I envy Tim Tebow.
For most of us, the world is full of doubt and uncertainty. We struggle to find our place, wonder about our beliefs, question them when events surprise or confound us.
Tebow does not suffer such pangs. He knows God’s will and God’s word, knows his purpose in life, knows he is here to share this knowledge and certainty with us, that we may be saved.
His father, a preacher and missionary, imbued him with this mission before he was born. The Bob Tebow Evangelical Association declares that the Word of God is totally without error of any kind, that the Bible is wholly true in all it affirms, and that this is true for every word of Scripture, not just the concepts behind them.
The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner is named Timothy after the biblical preacher who was one of the Apostle Paul’s closest companions. The circumstances of his birth will apparently be the subject of a Super Bowl ad paid for by Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian group founded by James Dobson. In the ad, Pam Tebow will reportedly describe being advised during her pregnancy with Tim, while she and her husband were spreading the gospel in the Philippines, that she should consider aborting the fetus because of the possible effects of drugs she was taking to treat her amoebic dysentery.
“We knew that we could not do that,” Pam Tebow told a church Bible study group last May. “We all prayed to God for a healthy baby, and God answered our prayers when Timmy was born.”
The Tebows are eager to share the lesson of their story: That abortion is wrong, that aborting her fetus would have robbed the world of a football star and model young man.
I do not know the precise facts of the medical advice Mrs. Tebow received. As the Center for Reproductive Rights has observed, abortion is illegal in the Philippines in all cases, and has been for a hundred years. I don’t know the nature of the drugs she was taking, the degree of risk they may have posed, or the dangers she might have faced in either seeking an abortion or carrying the baby to term.
I do know that Focus on the Family wants us to see her actions as noble, and hopes to capitalize on the story in its efforts to ban abortion.
I do not share the Tebows’ sense of certainty. I understand that faith is belief without regard to evidence, but I can’t help approaching the unknowable with a certain humility. I have my surmises about the answers to life’s key questions, but I cannot imagine assuming I have a monopoly on truth. And so, I cannot envision enforcing my belief on others without allowing for the possibility that their views are right for them. There has been too much evil perpetrated through the centuries by those armed with absolute certainty.
I draw a different lesson from the story the Tebows will tell on Super Bowl Sunday. Pam Tebow made a choice, one that was right for her, one that worked out well for all. If her doctors had been unable even to suggest the possibility of aborting an endangered fetus, or such a course of action were forbidden by law, there would be no nobility in her decision, because there would have been no decision to make.
It is ironic that those who would praise her for what she did also want to deny others the right to make their own choices.
Tim Tebow’s life is not an argument against abortion, any more than Jeffrey Dahmer’s or Charles Manson’s is an argument in favor of it. Childbearing and abortion are both serious decisions, deserving of more thoughtful contemplation than that offered in a thirty-second ad.