By Marilette Sanchez
I recently had the honor of interviewing the beautiful and talented musician, Moriah Peters. We talked purity, modesty, marriage, and listening to God’s voice. I was so blessed to find a kindred spirit in her, since we share a deep passion to inspire young people to be deeply committed to Jesus Christ. She released her first music video TODAY for her single “Brave.” Be sure to check it out and share.
CLICK HERE to listen to the entire interview or read the full transcript below.
Marilette: I’m not sure if you got to look up a little bit about my blog, but I’m actually a full-time missionary with Cru, the high school ministry. It used to be Campus Crusade for Christ, if you’re familiar with it. My husband and I are part of that ministry here in New York City. So this is my side project, my blog.
Marilette: I like to write about God, relationships and pop culture. I feel like there are a few Christian artists who navigate that line well of not being too in the Christian box. That’s why I wanted to approach you.
Moriah: Thank you, Marilette.
Marilette: I know you’re really big on the whole purity discussion, since you saved your first kiss for your husband, which is so exciting. My husband was my first kiss, too. He was my one and only kiss.
Moriah: Oh, I love that.
Marilette: It’s exciting. I’m glad we’re not the only ones. On that topic, what’s missing from the conversation in the Christian world? It’s all about “Dress modestly,” so a lot of don'ts. So what’s missing in terms of what to look forward to, what are the positive things?
Moriah: That’s a great question, Marilette. I do get the question a lot from people about what are your thoughts on purity. I don’t feel like it’s right to talk about purity unless you first cover the grounds of grace. I personally have been in the situation where you are so focused on remaining “pure” that when you do mess up (and you will because we are not perfect) you just fall into this guilt and shame. That somehow pushes you further and further from God and his grace. You feel like you’re not good enough. You feel like you’ve set the standards so high, that when you fall, you fall hard. So personally, I feel like what’s more important than talking about purity in relationships is talking about God’s grace. It doesn’t matter what you do, how many rules we create or standards we have, God’s grace is so much bigger than all of that. And he’s not impressed by much that we can do. As long as we are holding ourselves to these standards as a way of honoring him and not for the sake of finding any worth or value in them, then I think it’s healthy.
Where I started feeling like, “Okay, maybe I’m not looking at the whole purity thing correctly” was when my husband and I were still dating at the time, we were boyfriend and girlfriend, I found my value in my purity. Like I was like, “If he were to kiss me or he were to go too far or we were to go too far together, that I would be less valuable.” That’s not the case. That’s not the truth. I am valuable because of the fact that God made me, and there is nothing I can do and there’s nothing I can’t do that will cause me to be any more important in God’s eyes. When I started to look at it that way, I started to realize I wanted to save this first kiss for him because 1) I feel like it’s something that God is calling us to do and he will give us the strength to do it. 2) I don’t think it’s going to be terrible if we do kiss. But I do feel like this is something that God wants to be part of our story.
Now looking at it from the back end of things, I’m looking back and I’m realizing, “Wow! I think God wanted us to do that.” He wanted us to be able to help people. If God has called you to specific standards, he can and will give you the strength to uphold them.
Marilette: My next question is about modesty, which is related. The discussion is similar in that it’s rules-based. People don’t know the core of the issue. I remember one of your Instagram photos was something about “half-makeup face.” [Makeup] is not bad, it is like art. What do you say to Christians who say “you can’t wear any makeup because that’s too much like the world?”
Moriah: Yeah, I think first and foremost, there is not enough breath in our lungs and there is not enough time in our lives to be so focused on criticizing other people’s clothing and makeup. There are so many other things that God values as far conversations go. I think he loves when our heart is to serve other people and love other people. Gosh, there are so many people in other countries who need our prayers and our support and our understanding. Even in our own countries and our own state. If we lead with love, then the critical aspect becomes more irrelevant. As long as we are criticizing within that context, then we can have the conversations.
To be honest–and you would understand this being a New York lady–If I wear a two-piece bikini underneath a sheer white dress in California, and walk into school it’s no big deal. It’s not an issue whatsoever. However, if were to wear a bikini underneath sheer white sundress in Nashville Tennessee, which is where I live now, I’m going to get some looks, I"m going to get some people turning their heads. I think cultural context is very, very important. At the same time, though, when it comes to clothing and how we dress, knowing our surroundings is important. I love this conversation because people are shocked at the differences from state to state. I can honestly say growing up in southern California, my brother, who is twenty years old, is not phased by the site of a girl in a bikini because it’s everywhere–it’s at school, it’s at the beach, it’s everywhere. It’s not a huge deal. But a twenty-year old boy in Nashville Tennessee, if he saw a girl in a bikini would be like “Oh that’s interesting, I’ve not seen that before.” I think it’s important to keep our brothers in mind wherever we are in how we dress and what we are wearing. Ultimately, at the heart of the whole thing, is again God’s grace. And coming back to that and being like, “You know what? In the context of life and the importance of loving one another. I think there is a certain freedom that we have to dress and wear makeup and buy shoes and fun things. I love that there is freedom there, I really do believe there is.
Marilette: Creativity and God created beauty. I’ve watched a few of your interviews where you’ve talked about having to give up your dream of becoming a lawyer. Could you talk about that?
Moriah: Yeah. Absolutely. My dad is a judge in Los Angeles. I think because I grew up with that and I had so many great conversation with him in high school and had a few law classes in high school that I really enjoyed, I think part of me was wanting to follow in my daddy’s footsteps. I got accepted into a law program in high school, where it was only fifty students from around the country got to go to this program through UCLA Law School in Southern California. In going through that whole thing, it was my junior year, the end of my junior year, and I was pretty set on what I wanted to do–study pre-law and everything. I went to this program and I was just like "Wait! This is not what I thought it was going to be. This is cut throat, for sure.” More than that, I really missed the freedom and the creativity of music within that context. I had kind of gone through a season where I was like “Maybe I can do law and music. Maybe I can marry the two and study contract law.”
I ended up at the end of my senior year having the opportunity to come to Nashville and record demos and work with a producer and meet a few people from a few labels. I was kind of at a crossroads where it was like either I go to school, accept this scholarship that I worked my whole life towards, and I do that route, or I jump into the absolute dark and not knowing what is going to happen and I come to Nashville. And at the moment in time, and I think for a lot of teenagers or 17,18-year-olds where they are looking at college, it is the biggest decision that you will make at that point in time. For me, it was the hardest decision that I had ever made up until that point, declining a scholarship. It was the biggest faith move I had ever made. My prayers sounded a lot like bargaining, I was like “God, you know, you know that I do not want to go to Nashville and jump into this without knowing what is going to happen. You know how much I want to go to school and reap the benefits of my hard work in the classroom. Lord, please make a miracle happen and make it so clear so that I will know without a shadow of a doubt that this is what you want me to do.” And he did! He answered our prayers so specifically and so clearly that it would have been a sin to go forward with school at that time. It was a fun experience at the time.
Marilette: What was that miracle specifically?
Moriah: Yeah, basically every label that we met with wanted to sign me, which is kind of unheard of for Nashville, particularly for a young girl who has never recorded a song in her life and didn’t even know what Twitter was. That was one thing. Then through the Scriptures, through meditation, through prayer, my family, and my management company and I we were all on the same page. We all felt like we were hearing one voice together and that was wonderful. Honestly, I think was even confirmed a few years later when I got a scholarship to go to an online school to Grand Canyon University as I travel.
Marilette: So are you done with school now?
Moriah: Not quite. I am technically a sophomore at Grand Canyon University. I’m taking like one class at a time. It’s kind of a lot to do with being a musician at the same time, so. I might be old and gray by the time I graduate to be honest. (Both laugh.)
Marilette: You’re fine. Do you see yourself collaborating with a “secular artist” (I don’t even like using that term), someone who is not in the Christian world. Who would your dream artist be?
Moriah: Stevie Wonder, no question.
Marilette: Who are your other musical influences?
Moriah: As far as musicality is concerned, I am so inspired by Florence and the Machine; I love her big orchestral cinematic sounds. Stevie Wonder is somebody I have been listening to since the time I was a little, little girl. I think he’s been kind of in my blood. Vocally, I think I first heard of an artist named Kimbra when I first moved to Nashville when I was 17. She is a New Zealand singer and she just has this unique, soulful, Gospel-sounding voice that I absolutely love.
Marilette: How have you seen your career and ministry multiply with marriage? To me that was a big thing with me, I probably would have been a feminist if I wasn’t a Christian.
Moriah: Oh my gosh, Yes! I’m with you.
Marilette: Women, career, you can do everything. I wanted to be an engineer, actually. How have you seen your marriage enhancing your ministry, career everything? I definitely was one that was going to push that away, but God told me otherwise.
Moriah: Oh my gosh, can we just start like our own Christian feminist group because that would work. (laughs.)
Marilette: Sounds good. Original feminists really were good, they’ve just taken it too far.
Moriah: That’s true. That’s true. Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. With my fierce female band, we’d probably put on a few events together. I thought I would be married when I was thirty, not twenty. That was probably one thing. But I really struggled with these thoughts of being able to relate to people. That was my biggest fear. My biggest fear would be that I would get married and all of a sudden I would forget what it’s like to be single and to be dating. I would have conversations with girls who were not married yet and I wouldn’t be able to understand and sympathize. And they would see me as this “married girl” who doesn’t know what it’s like to have that struggle. That was my biggest fear because my biggest dream and my biggest hope is to connect with my fans and my listeners and to be on the same page. What I realized was that, first of all, that was a completely unreasonable fear. And that God actually used marriage for me to have a bigger perspective on the concept of dating and purity.
So after Joel and I got married, it was almost a fruition of waiting. What I mean by that is on my first album, I had this song I had this song called, “Haven’t Even Kissed,” and I would sing it and I would talk about how I really want to save my first kiss for my wedding day. That’s fine and dandy and that’s great. But it wasn’t until I was married that I could stand on the stage and say with full confidence, “You guys, God called me to save my first kiss for my wedding day, and He gave me the strength to do it. And I’m so glad that I did because I think God has a very specific standard that he wants each one of us to have. And it’s catered to our unique personalities. It doesn’t mean waiting to have your first kiss is for everybody. It just means that there is something very specific that he has for us, and if we pray and we ask him to show us what that is, he will. And if we follow that through, he has an amazing way of showing us throughout the years of being married ‘this is why I had you wait. This is why.’”
It’s just great to be on the other side of things and be like, “Man, I know the frustration of waiting. I know the frustration of thinking there is no guy who is good enough, my standards are too high, nobody exists who will be in line with all the hopes and dreams when it comes to a relationship and I just want to give up.” I know all of those feelings. But I also know what it’s like to reap the rewards of that patience. And it is sweet and it is wonderful. I want everybody to experience it.
Marilette: Lighthearted question: What are your simple pleasures in life?
Moriah: Oh my gosh, okay, I might have some people be upset at me for saying this, but there is a TV show on AMC called “Hell on Wheels” and it is about the post-Civil War era and building the railroads across America. And let me just tell you! When Joel and I come home after a long weekend and a lot of touring, our favorite thing is to sit on our couch, turn our TV, watch three episodes back-to-back of “Hell on Wheels,” and I give him facials. That’s like my thing, I love giving him facials. I do extractions. I’m a wanna be esthetician. I’m literally walking in my TV room right now. This is our favorite spot to be–just on the couch…talking…facials…“Hell on Wheels.”
Oh yeah, I should say, Disclaimer: I don’t think you should watch “Hell on Wheels” if you have a weak stomach or if you are under the age of 18.
Marilette: What are ways we can pray for you?
Moriah: Oh wow. That’s so sweet. Thank you. I think the biggest thing for me is just that I would stay connected to God and always hear his voice. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing music, or marketing or running a company or a business, or whether it’s Christian music or secular music–it doesn’t matter what you’re doing–there’s always so much noise around us. There are so many voices speaking into our lives. It can be very easy to lose our ear for God’s voice because he just whispers to us, he doesn’t yell at us like everybody else does. My hope is that I can always stay connected and stay in tune with his voice and hear what he wants me to say and do what he wants me to do. As long as I do that, I feel like I am going to be useful and I’m going to be following a plan that is better than anything I could come up with.
Marilette: Anything else to pray for?
Moriah: Maybe pray that the Lord would miraculously bless me with some cooking skills so I can like be a better wife.
Marilette: Does he ask for that or is that just your expectations?
Moriah: No, no he does not ask. He has like zero expectations, which makes it so hard because then I don’t have motivation to actually learn how to cook anyway. (Laughs.)
Marilette: Oh man, just start with like one simple dish.
Moriah: Oh you know what I did? You’d be proud of me. I made Mexican Nacho Libre corn. If anybody knows what that is…it’s like corn with mayonnaise and pickles, and cayenne pepper. I was like, “Here, I made you this corn for dinner.” Like, “That’s it? No meat? OK.”
Marilette: That’s funny. Burgers, man, that’s easy. Grill.
Moriah: Yeah, I’ll try that.
Marilette: I’ll pray for that. Stay off of Pinterest, though, if you don’t want to get intimidated by cooking. I actually enjoy cooking, but I stay off there because I’m like “I can’t do it, it’s too perfect.”
Moriah: Hey, Marilette, do you mind if I say a quick prayer before we hang up?
Marilette: Sure. That’d be great. Thank you.
Moriah: Lord God, we come before you, Father. You are such a good God. You are such a gracious God. You see us in all of our imperfections and all of our fears and worries and, Lord, you love us anyway. Thank you for that freedom. And it is because of that freedom that we want to follow faithfully in your way for us, Lord. We want to be motivated by that. And not by obligation or pressure from the church or from the world, Lord God. We want to follow you because that is our true heart’s desire: to know you for who you are.
Right now, I just pray for Marilette. God, first I want to thank you for her commitment to inspiring young people to follow after you, Lord God. God, it is our generation who is going to shape and pave the way for the people after us, Lord. I ask that you would light a fire underneath us, Lord. May it not be about our selves, our lives, our names, or putting ourselves out there trying to make us more famous, Lord God. But may it be about you–about making your love, and your grace and your story famous. We want that to change lives. We want our faith to be so real.
I pray for the city of New York. That you would be a change, that you would create a stirring, like an underground movement, Lord, of people who are so passionate for you. People who are real and are current and understand what it means to be living in a city that is producing so much evil. Same with LA, where I grew up. I pray for my hometown, for my city, Lord God, that you would start to shift the ground. Take over our cities and let your name go forward. Let the enemy no longer have reign in influential parts of the world–that your voice would be going out instead of his agenda, Father.
We pray for our husbands. Lord, give them grace and patience for us.
I pray, God, that you would bless the rest of this day, that you would make it something where we can be useful today, that we would produce something that is valuable in your eyes, whether that be through work or emails, through creativity, through writing, or through simply hanging out with our friends, and refueling in that way, as well, Lord God. Thank you for this time. Thank you for Marilette. It’s in your Son’s name that we believe these things. Amen.
Marilette: Amen! Well, if you’re ever in New York, let me know.
Moriah: Girl! You know I will. I’m in New York all the time. I was in Madison Square Garden last weekend for the U2 Concert and it was AMAZING! Yeah, I will save your number and I will look you up the next time I’m there.
Marilette: Sounds good. Maybe you could see our ministry a little better. if it works out. See a Bible study or something.
Moriah: Yes, I would absolutely love that!
Marilette: I saw you at a Rend Collective in Brooklyn.
Moriah: Oh my gosh, that was so much fun.
Marilette: I didn’t even know that venue existed and I live in Brooklyn.
Moriah: No way!
Marilette: It was a tiny venue, but I love tiny venues, they are the best.
Moriah: Wasn’t it so intimate? That was one of my favorite shows.
Marilette: It was great. Hopefully see you soon.
Marilette: Have a great day. Thanks for praying. It was such a blessing.
Moriah: Absolutely. Have a great day. Bye.
Marilette: Bye. God bless.
Want more Moriah? Check out her I AM SECOND video, in which she opens up about her experience trying out for American Idol. “While impressed with her talent, they wanted more than a pretty face and great voice. They wanted sexy and edgy…The inspiring story of rising young artist Moriah Peters challenges the status quo of true beauty, of sex and relationships and the identity of America’s youth.”