The temptation of Tim Tebow

Mike Stobe GETTY IMAGES Quarterback Tim Tebow addresses the media as he is introduced as a New York Jet at … Continued

Mike Stobe


Quarterback Tim Tebow addresses the media as he is introduced as a New York Jet at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on March 26, 2012 in Florham Park, New Jersey.

I’m throwing a penalty flag. The infraction? Roughing the passer. As well as millions of people worldwide, some people of faith, all people of conviction, who live by the same values the passer lives by.

The injured party? New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. The guilty party?, a Web site whose sole contribution to the greater cultural good is helping married men and women arrange secret adulterous affairs. You may have heard how Ashley Madison has offered a bounty of $1 million to anyone who can offer proof of having had sex with Tebow, the famously and unapologetically Christian athlete who has publicly declared – because the media have been rude enough to ask him the question – that he is, at age 24 and single, a virgin.

“Sports and sex (and of course, infidelity) go hand in hand,” said founder and CEO Noel Biderman in a news release. “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.

“We are beyond the days where pre-marital sex has a social stigma, and it is my hope that soon we will also feel the same about infidelity.”

Let’s set aside for the purposes of this discussion the crassly transparent attempt by Biderman to make a buck, or at least generate a few headlines promoting his “business,” by taking advantage of Tebow’s name and fame. Let’s focus instead on the smarmy assumption at the root of his stunt – namely, that abstinence before marriage is an impossibility and/or a silly relic from the past.

View Photo Gallery: The quarterback for the Denver Broncos has become a polarizing figure in football, in part because of his outward displays of Christian faith.

That is, if you’ll pardon the expression, infidelity to the truth.

According to a 2011 survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, 68 percent of boys and 67 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 17 have never had sexual intercourse. A 2009 survey commissioned by government agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services further found that adolescents opposed pre-marital sexual intercourse both in general and for themselves, with 53 percent strongly or somewhat agreeing that it’s against their values to have sex before marriage and 62 percent strongly or somewhat agreeing that sex is something only married people should do.

Moving beyond the high-school years, the incidence of premarital sex does increase, some would even say markedly so, but is this a surprise in a culture as sexually hypercharged as ours? And even if a majority of unwed young people in their ‘20s are “doing it,” does that invalidate the principles and experiences of millions like Tebow? Quite the contrary, they should be esteemed for hanging on to their convictions about the sanctity of sex in a society increasingly content to throw such convictions away.

Here’s the bottom line: Noah Biderman is sadly representative of those who deeply underestimate the power of sex. It was not designed by God as a casual act to be shared indiscriminately with anyone and everyone. It was devised by our creator as the healthy byproduct of a healthy marriage, not the objective of a relationship. It was for this reason I made a commitment as a preteen to honor my future husband all the days of my life. I am still waiting, and when people suggest I have “missed out,” I can agree.

I have missed out on heartbreak, insecurities relating to my body, sharing the most precious part of my heart with someone other than my husband, STDs, unplanned pregnancy, etc. Not all my friends then, or now, understood or understand my commitment to purity. The difference between and my friends, though, is that even though they don’t share my convictions, they respect me for the way I am living them out.

Tim Tebow deserves that same respect. He not only believes, but boldly lives by the belief, that sex outside the context of marriage forms permanent bonds and memories from temporary relationships, and is therefore neither long-lasting or truly satisfying to the soul.

Tell me, Mr. Biderman, where’s the $1-million-bounty-worthy crime in that?

Esther Fleece is assistant to the president for millennial relations at Focus on the Family.

Follow her on Twitter @EstherFleece.

Esther Fleece
Written by

  • jimlightanddark

    Great post about Tom Tiebow. It’s Noel Biderman, not Noah.

  • jimlightanddark

    Great post about Tom Tiebow. It’s Noel Biderman, not Noah.

  • melissa46

    I only wish I had had the courage and insight to follow through on abstaining from sex until marriage. Although I have a good marriage, I am full of regret that I gave little pieces of myself away to others that I’ll never get back. I never had the beautiful experience of experiencing making love for the first time with the man I truly love. I hope other young people out there will realize that not “everyone is doing it”. It’s okay to say no to sex. Being from Tim Tebow’s hometown, I can say I am so proud of him and he is a remarkable role model for my sons. Thank you for sticking by your convictions.

  • Carstonio

    Despite my disgust with Focus on the Family’s sexist and homophobic hatemongering, I agree that posting a bounty on Tebow’s virginity is grossly inappropriate. His Tebowing is fair game for criticism because he’s injecting his religion into his workplace. But his personal life and anyone else’s should be off-limits.

  • Laureliz

    It seems to me that Tim is pretty secure in his choice to live the way he does. He doesn’t get defensive or feel threatened when people challenge his views. On the other hand, I observe how many people who oppose his DO seem to get threatened and defensive, which would seem to indicate they’re dealing with some level of insecurity. Just a thought.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    As sublimely secure and self-righteous as Tebow might seem in his convictions, at the end of the day he is advocating a worldview that promotes credulity over skepticism, submission over independence, tribalism over pluralism. He is a proponent of the self-imposed moratorium on critical thinking that is religious dogmatism, and people seem to demand that we respect him for it. I reject this idea, and so should you.

  • Catken1

    It is OK to say no to sex.
    But honestly, “giving little pieces of yourself away?” Really? You have only a finite amount of love to express physically, only a finite amount of caring?

    “I never had the beautiful experience of experiencing making love for the first time with the man I truly love. ”

    Yes, you did – you made love with him once for the first time, right? You just didn’t have to deal with the pain of having your hymen broken at the same time. The joys and beauty of a first sexual experience are often HIGHLY overrated.

  • nellybly1

    I applaud Tim Tebow. It’s so easy for our society to judge people especially when it comes to making moral and personal decisions that have to do with your own body and that aren’t considered popular by the mob mentality. I was a virgin until college and was 22 when I said ‘oh what the use’ and decided to have sex with this really hot track and field runner. Sometimes, I wish I had held onto my precious gift and saved it for my husband. But that’s just me.

  • Trizole

    Maybe Tebow *is* a virgin, but where did he draw the line?

    In my Christian school, my classmates and I took ‘virginity’ to mean ‘not sticking it in, but everything else’. And hey, we were following what the Big Book from the Bronze Ages said, right? Unfortunately, looking to the Bible for sexual advice meant that a lot of my classmates wound up preggers or dads-to-be before their first year in college was out.

    68% of boys and 67% of girls between 15 and 17 have never had sex. That means 32% of boys and 33% of girls have. Over a quarter of minors in this age range (a rather large minority) are sexually active, and the author of this article has offered no means of addressing the issue. This is probably because abstinence-only education has unilaterally failed a generation of Americans, and Focus on the Family’s religious approach offers zero solutions.

    Rather than paying a bitter virgin (proudly, as stated in this article) to write articles bemoaning the sexual state of America, wouldn’t the Washington Post’s dollars be better spent on authors who promote actual sex education?

  • fashqn

    I applaud Tim Tebow for standing up for his strong principles and morals. It seems many look around at society today and realize the great decline in those virtues and the toll it’s taken in many areas of life…and yet when one finally does speak out and make personal choices of a higher/stronger standard than the ‘norm’ they are always vilified and mocked for it. Then we wonder why the world isn’t changing for the better. Unbelievable.

  • SimonTemplar

    Aside from being a desperate grasp at attention, Biderman’s bounty is a cynical and malevolent move. Tebow has challenged himself (as an act of faith) to try to live up to certain ideals and Biderman and others like him hate this for reasons that are a mystery to me. Rather than challenging themselves to live up to a similarly honorable code, they would rather challenge someone else to help Tebow fail at his. It’s pathetic.

  • andrews55

    It really is sad that Mr. Tebow doesn’t want to experence the joy of sweating out the results of a pregnancy test or one for STD’s. I mean really just think of all the women he is jipping out of child support, let alone that mill$’s! How selfish can you be! I wonder if this poor man will ever be able to just be himself. I doubt it. He is willing to put himself out there as an example and as a result he is a target. But I’m sure he knew that, has always known it, because the bible tells us it will be this way. So take your best shot world. You’ll never bring this young man down.

  • michaelcloster

    he’s fair game
    he’s a public figure who’s not in the religion business but made his religion an issue

  • cricket44

    “Bitter” is right. People who are secure in their choices don’t have to paint worst-case-scenarios about those who chose differently in order to make themselves feel better.

    The author’s attitude isn’t that much different from the jerk running the web site.

  • SimonTemplar

    The argument that public figures are fair game for character assassination is absurd. Why should we wish to see anyone fail at living up to their ideals. One should hope to live in a culture where we are encouraged to live up to high standards, not brow beaten into settling for lower standards.

    What kind of twisted world view enjoys seeing people knocked off of their pedestals or fail at their goals? Are individual Americans so insecure in their own moral standing that we are shamed into hating others who actually try to do well? NO, that is too broad a brush; I refuse to believe that most American think this way. However, the folks at are clearly threatened by folks who set their moral standards to anything higher than what they seem to be capable of achieving. How incredibility UN-AMERICAN their attitude is.

  • Catken1

    To be honest, it’s also not going to be terribly effective for them unless Tebow isn’t capable of standing up for his own principles, and I suspect he is.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    A wonderful diatribe, but I think the point you’re missing is that to a rational mind, Tebow’s personal standards aren’t so lofty. In fact, there’s a large number of people who reject dogmatism that find his standards repulsive.

  • sdriver80

    1 Corinthians 1:18-20

    18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

  • Laureliz

    Based on what I’m reading from you, you’re way more aggressive about forcing your own way of thinking on others than Tim Tebow is. I should personally reject a “credulous, submissive, tribalistic” worldview because you say so? Apologies friend, but you’re coming across as the very thing you seem to hate.

  • GeniusPhx

    it wont be his religion that keeps him from having sex, it will be his perfectionism, his germaphobia, his need for control, his obsessive compulsive personality. after the glamour wears off women will find his arrogance and emotional distance a deal breaker.

  • GeniusPhx

    not just repulsive but laughable. at some time in his life hopefully he will find that he is giving up living a real life for something that Thomas Jefferson found is based of fable, superstition, and mythology. I hope it doesn’t take him as long as it took me.

  • GeniusPhx

    we dont find it honorable, we find it silly and based on mythology and fable. People like you make the rest of us feel sane.

  • GeniusPhx

    i hear Muslims believe that to, that actual virginal penetration is tabu, but a little tail is just what the doctor ordered.

  • DrWaffles

    I don’t totally agree with the whole “Tebowing” stuff (to me it feels a little too public, even if to him it may be a way of sharing his faith). However, it’s wrong and antagonistic to try and take someone who sticks to his values and not only try to take those values away, but also pay for it (or lie about the payment).

  • DrWaffles

    Catken1, the issue isn’t Tebow defending himself. If the guy can handle all the flak he catches for Tebowing while going this long while still sticking to his standards, there’s no way this will be effective. The issue is that these people are offering $1,000,000 to whoever convinces Tebow to violate his core beliefs.

  • DrWaffles

    XVIIIHailSkins, Tebow IS promoting individualism and free will. There’s a reason it’s “Tebowing” and not “Manninging”, “Breesing” or “Grossmanning”. He does what plenty of other people won’t do, even those who share many of his beliefs. Excuse me if I’m creating a false impression of you, but you seem to view religious people in general as mindless drones that blindly do whatever their religion teaches. Religion involves lots of free will. Those who stick with it have to put up with lots of misconceptions and opposition from others, and they CHOOSE to keep going. Even those you assume brainwashed from childhood one day go through those rebellious teenage years, those years of independence when they’re out of the house and Mom and Dad don’t wake them up at 7:30 am to go to church. And if they hold on to their beliefs, it’s because they chose to, not because they were brainwashed drones.