Jefferson Bethke, the online evangelist whose recent video "Why I Hate Religion" saw over 17 million views in just one week, has created a new spoken word poem – this time tackling love, sex and marriage.
Bethke, 22, says that his hope for "Sex, Marriage & Fairytales" is to highlight the most common and problematic issues plaguing marriages today, while emphasizing Jesus as the "ultimate healer, redeemer, and restorer of every marriage."
"My intention would be that this poem would allow you to look more deeply to Jesus to either better your current marriage, or prepare for your future marriage," he writes below the YouTube clip.
Inspired by Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll's new book Real Marriage, Bethke says that Disney movies and "chick flicks" have distorted reality as most people forget "they're actually fiction."
"So how's your marriage?" the Washington resident asks. "Come on let's be honest. Marriage seems to some more like a prison than the paradise they were promised."
He continues, "Marriage is supposed to fulfill us, make us happy not lonely, but the truth is God's first priority is making you holy."
Bethke, currently a member of Mars Hill Church (Federal Way) in St. Auburn, Wash., questions why (for some) dating feels like a vacation, but marriage like a job. However, he points out that the secret of joy, if we drop the façade, is that "most problems arise when you elevate your spouse to God."
"Without knowing it, we've fulfilled Romans 1:25," Bethke states. "By our actions – exchange the truth about God for a lie. We've exchanged God for lesser created things, it's like a husband exchanging his wife for a 2D image on a screen."
According to Bethke, if a marriage rests on anything but Jesus, it is resting on a foundation that is broken. Regardless, he points out that men continue to sacrifice their marriage on the "altar of sex and lust."
"If our dollars were honest they'd say 'in pleasure we trust,'" the poet says. "So men grow up, put down the controller. How about you lead her with grace instead of trying to control her."
The 22-year-old shares that despite never having been married he is the product of a union that was non-existent – so he understands the pain.
Bethke advises that individuals first become friends before lovers. "Pursue Jesus as your foundation, before you get under the covers. A strong friendship before marriage, will make a good marriage after."
"Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales" questions that if marriage is not a commitment, then why vow "until death do us part" if it only means until the feelings go away. It's as nonsensical as parents who, after their child spills something on the floor, say "I don't even love you anymore."
"To last you need the strength from above," he counters. "Because it's not the love that sustains the promise. It's the promise that sustains the love."
According to Bethke, Jesus' death on the cross was his proposal. He pointed husbands and wives to Ephesians 5, saying, "Wife honor your husband. Husbands give up your life."
He continues, "Just like Jesus gave himself up for his bride, the Church. So men lead by serving, by putting her first."
"So die to self, put your flesh on a life sentence. Because you don't fall out of love, as much as you fall out of repentance."
Published Jan. 26, the video has garnered over 1 million hits and thousands of comments as of Saturday. In a complementing clip, Bethke discusses his inspiration for "Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales," saying that the poem arose from Driscoll's book, Real Marriage.
"The book highlights and looks at marriage in a different light than most other books and conferences," he states. "It's real, it's gritty, and it's extremely honest."
Like his previous YouTube sensation "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus," this recent video has sparked an online debate.
One user said, "Your work is beautiful…and you really bring a fresh perspective to our younger generation, the word of God is such a breathe of fresh air and you deliver it every time!"
However, some expected a stronger personal inspiration – not just Mark Driscoll's book.
"Honestly, I was hoping he would have more personal inspiration and not just be pushing Driscoll's new book," said one commenter. While another wrote, "His poem mentions his parents' divorce as a big factor, but it isn't mentioned at all here. Just the book and tour."
Nevertheless, it was pointed out that both those who identified themselves as Christian and atheist were affected by Bethke's words.
"They (Christians and Atheists) still feel moved by your words or your words make them think," wrote a viewer. "It's amazing how the power of your words and the power of God works to reach all people."