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Monday, November 17, 2008

Sexy Churches

Often we think of sex in church in terms of what not to do. Or we assign it a marketing correlation, as in referring to a church that markets itself well and calling it a sexy church.

Surely the Dallas area has its share of those sexy churches that market themselves well. We have large, influential churches here in the Dallas area. I often wonder though what impact they are having. Two in particular have been on my mind this week.

First Baptist Church in Dallas and its senior pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress made national headlines when he started a sermon series last week which he titled something like "politically incorrect." He chose to market the sermon series though by posting an inflammatory sermon headline on the church's marquee outside. It read, "Why Gay is not okay."

As you might imagine, this infuriated and offended a wide number of people. (One has to imagine that this was the intent of Dr. Jeffress ... to attract or disturb.) The protesters lined up outside his church and it's been talked about all week. He continued yesterday by preaching on "what to say to those who are gay." The protesters were out in force, of course.

Now I don't agree with the gay protesters. I see that the Bible forbids homosexual relationships. I long ago realized that God's truth on the subject is that many are tempted, but none are defined. God never created anyone to be in a homosexual relationship. So for those who are tempted in that way, God expects them to resist the temptation. So there is no question in my mind about the fact that Dr. Jeffress is preaching God's truth. However --- that's not the end of my view here.

I have to question Dr. Jeffress tactics. Is it really necessary to put inflammatory remarks on the church marquee out front? Could you not just as easily have advertised this sermon series by putting something that read, "God's Truth About Gays." Then if someone who is not already in your church truly cared about God's perspective on the subject, they could make a point to attend or download that sermon on-line. In terms of what we should say to someone who is gay, let's start with "I love you."

It's been known for a long time that human beings never care how much you know about anything until they know how much you care about them. So Mr. Jeffress, leading by telling the gays how wrong you think they are on the marquee outside probably hasn't been such a good idea. But then again, I guess it all depends on what you intended.

Another high-profile church is, led by its senior pastor, Ed Young, Jr. You may have read about his recent sermon, where he preached sitting on a bed on the stage of his mega-church. He challenged his congregation of about 20,000 people in four locations (from Dallas to Miami) to have sex every day for seven (7) days. He of course qualified this by saying that the challenge is only for people who are married.

But if you are married and in Pastor Young's church, he wants you to have sex every day for seven (7) days in a row. He even went on national news and said that he and his wife would be going to bed early that week to "practice what he preached."

How does this set with you? The Dallas Morning News had taken letters to the Editor commenting for and against this. Some people think it's great. They extol the fact that healthy sex lives are biblical. Others think it's disgusting and makes a mockery of godly sexuality. Some said it's an outrage to cheapen sex like this. As you might guess, I have an opinion about this myself. It's taken me a week to ponder it though. To be honest, I wasn't sure what I thought about it at first. But I was definitely thinking about it.

After considering Mr. Young's challenge to his congregation, I think he is short-sighted. In fact, I'd say that he is every bit as short-sighted and thoughtless as his Baptist colleague, Dr. Jeffress. You see, Ed Young, Jr. seems to be overlooking some important facts about sex inside of marriage.

First, there is a significant difference between having sex and making love. Second, many marriages have very painful areas when it comes to sexuality. Telling married folks to set that pain aside and just mechanically engage in the sexual acts is folly at best. More realistically, it is likely to sharpen the pain. You can't just deny the pain and go through the motions without causing further damage and destruction. Did you know that, Mr. Young?

Finally, sexual intercourse is like worship in that it is a celebration of the marital relationship. If the marriage relationship is not healthy, then sex is not likely to be healthy. There is nothing to celebrate in bad marriage. So having sex just because your pastor told you to is likely to be a frustrating endeavor at best. And it could be much worse.

So what are we to make of these "sexy churches" here in North Texas? I think we can conclude that their pastors are using sex to sensationalize their sermons and draw attention to themselves. Moreover, we can see that their pastors are pretty inconsiderate and thoughtless. Perhaps they could even be considered unloving.

What was that blog recently about "those awful Christians?" Here they are, in action again. God bless 'em. And let us forgive them as they trespass against us!

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