Recently, Jefferson Bethke did a video that he posted on YouTube, and that video has gone viral. In his video, Bethke affirms his reasons for hating religion while loving Jesus. His words have resonated with many people. This “new” and “fresh” take on religion and Jesus, is really not new at all. I’m old enough to remember some of the same rhetoric being spoken in the 1970’s.
The problem I have with Bethke’s video is that he has created a false dichotomy between religion and Jesus. He pits the two at odds against each other on opposite ends of the spectrum. The things that he identifies in his video that appall him, appall me as well. But instead of addressing and opposing the abuses of religion, he opposes religion. Instead of contrasting “false religion” and “Jesus”, he contrasts “religion” and “Jesus.” Thus he sets Jesus against what he came to establish (Matthew 16:18), and he labels as “worthy of hate” that which James says is “pure and undefiled” (James 1:27).
If I may, I would like to illustrate his mistake with a poem of my own. Now I know I’m not young and hip, in fact I just turned 50. So you won’t ever see me on YouTube in a leather jacket reciting the words to this poem. But if you can identify the problem with my parody, you can identify the problem with Bethke’s video.
Why I Hate Marriage, But Love Intimacy
What if I told you that Jesus came to abolish marriage.
That in terms of seeking justice, saying “I do” is a great miscarriage?
Marriage is an institution that everyone thinks is right,
But from all I’ve ever seen it results in one ongoing fight.
Within the “sacred” bonds of marriage, “holy” vows are broken,
Saying to “love, honor, and cherish” are nothing more than tokens.
In marriage, honesty is scarce, lying and deception reign,
Jesus calls for a transparency that only marriage can feign.
Before you stand at the altar and say your “I do’s,”
You better consider first if you want Jesus opposed to you.
It’s love that Jesus seeks, not some formal institution,
Throw marriage aside, stand with Jesus, let’s start a revolution.
If Bethke wanted to call out and expose false religion, more power to him! But if he wants to call out and expose false religion under the name of “religion,” then I for one must speak up in defense of what I love. I would suggest that Mr. Bethke might retitle his video as, “Why I hate false religion, but love Jesus.” Or even better yet, do a video telling us “Why I love religion and Love Jesus.”