Just in case you're one of the two people on the planet who hasn't seen Jefferson Bethke's video, "Why I Love Jesus But Hate Religion," (which, at this writing, has over 12 million hits on Youtube), then you'll want to watch his stylistically appealing but content confusing video before proceeding so you'll know what I'm talking about.
I'd like to thank Mr. Bethke for having the courage and the zeal to make his video and put his ideas out there for the world to see and discuss. I believe he's actually doing a service to lukewarm Christians to get them to start thinking about what they do and why they do it. While I strongly disagree with his characterization of religion, I agree with his words about Jesus' saving grace and that He alone is the cause of our salvation. I think what Mr. Bethke meant to say was that empty religion is of no avail. When we do religious things merely to get the approval of others, we aren't doing it for God, therefore we can claim no merit. (Matthew 6:5). Yet, even in the case of the person who goes about doing good merely for human approval, I can see that God could cause much good to come out of it. (Romans 8:28). Others will see his good works and glorify God. (Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 2:12). So even though my good works might not help me, they will most certainly help others.
My first reaction to his video was annoyance and that something was terribly wrong with it, but it careened on at such a pace that my mind couldn't possibly refute his arguments as quickly as he was condemning religion and religious people. His delivery was smooth and hip. He mixed some truths with lies so that the lies seemed to go down easier. I don't believe he intentionally lied. I think he's just as much a victim of our culture of relativism as the rest of us. After all, he's no theologian. And by his own admission, he's only been following Christ since 2008. Still, Mr. Bethke has some good points. The beauty of the truth shines in this video, which is why I think it has become so popular. My purpose is not to dissect his arguments. Others have already done so. And I don't want to repeat what has already been said in a most excellent manner by many folks, both Protestant and Catholic. My favorite written response to date is by the kid at Bad Catholic, (read his "Smackdown" here), (P.S. Mr. so-called "Bad Catholic," after my daughter read your response, she said she wants to marry you...I have four unmarried daughters, but I won't tell you which one said that or she'd kill me).
Fortunately, there have been some very clever responses that have been put forth almost as quickly as this thing has gone viral. This one, for example, is almost as artistic as the original...even if they did steal some of the ideas. The content, however, is masterful. And best of all, it's 100% Truth.
Jefferson Bethke is obviously a Christian young man trying to spread the Gospel to a wounded and hurting world. He's been affected by the responses to his video. His video entitled, "Sexual Healing," is a great message to those wounded by promiscuity and pornography and deserves as many views as the "Love Jesus but Hate Religion" video.
The only thing that disturbs me about this video is how he seems to gloss over the struggles of a recovering sex addict. Yes, Jesus saves us from our sin, but the wounds from our sins remain. The addictions, the urges, the sinful thoughts can come back and haunt us and even make us doubt whether or not we've ever been saved. We fallible human beings need a tangible reality to remind us of the spiritual reality. We need a Church. We need religion. Come home to the Catholic Church, Mr. Bethke. We're really just a bunch of sinners trying to love God and get to heaven. We'd love to have you join us.