Christians shouldn’t be embarrassed by the forthright sensuality of sexual love depicted in the Bible, says John Piper
DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good decided to save sex for marriage. But, as Sam Hailes finds out, that hasn’t stopped some Christians from criticising the couple
God’s grace stops at the gates of Hollywood. That’s the attitude that American actress Meagan Good has encountered from many Christians. But Meagan, who grew up in church herself, takes a different view. “People feel like it’s Sodom and Gomorrah or it’s the devil’s playground. But I think it’s important to be light in a dark industry and show the love of Christ in what we do and how we carry ourselves here,” she says.
Meagan was saved at 12 and baptised at 19, yet her behaviour since then has drawn considerable criticism from her fellow Christians. She’s starred in horror films (Saw V, The Unborn, Venom), taken on raunchy roles and dressed in a way some have labelled inappropriate.
It’s this final charge which particularly angered her husband – fellow Hollywood star and wellknown preacher DeVon Franklin. When the couple were recently interviewed on stage together at a church in Los Angeles, a woman in the audience suggested Meagan should “cover up”. DeVon responded by quickly taking the microphone and declaring: “Wait a minute! No, no, no. She’s not going to cover up, she’s going to wear what she wants to wear in the name of Jesus.”
Speaking to Premier Christianity magazine, Meagan says the criticisms have been painful to deal with: “Growing up in this business you deal with a lot of criticism of everything, from how you look to if you’re a good actor.”
Referring to the verbal attacks she’s received since gaining a reputation for being a prominent ‘sexy girl next door’ following her roles in R&B and hip-hop music videos, she says “It wasn’t just people having opinions. It was a lot of Christian people. Initially it really bummed me out because that’s where I’m supposed to be able to go to be safe and hide from the world and get away from that kind of thing. Instead it felt like I was being attacked by my own people.
“A lot of people don’t understand how as a Christian I can be comfortable with being sexy. And to that I say I prayed so much about it. I was like, ‘Lord, show me if I need to be doing something different.’ The thing that always comes back to me is he says ‘you need to be authentic, you need to be who you are’…But wherever we go, I always have so many young women come up to me saying, ‘Thank you for being yourself, thank you for not letting people bully you into being someone else.’”
How they met
This month DeVon and Meagan will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. This ‘power couple’ who recently appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday programme are only too happy to tell the story of how they met.
With a dual calling to preach and make films – whether Christian (Heaven is for Real, Miracles from Heaven) or mainstream (The Pursuit of Happyness, Hancock, The Karate Kid) – DeVon would occasionally see Meagan at industry or church events, but the relationship was strictly professional.
DeVon explains, “I meet a lot of actors and people in the business. It’s par for the course. I was the executive producer, she was the talent. You don’t want that reputation of being the executive who hits on the talent!”
Telling her side of the story, Meagan explains: “I thought he was cute but I had a boyfriend. DeVon was the boss, I was the actress and that was as far as it went…But I remember saying ‘that’s the kind of guy I wish I could marry’.”
What happened next would take everyone by surprise. Meagan explains: “I was praying on my knees about my life and I’d hit a hard season. I was at my lowest point and said, ‘God, what do I need to be doing?’ He told me to get out of the relationship that I was in. So I got out of that relationship and kept praying. God told me super randomly that DeVon was my husband. I was just blown away.
“Of course I was happy because I already found him attractive and not just physically but his spirit and his love for God and the way he treats other people. From the few conversations we’d had on set, I knew this guy was amazing.
If you open yourself to love you can also open yourself to God in a way you haven’t before
“I felt I didn’t deserve a guy like that. I said, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ He said, ‘Work on yourself.’ So I spent the next nine months working on myself. I only spoke to Devon once.”
Despite some gentle (and not so gentle) encouragement from friends, DeVon was reluctant to date Meagan. “I had a rule I didn’t date actresses. I was like, ‘God, I told you I don’t date actresses, why are you bringing me an actress?!’ A friend of mine really challenged me and said, ‘Are you trying to marry a list or marry the person who is going to make you happy?’”
Once the couple finally started going out – seven years after they’d first met – everything fell into place quickly. DeVon explains: “We ended up dating for eleven months, then I proposed, then we planned the wedding in six weeks.”
The couple decided from the beginning of their relationship to save sex for marriage and have since become advocates for the principle. In their book The Wait (Howard Books), the couple acknowledge how their selfimposed celibacy was often difficult – as DeVon has previously remarked, “I mean, it’s Meagan Good!”
Rather than make their case from scripture, the couple have approached the issue from another angle, as DeVon explains: “There’s a tremendous amount of science and research been done to show there’s value in practising delayed gratification. We try not to frame it in a religious framework but rather lay the practical bit first. Then people can be open to hearing a spiritual perspective.
“We need to get back to love. If you open yourself to love you can also open yourself to God in a way you haven’t before and understand he does have a plan. There’s a process I have to go through that requires patience. That is so important.”
“Love and relationships is an area where there’s so much pain,” Meagan continues. “Often the mistakes are things we carry with ourselves for the rest of our lives because the damage is so painful. We want for others what we’ve experienced. We want them to have that freedom and blessing. We know this was a game-changer for us and we want that for others.”
The Wait (Howard Books) is out now