Drew Barrymore and the Unlikely Pursuit of Sexual Purity

Drew Barrymore and the Unlikely Pursuit of Sexual Purity

Author: Stan Guthrie
December 01, 2022

Many of us probably became aware of actress Drew Barrymore when she played Gertie, the little girl in Stephen Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster, E.T. the Extraterrestrial. In many ways, Drew’s life has been an otherworldly jaunt into Hollywood fame, fortune, and folly. And now, older and wiser, she appears to be taking some tentative steps on the path toward something better—something Christians might recognize as the pursuit of sexual purity.

Some people are born with silver spoons in their mouths. Drew, who was born in 1975, had not only a silver spoon but the whole tea service. Like a British princess, she was born into acting royalty. According to Wikipedia,

  • All of her paternal great-grandparents, Maurice and Georgie Drew Barrymore, Maurice and Mae Costello (née Altschuk), and her paternal grandparents, John Barrymore and Dolores Costello, were actors, with John being arguably the most acclaimed actor of his generation. Barrymore is a niece of Diana Barrymore, a grandniece of Lionel Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore and Helene Costello, and a great-great-granddaughter of Irish-born John and English-born Louisa Lane Drew, all of whom were also actors. She is a great-grandniece of Broadway idol John Drew, Jr., and silent film actor, writer and director Sidney Drew.
  • Barrymore’s godmothers are actress Sophia Loren and Lee Strasberg’s widow, Anna Strasberg; Barrymore described her relationship with the latter as one that “would become so important to me as a kid because she was so kind and nurturing.” Her godfather is filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

But hers was no fairytale upbringing. Drew’s allegedly abusive father, acclaimed actor John Drew Barrymore, left home when she was only six months old. In Drew’s autobiography, Little Girl Lost, she describes a troubled childhood: a regular at the Studio 54 nightclub, rehab at age 13, a three-month stay with singer David Crosby and his wife because, Crosby said, she “needed to be around some people that were committed to sobriety.” At age 15, she successfully petitioned for legal emancipation and moved into her own apartment.

The film roles and media appearances kept coming: Firestarter, Saturday Night Live, Guncrazy, Scream, Doppelganger, Bad Girls, and No Place to Hide, among many others. Often critically acclaimed for her versatility and talent, Drew’s personal life remained messy. She went through a series of engagements and marriages—the longest of which lasted four years. Eventually she claimed to be bisexual.

Now, however, Drew appears to be having second thoughts—about a lot of things. She has publicly embraced sobriety. On her show she admitted that she has abstained from sexual relations since 2016, when she broke up with her husband, Will Kopelman. And on a recent podcast, Drew admitted that her former way of life didn't bring fulfillment.

Drew admits that she has finally discovered the difference between love and sex. “I have just simply come to laugh about the fact that it is not my personal priority to be with a partner,” she says, “but that doesn’t mean it won’t become one someday. I need time. And my view on sex has truly changed.”

Drew added that she does “not hate sex" but has realized “that love and sex are simply not the same thing.”

In today’s increasingly pagan culture, Christians are frequently mocked for our Bible-based belief that sex is reserved solely for marriage between one man and one woman. God’s standards, given for our flourishing, look impossibly strict to a lost world. Our critics insist, even demand, that sex be unchained and that everyone be encouraged to indulge their appetites however they wish. Like Drew did.

Pursuing sexual purity, as Pastor Chris said in a recent sermon, is a very practical way to shine the light of God’s kingdom into a dark world and testify that sex cannot fulfill us ultimately. Only God can do that. As Jonathan Edwards observed, “The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.”

In their own way, the complicated stories of people such as Drew Barrymore provide compelling evidence for the truth of God’s Word. The lost souls who tell them deserve our compassion. They also need to hear the good news of a Savior who came to a messy and sin-scarred world in answer to our every search.

Stan Guthrie is minister of communications for New Covenant Church.

Photo credit: By www.GlynLowe.com from Hamburg, Germany - Drew Barrymore on The Red Carpet in Berlin, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32876580


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