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.