Friday, March 13, 2009

Why is Sex Such a Sore Subject?

"When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her paramours there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.”

"Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love."

"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine;"

Are these the three points to the latest Mark Driscoll sermon? Ahh, no. These are texts of Scripture - the perfectly holy, perfectly perfect, perfectly sufficient Word of God. Why have I placarded them on my blog? Because I want to warn against trying to be more holy than God - so holy, in fact, that God could be accused of crudeness and crassness.

In my treks across the internet, I see two disturbing trends. The first trend is to use sex as a church-growth technique. I see a lot of cookie-cutter church plant websites advertising the gratuitous sex sermon series. One or two "famous" pastors preach a series on sex and a flock of wannabes across the country follow suit. Are we to believe that is what all these churches need to hear right now, or are some impressionable young preachers just jumping on the too cool for school hip trendy bandwagon? I fear it's the latter.

The second trend is to act like sex is inappropriate to discuss except with one's spouse in bed. This is simply not true. Is it any wonder that the two greatest sources of sin in the church in America are sex and money - the two areas where Christians call foul if they're addressed in any kind of direct way? Make no mistake, matters too private to preach about are also private enough to pierce with many soul-killing pangs.

I am disturbed by the attempts to be more holy than God. I fear that the reason sex is such a sore subject to many Christians is because it's an area that hasn't been fully redeemed by the Gospel. This is why I'm so concerned with this issue. Sex is not dirty and neither is sexual talk. Sex and sexual talk is either righteous and God-glorifying or wicked and Satanic depending on the way it's used. But there are many who act as though any talk about sex in everyday normal language is automatically pornography. That's just wrong. And that kind of thinking is not helping our marriages and children.

It's time for pastors to stop pretending that the church in America doesn't have a problem with rampant sexual sin. It's not preaching that is causing all the porn problems and teenage pregnancies in the church. Pastors have been not preaching about sex for an awful long time. How's the "mum's the word" method of dealing with issues of sexuality working? And when pastors do preach about sex, it's with winks and corny double-talk and euphemisms to keep from saying what everyone is saying everywhere except for the one place where sex should be talked about - church.

I don't accept the common notion that talking about sex will stunt sanctification. That's absurd. Sanctification is being stunted because pastors refuse to talk about sex in a responsible and God-glorifying way. How can talking about a biblical subject in common language lead to sin? Do we believe that about any other biblical subject? Isn't preaching about putting biblical truths into common language? Why do we stifle and box in the Word of God when it comes to sex? Is it because we're more holy than God? God knows our sexuality. When he wants to chastise his people for their idolatry, he does it by bringing up images of "donkey members" and "horse issues" to stun us. If pastors speak this way today, it's considered sinfully crude. What is that saying about God?

I remember about five years ago I was chastised for saying in a sermon that Heaven will be eternally orgasmic. An older lady told me she didn't appreciate me saying orgasmic when her teenage grandson was in the room. How did I respond? Did I repent in dust and ashes? Not exactly. I explained that her teenage grandson definitely knew what an orgasm was. I knew her grandson. Then I explained that someone had better start explaining why Heaven is worth staying pure for in a language that we can actually understand. I still hold that view today. And I'm not sure the lady is even in church anymore.

I've never preached a series on sex. But sex is a pretty common theme in my sermons because that's where people struggle. Sex was created by God to be a foretaste of Heaven and a picture of communion with God. It has been usurped by the adversary, and the church has given up the ground. I think it is possible and proper to discuss sex openly in a way that doesn't devolve into Porky's and American Pie. And I think it's equally possible and proper to discuss sex in a way that is pastorally responsible, rather than a method to entice people to come to church. People coming to Christ have questions about sex. It has been a primary area of struggle for most of their lives. They need to know how to do it godly. Let's not forget why the "missionary position" is called that. Can we blame a couple for wondering if another way is sinful? Are we too holy to even discuss it?

13 comments:

Nan said...

Hi!

Interesting that you post on a subject that is, at this time, coming under fierce scrunity! A pastor is being criticized for openly teaching a sermon series on sex. And he posted a billboard titled, "Great sex God's way" . One person among many complained, saying seeing the billboard might raise questions in their child's mind about sex and they'd have to explain before the child is ready to hear about it. Excuse me, but what are they already seeing every night on television? What are they already hearing every day at school? Wrongful sex is being shoved in front of them from all sides. A pastor wants to set people on a proper course concerning rightful sex and that it's something to be enjoyed, and he's being called crude and indecent.
I think that the world has attached so many negative notions to anything sexual, that Christians can't fully accept that sexuality is a good thing and is nothing to feel guilty about. It's not the sex act that is wrong, but the context in which its carried out that makes it sin or not. God's given some pretty clear cut rules on what NOT to do. But He's certainly not a killjoy! He says the marriage bed is undefiled. Let's not defile in our minds, what God says is undefiled. Sex was created and intended to be guilt free fun!


Several news sites have featured the article:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090311/ap_on_re_us/church_great_sex

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2009/03/11
/sex_y_sermons_cause_stir_in_rural_alabama/

http://www.daystarchurch.tv/greatsexgodsway

bauerpower said...

matt & i are curious what your thoughts are on Driscoll?

Darby Livingston said...

I don't know him. From his books and what's on the net, I think God is using him mightily in his context. I think he's a saint with sinful tendencies who speaks the gospel, really cares about people, and is a work in progress. I like him.

Kati said...

I would suggest that sex is such a sore subject because there is no single act we can do as humans that can bring us closer to God or farther from Him, depending on the heart's attitude at the time. What He created as a way to display the intimacy He desires with His people, man has utterly distorted. Most Christians, (may I say "all"?) fail to live in purity in this area. Because of our fallen nature, it is difficult for Christians to be able to hear such intimate matters talked about in a public setting, and not be tempted to turn to fleshly thoughts.

I truly hope any pastor who preaches on sex would use much wisdom, discernment, and sensitivity, and absolutly bathe himself in prayer beforehand.

Anonymous said...

I would much rather have them question it from what God says than acting it out by what the world says. Having grown up with a wrong view I don't want that for my kids.

Antonio Romano said...

Why is it called the missionary position? I've never gotten that.

Darby Livingston said...

Tony,

If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you. :)

Seriously, see if this sheds light. When missionaries would "evangelize" the savages around the world, naturally they couldn't leave the non-western brutes to carry out their passions by instinct. So they showed them the acceptable modest way.

Anonymous said...

I am guessing those missionaries did not believe the marriage bed was undefiled then.

danny2 said...

perhaps sex is a sore subject because it seems to have shut down your blog!

Darby Livingston said...

Why write about it when one can... Anyways, I have just been busy doing other things. I write in spurts. Always leave 'em wanting more. :)

Antonio Romano said...

It's not that exciting of a feeling, dude. Just write something already. For the love of Pete, I feel like Jacob. STILL WAITING, RACHEL!

Darby Livingston said...

Tony,

I'm quite flattered that you are comparing your attachment to this blog with Jacob's attachment to Rachel, but perhaps you should get out more. I will post no thoughts before it's time.

Antonio Romano said...

I am going to eat this egg salad sandwich.