“Sexual Healing” by Jefferson Bethke

This video and this guy, Jefferson Bethke, have gotten pretty popular in the last year or so. He also did the “Hate Religion, Love Jesus” thing:

But I don’t really like this particular Sexual Healing video. I’ve seen some of his other stuff, and it’s a little better, and I think he did this particular video with the right intentions, but when Christians seem to be the main audience, I think it falls flat. It frustrates me when people I know are Christians get excited about this kind of thing, because to me, this guy doesn’t really get it.

Yes, sex before marriage is bad. Yes, we shouldn’t do it because it would have bad consequences and God says not to. But it shouldn’t stop there.

Jefferson says several times in this video that you shouldn’t have sex before marriage because of the consequences – pregnancy, emotional baggage, etc. He says when you just do it, you don’t realize “that the consequences of your actions are oh, so pricey,” he says at 3:35.

All that is true. Sex and purity are a big deal, and so God put some of the most obvious and costly consequences on it because it’s so important. But that is not why a Christian shouldn’t do it.

If we’re motivated by the focus of this poem – consequences – then we’re not following the Bible.  Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body,” says 1 Corinthians 6:18. Okay, that seems to be in line with what Jefferson says.

But if you actually read the chapters and verses surrounding these verses, you’ll realize why. It’s not just because you’ll sin against your own body or hurt yourself. In fact, your own self should be the thing that gives you the least amount of motivation. In the greater context of 1 Corinthians, Paul says your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (6:19) and you were bought with a price (6:20). Because God lives in you as a Christian, a sinner, and because you’ve been saved not because of anything you’ve done but because of what he’s done, you don’t do these things. You’re motivated by Christ, not by consequences.

“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” Paul asks in Galatians 4:9. He doesn’t understand why the Galatians want to sin and be slaves to the law because they’ve been redeemed and freed from sin. It makes no sense. Paul doesn’t say, “Now that you have come to know God, you can understand that sex could make you a parent before you’re ready, so you shouldn’t do that anymore.” He focuses on our relationship with God being the primary motivating factor behind our holiness.

It’s wrong to be motivated by potential consequences. It undermines the grace of Christ and puts the emphasis on us. If we resist temptation just because we know we should, that doesn’t teach us to rely on the Holy Spirit, and someday, we might face a situation where our willpower isn’t strong enough. Why do so many of us Christians fall, not just into sexual sin but into other sins too? It’s because we’re not relying on the Lord for strength.

And you know what? Sometimes our sin doesn’t come with worldly consequences. Some people can have sex all the time before they get married and never get pregnant or an STD or really have any apparent emotional baggage. They really can have a happy marriage afterward, and living in the world for any amount of time will help you realize that. It doesn’t seem fair. If a Christian realizes this, and all that was keeping them from sin was a fear of consequences, they’ll either be seriously disillusioned or they’ll be handed the biggest license to sin ever.

Or, if all we’re afraid of is what might happen when we sin, we’ll just resist the bare minimum. We won’t live a life of higher holiness. We won’t consider keeping our hearts pure, but we’ll just focus on our bodies. And as Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-30, a man who just looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery, even if his body is technically “pure.”

So no, you shouldn’t have sex before you’re married. And yes, God does bring healing through the blood of his Son for sinners. But Christians shouldn’t be motivated by a fear of consequences or just some verse in the Bible that says not to do something. They’re motivated by the grace they’ve received. Christ saved them from condemnation that they fully deserved and called them to an abundant life because he loves them.

Out of gratitude, they seek his power to live worthy of that calling. Not out of some ridiculous fear of unplanned pregnancy or hurt feelings.