person afflicted with them.

      You are also assuming it is a sin to change genders, but the Bible never says this. Nor is there any secular, rational reason to make such an assumption. This is simply prejudice.

      You even assume that Jenner will never be subjected to the kinds of condemnation that you yourself are voicing in this very comment. There is scarcely a greater condemnation than to tell a person they cannot be allowed to be what they are. How would it make you feel to be told that you cannot be a believer, that oh we love you and would never condemn you or judge you, but it’s horrible and evil and disgusting to believe in Jesus. Would you feel at all judged and condemned? And you are far from the only person to condemn Caitlyn by denying her the right to be accepted as she is.

      When my wife married me, she changed her last name to mine, as is the common custom. Would you deny her the right to make that choice? Would you refuse to use her new name, and insist on addressing her by the name she had before she was married? It is just as disrespectful and discourteous to refuse to address Caitlyn Jenner by the new name she has adopted for herself.

      If, as you say, your purpose in life is not to condemn or to judge, then I encourage you to live up to that purpose. You can start by not passing judgment on what God supposedly did or did not create Caitlyn Jenner to be.

  7. abear says

    I’m deeply concerned that Caitlyn is a Republican, perhaps xhe could taken into protective care and given therapy?

  8. Renee says

    What I think is ridiculous is the apples and oranges comparison. Did Bruce Jenner condemn Tebow? No. Do they both have people who approve/disapprove of them? Yes. Have we literally found the person (s) who supposedly told Tebow to shutup running around as a Jenner supporter.Does God love them both? Yes. Why pit these against eachother saying this is what’s wrong in America. The approach of trying to make two unrelated instances somehow joined just to create hatred for one is what’s wrong. So anyone who supported Caitlin should support Tebow? So I guess those crying out using this to support Tebow and therefore Christians should also support Caitlin.It’s hypocrisy which I often see with people who speak against Jenner.

  9. Jess says

    Really? Tim Tebow is self-serving? How so? He volunteers his time, goes to africa, helps those in need, and treats people around him with respect. He thanks, what he perceives as, his creator. I’m actually fine with people telling him to keep it to himself.

    Who’s really self-serving? Bruce Jenner. He is a publicity stunt to keep attention on himself. I think people should be able to do what they want, but saying what he did was courageous is ridiculous. He recently killed someone while texting and driving and got away with it. That’s a selfish person. If this wasn’t about attention he wouldn’t have done this “transition” in such a public fashion and on the cover of a magazine.

    If I had to pick between those two to show my kids as a good example I would pick Tim every time.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the tabloids. Jenner was accused of texting and driving by paparazzi and scandal sheets, but volunteered the relevant phone records to investigators as evidence. But people are quick to believe anything that makes her sound evil, and she knew they would be. I’d be wary of judging her too quickly or too harshly if I were you. She’s no saint, but she is definitely a pioneer in the field of equality for transgendered persons, and that’s a good thing.

      I’m not interested in criticizing Tim Tebow beyond whatever critiques I have already published. If anyone is curious about how much or how little he is promoting himself, they have only to visit and see for themselves. (And see if you can find any quotes from the first 8 verses of Matthew 6.)

      • ElizabethAnnLane says

        I don’t believe that in Matthew 6, Jesus discouraged Christians from pronouncing their religion. Matthew 6 is a reference to the Jewish Pharisee sect, who did make pious displays to be seen by men. Jesus is counseling his followers not to be like them.
        In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells the same crowd of listeners that they “are the light of the world.”
        He tells them “A city on a hill cannot be hidden. neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on it’s stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
        Much of Jesus’ ministry was in preparation for the apostles to continue the Church, to evangelize and be “fishers of men.” His last sentiment to them before ascending into Heaven was ” Go and make disciples of all nations.”
        I hardly think he meant for Christians not to talk about their faith, not to mention it all and to go in a closet and pray. Yes, that’s personal devotion time. But a Christian should live their life so that everyone knows they are a Christian.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Matthew 6 is a reference to the Jewish Pharisee sect, who did make pious displays to be seen by men.

        Like Tim Tebow did.

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