Emergent Jones calls for celebrating pre-marital sex

“A new sexual ethic for Christians is desperately needed. I for one am going to work on that. Will you join me?”

tony jonesTony Jones is asking all of Christendom to join him in a quest to lift the moral outrage we Christians seem to have over premarital sex. Yes, that’s right. Apparently the Bride of Christ has had its collective undies in a bunch over this for centuries, and we need to stop, and just do it. I’ll share more from his blog post about this titled, Is It Time for Christians to Celebrate Pre-Marital Sex? in just a moment. (Warning: You might be disturbed by the photo he used for this article. Just saying.)  But first, you’re probably asking, who is Tony Jones and where does he get the authority to challenge God about anything?

Tony’s bio tells you pretty much all you need to know about where his authority comes from. You can find this over on the Patheos Progressive Christian Channel:

Tony Jones is the author of The Church Is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement and is theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis and an adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and at Andover Newton Theological School. Tony serves as a senior acquisitions editor at sparkhouse. He’s developed an iPhone app called Ordain Thyself. Tony is the author of many books on Christian ministry and spirituality, including The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier and The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life, and he is a sought after speaker and consultant in the areas of emerging church, postmodernism, and Christian spirituality.

On to the article. He spends a moment or two gushing over two authors who lament at how unfair it is for Christians to have to wait until marriage to have sex. “Human beings are sexual beings. There’s no way around it,” says Jones. “And the fact that, in the West, the age of marriage has been steadily creeping upward means that our bodies are ready for sex long before we’re walking down the aisle. In the U.S., men get married at 29 and women at 27, on average. And we reach puberty a good decade-and-a-half before that.”

He then gives a nod to Esquire Magazine writer John H. Richardson, who opines,I want to suggest that sex, be it adulterous or premarital or deviant or polyamorous, is a good thing, not a bad thing, and that sex itself is the moment of grace. And that our sterile idea of perfection is the actual sin. To start with the subject on the table, adultery is a brave rebellion against the invisible prison we build for ourselves.

And then this clincher from Jones, who tells us that we should stop pretending and accept that our children are probably doing it anyway:

To pretend that those are two virgins walking down the aisle, approaching the coital bed for the first time is uncommonly naive.  And it seems to me that Jesus was lots of things, but he wasn’t naive to the world in which he lived. He did, however, both preach and live prophetically within that culture. He didn’t take it as it was, without pushing back against it. In his day, it was that tax collectors were ostracized and that men shouldn’t pluck heads of grain on the Sabbath. Today, sex is everywhere. It’s unavoidable.

Does it matter a hill of beans what I think or what Tony Jones thinks? Nope. It only matters what God says. His breathed-out word, the Bible, promotes complete abstinence before marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves (Hebrews 13:4).1 Corinthians 7:2 says, “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.” In other words, marriage is the “cure” for sexual immorality, as many people cannot control themselves and should get married in order to fulfill their passions in a moral way.  GotQuestions.org puts it this way:

Since 1 Corinthians 7:2 clearly includes sex before marriage in the definition of sexual immorality, all of the Bible verses that condemn sexual immorality as being sinful also condemn sex before marriage as sinful. Sex before marriage is included in the biblical definition of sexual immorality. There are numerous Scriptures that declare sex before marriage to be a sin (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7).


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34 Responses to Emergent Jones calls for celebrating pre-marital sex

  1. LLroomtempJ says:

    i'm a christian. I believe the bible. I would never want Tony Jones for a pastor and i would never encourage anyone to go to his church.

    With all that said, I will now say this:

    You are putting words in Tony Jones' mouth. In the same way that he doesn't speak clearly about God's truth, you are not speaking clearly about what he has actually said.

    He did not call for a celebration of pre-marital sex. A plain reading of what he wrote looks like he is calling for people to look at premarital sex within the context of the culture that we live in. If we paint pictures of people that have fallen into sin in the way the youth pastor in the example he quoted did, how do we prepare believers to do anything but stigmatize sinners that God, in his grace, forgives?

    The real question that needs to be answered is "what does Tony Jones mean when he implicitly calls people to 'preach and live prophetically'?"

    Good luck getting a clear answer out of him – but i haven't paid him much mind in 4 years, so there's a chance that his answer could be surprisingly clear…

    In closing i will say this: your article is incendiary. To read Tony Jones' article and to come to the conclusion that you have come to is to misunderstand what the man said. If you read Tony Jones' article and decided to sensationalize it for the purpose of driving traffic and impressions, you are in sin.

    Just because he has made a mess of the word of God in the past does not give us license to make a mess of the things he says.


    • Jonathan says:

      Roomtemp – when Jones says we should look at premarital sex in the the context of our culture – well, that again calls for a celebration of it. Because that's what our culture does – it celebrates it.


    • christianpundit says:

      @ LLroomtempJ

      I read Jones' editorial patheos.

      To paraphrase Jones, Jones says that because, in his opinion, a lot of Christians are having sex before marriage, it's old fashioned and unrealistic for Christians to uphold "virginity until marriage" teachings.

      I'm a 40+ year old virgin, still waiting until marriage to have sex (and I'm not the only one), so guys like Jones are clearly wrong. It's not true that all Christians are having pre-marital sex. Even if they were, that would not negate the Bible's view on the issue.

      Jones is also into the other popular emergent anti- sexual purity argument which goes like this:

      Because some people feel hurt, awkward, or ashamed when they hear sexual purity teachings because they are not virgins (either via consensual sex or they were sexually assaulted), Christians should stop upholding virginity and/or sexual purity, and even start teaching any and all sex at any time with about anyone is a-okay..

      All of which is ridiculous. If a thief in prison catches church channel in his prison cell and says he finds "anti stealing" sermons and anti-stealing concepts and teachings hurtful, or that they make him feel ashamed or guilty, that would not mean Christians should then pretend that "Thou shalt not steal" is not in the Bible, or start teaching that stealing is fine, all to spare the guy's feelings.

      A lot of teachings in the Bible could be tossed aside if the goal is to keep from "hurting people's feelings" or making them feel bad, guilty, or ashamed.


      • LLroomtempJ says:

        I read both of your posts this morning and I prayed that the Lord would bless you with a godly husband. I also prayed that your faith wouldnt fail…that the Lord would keep you and smile upon you.

        Have you considered looking for a different church? If there's nothing around you, have you considered finding a church in a different city and looking for employment there?

        I agree that sound doctrine churches don't always do the best job of ministering to single women. Have you considered churches that aren't reformed? Going out on a limb here, but have you considered a black church that had a faithful preacher? Black churches are full of single women and I have found a few in my area (nyc) that have a combination of relatively solid preaching and solid women's ministry.


  2. Amy Spreeman says:

    Sorry, but I emphatically disagree. Tony's own blog title, which he wrote himself, is: "Is It Time for Christians to Celebrate Pre-Marital Sex?" He himself uses the C-word.

    Not only that, but I quoted his own words in context. So how can you say that I've put words in his mouth to sensationalize what he said? He does a pretty good job of sensationalizing his own views. I'm just reporting it.


    • LLroomtempJ says:

      I was wrong to say that you put words in his mouth to sensationalize what he said. I apologize for saying that.

      i honestly didn't see the title of his blog. I clicked the link (which has his blog title), went to read the content and at no point did i think that Tony said anything about "celebrating premarital sex" because I didn't read anything in his article that gave me the impression that he was calling on christians to do so.

      After taking time to reread the blog with my wife in light of the title, I will say that i still don't believe that he is calling on Christians to celebrate sin.

      On the other hand, i agree with your assessment of the title of his blog. It appears to me that his title question is asked to titillate more so than it is to give readers insight into the content of the article.

      I don't completely agree with you when you say that you are "reporting" on what Tony Jones said. I believe that this article, aligned with the name of this site, seeks to "stand up for truth" – which in this,and most other, cases means that you are editorializing – not just reporting.

      I think a better way to state what I said initially would have been "I feel like your article mischaracterizes the tone of Tony Jones' article. Although the title of his article would lead one to believe that he is, in fact, calling on christians to celebrate premarital sex, the body of the article does not lean in the same direction"

      If you believe that it does, we may need to agree to disagree on that point.


  3. Amy Spreeman says:

    Thanks roomtemp, and you are correct in that I am not just reporting; I am adding my own opinion as to what he wrote. I've been watching Tony Jones preach a different Jesus and a different gospel for years, and when I do report his latest antics I can get snarky.


  4. Mr Davis says:

    I think this article points to a bigger issue. We don't desire corperate discipline in our fellowships. If you just look at the list provided in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 > I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. ((( But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.))) For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. >> Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

    If we do not practice discipline we give assent to what they do and so destroy and profane the temple of God. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 If we would just heed this warning instead of looking for those who will make room for our sins. Again we do not fear the Lord because we do not know the Lord; this stuff would take care of itself if we did for we would not dare to cross him and the Love of Christ in us would compell us not to.

    So what is the root> We don't know God therefore we do not do what He says.


  5. Mr Davis says:

    We are more than a faith family. I almost hate that term for it diminishes what we really are in Christ. see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, 1 Peter 2:1-16 but I will highlight 1 Peter 2:5-8

    Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

    That last bit should concern us. Proverbs 16:4-5 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.


  6. Wil says:

    Dear Tony,

    The door to Baal and Ashteroth is down the hall, to the left. Also, check out the word 'porneia' when you have time.




  7. Clout says:

    Unfortunately, the photo you mention at the start of the article didn't open….

    Was it a picture of a tidy looking couple doing some horizontal jogging – in which case tell me more…………..or was it something boring (in which case, don't bother illuminating further…)




  8. Jamie M says:

    Oh my, reading Tony's article just made me sick to my stomach… especially reading the comments section. How awful! They have degraded sex to a disgusting act of self gratification. Instead of just reading and talking about what they think the Bible means, he and his followers need to STUDY the scriptures and stop using eisegegis to justify their sins. @Amy you have a right to be a little snarky, its awful seeing a so called 'pastor' ushering people to Hell with his false teachings.


  9. Joelle says:

    Last week I read through and commented on a discussion on Tony's blog called "Premarital Sex – it's not so bad" and I can't believe the responses from so called 'christians'.

    My search on this subject actually started a year and a half ago when I discovered our Baptist Pastor was allowing his unmarried brother to sleep together with his girlfriend in his own home. This challenged my belief on the subject matter and I went to speak with him privately about the matter. I expected him to fall flat on his face and repent like David did when confronted by Nathan about Bathsheba, but instead he gave me excuse after excuse (to which I countered with scripture) and I left there with my heart sunken even lower than when I first got there. I then went with a friend to speak to him about this and he was "offended" that I brought a friend… this then went on to a meeting with two of the elders who in turn swore me and my friend to secrecy on this matter because the pastor was a new pastor (only been there 6 weeks when this started) and they even said we had to "protect him" and the ministry. So it became more about protecting the pastor rather than dealing with the issue of premarital sex and his condoning it.

    Fast forward a year later and turns out this pastor is horrible… (for many other reasons that I won't list) but underneath it all was this fornication he kept allowing under his own roof with his permission… I ended up going to the whole church on this subject matter and the pastor took it upon himself to address my letter from the pulpit to which he basically said – I know premarital sex is wrong – but how I apply that has begun to change over the years.. I consciously chose to allow them to sleep together in the same bed in my home in order to win them to Christ…. (even though both of them have been going to church in their own home town which was an hour away)

    This seems to be the problem here. Saying one thing out of one side of your mouth and doing another… and this is the Pastor! So what are we to expect from the kids these days when the leaders are not taking a hard stand on celibacy till marriage themselves? What are they to do when their pastors are telling them it's wrong, but it's okay if you are doing it in Christ's name? The world has most certainly influenced the church and the church is allowing it. In fact, they are embracing it …. FYI, the church applauded this pastor when he said these things from the pulpit!

    Licentiousness: It begins in the heart (Mark. 7:21-23 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”).

    If persisted in, it will sear or defile the conscience (Eph. 4:19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.).

    It is the opposite of the personal purity and moral discipline expected of God's people. (Gal. 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.).

    Eventually G-d will hand them over to their sinful ways and desires (Romans 1)

    Bottom line, premarital sex is wrong and does not honour G-d. Those who teach otherwise will have to stand before Him for what they have falsely taught…


    • Jonathan says:

      Joelle, that's unbelievable. And it reminds me of the people from my former very liberal church in Manhattan. When I'd bring up the topic of same-sex marriage, they would say not to say anything to unbelievers about it, because it would turn them off from the start and they'd never come back to the church and never therefore have a chance to hear the gospel (i.e. the false gospel). What a crock!

      So now, we have to remain silent about people's sins in order to win them to Christ! Unbelievable. It's like they're afraid if you tell them what the Word of God says, they'll be turned off by the Word of God! Which is probably true in most cases. But God never told us to water it down to make it more palatable to people. It's not our concern whether his Word turns people off or not. It's only our concern to faithfully share with people what it says.


  10. Such a nice post! I enyojed it! Last time I visited another great blog like this one – bitchinrants..com. Definitely recommend it. Great articles on marriage and relationships!


  11. Adrienne says:

    I'm a Christian and don't believe that sex is only for marriage. Sex is a necessary component in any sexual relationship. I agree that this isn't the official message of my church, but most Christians are not waiting until they're almost 30 years old to have sex.


    • LLroomtempJ says:

      I think your response minimizes the fact that disobedience to God is a terrible thing. Just because sin is the norm in our society does not mean that it is no longer an offense to God.

      To me it sounds like you have elevated sex and sexual pleasure above glorifying God with your life.

      I could quote a million different bible verses here, but i think the bigger issue here might be your view of God and your view of the bible.


      • Jamie M says:

        I recommend the book The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller especially for people that don't think it's a big deal. I just read it recently and the chapter on Sex really helped me understand the importance of not having sex outside of marriage as well as the purpose for it (aside from procreation) through explaining what the Bible says marriage is and sex is for. The world has made sex to be about cheap self-gratification and its a very self-centered view whereas Biblical marital sex is self giving. It is part of the marriage covenant with the union of a man and woman giving themselves to each other fully at every level. It is a re-commitment ceremony that takes place between a man and woman in the covenant of marriage and is Gods gift to the marriage. Tim Keller explains it better than I can and in more detail but I wish I had read it when I was 15 years old and wanting to date. My parents let me date and didn't provide much guidance as to why we should wait for sex in marriage other than the Bible says sex is for marriage. If I was 15 and read this book I would have hopefully seen the importance and beauty of marriage and not defiling what God created for marriage. My children are young right now but I fully intend on having those conversations with them and training them to know the importance saving sex for marriage and the blessing of waiting.


    • Jonathan says:

      Adrienne, yes you are right that sex is a necessary component in any sexual relationship. So good to finally hear somebody point out the truth about that!

      But the Bible says we're not supposed to have any sexual relationships until AFTER we're married. And then, only with the person we're married to.


  12. Lisa says:

    Hebrews 13:4
    Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

    1 Peter 2:11
    Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

    Matthew 5:27-28
    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    The bible is actually quiet clear on how God feels about sexually immorality.


  13. Ron Jones says:

    Yes, articles like this are inflammatory and divisive. But we are told to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." ~Eph 5:11

    The apostates of this world are going to get louder and louder with their calls for "toleration," "belonging," and other such things designed to push the ecumenical movement.

    Read II Corinthians 6:14-18 and remember what the old preacher said: "A wolf in sheep's clothing… is not a sheep."


    • Jonathan says:

      Actually, Paul says that it's not those who call out the false teachers who are divisive, but it's those who bring false teachings into the church who are divisive.

      "And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people's faith by teaching things that are contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them."

      Romans 16:17


  14. Crystal Walker says:

    I bet he's already been "working " on it. I bet the next thing he's got in mind is a Joseph Smith style harem. Repent! "with eyes full of adultery".


  15. Marie says:

    I grew up in the church and have seen it evolve into quite a circus. No longer do we address sexual issues within the walls of the family unit, but now our culture focuses on sex to the point of idolatry. This issue is "out there" and everywhere…have the minds of men (and women) become so totally depraved that we do not consider the marital bed sacred any longer? What has the American society become…..and please do not call the United States a Christian nation for this too, it a lie. Civilized? Perhaps, at times, but Christian, which means following Christ, a resounding no. Are not pastors called to preach and teach the Word of God, leading godly lives of their own so as to not become stumbling blocks for those weaker in the faith? How many pastors do you know who have been persecuted for their walk with Jesus here in the United States? Not many.

    Why? Perhaps those who are teaching and preaching are blind to God's Word, leading those who are blind as well. When the lifestyle of the pastor looks exactly like the rest of the culture, please beware, for then you will come in contact with a wolf in sheep's clothing…..and you will know them by their fruits….and yes, this does include their Biblical doctrine.


  16. christianpundit says:

    I left a reply under Jones' original article. It has not yet been approved to appear. I pointed out to him that contrary to his view, not all Christians are having sex outside of marriage.

    I am in my early 40s, a woman, I have never married, and I have never had sex. I have a normal sex drive. I would still prefer to wait until marriage to have sex.

    (I have been a Christian since childhood but due to various reasons lately, I've been on the brink of becoming agnostic.)

    I told Jones under his post that just because some people who have fornicated feel bad or ashamed when they hear sexual purity sermons or teachings with analogies about 'spit in water' or 'used chewing gum' is unfortunate but does not negate that the Bible teaches virginity- until- marriage, for both genders.

    Sadly, most every one in this dialog only focuses on female virginity, when the Bible upholds male virginity as a standard too.

    Another common attack against sexual purity teachings I see by emergents, secular feminists who hate religion, and liberal Christians, is that because some females have been molested or raped in childhood and therefore find purity teachings uncomfortable or offensive, that sexual purity teachings should be dropped or abandoned; people should be free to have sex whenever, where ever they want.

    I have no idea how these people get from point "A" to point "B" on that. I'm sorry for anyone who has been sexually abused, but I fail to see how the issue of sexual abuse cancels out the teaching that consensual sex should take place in marriage only.

    I also agree with the first part of Marie's posts on this blog. Not only is American secular culture obsessed with sex, but so too are many preachers, churches, and denominations.

    Preachers regularly pontificate, joke about, and sermonize about sex, marriage, and children, even in church or in their online sermons and blogs. They love the "sex in marriage is great" sermons, but don't seem to realize or care that up to half of the American population over age 18 today is single today, and some of us are trying to stay sexually pure.

    There are women over the age of 40, such as me, who have never married, never had kids, and never had sex.

    It's quite frustrating and infuriating to continually be overlooked by Christian culture, to have to hear that my only or best calling in life is to be a wife and mother, or to hear or read almost X-rated comments about sex on the internet, or in church, or by famous preachers, such as by Mark Driscoll and Ed Young Jr.

    A lot of older, celibate, never- married- with- no- kids singles such as me get tired of the non-stop sex and pro-nuclear family, pro-traditional marriage discussions or focus in churches and Christian culture, so we stop going to church.

    (I am not against sex, traditional marriage, or the nuclear family, by the way, only that these are the only things churches talk about and support.)

    Then we older singles get shamed, guilt tripped, or criticized for dropping out of church on blogs and in books – we're supposed to keep going, even though churches either ignore us or treat us horribly.

    A person can only take so many years of snubs or insults for being single past the age of 25 before they just stop caring and the guilt trips don't work.

    I am not the Lord Jesus Christ, so please anyone out there, don't even toss out the stuff about 'turning the cheek' and forgiving and going in spite of being treated horribly. I've had it. So have a lot of other singles.

    I hear from people like me (older singles) from time to time on my blog, and I see them on other blogs, and they agree: most churches in America are totally failing singles who are past the age of 30, which is one reason church attendance is shrinking.

    Up to half the population in the U.S.A. is single these days, but most churches want to keep pretending we're all still living in the 1950s, where mom and dad are married with two kids. We're not.

    We singles also "legally" (i.e., biblically) are not supposed to have sex, so some of us are abstaining from sex, well into our 40s and older, and we don't need guys like Jones saying, "Let's just chuck all the biblical sexual standards out the window and have sex whenever, where ever!" To just drop all the sexuality purity teachings makes a mockery out of my life-long quest to stay a virgin all this time.

    If there are any Christians out there: you should pray and ask God to send suitable marriage partners for those of us, like me, who would like to be married, but we can't seem to meet anyone. God hasn't listened to my prayers in this area, maybe he'll listen to yours.


  17. Jonathan says:

    Christianpundit, that's an amazing story! But I'm horrified by the thought you'd ever consider becoming agnostic! And just as I was reading your message and wanting to respond but not knowing what to say a friend sent me a short article he had written – that might be the perfect response.

    It's from the Book of Ruth… the story of Naomi. I know your stories aren't exactly the same but they have despair and disillusionment in common. Surely the end of your story will be different. But it will be glorious nonetheless.

    There was a very happy and earthly ending at the end of Naomi's story. There might not be such an ending to your story – but there might be. You never know. But even if there's not, there will certainly be a glorious ending to your story – eventually – and when it really counts. I would just encourage you to stay true to the God who has stayed true and will stay true to you till the end.

    Also, don't let unbiblical churches get you down. They don't represent God. The Bible is the only thing we have that accurately represents God. Stick to the Bible and stay away from the unbiblical churches. Paul taught that it's good to stay unmarried. Nothing in the Bible puts being married higher than being unmarried. Churches that do are doing a real disservice by distorting Biblical teachings. (And I say that as a never-married 54-year-old).

    Here's what my friend wrote:

    The sweetest blessings are the ones far beyond our reach – the ones that seem unattainable, the ones for which we must wait the longest. The Book of Ruth is a book of delayed and completely unexpected blessing.

    Because of a severe draught, Naomi and her husband left Israel to settle in a foreign land – Moab. Her husband died shortly after this. Her two sons married women of the land. However, before they conceived, both of her sons died and Naomi was left with two seemingly barren Moabitess daughters-in-law – Orpah and Ruth – and without hope of grandchildren.

    It seemed as if her life was over. She had lost everything. It even seemed that “the hand of the Lord had gone against” her. She therefore ordered her daughters-in-law to return to their families where they would have better prospects of finding a real life.

    Meanwhile, Naomi had heard that the draught in Israel had lifted, and she was determined to return. Orpah returned to her people. However, Ruth wouldn’t, and she memorably pleaded:

    • “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

    Nevertheless, Naomi had despaired of her faith in the wake of such misfortune. Upon her return to Bethlehem, when she was greeted by her old friends, she responded with gloom:

    • “Don’t call me Naomi [pleasant],” she told them. “Call me Mara [bitter], because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” (Ruth 1:20-21)

    Back in Israel, the young Ruth proved her virtue. Instead of receiving the attentions of young suitors, she offered herself to Boaz, Naomi’s relative – the one man by whom Ruth could bare grandchildren for Naomi (Ruth 3:10)!

    By the inscrutable grace of God, she conceived immediately and bore a child named Obed. This turned out to be such a wonderful and unexpected blessing that:

    • The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” (Ruth 4:14-15)

    Grandchildren were considered a great blessing, far more than they are today. There is no doubt that the women had any idea that their invocation regarding a “guardian protector” was prophetic. However, Naomi’s grandson Obed had been fated to beget Jesse, and Jesse, David the King of Israel.

    We cannot contain such honor unless we have been prepared for it through periods of tears and loss. The more the cistern is carved and scraped out, the more water it will hold. The more disappointments and hardships, the greater capacity to contain blessing! Otherwise, the weeds of pride and arrogance, which abound in fertile soil, would choke out whatever good might be growing alongside.

    Instead, we require a regular pruning to keep us healthy, as Jesus explained:

    • “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)

    Some trees will kill themselves by their own growth if not pruned. However, the Lord is close to those He has cut back, the broken-hearted (Isa. 57:15; 66:1-2). Through David would come the promised King Messiah, and in His lineage, we can find many of the broken-hearted. The foreigner Ruth, a Moabitess, is accompanied by the prostitute Rahab, and a woman who had lost a number of husbands – a woman who had to seduce her father-in-law, Judah, in order to have children.

    Naomi had no idea of the glory that would proceed from her. She had thought herself a victim of God, but He was preparing for something glorious through her – for the Savior of the world.


  18. Another Single says:

    You are totally misunderstanding Jones's article. His point was to not make definitive conclusions, but to open the conversation up to developing a relevant theology. By assuming the Bible is clear (on any matter) is the presupposition Tony Jones is trying to defuse. It is a complicated issue, one far detached from the time in which the NT was written, and young sexually charged singles deserve more clarity and understanding on this issue, even IF the final conclusion is that they OUGHT to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.


  19. Julie says:

    Would you expect anything more from a fallen pastor adulterer? He needs prayer. This is a tortured soul trying to rationalize their own sin publicly.


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