One of the notable things about Tim Tebow's occasional forays into preaching and Christian ministry is that the scrutiny on him seems to increase with each passing occurrence — even as his career on the gridiron seems in doubt. His recent decision to speak at a Dallas church, only to rescind it, hints at him being at a crossroads.
The spurned Dallas Minister, a Robert Jeffress, has taken heat for the kind of comments that we expect to hear in certain churches — fusillades against same-sex marriage and other issues that are betes noires to the fundamentalist community. Unfortunately for Tebow, Jeffress is ready and willing to engage the quarterback for his reversed decision:
"I am grateful for men of God like these who are willing to stand up and act like men rather than wimping out when it gets a little controversial and an inconvenient thing to stand for the truth … God bless men like that."
This is a fight that Tebow — with his careful, anodyne public image always at the forefront — simply cannot win. He can't engage in a discussion of these issues; he has far too much to lose, no matter where he comes down. If he agrees with the preacher and like-minded folks, that will be how he is defined in the mainstream media, which still remembers his Super Bowl ad years ago. Disagree, and he launches himself into a role his endless campaign of self-promotion cannot handle. He can't discuss this issue, no matter how he comes down on it, without ticking somebody off. And therein lies the problem with his recurrent desire to witness his faith while working in the sports-entertainment industry.
The problem isn't that Tebow is a wimp, but that he is a cipher. He stands for what people want him to stand for, espousing a Christianity much closer to Joel Osteen than C.S. Lewis. That is his prerogative. But when one decides to accept these speaking gigs, rejecting the invitation once media heat descends leaves open the question: What does Tim Tebow stand for? And it raises another question: Does anyone really care?