BreakPoint: Tim Tebow vs. Harvard

Virtue and Vice on Display

Even with all of our modern devotion to moral relativism, people still know virtue—and vice—when they see it.

Chuck Colson liked to quote Karl Barth’s observation that Christians should do theology with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.

Now I’m not sure what Chuck would have thought of podcasts, but Barth’s quote came to mind while listening to a recent episode of the Tony Kornheiser Show.

In the final segment, Kornheiser and his guests talked about two stories in the news. The first was an article in the Washington Post about Tim Tebow playing in baseball’s Single-A minor league after his stint in sports limelight.

Tebow was a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at the University of Florida. And while his NFL career wasn’t nearly as successful, he still had great moments.

But what has long set Tebow apart, of course, is his Christian faith. It’s drawn millions of people to love him. It’s also why he has been the object of what George Weigel called “irrational hatred,” despite his many charitable efforts and the fact that he doesn’t force his faith on anyone.

Recently, the Post’s Barry Svrluga spent a day in Hagerstown, Maryland, watching Tebow in action. And he admitted that his initial skepticism (maybe even cynicism) quickly changed when he saw Tebow interact with fans, some of whom had driven hundreds of miles to see him. He talked about Tebow’s “prom experience for kids with special needs” called “Night to Shine.”

Svrluga had this to say to those who are cynical or dismissive about Tebow’s decision to now play minor league baseball and to question his motives: Before you form your opinion about Tim Tebow, “Talk to the people who made the pilgrimage here,” he said, “and look at the smiles in right field in the early evening.”

Everyone on the show agreed. Kornheiser, who’s Jewish, even joked that if he had spent a few more minutes with Tebow he might have ended up converting. He and his guests could not say enough good things about Tim Tebow.

Then the conversation turned to a very different subject: Harvard’s rescinding of at least ten offers of admission to members of its incoming freshman class. Harvard took this highly unusual step because of a Facebook group created by members of that class.

Their posts contained “offensive jokes about school shootings, the Holocaust, [sexual perversion] and the death of children and minorities.” And these are just the ones we can mention on this commentary.

All the guests on the Kornheiser show agreed—and so do I: Harvard did the right thing.

But it’s the juxtaposition of the Harvard story with Tebow that brought to mind what C.S. Lewis said in “The Abolition of Man”: “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

The kids on that Facebook group represent the pinnacle of American educational achievement: They got into Harvard. Their problem is not a lack of “digital literacy” as the New York Times suggested. It’s a lack of any governing sense of right and wrong, what Lewis called the chest. The problem isn’t that they lacked discretion; it’s that they lacked decency.

But we know that no one will ever say that about Tim Tebow. Listening to the Tony Kornheiser podcast it’s clear that for all the cultural devotion to moral relativism these days, people still know virtue when they see it. The Bible calls this the law written on our hearts, and it underscores to Christians who think that all is lost—it’s not. God’s world is still deeply embedded with God’s moral laws. And a life well-lived still stands out.

Now sometimes the reaction will be admiration and sometimes it will be scorn, even mockery. But that doesn’t change the fact that the difference between virtue and vice is unmistakable, no matter how much our culture wants to deny it.


Further Reading and Information

Tim Tebow vs. Harvard: Virtue and Vice on Display

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)



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Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms
  • Tim Tebow, A. J. Gregory | Waterbrook Press Publisher | October 2016
Renewing Virtue, series on flashdrive
  • Chuck Colson, T. M. Moore | Colson Center
Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes
  • Hannah Natanson | The Harvard Crimson | June 5, 2017
The Abolition of Man
  • C. S. Lewis | HarperOne

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  • Elsie

    This is a great post. If more people were like Tim Tebow, what a wonderful place our world would be.

    • Jones Brooks

      Amen, Tim Tebow is a fine example and role model in a lost and miss-guided world. Thank you Tim for living your faith no matter the cost.

  • Kevin

    This is a poor post. I am not denying that Tebow is a good person, but this argument is weak. You are comparing someone in the spotlight, who advocates for good and does good with a group of much younger individuals, whose actions were done in the dark. Everyone has a dark side, and like the name suggests, that side does not rear its head publicly hardly ever. (We are catching the kids off guard, I’m sure they can be lovely beings in public, I mean getting into that school is more than just academics. We are not however catching Tebow off guard, just seeing actions that are meant to be seen.)
    The two things we are comparing together are not on the same playing field (pun intended). In the closing of this post, the argument is made clear; living a openly Christian life can be met with scorn or admiration. Well? Shouldn’t a better comparison be Stephan from the Bible who was praised and persecuted for his open devoutness? I get that these hateful teenagers are in the context of the podcast this post references, but for the argument of this post, it does not fit. Saying Tebow passes the bar set by bigot minded teens is not saying much, and frankly doesn’t do him justice. Why not compare him to other athletes that have gone wayward when thrusted into the spotlight?
    If referencing the podcast, at least put in what Teebow’s response to the incident was.
    The post has a unique framing, bouncing off the podcast like it does, but the framing of the artical is also being used to frame the argument made by the post, and it ends up being weak.
    All and all what this post boils down too is that Tim Tebow is such a great guy, people with other views come to respect him if they are open minded (good). Tim Tebow is a good person because he does things that benefit people who tend to be over looked (good). Tim Tebow is still unliked by people even though he is extremely good (good). But the post does not talk about why some people don’t like him out of spite (which is an important thing to learn about this sad world), and other than listing good things he has done, the post does not make a strong argument of how hard it can be to be a good person in the lime light which gives much more weight to who he is.
    Side note, good (virtue) and evil (vice) are not “unmistakable”, if why would the Bible warn so many times of evil pretending to be good if this was true? Adam and Eve, Jesus showing priests what they really were, peter’s denials of Christ, the examples go on forever. Telling people they are easy to distinguish will only hurt people, we must always be wary of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
    When was comparing a christian philanthropist with reckless little more than highschoolers on the internet thought of as a good comparison for any argument? Tebow is a heavy weight personality and needs some other heavy weight people to be compared with for people to realize how great he is.