Skip to main content

Register for RELATION^OLOGY in-person high school or young adult classes. Save 30% NOW!

[This was our most-read DNA post published last year. If you missed it then, DON’T miss it this time. The story may be old news, but the truth shared in this post is as timeless as it is relevant for our culture TODAY!]

So it’s happened again. The revelation of sexual impropriety of yet another well-known Christian. This time John Crist. In case you missed it…

“According to multiple sources, Crist has exploited his Christian reputation and platform to harass, manipulate and exploit young women over the last seven years. The allegations include, but are not limited to, individually sexting multiple women during the same time period, initiating sexual relationships with married women and women in committed relationships, offering show tickets in exchange for sexual favors and repeatedly calling these women late at night while drunk.” – Charisma

So sad.

For all involved.

Sadder still that this is merely one of the few stories that made the news, because of course…

Crist is not alone in his sexual exploits. And neither are those who have been exploited.

Indeed, this reality moves me to try to reach people like John before they ever get to this point. And to reach their victims before they ever get to that point.

And though there are a LOT of things I could say concerning this situation, in this post I just want to explain one truth about sex and love revealed by this story. A truth which, once you fully understand and embrace it, can prevent you from being fooled by sexual predatory behavior.

Now please hear me. It’s not the only reality you need to grasp in order to avoid sexual victimization. There are many forces at work in any sexual situation. That said, if you can’t fully accept the truth I’m going to share here, you will be at a severe disadvantage in recognizing what’s really happening when someone starts pressuring you to give into sexual advances.

John Crist: 2 Red Flags

But first a little more background to prepare you for what I want you to understand, because I was particularly struck by these two sentences in the Charisma exposé about how John Crist operated:

“He would regularly make excuses for why they couldn’t be an official couple; the most common were that it would ruin his career and that he had baggage he needed to work through before he could date anyone. Despite these excuses, he would affirm how much he cherished the relationship and how lost he would be without the woman in question.”

Any red flags show up for you as you read the previous sentences?

Here’s just two:

RED FLAG #1: Someone tells you that, despite how much they “cherish the relationship and how lost they would be without you,” that they can’t make your relationship “official” because it would “ruin their career.”

TRUTH: A person who truly loves you will not want to keep your relationship a secret. Certainly not from the important family and friends in their lives. In fact, their love for you will make it impossible for them to do so, regardless of what it would “do to their career.” Speaking of which, if someone loves their career more than you they’re not the one for you.

RED FLAG #2: Someone is “sexting you, initiating a sexual relationship with you, or bribing you for sexual favors,” but they can’t make your relationship “official” because they “have baggage they need to work through before they could date anyone.”

TRUTH: I’m going to make this as simple as I can. If someone isn’t ready for a dating relationship, they shouldn’t be initiating a sexual relationship. That’s not getting the cart before the horse. That’s like trying to pull the cart without any horse at all.

All of that to say…

The truth I’m about to clarify in this post will help explain why so many would fall for (or excuse) Crist’s many sexual advances.

Of course, you may think that answer is obvious. After all, John is easy on the eyes. Plus he’s obviously quite witty and carries an “Aw shucks I’m just a guy from Georgia” charm that could win the heart of even a celebrity like Lauren Alaina (with whom John Crist did manage to carry on a public dating relationship, in spite of “not being ready to date anyone”).

Then there’s the fact that Crist is insanely successful.

Conceded. All those things are true, but other guys who don’t have half the looks, wit, charm, or success of John are able to get just as much play with the ladies.

So then you might think, it’s all in the art of the con. It’s John Crist’s manipulative prowess.

Welll… perhaps.

But then you read some of the specific accounts in the Charisma story. Take the time when, while inebriated, Crist starts making moves on a young woman he knows is already in a dating relationship with another guy. And when she resists, John starts talking dirty to her.

Not much finesse there.

And certainly nothing charming about his “repeated calls to various women late at night while drunk.”

Sex & Love: A Critical Clarification

So what is it? What’s going on? What’s the truth that can empower you not to be seduced (or even excuse) the kind of sexual predatory behavior exhibited by John Crist?

You simply have to understand and embrace this truth:

Sexual desire does not equal real love.

That’s it. Sexual. Desire. Does. Not. Equal. Real. Love.

Intellectually, it’s as straightforward as that.

But the reality on the ground is very complicated, because we are conditioned in our souls to believe that if someone expresses sexual/romantic interest toward us, it is an indication of the depth of their love for us. Indeed, one of the sex lies we address in the Date Night Advice (DNA) post, The Five Sex Lies, is that sex is the ultimate expression of love.

Why do we buy into this lie?

Well for starters, most of us have been groomed by the media to equate sexual desire with real love. Even in “family-friendly” love stories like, La La Land, sexual interest expressed and given into is good! It’s celebrated. It’s real love!

Even if it doesn’t last.

It reminds me of the chorus of Ed Sheeran’s biggest hit, Shape of You.

I’m in love with the shape of you
We push and pull like a magnet do
Although my heart is falling too
I’m in love with your body
And last night you were in my room
And now my bed sheets smell like you
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with your body

Keep in mind, the guy in the song only just met this girl in a bar, but what can you say, it must be real love because of how crazy he is about her! Right?!

However, none of this could be further from the truth.

Sexual desire might indicate real love. But far more often than not, it’s just sexual desire.

That’s it.

Nothing else.

Yet in so many accounts I’ve read from victims of sexual predation – not just John Crist’s – the common misunderstanding whether stated or implied by most victims is this: “I thought they really loved me.”

Check Your Heart. And Theirs.

So, if you want to keep yourself for falling for a predator who is only in love with “the shape of you” you must understand and embrace this truth: sexual desire does not equal real love. Until you do, you’re a sitting duck for someone you find attractive who wants to pressure you for “sexual favors.”

However, there’s more to it than our hyper-sexualized media confusing sexual desire with real love, because there’s good reason we so easily fall for this confusion.

In other words, John’s victims may have been naïve, but they weren’t fools.

Far from it! Instead the reality is this:

John Crist’s victims wanted to believe his sexual interest was an indicator of real love, because in God’s original design that’s precisely what sexual desire was meant to convey and celebrate!

Case in point: I am sexually attracted to my wife. Even after 26 years of marriage. And that is just as it should be!

Further, I was aware of this sexual desire long before we ever got engaged. Even before we made our dating relationship “official.”

Sadly, as I’ve confessed in other DNA posts, my sexual interest in my wife back before she was my wife got us into trouble. A lot. But all of that sin confessed, repented of, forgiven, and in our past, we now enjoy sexual desire the way it was designed: to represent and facilitate the oneness of marriage.

So my heart goes out to every victim of sexual abuse, who thought, “They are totally into me! They love me! They must really love me!” (And by the way, women aren’t the only ones who fall for this confusion.)

But at the very same time I urge you, “Don’t be the next victim!”

So now you know the truth: sexual desire does not equal real love.

It might indicate genuine love for you, but it might not. How can you tell the difference?

That’s a question I answer in this post: Being Pressured to have Sex? Read this before it’s too Late!

However, if this post come too late to protect you from past sexual manipulation, I am very sorry, but I pray this LoveEd episode from our Relation^ology series will help you deal with your past.

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

Dug this weekend’s DNA? Be a good friend and share with your friends on the social media platform of choice: Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter.

The LoveEd discipleship series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE you fall in love!

It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.

Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.

Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!

[originally published: 11/13/19]