Woman Says That Jesus is Not Optional, but Marriage Is (a.k.a., Gospel Centrality Fail)

“Can you be a Christian even if you sleep with someone you are not married to?” That was the question a DJ posed over the radio waves as my wife, kids, and I drove back from visiting family in Columbus, OH.

I immediately braced myself for some high quality idiocy.

But the first caller surprised me with her opening comments.

She began:

“First of all, I want to say that Oprah is not a Christian. On her show she says that anyone can find their own way to God, but Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

My wife and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows, and were pleased to hear such an exclusive claim regarding faith in Jesus. I looked forward to how she would answer the question.

The caller proceeded:

“But you don’t have to be married to sleep with someone. Marriage is a secular institution invented by people. As long as you are committed to the person you love, that’s all that matters.”

How disappointing is that? Her answer fails to reflect the teaching of Scripture on so many levels. Here’s the first few that crossed my mind.

1. She ignores textbook passages that state the sinfulness of sex outside of the covenant of marriage.

2. She does the same thing in regard to practice that Oprah does in regard to belief. She makes herself the authority, rather than submitting to Scripture as authority.

3. On a broader level, she loses the covenantal foundation of our salvation. It is significant that Jesus is married to the church. This imagery is loaded with eternal faithfulness. To marginalize the importance of marriage for us is to evaporate Jesus’ covenant with us.

Many of us would wonder how this woman could hold to two such incompatible views. The woman may be to blame for rejecting the teaching of Scripture. Her pastor may be to blame for not preaching the whole counsel of God.

Either way, here’s the lesson for us: this lady is in our church, and we have to shepherd her from gospel belief in Jesus to Scriptural understanding and gospel living.

It’s hard enough for pastors to communicate the fullness of the gospel. The good news of Jesus is like a Swiss Army knife: simple at first glance, until you start to dig into it. So when we see among our people the blooms of a robust understanding of the gospel, it is something to celebrate.

However, this is when a whole new mission begins: showing how the gospel, and every bit of God’s word, must affect our entire life.