“I sleep with animals. I feel so terrible,” she said.
“You sleep with animals?” is all I could stutter in response.
“You just taught that we should not sleep with animals. You said it was a sin. I never realized that. I am so embarrassed. I sleep with my cat every night.”
I tried not to laugh as I responded, “You mean like the cat sleeps in the bed with you. Like at the foot of the bed or whatever?”
“Yes. I am …” she stuttered.
“Wait. You are okay. The verse I referenced was talking about SLEEPING with animals. Like having sex with them.”
“Oh! I have never done that!” she exclaimed.
“Okay. Then you are good.”

She headed off, happy towards the doors. I laughed and made a mental note to be more explicit in my language. Leviticus 18:23 is one of my favorite verses to illustrate how easy it is to follow God. It reads,

A man must not defile himself by having sex with an animal. And a woman must not offer herself to a male animal to have intercourse with it. This is a perverse act.

I remember the day I read it, and it hit me, “Hey. I’ve got this one. I don’t have sex with animals. I don’t even want to have sex with animals!” I was following God’s commands – well, at least, one of them! But that thought grew. I was not murdering. I was not committing adultery. I was not lying. I was not bowing down before idols. I was not cheating on business deals. Heck, I began to feel pretty good about myself.

Up to that point, most of the teaching I received was about what I was doing wrong or what I would certainly do wrong. I pounded myself every time I made a mistake. It was worse when I knew something was wrong and did it anyway. My Christian self-image sucked. I never felt good about myself.
Don’t have sex with animals changed my life. Then it began to change how I read God’s instructions. I began to see how easy it was to follow God when my heart lined up with his. It was easy to say, “Okay. I will do that or I won’t do that.” It was a simple choice – a choice as simple as not sleeping with animals.

I began to believe in myself and the ability that God had given me to follow Him. I was created in His image. I was different from all creation because I could choose. And, I was choosing to follow Him from my first choice to believe in Jesus. I listened to teaching differently than before. I filtered out their unbelief that I could follow and focused on the truth they were sharing. I determined whether I needed to course correct my life to the truth. If so, I chose Him. If not, I gave myself a pat on the back and stored the truth to help prevent me from being stupid in the future.

Don’t have sex with animals changed my life. Here are a few tips:

  • Give yourself some credit for the excellent following that you are doing. Be encouraged that you are and can follow.
  • Ask God to make all sin as disgusting to you as sleeping with your dog. It is easy to follow God when we have his heart.
  • Adjust to truths that you are not following. Immediately! Store the rest.
  • If you teach, teach with the same hope that Christ had. Redeemed people really want and can follow God. Ditch the negative.

I wonder what it would be like if all of us taught others like we believed in them. Perhaps, our failings prevent us from believing that people can follow. We need to fix that. Perhaps, we have become jaded and do not believe that people will follow. We need to fix that.

Do you believe that you can see God’s values and follow Him? What are you doing well? How are you teaching your kids and followers?