Last night I hung out with six southern Africans at an apartment near where I live. It was a motley crew, the kind Jesus would have shared a meal with. If Pharisees would have been around, surely they would have said, “Why are you with those sinners?”
Everyone smoked constantly (not us, no emails please), we shared a few beers, one of the guys (MJ) quite inebriated, and for the most part, he talked about getting laid all night long. Rylan and I were there because, I think, Jesus would have been there too.
So when we arrived and introduced ourselves, naturally there was the “Why are you in South Africa?” question. They asked if we were studying at the University. I said no. So they asked again. I looked at Rylan and then said, “Well, I’m kind of a campus pastor. I work for a Christian group here in South Africa.” Lucas, one of the guys, said, “Whoa. You are drinking a beer.”
And so it started.
We talked about everything you can fit into a two and a half hour conversation. We discussed the World Cup, politics, South African beer, sex, and of course, Jesus. The Jesus conversation was riveting, but the best part of the night came when MJ asked Rylan what our thoughts were on sex before marriage. In a sheer moment of brilliance, Rylan said, “Well, James, I think you can answer that better than I can.”
After a large gulp, I obviously told MJ that sex before marriage is a big no-no. I told him about the wounds of sexual addiction before marriage. I told him about the pain it can cause him and the women he sleeps with. He told me that he has to sleep around to find the woman who “likes the same stuff I do.” I told him that when a man and women love Jesus first, then fall in love with each other and capture each other’s heart and mind, then when they are married, they will have the best sex. I said that married couples have total freedom, with no guilt, to experiment and learn with each other and together they will experience excitement, passion, and complete approval from God.
After I was finished, Nash (pronounced “nosh”), looked at me and said, “That makes so much sense. That’s the way it should be. I want to come to your church!” Now, Nash is Muslim. She openly admitted to sleeping with her boyfriend (who is Catholic). She told me earlier that she would never leave the Islamic faith. She quickly caught herself and said, “Well, obviously I can’t because I won’t stop being Muslim.”
I think that there was a small seed planted in Nash’s heart (as well as everyone else in the room). I openly talked about Jesus and though Nash is very confused about who he is and what he has done for sinners, she heard a small, yet beautiful, truth. She heard what kind of a change Jesus can make in a person’s life.
There is a different way to do marriage and sex. It’s completely and wholly good. It makes sense, but it only makes sense with Jesus, not Islam. The cross needs to be made glorious to Nash and MJ and their friends so they can experience change. Lord willing, as time goes on, Jesus will reveal himself to them and they will experience the change and abundant life that he alone gives.