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[I wrote this yesterday–am spending today praying for all those in harm’s way in the Middle East. This post isn’t about that. It’s about something apparently much more trite, though also strangely tragic.]

So distracted was I by exvangelicals last week, that I didn’t fully invest the time and attention for other freakouts percolating around the interwebs. Matt sent me a tweet that I thought merited some attention–serious or otherwise. Perhaps you have already seen it, it’s by someone named Pearl:

Pearl, as far as I can tell, is determinedly on the side of some brand of male/female relationships that I suppose must be termed “traditional.” She has a podcast which I haven’t listened to. Scrolling through her feed, it appears she is often trying to rouse people out of their supposed stupors–if that’s what trying to be shocking online is called.

I scrolled around and discovered that Pearl does not believe Nala’s conversion because around the time of the Michael Knowles interview, her Only Fans was still live, and there was video of her talking in a grotesque manner about sex.

I guess this would be a good moment to attempt to explain who Nala is. I don’t really want to provide links, because there is a lot of video out there of her talking about her thoughts and feelings about being a multi-million dollar earner on Only Fans. She says a lot of things I wish I had never heard, and hope to immediately forget. Honestly, if you haven’t run across her already, I would confine myself to the Michael Knowles interview and not just go clicking around. That said, there is a lot of debate about the purported timeline, I would not be surprised at all if the Daily Wire has been, as some claim, “played.” Honestly, I have no idea and do not want to click and click and click trying to discover the truth. Instead of investigating Nala’s history with Only Fans, I recommend rereading The Case Against the Sexual Revolution.

As we all know, however, illicit paid sex is not the shocking thing. The really appalling thing any person can do is come out publically and claim to be a Christian, which is what Nala did. She was also then baptized. I did happen to watch the short clip of her describing her own conversion several weeks ago. At the time, I had no idea who she was (I am careful, as far as possible, to live under a rock) and so was quite heartened to hear some obviously heretofore very confused person articulate the gospel so clearly, someone who obviously was in desperate need of its redemptive power.

Which is to say, I can understand being cautious in one’s rejoicing over the repentance of one so desperately wicked. Is it a real thing? Does she even know what she’s saying? Is it a scam? Is Michael Knowles actually grifting? Would it be possible to even tell? Every so often some high-profile person claims the mantle of Christ and, at least half the time, after some initial muted rejoicing, the Christian world heaves a sigh of disappointment and goes back to its regularly scheduled activities, like continuing to go to church without the great influencers of the age buying them any social or cultural capital. Kanye Much? Or Richard Dawkins for that matter–we’re super used to being disappointed.

My, or anyone’s disappointment at other people’s failure to truly embrace Christ is really not the issue. The issue is what Pearl actually said, which is offensive to me as a Christian. If she wants to be skeptical, fine, but don’t say things like this:

The reason I keep going on about Nala is because I miss the days when you could go into church and it would not be born again hoes, simps, and former porn star preachers!

Heh Heh Heh. I mean, in this scenario, Pearl is the one who is not a Christian, for, as any regular reader of the Bible will be able to tell you, the mark of a person who loves Jesus is that she is in a constant state of rejoicing over the conversion of people who are seriously and catastrophically lost. In a happy and sane world, we would be constantly having our work interrupted, and be killing ourselves in the evenings and on the weekends because of all the parties we’d have to throw as sinners clamored to get into the Kingdom of God. Every day some wretch would come staggering in, explaining how they were about to fall over a precipice into an eternal abyss, but then a nice man with a staff came along at just the right moment and snatched them back and drug them all this way and here they are, can you even believe it? Or you’d get a text from your neighbor who’s been beside himself with grief that his beloved child decided to reject him, publicly, go to New York, and give all his money to some Only Fans content “provider” but then, when he had nothing left at all, he “came to himself” and crept home, expecting not even to be accepted back, but then your neighbor, who hangs out on his porch every day hoping against hope, saw him and put his back out running to the end of the block to bring him back. In a happy world, you would be in a constant state of rejoicing over all the born-again hoes, simps, and former porn stars.

I also object, strenuously, to the idea that “you need to put in the work to prove you are genuine!” Of course, a true conversion will always bear fruit that other believers might be able to see, if they know what they’re looking for, which obviously Pearl does not. But the waiting and seeing, the struggling along with people who you first rejoiced over as they sin and sin again, for indeed, it takes each one of us a long time to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, to grow up into a full stature, to be transformed into the image of Christ, doesn’t mean that you ought not rejoice at every single person who professes faith. Don’t worry about being made a fool. You didn’t save the person. When they wander away you can be sad–hopefully sad enough to be driven to prayer. Praying for them is a mighty and necessary work. It’s possible it will all come right in the end.

Pearl concludes her pithy, anti-gospel sentiment with this declaration: “This is why 50% of young men have left the church!” Honestly, this seems out of left field, but I’m sure if I listened to more of her content, I would be able to figure out what she is talking about. Whatever it is, it’s not going to be Nala’s fault if men leave the church, though the hard-heartedness of Pearl can’t help matters. Cast your eye back to those men who made up the core of the church, in the new bright days after Jesus burst forth from the grave, having died and destroyed death not only for the vilest of Only Fans Creators, but for Pearl and even you and me. He chose twelve men to be his disciples, and one of them was a traitor. The eleven remaining pillars of Christian spirituality hid, even after they learned their Lord was no longer dead, barring the door for fear of everyone, anxious for their own lives most of all. These first new shiny Christians were not specimens of glorious masculinity. They were anxious and guilty, for all of them had run away when the person they purported to love the best was being scourged and crucified.

Yet Jesus, their Lord and Friend, comes to them. He doesn’t wait for them to figure out how wrong they are, to fully grasp the implications of the resurrection, to amend their lives according to the truth. He greets them, though yet they are still “startled and frightened” sure that they are seeing a spirit or a ghost. So he asks them, “Why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Of course he knows, be he wants them to say. He wants them to admit to him their fears, their anxiety, their guilt. Like all lost people, they don’t even know the darkness of their hearts, they don’t know how to work their way out of the hole, they are stuck and sad. And so even here, after destroying their greatest enemy, he still comes and draws them out of themselves. He offers his hands and feet to them as evidence and then, of all things, he eats a bit of fish.

The church, in every single age, has never been the property and project of the men and women who stagger into her shelter. It has always belonged to Jesus. It has always been a place of refuge for people who didn’t deserve, because of the accumulation of all their sinning, to enjoy its comfort and healing. It has always been a hospital full of the dying desperate for the life-giving healing of the Great Physician.

So anyway, I look forward to someone discipling Nala into Christian maturity, if indeed she has become a Christian, and someone sharing the gospel with Pearl. As for me, you can find me in church this morning, beating Satan down under my feet as usual, crouched on the floor with the one-year-olds, moving little wooden sheep around and around.

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