Well, yes, this is what the news has come to. Hunt a little, and you can find reports that a dating website—one that, self-professedly, specializes in setting up adulterous affairs—has offered a million dollars to anyone who can seduce the evangelical quarterback Tim Tebow and obtain proof of sexual contact with the man.
One easy line to follow up, after such news, is the centrality of hypocrisy to the world’s current understanding of Christians. In the (briefly) bestselling Kindle Single I wrote last winter on Tebow—The Gospel According to Tim (ahem, you have read it, haven’t you?)—I noted that the new generation of evangelicals has tended to shift its emblematic Bible verse from the theological John 3:16 to the ethical Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
And I argued that there’s a reason
younger evangelicals like Tebow have elevated an ethical verse with Micah 6:8, and it has to do with their terror of the charge of hypocrisy. An irony . . . dwells here, . . . for the Bible is what taught Western Civilization the great complaint against hypocrisy, from Ezekiel 33:31 (“they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with their lips they show much love, but their heart is set on their gain”) to Matthew 23:23–24 (“You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel”). But the narrative of attack upon Christians in our own time is fundamentally a story of hypocrisy; reporters know, in fact, almost no other way to tell morality tales.
Only with an almost pharisaical adherence to ethical standards—another irony, in a Protestantism that thought it was breaking away from Catholic law to a belief in salvation by faith alone—can evangelicals today combat the always looming accusation that any lapse will reveal them as hypocrites. And combat it, they must, for even if they hold the firmest of theological views of salvation by faith alone, the great barrier they experience in those to whom they preach is the narrative of believers as frauds: every Christian either a hypocrite already revealed or a hypocrite waiting to happen.
But there’s another line that the bounty on Tebow’s virginity should prompt us to follow up, and that’s the utter rejection of alternative lives by the modern world. The website’s founder writes, “Sports and sex (and of course, infidelity) go hand in hand. If Mr. Tebow is indeed abstaining from adult relationships, I would encourage him to find a nice lady or two and enjoy his youth and fame as much as possible.”
That there could be any other way to enjoy and use his youth and fame—the thought is repugnant. It must not be that Christians merely tolerate the culture of easy sex; Christians must be lured into participating in it. The sexual revolution is the revolution that will allow no opposition.
In his autobiography, Through My Eyes, Tebow makes the curious turn of insisting on seeing himself as a rebel. As I noted in The Gospel According to Tim, “for those who imagine all rebellion as a turn against what they picture as 1950s American conformism in religion and public manners, the religious and exceedingly polite Tim Tebow looks like Conformist Number One. But the young man believes that he’s read the signs of the times, discerning that the genuine rebel today would be the one who rebels against mandatory rebellion.”
I can’t think of a time since the Desert Fathers with such public attempts to undo anyone who becomes famous for being Christian. A million dollar bounty on Tim Tebow’s virginity. God help him. God help us all.