Responding to Natalie Dylan

An article in US Magazine this past September reported that a 22-Year-Old Sacramento State grad decided to auction off her virginity.

Here is the article:

    “Going once….

    A Sacramento State grad is putting her virginity on the auction block to help pay for her studies.

    “I don’t think auctioning my virginity will solve all my problems, but it will create some financial stability,” the 22-year-old (who uses the pseudonym “Natalie Dylan”) says on tonight’s The Insider. “I’m ready for the controversy … I’m ready to do this.”

    Dylan says she’s already taken a polygraph test to prove her virginal status and is also willing to undergo a medical exam.

    She says she hopes to net up to a million dollars from the auction, which will take place in Nevada at the infamous Moonlight Bunny Ranch (eBay turned her down).

    “Through this process I’m not just looking for the highest bidder,” she says, adding, “I’m looking for someone who is a genuine, overall nice person.”

A Reuters reporter added this comment by Dylan, “We live in a capitalist society. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to capitalize on my virginity?” she added.”

When this story broke, it certainly sparked a heated online debate about sex and morality. Though Natalie Dylan’s story is yesterday’s news, the debate about sex and morality in our society rages on. So, the question is, how should we view and respond to something like this?

To be sure, this story is morally reprehensible and quite tragic in the minds of many people. However, the proper response is to not merely express one’s moral revulsion or simply to condemn it. We are not called to fight immorality with morality!

We live in a culture where less and less people are being raised with a Judeo/Christian ethic. Increasing numbers are growing up without an understanding of sin as being a violation of God’s moral law. Consequently, there is little context for people to be offered forgiveness for their guilt simply because they have none.

Therefore, when the culture at large is confronted with a moral absolute the typical response is, “Don’t judge me. That is your opinion, I have my own view.”

As believers, we must learn to explain the law in a way that postmoderns begin to realize their sin. So, how should we respond to Natalie’s decision to auction off her virginity?

Tim Keller has given a very helpful paradigm for sharing the gospel in a postmodern context (see The Gospel in all its Forms).

Using Keller’s paradigm, if one tried to convict Natalie of guilt for her sexual lust, she would most likely respond, “Get lost! Don’t judge me. Don’t impose your opinion on me!”

But, suppose Natalie’s sin is defined as seeking to build her identity (i.e., to find ultimate meaning and happiness) on something other than God, which in this case would be money to help pay for her studies, financial stability, and the quest to find someone who is a genuine, overall nice person.

This definition of sin is known as idolatry. This is why Paul, in Galatians 1:8-9, condemns false gospels so severely.

A “different gospel” (Gal. 1:6) is idolatry precisely because it leads a person to place his or her trust in the place of or in addition to the only true God, who is Jesus Christ (John 17:3; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 John 5:20).

The emphasis, then, is as Keller points out in his article, not as much on “doing bad things” but on “making good things into ultimate things.”

It is a good thing to pay for school tuition. It is a good thing to have financial stability. It is a good thing to find friends or spouses who are genuine and nice.

However, these good things become bad things (and lead to bad things, i.e., auctioning your virginity for money) when they become a substitute gospel (i.e., when they become ultimate things).

Whenever we begin to place our trust in anything other than the living God in order to find ultimate meaning and happiness, we commit idolatry.

The prophet Jeremiah put it like this, “…my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water,” (Jer. 2:13).

Whenever a person places their trust in the place of or in addition to anything other than Christ, he or she is guilty of idolatry (i.e., violating God’s first commandment).

So, instead of telling Natalie Dylan that she is sinning because she is auctioning off her virginity to the highest bidder, we need to tell her she is sinning because she is looking to financial security and romantic relationships to give her life security and meaning. She is trusting in things to justify and save her and to give her only what may be found by trusting in Christ alone.

This is Isaiah’s point in Isaiah 55:1-3:

    1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; hand I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”

Note how Keller concludes his discussion on how to present the gospel to postmoderns,

    “This idolatry leads to anxiety, obsessiveness, envy, and resentment. I have found that when you describe their lives in terms of idolatry, postmodern people do not give much resistance. Then Christ and his salvation can be presented not (at this point) so much as their only hope for forgiveness, but as their only hope for freedom.”

This is a part of what Paul was getting at in Galatians. Galatians is all about the gospel of Christian Freedom.

In 5:1a, Paul writes, “For freedom Christ has set us free…”

In the Reuter’s article mentioned above, Natalie asks, “We live in a capitalist society. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to capitalize on my virginity?” The answer is you are free to auction yourself at the Bunny Ranch in Nevada.

But, just know that true freedom is not found in auctioning one’s virginity. The freedom Christ gives involves being freed from the vain and unfulfilling pursuit of idolatry. The freedom Christ gives is freedom from the empty and pointless quest of seeking to find security, meaning, justification and salvation in any thing other than what is found by trusting in Christ alone.

Jesus, in Matthew 23:4 says that false gospels lay heavy, impossible burdens upon peoples lives. Paul understood this. Thus, he announces to the Galatian churches the Gospel of Christian Freedom.

God has purchased us for freedom, freedom from the vain pursuit of sexual immorality that in the end brings no meaning or justification to our existence.

We have freedom from God’s judgment (compare Gal. 1:8-9 w/ Gal. 3:13), freedom from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:10, 13), freedom from the heavy burdens of legalism (Matt. 11:28-30), and freedom to live in a privileged status as beloved, adopted sons of God (Gal. 3:23-4:7).

A gospel-driven believer’s passion and desire is to see all peoples have the repeated opportunity to hear (Eph. 1:13), receive (Gal. 1:12) and enjoy Christ (cf. Ps. 16:11) rather than spend their money for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which does not satisfy (Isa. 55:2).

Auctioning off one’s virginity is the sin of idolatry. It is forsaking Christ, the fountain of living waters, and hewing out cisterns for oneself, broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13). It like trying to quench ones thirst with a bucket of sand rather than a cool, refreshing glass of water.

Jesus framed it like this to the adulterous woman at the well,

    “13 …’Everyone who drinks of this water (i.e., illicit relationshiphs) will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”

Perhaps Natalie Dylan will read this. If so, I ask, Why do you auction your virginity for that which ultimately will not satisfy? Why are you trying to quench your thirst with a bucket of sand?

There is very good news for you today. You can stop looking to your “auctions” to give your life meaning and security. Ultimately, it won’t. Once you have sold yourself for a million dollars, then what? The money won’t last.

Your false gospel will not justify and save you. In the end, your auction will be like the character Aragorn in Tolkien’s book, Lord of the Rings, who when speaking to Eowyn said, “You love but a shadow and a thought. I cannot give you what you seek.”

So, stop trying to quench your thirst with a bucket of sand. Instead come. Come drink from the well that will never run dry! Trust in Christ alone, who gave Himself for sinners on the cross not only as their only hope for forgiveness, but also as their only hope for freedom.


One Response to Responding to Natalie Dylan

  1. Doug Avent says:

    Excellent work. That answers some questions that I sometimes have regarding how to handle a moral issue with my kids or others. Making it not about law keeping, but more on where our focus should be, which is on God. Also very helpful from a witnessing stand point, especially youth. Thanks so much for that composition. Blessings, Doug

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