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Why did Tim Tebow trademark ‘Tebowing’?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow prays after the Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime in the NFL AFC wildcard playoff football game in Denver, Colorado, January 8, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Marc Piscotty)

Tim Tebow has officially trademarked “Tebowing.” The move, in which he drops to one knee and holds a clenched fist against his forehead as he prays, has become popular across America.  Everyone from Christians to celebrities and NFL players have imitated the pose.  Robert Downey Jr. even did it at the Oscars.  Time magazine named Tebowing No. 5 on its 2011 list of “Top Ten Memes.”

Why does he do it? He told thousands at Canyon Ridge Christian Church earlier this year that he kneels in prayer “to take a moment to block out everything else and just get on a knee and thank the Lord.  I want to humble myself before the Lord and say thank you for this opportunity.  Thank you for letting me play the game I love.  Whether I’m good or bad, whether I’m the hero or the goat, whether I score four touchdowns or throw four interceptions, that I will still be the same person, honoring the Lord.”

Why has he trademarked the move?  He explains: “To control how it’s used, make sure it’s used in the right way.”  While Tebow’s representatives have not filed on his behalf for financial gain, if he doesn’t prove he has intention of using the trademarked move for business purposes, he might lose possession of it.  He says that any money he might make on the move in the future would go to his charity, the Tim Tebow Foundation.

I commend Tebow for taking this initiative.  While some will criticize his decision as financially motivated, I agree with his desire to protect his witness and integrity.  As a public Christian who has been very bold about his faith, he has a target drawn on his soul.  Remember when a website offered $1 million last April to any woman who could get him to break his vow of sexual purity?  The enemy knows that a single moral failure could undermine years of commitment to Christ and his Kingdom.

Early in Billy Graham’s career, as he was preaching in Modesto, California, he and his team made a covenant they called the Modesto Manifesto.  Among their commitments was a vow to avoid the appearance of any sexual immorality.  From that point forward, Dr. Graham did not travel, meet, or eat alone with any woman other than his wife.  If he was alone on an elevator and a woman entered the car by herself, he got off.  Such attention to his witness helps explain the fact that he was named among the “Most Admired Men” in the 2011 USA Today/Gallup Poll, the 55th time he has been so honored.

How might the enemy, “a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), attack your witness today?  What steps will you take to protect it?  Perhaps this verse which hangs on the wall of Dr. Graham’s Montreat, North Carolina home will help: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).