Earlier this week, I saw a video from a Christian YouTuber, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I almost didn’t click on it, because I thought it would be the same old Christian talking points that we hear all the time. But I’m glad that I watched it, because I was unable to stop thinking about it for days after—not because I was persuaded by it, but because I felt that it got so many things wrong.
The video was from the Christian YouTuber Becca Eller, or FarAwayDistance. Here is what she posted this week:
To sum up this video, Becca is getting out something that she’s been thinking about for a while that’s been frustrating her (which, ironically, is also what I’m doing with my response). The main gist of her video is that Christians are not taking sin seriously enough, and they are taking God’s grace for granted. They are being nonchalant about something that will end up sending not only them, but millions of others, to an eternity in hell. She is so visibly frustrated in this video that you feel like you must take it seriously. As she says, and I would have to agree, eternal punishment isn’t a joke. If it’s real, we should be afraid and do anything in our power to avoid it.
Something that she said in the beginning of the video actually distracted me so much that it was hard to focus on the rest without getting caught up in something that she probably meant mostly as an example. In mimicking those Christians who don’t take sin seriously enough, she said:
God doesn’t even care if I smoke weed. God doesn’t even care that I’m having sex before marriage. I just don’t feel like he cares. I know that it’s wrong to smoke weed, but, ya know, God will forgive me. I know that it’s wrong to have sex before marriage, but God will forgive me.
I already know that the Bible has some rules that seem arbitrary, as least to me. Some are still followed by a lot of Christians, and a lot are ignored, whether it’s on the basis of being “Old Testament Law which was fulfilled by Jesus so we don’t need to” or if “we just don’t do that anymore.” Eating shellfish, wearing braids, and having gay sex come to mind as examples of these sins. But smoking weed? Having sex before marriage? Does the Bible even say anything about those things?
It’s true that there are heaps of bible verses about sexual immorality. They’re all over the place. But most of them just warn not to be impure, not to be sexually immoral, or to abstain from sexual immorality or lust. To me, this sounds like the writers are telling us to not partake in sexual sin, but it doesn’t often tell you what that sexual sin is. It’s like a parent telling a child, “Don’t be bad!” to which the child says, “What is bad? What shouldn’t I do?” And the parent replies, “Just don’t be bad. If you do bad things, I’ll punish you.”
You could argue that the bible says not to have premarital sex. I checked on this page for relevant verses, and I found these three to be the closest to this topic:
“To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Corinthians 7:8-9
“If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.” Exodus 22:16-17
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
Becca thinks that premarital sex will land you in hell. But do any of these verses even imply that? In 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, the only thing it says to do is get married (so one might wonder why it would be a sin to have sex with someone they plan to marry or are perhaps even already engaged to and planning a wedding….). Exodus 22:16-18 says the same thing, but makes it clear that this also applies to rape. Rapists (or anyone else having sex outside marriage) aren’t punished, but asked politely to marry the girl they’ve defiled. And Genesis 2:24 is the most vague out of these, as it is telling humankind what they should do (get married and have sex), but it doesn’t say anything else on what it means to be sexually immoral or impure. Here, is having extramarital sex just as bad as getting married and not having sex? Is that a sin, too?
As for smoking weed, I was exponentially more confused about why Becca included this as a hell-deserving sin. Is there anything in the bible about it? The only verses on this page that I could possibly twist to be remotely related to marijuana are these:
“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” Genesis 9:3
“And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:10-11
Of course, feel free to peruse the page on which I found these, but most of the relevant verses are taken either from Genesis with the same message as Genesis 9:3, or they say not to get drunk but rather to be sober-minded. Weird that Becca didn’t say that drinking alcohol can send you to hell, which can actually get people drunk and even kill, unlike marijuana. I think that the telling difference here is that many Christian denominations drink, but marijuana use has yet to be widely accepted in Christian churches.
Just to be sure, I commented on Becca’s video—not about the typical “Why would a loving God send people hell for acts like these?” but rather “Where in the bible does it say not to have premarital sex or smoke weed?” I know she’s probably been asked the first question dozens of times, so I didn’t bother. But maybe she knows of verses for the latter that I don’t. I never got a response, though, so I’m guessing there aren’t any. Oh well. Nothing makes sense, but let’s move on.
There are a few other things that she said that I take issue with. They include the idea that God is a person—not a human, but certainly a person—who is sad, angry, and heartbroken when you sin. It’s an interesting thing to see God as a person with feelings and desires. This probably helps more people to feel that they’re in a relationship with someone who can listen and respond, but does this not go against the nature of who, or what, God is? How can a being be sad or mad when they have full control over everything that happens? How fair would it be for a god to send you to hell for doing something that he never even said not to do? That does sound like a human mistake, but hopefully an all-powerful, all-knowing, and, most-importantly, all-loving god, would know to be clearer and not manipulative.
Becca also mentioned that the bible never said that you can get into heaven by being a good person. She says that the bible says that you can only get into heaven through Jesus and God the Father. But you know what else the bible never says?
Wait for it. You can probably guess.
Right. It never says you can’t get into heaven if you had had premarital sex or smoked a joint. So why bring these up if you are then going to make an argument based on the bible not saying something?
My biggest problem with this whole video, outside of the sex-and-weed thing (which, to her credit, was not her main point) is that an all-loving God should not be sending people to hell for things that aren’t even bad outside of him telling you so. Of course it’s even worse when the act at hand is something that God says nothing about, like smoking weed.
But there are plenty of things that he does say not to do, that in this view probably could land you in hell but don’t bear any real consequences on earth. Like having gay sex. I say this because that is what is explicitly condemned in Leviticus 20:13—it doesn’t say “Don’t be gay,” but it does say not to lie with another man as you would with a woman. You can choose not to do this, even though you can’t choose not to be gay. But why would something like this send you to hell? Why would an all-loving, forgiving god condemn people for something that has no real negative consequences outside of him saying “I told you not to”?
Finally, I was deeply unnerved by a point that Becca iterated a few times toward the end of the video. She said, “It’s not me, it’s the Holy Spirit” in regards to where her message is coming from. If you don’t like what she’s saying, don’t blame her, because she is only repeating what God has laid on her heart in prayer. Why would God tell you all this but not tell any of your viewers or those sinners who are having premarital sex? What if someone is sinning but doesn’t watch her videos? Will God tell them this, too? What if there’s someone who believes that drinking alcohol is a sin but smoking weed is not? Would God dare to tell that person something that contradicts what they already believe? I think not, because it seems that what God thinks is wrong always conveniently aligns with what his believers already think is wrong, whether or not God has said anything about it in Scripture.