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Tim Tebow, Football and the Politics of God

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"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." That's what Tim Tebow used as eyeliner prior to the Florida-Oklahoma BCS Championship game in 2008, won by Florida, 24-14.

So, am I to believe that Florida beat Oklahoma because Tim Tebow had John 3:16 painted beneath his eyes? Of course, one can practice one's faith as one wishes, but I've always had a difficult time understanding why some people abuse Scripture by using it in a rather pedestrian way.

It certainly seems more than a bit egocentric to think that a football player, even a Heisman Trophy winner, has some kind of personal relationship with God that would privilege him and his team to the detriment of all other football players who believe in God? Why should God think more kindly about Tim Tebow than Sam Bradford? Why should God privilege Florida over Oklahoma? Why would God care?

It seems a bit sacrilegious that any player would tend to privilege his relationship to God over any other player's relationship yet that's what's heard time and seen time again in sports. Players are always thanking God for this or that after they win as if God handicaps the games in Vegas.

Peyton Manning even admitted that he prayed on the sidelines that the Patriots would miss a field goal so the Colts could go to the Super Bowl. Is that why people believe in God? Is that what God is about? To take sides in Bowl games or to privilege a hitter or a field goal kicker because he makes the sign of the cross? Doesn't that tend to diminish the intrinsic value of what God stands for? Doesn't that tend to reduce faith from something spiritual and transcendental to something pedestrian and mundane?

God, the Father of the Universe, Creator of all things living, reduced to an idol of totem worship that decides who wins games and who loses them, who gets a base hit and who doesn't, who makes a field goal and who misses. Is that the God we're supposed to worship?

I don't know, but, apparently, Tebow always wears scripture as eyeliner. I haven't seen all the games he's played in, but the ones I have seen him in he's done that. He must have felt that wearing Scripture worked so well in the game against Oklahoma last year, he did it again this year against Florida State, but with Hebrews 12:12: "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13:Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."

It must have worked again since Florida crushed Florida State 37-10 so, if one is on a roll, roll with it and that's what Tebow did against Alabama. This time Tebow used John 16:33:"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." But what happened? The Gators were blown out 32-12. Did Tebow do something that God didn't like? Did he prefer Mark Ingram? Or Julio Jones? Or Greg McElroy? Or was he just fed with Urban Meyer and thought Nick Saban needed a break? I

'm certain that Tim Tebow is a well-grounded person with high ideals, moral certitude and deep religious faith. What I find rather disturbing is that he has to bring that religious faith onto the playing field as a way of testifying to it, as a way of letting people know just how deeply religious he is. The irony of making faith a kind of religious highlight reel is that belief in God isn't a spectator sport nor is a football field a venue for religious politicking.

That is, unless one believes in "Touchdown Jesus" and we all know how that's worked out.

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