Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Live to Die

“If thou willest not to suffer, thou refusest to be crowned. If thou wouldst win the crown, fight manfully, and endure patiently; for without labour, there can be no rest; without combat, no victory.”

Thomas À Kempis

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Our youth group went to a citywide rally Sunday night called Save Your Sex. It was the brainchild of a dear friend of mine, Dwayne Eslick, who is an effective abstinence communicator and one of the most passionate people I have ever met when it comes to the issues teenagers face.

There were skits, testimonies, interviews, worship, and a great rapper. Josh McDowell was the speaker for the evening. 1500 people showed up, and my guess is that about 1300 were teenagers, and most were professing Christians. In that sense, the night was awesome.

I have been thinking lately, though, about the typical Evangelical approach to “abstinence education” (including our approach here), and Josh McDowell brought the issue back to the forefront of my thinking. His approach typifies what you will hear and see among Christians when it comes to talking to teenagers about sex.

We talk about the consequences of getting it wrong.

To be fair, that’s not a bad idea. To be fair, we also talk about purity, sensible dating, making wise choices, and honoring God. But mostly, we quote statistics and tell horror stories and give grave warnings… almost like one would expect to find in a secular abstinence presentation.

Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a place for all of that in our teaching Christian kids about sex.

But is that the best approach? Is that the most elevated discussion we can have about sex with Christian kids?

I have been more and more convicted that we need to approach this from a discipleship perspective.

Consider Paul and the Corinthians. Consider most of the first century world, for that matter. It could hardly be considered a model of biblical sexuality. Yet the approach taken in the New Testament seems to me to be more one of an appeal to holiness for Jesus’ sake – because we have been purchased at a great price and we are His holy people and bear His Name. Not for whatever benefits the practitioner of abstinence might receive. At least not primarily.

Even Josh McDowell talks a great deal (in his book and in person) about God’s protection and provision for the one who follows God’s design. A very valid concept. My point is, should we start there when addressing people who claim to be disciples of Jesus? Is not love for Jesus a greater (or perhaps higher or nobler) motivator than self-preservation? Is not the idea of pursuing Jesus and wanting to be like Him and honoring His Name, which is written on us, much more inspiring than avoiding disease, pregnancy and heartbreak?

“Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace…” (2 Tim. 2:22)

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with… [list]” (Col. 3:12)

“It is God’s will that you should be holy…” (1 Thes. 4:1)

Loving Jesus and acting out of that love is not something that is just for the mature and the significantly sanctified. It is the very beginning of discipleship in my opinion. Perhaps our results would improve if we rethought this thing.

What do you think?