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Josh McDowell
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Author Interview

Josh McDowell on 'The Bare Facts' of Life

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - The word “sex” receives more than four billion Google searches every year.  Four billion!  The largest percentage of these searches are conducted by teenagers.  Abundantly clear is the fact that sex is one of the most misunderstood topics since the beginning of time.  Is sex a good thing or a bad thing?  It’s both.

Evangelist Josh McDowell has spent nearly 50 years working with young people to strengthen their faith and understand Scripture better.  On the topic of sex, Josh believes the good far outweighs the bad.

In his book, The Bare Facts: 39 Questions Your Parents Hope You Never Ask About Sex (with Erin Davis), Josh answers the top questions young people ask about sex, love, and relationships. Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Josh to discuss why sex is often misunderstood by Christians, the number one myth about God and sex, and effective ways parents can encourage their kids to see what the Bible has to say about it.

You've been quoted in saying “Abstinence is sexy.”  Why do you say that? A lot of people would argue with you about that.

Well, it’s very simple. There are so many misconceptions about this subject. Abstinence, most people think is negative. Don't do it because it's sinful. Don't do it because it's wrong; it's dirty. That's not abstinence biblically. Abstinence is “Wait, not because it's sinful or dirty, but because it's so beautiful.” I mean, come on. The reason it says “Abstinence” is because God says “I want you to experience the Song of Solomon. I want you to experience Proverbs 5:18-19.

And here's the thing. There's not one, and this is probably “the” biggest misconception. People say to me “Well, why is the Bible so negative about sex?” I say, “It's not.” I say, “You show me.” For 48 years I've challenged pastors everywhere “You show me one verse in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation that says “Sex is sinful.” There are none. There's not one single verse from Genesis to Revelation that says “Sex is sinful.” A woman came up to me at a seminar of 500 parents, where I made this statement. At the first break, she stormed to the front, yelled out at me, and said, “You are despicable!” She slammed down a sheet of paper and stormed out of the church. She said, “This is what God says about sex.” I said to the people “Before you take a break, I'm going to read my paper to you.  Her paper said, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” Big black letters: this is what God says about sex. She wrote out ten Bible verses. Not one of them had anything to do with sex. You want to know what they had to do with?  The misuse of sex. Avoid sexual immorality for it's the one sin you commit against your body. That's not about sex. That's about the misuse of sex.

Even in the church, we've got a great deal of confusion on this topic, because similar to the woman you are referencing, many people, for whatever reason only think of sex in the terms of misuse.

This is probably one of the most evil things taught in churches, evil things believed by parents. It's done more damage and ruined more people, more marriages, more relationships then almost anything else taught.

So what do you think is the number-one myth about God and sex?

The number-one myth is, “Why is the Bible and God so negative about sex?” The number-one myth. It's only negative about the “misuse” of sex, not the use of sex. You want to see how God created sex?  Read Proverbs 5 and Song of Solomon.

God created sex for a unity factor, to experience in a very physical way, the very spiritual oneness we have with Jesus Christ in each other. And third He did it for recreation between a man and the wife of his youth. Not with your boyfriend, not with your girlfriend, not with your neighbor's wife, with the wife of your youth.

Changing gears, in your book you feature 39 questions parents hope to never be asked about sex.  Why 39 questions?  Why not a nice round number like 40?

Because that's what it came to, but also you remember it more.  When I was a crusade director in British Columbia, all of our meetings were at 9:03. Somebody said ‘That's ridiculous. Why did you do that?’ It's because you remember it. You've never been to another 9:03 meeting.  Thirty-nine. That's what it came out to from listening to kids, reading what they say, and listening to parents, what they fear their kids will ask them.

There will be kids who will read this book, and say, “Well, you know the Bible is a document from thousands of years ago, and how is that applicable to sex in today's society? Things have changed.” What do you say to those kids? And how do you advise the parent to talk to their kids about this?

If God is, now that's a question. If God is, and He revealed himself in the Scriptures, then that would be truth that would cross all cultures, everything. Why? Because that's who He is. He created us, whether we're born now or 2,000 years ago to live a certain way. Purity. I've never had anyone define purity. You probably can't define purity. Purity is to live according to original design.  It's not only sex. If you are living your life the way God designed you to live, you're pure. If you're not, isn't that something? If you're not living your life the way God designed, you're impure. Well if God is, and He's revealed himself, then He has revealed how we were originally designed to live.

What do you say to those young people who say, “I'm sexually active and I just can't stop this pattern of sin. I just can't live by these Biblical standards.” What do you say to those kids?

When everything, anything is held higher or more desirable than your addiction, you will never ever, ever defeat it. So it comes down to a choice. The easiest way for a young person to make that choice is that they have a mom and dad who live out the most unbelievable, exciting, sexual experience. I get criticism from many Christian parents on this. With my three daughters, and my son, from the time they were little kids, I always wanted them to know I absolutely enjoy sex with their mother. It is absolutely fantastic, incredible.

There is something you need to understand about kids.  And if you were to ask my adult children, “Back when you were growing up. What's the one thing that motivated you to stay pure, to live the way God created you to live?” They'd say I've always wanted to have what my mom and dad have.

Without that, it's difficult unless you have a pastor, a youth pastor, a significant adult couple in your life that models that for you. You probably won't beat it. You probably won't. This is why I say to pastors, “Talk about your wife all the time. Hold her hand. Don't hesitate right in front of the church to give your wife a kiss.”

As a parent, what are some effective ways you can encourage your kids to dig into the Word, and to see sex not as being misused, but how it should be approached?

Number one, and this I can't underestimate this. They have got to model it.  Every kid needs to say, “I want what my mom and dad have.” Now how do they have that? Because, one, they follow the Scriptures. Second, rules without Scripture, without relationships leads to rebellion. Truth without relationships leads to rejection. You've first got to model it, and second, you've got to build that relationship. Third, lack of knowledge engenders fear. Knowledge engenders confidence, courage.  Every piece of medical and scientific evidence that I researched confirmed the Scriptures; I felt wow, sexual research shows the Bible's true.

As an author, and as someone who's very passionate about this topic, what do you want parents and kids to get from the experience of reading this book?

Truth. I want to help parents to break through that fear factor of ignorance. I want parents to look at this and say, “Wow! I need to work on our love life, and I want to raise my children that they can experience everything God has in store for them.” At the same time then, I better lay out to my children the dangers: if you don't live a pure life, don’t live according to the original plan. That's what I want to do. That's why everything is documented.

To purchase The Bare Facts: 39 Questions Your Parents Hope You Never Ask About Sex

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