While the rest of us roll our eyes
NOTE: This post briefly addresses the issue of public prayer and what spiritual teachers have to say about praying and privacy – and also has some sport with the lighter side of the tebowing trend. Although the titling of this article might imply this material is wholly & purely in jest, there is a serious element being discussed here. Perhaps the present tebowing craze will cause some people to carefully consider the issue of public prayer. I hope so.
I was the only family member at our recent family Christmas dinner who was not yet familiar with the current fad known as tebowing: kneeling down on one knee in public places to pray in imitation of Tim Tebow, a religious football star I’d never heard of. When I learned that this superficial religious practice is actually becoming popular and being taken seriously (or even admired) in some circles, I rolled my eyes and instantly thought of a single word from the Bible: Pharisees.
What does tebowing mean? To tebow is "to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different." That’s according to Tebowing.com, your new Internet home for tebowing.
Perhaps those who engage in tebowing (and other public displays of apparent religious belief or religiosity) — actually demonstrate being ruled more heavily by their own egos than by spiritual intentions, goodwill, or benevolence of any kind.
Tebowing is a glowing example of why effective spiritual teachers throughout history have not condoned or encouraged such public displays. Tebowing is definitely representative of why spiritual gurus – including Jesus – taught their listeners to pray in private, behind closed doors.
Yet, pretentious public prayers endlessly blow through churches across the globe…
Jesus did not mince words when he advised his listeners against Tebow-style prayers, suggesting that folks pray in private; yet, in modern Christian life, we see and hear public prayer after repetitious public prayer. WWJD? Not that. He’d be rolling his eyes, too. If the Church of Christ believes it is following the Bible as closely as possible, what’s the deal with all the long-winded public prayers? Clearly, standing in front of hundreds of people and uttering a prayer out loud does not agree with how Jesus taught his friends to pray.
What the Bible says about praying in private
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:5-6)
What the Bible says about giving in secret
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6: 1-4)
The Bible tells me so… It’s interesting to note that the Christian sect known as the Church of Christ – the preferred religious flavor of my own family of origin – supposedly charted a course apart from other popular Christian denominations (Southern Baptists, Methodists, etc.). Growing up, we were taught that the Church of Christ is all about following the Bible as closely as possible (well, only the New Testament…).
(NOTE: The Church of Christ is mentioned because that’s how this writer was raised and not because of anything having to do with Tim Tebow.)
There is no authoritative or ruling body over the Church of Christ, such that can be found administering most other Protestant Christian churches – simply because such governance isn’t in the Bible. You’ll not hear the sound of musical instruments being played during Church of Christ worship services – because using musical instruments was not mandated in the New Testament. And so on – because the Bible says so.
Praying in public is another fundamentalist Christian conundrum.
Long-winded, repetitious prayer in front of large groups – a longtime Protestant standard – has to be one of the most prevalent and unfortunate conundrums in modern Christian fundamentalism. (Other Christian conundrums include the tendency to vote for politicians who support wars, and the general willingness to go to war – in spite of their religion’s emphasis on loving one’s enemies, the Golden Rule, etc.; belief in a loving God who is also supposed to judge all and send non-believers to suffer eternal torture in hell; and so on…)
Three 2012 Republican presidential aspirants claimed that God actually called on them to be president. Seriously though, if God called for all three of them to be president, isn’t he just f&%$*ng with two of them?! 🙂 (Source: Bill Maher)
Tebowing is the new planking.
At first, I assumed tebowing was wholly serious despite its caustic, brow-raising attributes; however, after a bit of web research (to create this riveting tebowing content), it seems that tebowing is evolving into a joke. I wasn’t smiling much when I started writing this, but the grins did come after I saw some increasingly creative tebowing photos. (Tebowing.com has a growing tebowing photo gallery.)
In essence, tebowing has become just like planking. Yes, tebowing is the new planking – and photos being posted on the Internet will clearly show this.
Break out the oil for the squeaky wheels.
Trends such as tebowing have foreseeable effects upon the American populace. It’s completely predictable and natural that some people are pushing the envelope a bit far in their ridicule of tebowing. Just as predictable – but perhaps even more worthy of a great big yawn and a hearty meh – is the fact that people are offended by the tebowing jokes.
The first complaint I noticed coming directly from a tebowing humor offendee came from an apparent religious fundamentalist:
Mocking God is not wise. Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
I seriously doubt that most of the people seeing the humor in Tebowing are actually mocking Mother Nature, or God, or whatever you prefer to call the Source of everything. It appears to me they’re simply having a laugh at the audacity, effrontery, and – yes, the plain silliness – of such public, obviously showy religious displays – which is eerily similar to what Jesus was doing as he derided the Pharisees who were praying in public.
Resources: Praying in public, the Tebow trend, religiosity
- Prayer — Public and Private – T Frisen
- Religiosity – Wikipedia
- Religiosity and intelligence – Wikipedia
- Spiritual but not religious – Wikipedia
- Jesus said that we should pray in private! so why do we need church buildings… – Yahoo Answers
- Fast And Pray To God In Private, Not To Impress Others: Jesus – What Did Jesus Say
- This Is How To Pray: Jesus – What Did Jesus Say
- The Bible on giving in secret – Matthew 6:1-4
- The Bible on praying in private – Matthew 6:5-6
Resources: The lighter side of this tebowing trend
- Tebowing.com: Yes, someone actually spent money to purchase the domain name tebowing.com! Tebowing in all its idiocy can be found here; the tebowing photo gallery includes shots of Santa Claus tebowing, tebowing toddlers – and there’s even a snowman built in the tebowing position!
- Introducing Tebowing. It’s like planking, but dumber – Yahoo Sports
- Tips for Tim Tebow – Revolution
- Tim Tebow and the Tuck Rule – Revolution
- Planking (fad) – Wikipedia
- Bill Maher rips Tebow. HILARIOUS – YouTube
- Tebow’s Touchdown Pose Goes Viral: Tribute to quarterback Tim Tebow’s touchdown pose is a viral trend – ABC News
- Dog Tebowing? Dog Tebowing. – Big Lead Sports
- Bill Maher Bashes Tim Tebow – YouTube
- Report: Saturday Night Live hoping Tebow will host – Game On!
- Slideshow of the Best and Worst Tim Tebow Parodies – Bleacher Report
- Jesus tells Tim Tebow to take it down a notch in Saturday Night Live sketch – Culture Map – Can you blame Him?
- Tim Tebow meets Jesus – pretty funny stuff – discussion forum
- Tim Tebow’s prayer pose starts Internet craze – Chron
- Tebowing: Will Tim Tebow’s kneeling-in-prayer pose become next Mile High Salute?
Still questioning what the Bible really has to say about prayer and privacy?
Anyone who’s being truthful, objective, and intellectually honest – and who has actually read the Bible – will admit that much of the Bible consists of poetry, parable, metaphor, cultural tales, and so on. The result is that there are seemingly endless possible interpretations. But when it comes to prayer and privacy, there’s not much wiggle room for creative invention; Jesus spoke clearly and plainly on the subject.
Scriptural support for private prayer
Matthew 6: 5-7
5 When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
7 And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Jesus clearly states we are to pray as follows:
- Go into the inner room
- Close the door
- Pray in secret; what is done in secret will be rewarded
- Do not engage in wordy prayers or meaningless repetition
In summary, our prayers should be in private – not in front of others; we are not to repeat things over and over again or be too wordy.
23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.
16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
Scriptural support for praying in public
I have not managed to locate any evidence of Jesus praying in front of an audience or at the end of a speaking engagement or meeting – or of his ever encouraging anything resembling public prayer.
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Modern Christian fundamentalism is misguided at best.
If Jesus were here today and attended a church service, he would be disinterested, offended, or perhaps even flabbergasted and stunned at the things he would see and hear going on at the typical church service.
Modern Christian fundamentalism has missed the forest for the trees; over time, it has built up a multi-layered system of dogma – and for some reason has drawn away from reason & evolved toward an illogical, fideistic brand of faith in which the Bible is interpreted more literally and less rationally. The rejection of science – especially when it conflicts with certain ancient tales – has become more en vogue than ever.
Jesus taught that we are not to worry about anything, that we should not be attached to anything, and that we will be happiest if we live according to simple, basic, spiritual principles.
The Bible was surely not meant to be interpreted literally by modern man – but the fact that it often is helps to explain some of the strange, conflicting, & irreconcilable beliefs held by some of the more conservative, evangelical, hard-right believers.
Aside: How many people across the globe do you suppose have added tebowing to their computer application dictionaries, just to keep from seeing that annoying squiggly red underline?! (I did…)
Tim reportedly quoted a Bible verse, or at least came close:
As iron sharpens iron, men sharpen men.
(Evolution is real; just look at tebowing…)
Tebowing has become a joke: it’s the new planking!
Bill Maher comments on Tebow
Bill Maher comments on Tebow, again
Next, tebowing goes porno: Teblowing.com! 🙁