Like many, I first became familiar with YouTube sensation Jefferson Bethke after his video, Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus, went viral. I really appreciated Bethke’s timely message for those who falsely believe that Christianity is about earning one’s way to God via their own righteous living. I agreed wholeheartedly with the message of the video and for a while followed Bethke and his wife Alyssa on social media to see what other material they would produce. I receive their emails from time to time and when I saw that they were offering their latest book Love That Lasts, for free to members who participated on the launch team, I was eager to sign up.
I had read this blog post from Summer White, co-host of the Sheologians podcast and was intrigued by how she pointed out that the Bethke’s tend to mention statistics to back up their positions when it comes to relationships and marriage, more than Scripture. My fandom for them began to decrease as a result but I decided it would be wise to read Love That Lasts for myself and see how it measures up to Scripture as well as White’s claims.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Love that Lasts and learning about the Bethke’s testimonies of coming to know Jesus as their Lord. There were many aspects of their personal backgrounds along with their love story that reminded me so much of my background and how my husband and I met.
From a literary standpoint, their style of writing is more conversational which was very unappealing to me as it ignores basic rules of grammar. However, the book is supposed to be geared toward those of the millennial generation so perhaps younger folks will prefer and appreciate this style. The book began with some personal testimony and then veered into the Bethke’s sharing advice on dating, admonition against porn use and then went into their love story.
As this book is written from the perspective of a Christian couple, I was highly disappointed by the lack of Scripture present within. There are a few Scriptures (I counted 9) alluded to throughout the book which readers can find by looking over the Notes section in the back, and there are 24 additional resources listed consisting of articles, books and quotes, but the overall use of the Bible is poor.
Since Jesus Himself is the Word (John 1:1, Revelation 19:13), and it is through knowledge of Him that Christians receive everything they need for life and godliness, it makes the most logical sense to read a Christian book about romantic relationships and compare it with the standard of truth the author(s) claim to uphold. It makes sense also, that the authors are able to prove their positions by providing supporting Scriptures but such proof in Love That Lasts remains to be seen.
My concerns with Love that Lasts are in bold and my thoughts about them are described below:
- On page 73 of the book, Jefferson’s response to a statement about defeating porn use is, “We need to replace the no with a better yes. The only way to create lasting behavioral change is to provide a superior pleasure.” Biblically speaking, the only way to create lasting change is not simply by changing behavior, but the heart, and this requires turning from sin and trusting in Jesus alone for salvation and freedom from sin. Jefferson does mention later on the same page that Jesus is the superior pleasure yet he doesn’t give his reader any Scripture to support this or any direction on how to turn from sin and place their hope for salvation in Christ alone. Additionally, the language of this statement sounds very much like the unbiblical philosophies Lysa Terkeurst includes in her book The Best Yes. The Bethke’s have produced videos for Lysa Terkeurst’s latest book Uninvited so I’m curious about whether or not the language reference was intentional.
- On page 78, Jefferson addresses those addicted to porn by telling them, “Let me tell you, you are so loved. I mean, like crazy-ferociously-pursued-and-loved-by-the-Creator-of-the-universe love. And guess when He loves you the most? In the very act of the sin, not after.” This is actually very contrary to what God has said in Scripture. God’s love is truly for those who have turned from their sin and trust in Jesus alone for salvation. Those who don’t love God are actually His enemies as Isaiah 59:2 says that their iniquities separate them from Him and that their sins have hidden His face from them so that He does not hear. The good news of the Gospel is that God made a way for sinners to be right with Him through Jesus alone. It is God who opens the eyes of the spiritually dead for them to see their need for Jesus as their savior (Ephesians 2:8-9). While God is sovereign in doing this, there is a responsibility on the part of sinners to repent (turn from sin) and pursue living like Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1). As followers of Christ, Christians are commanded multiple times throughout Scripture to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 11:45, Leviticus 19:2, 1 Peter 1:16) – the very moment one is in sin, they are actually doing the opposite of what God commands. For the believer, there is grace that abounds more than sin (Romans 5:20), but Paul reminds us that being covered by grace is not a license to pursue sinful living (Romans 6:1-2).
- On page 121, in telling his side of their love story, Jefferson stated, “She’d broken up with me after a two-week mission trip where she had ‘heard from God.'” My concern with statements like these are that readers will take them as authoritative and will also try to hear from God. When looking at the Bible though, it is very clear that God doesn’t speak outside of His Word (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Hebrews 1:1-2, Revelation 22:18). This may seem like a trite concern and not worth mentioning but the unbiblical concept of listening for God’s voice is growing and often the statements people claim to hear from God don’t actually align with Scripture.
My biggest concern with Love That Lasts is that readers aren’t pointed to Scripture and it is through Scripture that people come to know Jesus or become more like Him. As Christians, our desire for others to know Christ ought to compel us to share about Him. As this is a book on relationships and marriage, I was disappointed that there was no mention of how believers ought to treat members of the opposite sex (1 Timothy 5:1-2) and no mention of the beauty and purpose of marriage as it reflects Christ’s relationship to His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Being on the launch team, I had the opportunity to read the introductions for some of the team members and was sad to see some on the team who shared that they don’t love Christ (or some who claim to but are currently, unrepentantly pursuing sin in their relationships) but are fans of the Bethke’s. They were heartily welcomed on the team by Jefferson himself yet I question whether or not they truly know the good news of the Gospel.
Additionally, the Bethke’s have a promotional series for Love That Lasts on the television channel TBN which is the home network of many popular false teachers and teachers with unbiblical authority who promote unbiblical practices. Seeing the Bethke’s listed alongside people who are famous for preaching the false prosperity gospel and emphasizing experiences over Scripture is deeply disheartening. I watched the first episode of the series, Communication and there was no Scripture used whatsoever. The thirty minute chat included the Bethke’s sharing their experience and opinions on communication. The episode also contains a video of Lysa Terkeurst elaborating on communication. Regarding Lysa, Jefferson says, “She’s on the Mount Rushmore of Christianity in regards to Bible women teachers.” I was really discouraged by the Bethke’s high regard for Lysa’s ministry as she teaches with unbiblical authority over men in her church and claims to hear God speak to her.
Like Love That Lasts, I was saddened at the total lack of Scripture in the episode. In addition to the video by Lysa, there is a video shown that Jefferson made about cell phone addiction. His video has some good points and thoughts but still, no Scripture. God doesn’t even receive a mention until the end of the video, when Alyssa prays and then follows with, “Communicate with Him, I guess that’s where it starts.” I would have loved to hear them begin the video with that and elaborate on that from Scripture. I also found it hard to follow along with what they were saying as they both speak quickly and constantly interrupt one another. I found this ironic since the episode is on communication.
In this day and age, I’ve seen many people eager to devour resources that contain the label “Christian” but very apathetic about God and His Word and how such resources actually match up to it. This is a dangerous dilemma and unfortunately, I see Love That Lasts contributing to it.
I’m afraid that those reading the book who haven’t turned from their sin and trusted in Christ alone for salvation will have a false assurance that it’s okay to be a Christian and simultaneously be pursuing a sinful lifestyle, which is so contrary to Scripture. Christians will have a lifelong battle with sin but they will desire to put to death the deeds of the flesh as, “. . . to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” (Romans 8:6-8).
When it comes to resources about relationships and marriage, Love That Lasts missed the mark and I do not recommend it.
If you are looking for solid, Biblical resources on relationships and marriage, I’ve provided a few below just in case.
I received Love That Lasts compliments of Nelson Books in exchange for my honest review.