The Fear of Hell is Not Enough.

This week the NY Times posted a tragic article called “When Eve and Eve Bit the Apple.”

It’s a story about a conservative Christian woman, committed to her church, looking for a husband, but who eventually falls in love…with another woman. In Kristen’s words: “I repented of what Christians call my ‘struggle with same-sex attraction… [but] my fear of hell shut down any capacity to imagine a future with Jess.”

In the end, Kristen gives into her desires, leaves her church, and marries Jess.


Kristen loved her church. She feared hell. She wanted to conform to evangelical norms. But she has a choice: 1. Punishment for choosing her true love, or 2. Living without her true love in safety. It has an almost gospel-like air. Kristen does a noble thing, choosing to sacrifice her reputation for her lover, Jess.

But imagine the situation slightly different.

Imagine if Kristen already had a husband.

Imagine if that husband was good to her, cared for her, washed her feet, spoke tenderly to her, and lavished her in affection. Imagine if this husband, wealthy beyond all compare, sold all he had, and gave it to pay Kristen’s immense debts. He was more intimate than a friend, anticipated her needs before she spoke them, and patiently endured any slight against him. He delights her, cherishes her, treasures her, and shows her the meaning of true love. Imagine this husband, forsaking all else, laid down his life to save Kristen, only to conquer death once and for all.

Now, enter Jess.

The story doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?

And this, of course, is the true story of Kristen and Jess. Because the figure conspicuously missing from the story – Jesus, the Reality of Husband to which marriage points – is able far and beyond Jess to satisfy Kristen’s burning desire for intimacy, love, understanding, and devotion. Having the choice between heaven without Kristen, and hell with Kristen, Christ chose hell with Kristen.

And yet, Kristen abandoned her True Lover – the Name missing from her story – for another.

Of course, we are all, like Kristen, tempted by competing lovers. I am. You are. We all are.

But this is why our affection for Christ – above our theological checklist, our love of the local church, our agreement to Christian norms, our fear of hell – must be at the heart of our faith.

Jesus – our husband, our friend, our Savior, our lover. He is the one who stays my hand from false lovers. Not fear. Not shame. The burning love of Jesus, for “Our hearts are restless till they rest on Thee.”

May we raise our affections toward him this day and always.

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Posted in Culture, Theology.

Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.


  1. Hey, should it say

    “Having the choice between heaven without Kristen…”

    instead of

    “Having the choice between hell without Kristen, and hell with Kristen, Christ chose hell with Kristen.”

    (feel free to delete this comment after you check)

  2. Thank you for this excellent Biblical perspective on the Lover of our souls wooing us from our (my) propensity to be lured by other, lesser lovers to other, infinitely lesser things. Just two quick observations:
    Is the word “in” missing in the 8th paragraph: “he delights [in] her…” Also, “Having the choice between hell without Kristen, and hell with Kristen, Christ chose hell with Kristen.” Is this meant to say “Having the choice of HEAVEN without Kristen and hell with Kristen…”
    Thanks again for a memorable post.

    • On 1 – I actually meant “delights her”, not “in her”. On 2 – you’re absolutely right.

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