Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The exceptional Tim Tebow is a testament to the exceptionality of human life

Tim Tebow might be the most talked-about and "polarizing" figure in professional sports right now. It stems from experts' criticism of his unorthodox throwing technique, his remarkable ability to lead comeback victories week after week regardless, and perhaps above all the startling (for so many) authenticity of his faith, and commitment to living those convictions and upholding those admirable principles in every area of life. (Tebow's habit of giving thanks on the football field has sparked an enormously popular internet meme called "tebowing.")

Tebow also stirred quite a bit of controversy almost two years ago, when he was still in college, by appearing in a subtly pro-life Super Bowl commercial with his mother, Pam Tebow. The short ad itself is completely innocuous,* but behind it is Pam's story of how a doctor in the Philippines (where she and her husband were missionaries) urged her to have an abortion after she contracted amoebic dysentery, a potentially deadly condition. The Tebows refused to have the abortion, and Pam and her unborn child both almost died at various points during the very difficult pregnancy. "Your child is a miracle baby," said the attending physician after the child was born. "I can't explain how it happened, but despite all odds, he beat them. Only a small part of the placenta was attached, but it was just enough to keep your baby nourished all these months."

Tim Tebow, right, with Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder

That baby, Tim, went on to win the Heisman trophy (given to the most outstanding college football player in the nation) and two national championships as quarterback for the University of Florida. Now he's compiled a 7-and-1 record this season as starting quarterback for the NFL's Denver Broncos, including five come-from-behind victories. The team started the season 1-and-4 before Tebow took the reigns (he began the season on the bench). As a recent New York Times editorial puts it: "Tebow has made his team believe in winning and has forced commentators to backpedal ... Tebow is lowly rated statistically except in the fourth quarter. Then he delivers miracles after unabashedly citing Proverbs 27:17 to his mates in the locker room."

Meanwhile, Pam Tebow has been speaking all across the country, using her personal story and national platform to advocate against abortion and for the sanctity of human life in the womb. She recently spoke at a banquet for New Life Family Services, a pro-life pregnancy center network here in Minnesota.

The Tebows' story is powerful, in part, because it focuses our attention on the fact that the fetus developing inside Pam Tebow in 1987 was the very same being who, for example, defeated the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 4, 2011. So to have killed that fetus, as the doctor recommended, would have been to kill Tim Tebow. Indeed, each of us was once a fetus, and then a newborn, a toddler and so forth. And as Pam says: "A child's right to life begins at conception, not at birth. From conception, all children are people, made in the image and likeness of God."

Abortion isn't wrong because Tim Tebow became a great person and a famous athlete (some of us become terrible people). Abortion is wrong because it kills an innocent human being, the unique kind of being who by nature has the capacity to love, to learn, to think, to achieve, to do good works, to be creative -- whether or not that capacity is developed and actualized. The exceptional life and success of Tim Tebow merely exemplify the exceptionality of humanity itself.

* Guess who weirdly called for a boycott of the Tebow Super Bowl ad? Mark Dayton, unswerving abortion advocate, now governor of Minnesota.