Three things you don’t discuss in polite company, right? We just spent a month talking about two of them, so why not touch on the third?
On Saturday, my wife and I drove past a megachurch whose motto is “A Church for People Who Don’t Like Church.” The church has a new promo billboard up advertising an upcoming series on sex. My wife and I just looked at each other and shook our heads.
As a married man, I’ve learned a lot about sex over the years. The greatest truth I’ve learned on the topic, the one guaranteed to drive one’s partner wild with ecstasy, comes right from the Bible. If explored to its depths, every ramification plumbed, I can guarantee this Scriptural admonition will lead to a most exhilarating sex life.
You ready? Because here it is:
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Any married couple actively and passionately seeking to satisfy each other’s sexual interests and needs will have an eye-fluttering, bed-shaking, big-O sex life. Now, go have sex and practice putting that verse into action. The more practice, the better.
There. That’s my entire teaching on sex. Took two minutes of your time. Absolutely did not require an eight-part teaching series with a quadrillion facts and verses no one will remember from one week to the next.
Now, here’s my rant.
I’ve got to believe this megachurch would do their people a whole lot more good if they ditched the itching ears junk talk on sex and actually told people about Jesus. You with me on this?
I mean, there’s got to be people sitting in that church with little or no experience knowing Jesus, and instead of hearing about the Savior and seeing His resurrection life demonstrated by seasoned saints, they’re getting wink, wink, nudge, nudge talk on a topic we’re blasted with every stinking hour of the American day. Yet ask someone if Jesus is the only way to God and most will shrug and give you their duh face.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m all for sex and plenty of it. But as long as the people in our churches can’t get even the most basic facts about Jesus right, what the heck are we doing tossing out yet another off-topic teaching series on something that won’t get us any closer to the source of eternal life?
Married sex? Heck yeah! But Jesus even more.
Because having the Kama Sutra memorized isn’t going to get anyone past ol’ Saint Peter sitting in his guardhouse checkin’ that Book of Life.
31 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Sex—Or Not”
An eight-part series on sex sounds silly. After all, that is seven more parts than the average man thinks with, right? All he wants to know from the Bible is where his ramrod fits in the canon. Couples will come home from that church for some mind-blowing sex. Then the man will discover her mind already is blown. She’ll have another headache. Of course, she surmises, if he must feel something hot and wet, he can start with the dishes and move on to the laundry.
And with that comment this blog is officially rated PG-13!
Speaking of dishes, I think the best thing I’ve learned about sex is that the best way to get her in the mood is to do the dishes, mop the kitchen floor, and refrain from dropping worn clothes on the bedroom floor.
Entropy catches up with every blog in time. Perhaps this one jumped the shark a long time ago!
As for the right way to get the ladies in the mood, yours is a good one. Another is being just absolutely downright studly, which is something I don’t need to cultivate being that it’s my normal state of existence. 😉
Given my liberal attitude on sex (liberal amounts of it are most excellent), I’ll allow the PG-13 comment.
I don’t know how long the series is, but I’ve sat through some multi-week series on the topic before, so I know some churches really get into it.
Sure, and 8 part series may be a bit much–and may have some mixed motives involved. But, just as you note early in your post, sex is not something we talk about very much.
If, however, sex is an important part of our lives, if sex is an aspect of how we relate to one another, if understanding our sexuality is a large component of understanding ourselves, then we should talk about it in church.
Throwing the Jesus card into things is just a red herring. Of course, we should talk about Jesus in church–more–but Jesus talked a whole bunch about how we relate to one another, and to do so in love. While we’re inundatedA Wee Blether with sex outside of church, we should have reasonable, open, and justice-based discussions of sex and sexuality in church.
A Wee Blether
I am NOT against the Church putting the right spin on the juncture of sexuality and spirituality, but I’m talking priorities here. A quick read of Barna poll results will tell you that the average Christian today is woefully deficient on basics of Christology and the handling of Scripture. Yet we’re going to do a teaching on sex?
The other thing is that I’ve sat through at least a half dozen teaching series on sex and have gotten zippo out of them. It’s a poor topic for a preacher to handle before a large crowd. I mean, if we’re going to talk about sex, let’s talk about it like adults and not try to sanitize it for public consumption. What happens in too many teaching series on sex is that the preacher inevitably tries to be funnier than usual to take the edge off the issue, or tries to be too glib, and the whole thing comes off muddled.
Like I said in the beginning of my post, the best advice—and the advice that one must always be learning—is to look after your spouse’s sexual needs and make meeting them a priority. If every couple did that (and isn’t that the height of true Christianity, when you get right down to it), then that would fix 90 percent of the problems couples might have in their marriages. You don’t have to be genius to see that, either. Don’t have to teach on it for weeks. Just do it. My wife and I learned that very early on in our marriage. If we’re unselfish in our bedroom, everything’s fantastic and keeps getting better.
I’m just not sure how much more a couple needs or why we need to dedicate a teaching series on this, especially to married couples. Now if the church were teaching this to their young people as a marriage prep kind of thing, great. But you would hope that married couples would know this.
As for REALLY talking about sex in an unsanitized way, I think that’s best done in a small group setting. If it’s a co-ed group, break up the sexes and let them talk frankly. While I have no issues talking about sex (my wife and I have been labeled “Bohemians” in the past by other Christians), talking about it in same-sex groups is probably the best approach.
Still, don’t we hear enough about sex? Where’s all the talk about Jesus? I mean, I’ve been a Christian for more than 30 years and I still don’t know all I should about Jesus. I’ve got to believe that a whole slew of people out there have heard a thimble-full of what I’ve received, so I know a lot of people have a woefully inadequate connection to the Lord. Why give what little time we have on Sunday morning over to preaching on sex, when we should be helping people tap into eternal life by showing them more of Jesus.
Wait, wait … you mean Jesus DIDN’T come to earth and live and teach and heal people and die and be raised to life again so that I could have a 100%-of-the-time-celestially-orgasmic sex life?
Hey man, I think you’re thinking the Mormons here.
Our associate pastor taught a 4-part evening sermon series on biblical sexuality, God & Sex. I found it incredibly encouraging and Christ-centered. I did not think it was inappropriate.
I won’t be able to listen to the series due to time constraints, but I appreciate the link. Thank you. Perhaps others will find it helpful.
But I do want to ask a question: Can you sum up for me what elements of that talk were “Christ-centered”?
In short summary: He showed how the relationship between a man and woman is a picture of Christ and his Bride, the church. He showed how to pass the boundaries God placed on sex (sexually immorality) is to actually present a distortion of the Gospel.
enjoyed the tone/attitude of this post as much as the point, which was a great one.
Thanks. Remember, as I noted before, some consider me a “Bohemian” or a “hippie,” so it goes that I must have similar sensibilities on this issue. 😉 Truthfully, though, we either dance around the issue (even when we talk about it) or we overly romanticize or spiritualize it. I look at sex from a pretty raw perspective and I don’t apologize for that. Still, my attitude is, “It’s not about me.” If we all went that route, I think EVERYTHING we did would be better.
The REAL problem here, as you pointed out in tehe last part of your post, is a failure of so many churches today to tell people the gospel so they can be born again. Yes, I said the dreaded “b-a” word. It isn’ even sex, although that is the fruit of those churches that have minimized the atonement; it is about desiring to leave Jesus the Savior out, and substitute another Jesus – the good guy, pal, and sex counselor.
My wife and I left my previous church before they started a teaching series on sex partly because we were incensed that they were attempting to use that series for evangelistic purposes. What, Jesus Himself is not enough of an attractant? That’s one of the reasons all these churches jumping on the sex series bandwagon have me riled up.
I think you have a pretty good take on the subject. I get a little irritated by all this focus on the matter, as if the pulpit in public were an effective way to deal with it. There really isn’t much in the scripture on the matter, certainly not enough to speak for 8 weeks, so what’s filling in the gap? Unscriptural material, which in my view, cannot possibly be slathered “one size fits all” fashion on any congregation. Through my years of pastoring, sexual problems which have been brought to me generally have revolved around libido or unshared desires concerning particular practices– neither good subject matter for the pulpit. Once a preacher has said, “look to the other’s interest, not just your own”; or “the marriage bed is undefiled”; or “don’t deprive each other but by mutual consent,” he or she has said about all that can be said scripturally, effectively, publicly.
A lot of fine and good topics that Christians must address don’t translate well to public preaching. It’s not that they are not worthy, just that other ways of presenting the material will work more effectively.
Still, it seems to me that Jesus gets pushed aside in a lot of these situations where a church launches into its big sex series month. The spotlight gets diverted. That’s usually a bad thing.
Dan, I share your disdain for “sex” as church attraction, although I have done a series on “sex and spirituality” and wouldn’t rule out doing another one. If it can be Gospel-centered, I don’t think anything the Bible talks about is off limits.
A couple of honest questions, though, ’cause I’m somewhat confused:
1) Given your previous insistence that preaching be practical and give the “now what’s?”, how do you explain here saying all that can/should be said about sex is “Don’t be selfish” or whatever?
2) You say here that you left a church for planning a series on sex as an attraction to seekers. Can you elaborate on that in the light of your compassionate criticism of other bloggers for leaving their churches because they stopped preaching the gospel and not deciding to stay and help change?
I know those sound like “gotchas”: I really am curious.
I’ve taught on sex, too, so we have that in common. I taught it to teens, though, so it’s a bit different.
Both your questions are fair, though the first one may be tricky in a public forum and also because I want to honor the privacy of the bedroom in a public setting.
1. The practical part of married sex and looking to the other’s interest is that each person needs to ask, “What does my partner enjoy sexually, and how can I accomplish meeting that desire before I think about my own?” Also, it means be willing to learn about sex and find out what satisfies your spouse. It means making an effort to become a good lover for your spouse’s sake. It means if he’s asking for the fishnet stockings and stiletto heels this time, next time it’s the bubble bath and rose petals. That verse plays out in an infinite amount of ways.
2. I was in that particular church for 13 years, made many cautions about direction, and was largely not listen to by anyone until after we left and the church finally altered directions. I had even gone so far as to discuss the church’s issues with the ruling body of he denomination.
Afterwards, I had people calling to tell me everything I pointed out was true and sorry for not listening. That really hurt. I’d gone through several employment rejections at that church, too, one for the very role I suggested the church needed to address and finally did after 13 years.
But that’s not the whole story. The whole story is that we moved 47 miles away from the church. In fact, we kept going to the church for three years after the move despite all that AND driving two hours total. The fact was, we hung in there even when it was massively inconvenient for us to do so. Even before things got really bad, though, we were looking for a church in our new neighborhood. The fact that we kept going to the church is because I simply did not want to give up on it, even though we were no longer living in that community.
The irony was that after we left (along with a whole lot of other long-time Christians), the church expunged itself of the leadership that had taken it the wrong direction. They are now on a much better path, more like the one they had when I first started going there. Good for them. God did turn things around.
We now go to a church just a few minutes from our home. It’s filled with our neighbors. It’s the kind of situation I talk about here, staying close to home and all. And God most definitely put us there because we came on right as the new pastor did. And now we’re being used in ways we weren’t before.
But the kicker here was the distance and our disconnection from the old community. If we hadn’t moved so far away, we’d probably still be involved in that church. As it is, we still are part of a small group connected to that church.
Does any of that make sense?
It does. Thanks.
Dan, that was a pretty great take on the whole “sex-series” that are quite the rage right now. As someone who is approaching the ten-year mark in my marriage, I’m still trying to learn that sex is about looking to my wife’s interest more than mine. Heck, that’s marriage in general, right?!! It’s dying to self and living for the benefit of someone other than me.
And that, to me, is the point you’re trying to make in saying that a presentation of the Gospel would be far more helpful to a church than a series on sex. For if we are preaching the Gospel, if we are hearing that to follow Jesus is to die daily to our own selfish desires and to give our lives for others, the first place that should surface is in our home, in our marriages.
I do not understand why the church thinks we have to imitate the world to get people to come. Why not do what those 11 disciples did when the world was forever changed 2000 years ago: preach the Word.
You know, if sex were something that could be summarized so easily and quickly, why is it such an area of contention in so many marriages? The Scripture has an entire book devoted to the delights of married intimacy — why on earth is it a negative thing to spend time talking about it for a few weeks on a Sunday morning? Why would we want to continue the notion that Good Christians ™ don’t talk about such tawdry issues?
You’re absolutely right — we’re bombarded with sex non-stop through the week. And how much of that bombardment is from a Christian perspective? For most of us, I’m guessing that it’s very, very little. Taking a month to give people a glimpse of God’s intentions for sex seems like a beautiful idea.
“‘A Church for People Who Don’t Like Church'”? That is just ridiculous. I don’t think I understand it one bit (perhaps because it doesn’t make sense?). Near to where I live, one church’s motto that compares is “Where Your Dreams Come True.” Yeah, don’t ask…
To kind of piggy-back on Alise’s comment, perhaps the topic of sex could be addressed within a context of other larger topics in some concentric circle sort of way (marriage, family). That way, there would be strong relevance to everyone in the audience on the various layered topics rather than just singling out sex because our culture’s attitude towards sex is out of whack. Marriage and family could then be put into a Biblical context along with an emphasis on the significance of sex in proper boundaries.
An eight-part teaching series on sex — is that…possible?
I am single and have never had sex. I like listening to talk on sex from church. Aughh…. I have learned over the years to deliberately ” tune out” much of what I hear from the media,magazines and entertainment and co-workers on the matter. Most of it/them are pretty screwed up.
Keep up the good work Dan. I need role models desperately. I would be up front and center at your church if you were teaching. As it is, if I ever marry trying to find good role models to menter me/us is a HUGE source of anxiety as I don’t know many.
Call me old fashioned or whatever. It’s just that I look at the world and see famines, starvation, people dying of AIDS, wars, violence, persecution, women being abused as sex slaves, torture, kids with no schools, orphans in need, and, well, you get the picture. What are we, as the hands and feet of God doing to help? Learning that God’s most pressing concern in this world is that we have great sex! Makes me want to weep…
I think that God wants those who are married to experience all that marriage has to offer, including mind-blowing great sex. Given that marriage is the way that God has chose to express the relationship between Him and the Church, it seems to me that the state of earthly marriages is VERY pressing to Him.
And if Dan’s 2 minute sermon is good enough for marital relationships, why shouldn’t it be good enough for any of those issues? Just look to the interests of others — there we go! No need to preach on any of these issues.
It sounds like your saying that if a couple isn’t having mind-blowing great sex, then they are somehow missing out. I might expect to hear that on Oprah. In a perfect world, all our physical needs would be met, and met vigorously. But it’s not a perfect world, and I very much doubt that some starving child in a third world country, or in this one, or someone facing persecution for his or her Christian faith would be just thrilled to know that we in America are promoting a God whose biggest concern is our physical pleasure, even within marriage.
I think that if you’re not having mind-blowing sex in marriage that yes, you are missing out to some degree. I see no reason why abundant life shouldn’t include good married sex. One needn’t live in a perfect world to make that happen. And Oprah should absolutely NOT have the market on how to have that good sex — I think that’s probably what the ministers doing the sermon series are thinking.
I am NOT saying that God’s biggest concern is physical pleasure. But I don’t think for a second that it is unimportant to God. Again, the Scripture has an entire book dedicated to the joy of physical intimacy. That would indicate to me that God believes that it’s an important part of marriage.
Certainly social justice is important and should be addressed from the pulpit. And Christ crucified should get the bulk of our attention. But I don’t think that spending time discussing something that God ordained and that the world has massively screwed up is silly or wrong. To me, that’s very, very right.
I am a long-time infrequent (cringe) reader via Miscellanies on the Gospel (my husband). This post made me laugh out loud- in a good way!
I am currently listening to a set of CDs that present a series of sermons on Hebrews. On one of them, the pastor mentions that the book of Hebrews itself was meant as a sermon, and it would take about 35-40 minutes to read it thru as a sermon. He also mentioned that his series lasted a full year.
I mention this because if any pastor can cram 40 minutes of scripture into “only” 52 weeks, I don’t doubt that a pastor can take Dan’s two minutes on sex and turn it into a multi-week lecture.
While one function of the church is obviously to present Jesus, another is to uncover how His life is to be lived out in ours completely. Too many people are in & out Christians — Christians in church and “regular people” when they’re out. I believe it is useful for pastors to explain how to live out Christ while driving, while working, while shopping, while having sex — every facet of life.
And BTW — thx for leaving up Michael’s post. It has some great lines in there which I steal. I would feel safe using them around Christians who have shed those worldly cultural taboos that are the US equivalency of circumcision.