Q+A: Jefferson Bethke on the Spiritual Realities of Sex
Spoken-word poet and YouTube sensation Jefferson Bethke's newest video, "Behind the Pen," hasn't quite gained the momentum of January's breakout "Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus," but at over 50,000 views in two weeks, it's definitely not slacking. From The New York Times and Nightline to the Gospel Coalition, there's been no shortage of opinions, both positive and negative, on Bethke's messages. His "Sexual Healing" poem and subsequent "Sex, Marriage and Fairytales" laid Bethke's views on gender out on the table.
The 22-year-old Washington native and Mars Hill member spoke with Her.meneutics guest writer Kate Roberts about his views on sexuality, parenting, and gender roles.
In "Sexual Healing," you address the repercussions of premarital sex. What do 20-somethings in the church get wrong about sex?
I recently read an article called "Why Young Christians Aren't Waiting Anymore," and the stats were that 88 percent of non-Christians adults have had sex, while Christians were 80 percent. There is only an 8 percent difference, which is really staggering when you think about it. What Christians are missing out on, what everyone is missing out on, is the depth of sex, the spiritual layers God created it to have, rather than just two bodies slamming together. Sex is suppose to be a picture of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual nakedness—seeing the other person just how they are and still saying, "I accept you, I want you, I want to become one with you." And you continually [have sex] to renew that covenant to [say], "We're one," which is ultimately a picture of what we are with Christ.
How do your views on masculinity inform this poem and your broader teachings about sex?
There are a few distortions that men fall into with sex, and the first is, "It's all about me." Pornography has trained almost every guy in America to think that sex is for [men] completely: All about me, all about my desires, and the girl is simply an object. That's a disease today.
In order to define your masculinity, you have to see how Jesus defined masculinity because he was a man, he gave himself up fully for others' needs. That is how true masculinity should inform sexuality, ultimately in a marriage, being the first one to reveal your nakedness spiritually, emotionally, and mentally to your wife; wanting to serve rather than take from her. You pursue, you lay down your life, you elevate the woman above yourself. Masculinity is not putting yourself above anyone, it's putting yourself under everyone and lifting everyone else up.
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