The Dangers of So-Called ‘Sexy Christianity’

My generation of believers loves the idea of radical Christianity.

It’s edgy, compromises everything, it’s dangerously transparent and it’s simple. Phrases like “I just want Jesus” are its slogan—its very breath.

Verses are tattooed on our backs, and Greek words are penned into our wrists and biceps. Our sweatshop-free clothes are ripped and dirty. Our coffee is fair-trade. Our books are doctrine-heavy and well-worn.

And maybe we’ll even have a drink or a cigar here and there over a deep theological conversation.

Today, most of us have made our pilgrimage to an African orphanage or held the hand of the dying somewhere in the third-world. We are not like our parents—who worry themselves that our bold faith is going to leave us homeless and maybe dead.

It’s exciting to be alive today. The amount of resources we have at our fingertips is overwhelming. And it’s invigorating to be a part of a generation of Sons and Daughters that just wants to get back to the unmuddied basics: “the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”

We want to live dangerously. And we would love the honor of being numbered with those in Hebrews 11—believers who lived so recklessly in homesickness for the love of God that the writer went on to say of them:

“They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.”

Hebrews 11:37-38 (NIV)

Again, we read passages on the sufferings of Paul, like 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, and find our hearts stirring within us as if to say, “Ah! If I could just have that kind of faith! If I could just live with that kind of abandon! That is what I was created for!”

Our generation has reached out in longing saying, “There has got to be more than this!” and is finding that heroes like Paul seem to have found it…it’s that variable on the back of our tongue when we hear the words “for me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

It’s Jesus.

Untamed and unadulteratedly Jesus.

Unpolluted by what the church wants to make Him…unbound by what modern philosophers want to call Him.

We only want Jesus. And no less.

This kind of Christianity is dangerously cool.

And that’s the thing…it’s dangerous.

Here and there, it’s spot on; but my fear is that it flirts with the edge and settles for the empty satisfaction of a cultural ego-trip—thirsty to hear cool people say: “Wow! You’re doing great things for God!”

It says, “I’ve got style…and heart.” And when our “style” starts to get a little too close to our “heart,” our faith begins to become as skin-deep as the skinny jeans we like to wear.

It’s a TOM-wearing, book-and-Bible-reading, simple-living, guitar-playing, coffee-drinking, bare-footing, leaf-licking, justice-loving, short-term-missions-tripping Christianity.

And it looks really good.

It makes sure that everyone knows that we love homosexuals (which we really do) and have a real distaste for legalistic and hypocritical Christians (which we really do).

This kind of Christianity is…well…sexy.

It’s the guy who sets his stack of theological books on the wooden table in that hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, pulls out his MacBook Pro and begins to blog about the newest injustice right after tweeting about a great new band he came across.

It’s the girl who, after riding her road-bike to town, sits down for a cup of tea or chai and ruffles her Ugandan-made beanie so it sits just right on her head, then pulls out a trendy journal from her Urban-Outfitter-style backpack and begins to write about how badly she misses her YWAM DTS and about how cute she thinks book-reading-and-blogging boy is.

These believers are sensational people. Often, they’re well-versed in the Bible and give color to their churches. They support missions and anything that will reach orphans and afflicted people—if they’ve only got a couple bucks left in the bank. I could go on…but chances are you’ve got someone in mind.

Right now you might be thinking, “Wait, I thought that maybe this kind of Christianity is where our Christian leaders were encouraging us to go ..” And I admit that the whole idea might be a little unclear right now.

But this is what I want to communicate: that when Radical Christianity is popular, as it is becoming for my generation of believers, then we must ask ourselves: “Is the sense of abandon I have for Jesus costing me anything, or actually just making me more popular in the eyes of the people whom I would like to be perceived by as more popular?”

If at the end of the day I was kicked out of my family, homeless, friendless, moneyless and hated…would Jesus still be enough?

Because Sexy Christianity feels pretty good until someone throws a stone at you…or starts a thread of gossip about you…or sends you hate mail…or bullies your kid.