Question: How is the Church to Talk About Sex?

What do you think?

How should the church be addressing the subject of sex?

Think for a moment about our context:

1. We live in a highly sexualized culture. Sexual images are everywhere (advertising, various forms of entertainment, etc.). News in pop culture ranges from “wardrobe malfunctions” at the half time of a Super Bowl show to celebrities who have become well known for their sexual exploits. Scandals have involved politicians, ministers, public school teachers, and other public figures. It has only been a few years ago a number of priests were named for their involvement with minors. On and on it goes. So what does the church say regarding sex in such a culture?

2. We live in a time in which many, many people are getting married who have never witnessed a healthy marriage anywhere at anytime. Couples in premarital counseling may have read a book regarding marital sex or they may have had conversations with a counselor. Far too many people, however, get married with only the information they got off the street. What does the church say regarding sex that might help and bless these couples?

3. Many people have much information about sex. Information is readily available everywhere. However, (and this is huge) so many people have no idea about the meaning, function, and purpose of sex within a marriage. Consequently, this becomes just one more expression of self-centeredness within a marriage. What does the church say regarding the meaning of sex?

The question:

How is the Church to Talk About Sex? How are these issues best addressed? How is sexuality from a biblical perspective best addressed?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://timothyarcher.com/kitchen Tim Archer

    I think that sexuality needs to be addressed as normally as possible. That is, it should be a normal part of our teaching, just as it is in the Bible. The Bible neither overemphasizes nor avoids it. I think we need to do the same.

    We need to emphasize that God created sex and sexuality, that it is part of his plan for mankind, and that it has a proper context. Just as the Song of Solomon has a rightful place in the Bible, so teaching about God's views on sex needs to be a part of our biblical teaching.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/JimMartin JimMartin

      I like your emphases here, Tim. Address this just as normally as possible. Far too often it is a crisis that prompts such teaching. Thanks very much.

    • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/JimMartin JimMartin

      I like your emphasis here, Tim. Address this just as normally as possible. Far too often it is a crisis that prompts such teaching. Thanks very much.

  • Jennifer Hines

    I think one of the most important things is for parents to communicate with their children about God's view of the gift of sex in a marriage relationship. If parents don't pass on God's teachings about sex to their children, who will? Also, hopefully people have friends or mentors in their lives that they would feel comfortable asking about this topic. It is hard to speak frankly about it, but it should be done. I agree we should not avoid this topic that we seem to be so embarrassed about. Just because it is a private matter doesn't mean that we can't talk about God's view of it's purpose in our lives. We talk about our beliefs for what is right and wrong in other matters, so we should not be afraid to include sex in those conversations. God is good, Hope In Him,
    Jennifer Hines

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/JimMartin JimMartin

      Jennifer,
      You make a very good point here. It is important to have people in your life– parents, mentors, friends, etc. with whom we can have these conversations. Thanks very much.

  • http://gregengland.com Greg England

    It seems we address this subject so seldom that when it is done, it can intrigue the national media. When Joe Beam started doing seminars on sexuality for churches, I saw him interviewed on several national television news shows. We were intentional about being very open with our children on this subject … never leaving it up to the church to teach them. I'm not saying we should avoid the subject … just saying we made sure our children learned at home.

    By the way, anyone out there know of a really good commentary on Song of Solomon? I've read many but never read what I considered a good one.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/JimMartin JimMartin

      Greg– I like the point you make regarding teaching your children at home. (This may actually be an important work of churches. To help to equip parents to be able to teach their children at home).

      RE: Song of Solomon. You might check out Tremper Longman's commentary. (Amazon)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JillShaw JillShaw

    A lecture series in New Zealand in October features Drs Rod Thompson and David Williams. The series will explore the often taboo subject of human sexuality. Participants will uncover what it means to be fully human in a world that debases and objectifies the human form. The series will have live streaming and options for internet viewers to join the live conversation.

    Register for Mars Hill Dialogues: SEX at http://www.laidlaw.ac.nz/laidlaw/index.cfm?1E5206

    I've copied David Williams on this post to follow your comments too.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/JimMartin JimMartin

      Jill,
      Thank you so much for this. Thanks also for the link. I will follow it.

      Glad you come to this blog.

  • Jen

    This was my dissertation topic, focusing on families. There are some really good books out there that I think leadership could use…Sexuality and Holy Longing by Lisa McMinn and Real Sex by Lauren Winner. Both discuss our sexuality as holy and core to who we are and how we relate as people. Not only romantically but sexuality as an aspect of how we relate person to person. Awesome stuff! I spoke at a student-initiated forum last year on this topic, and they are sooo interested to hear what God has to say. But I also think in order to address sexuality, we have to address the body in a scriptural way. We mostly say that the body is the tent to be shed, rather than our body being the tool in which we interact with the world and with our Lord. Not to mention that he gave it to us and will resurrect us in a new one. These ideas of the body really influence our understanding of sexuality/sex.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JimMartin JimMartin

    Jen,
    How interesting! Your dissertation topic.

    I have read Lauren Winner. I thought it was excellent. I am not familiar at all with Lisa McMinn or her book. I just looked it up on Amazon and it does look very interesting.

    Really like what you say regarding the body, Jen. What you say is very important. That view of the body (something to be shed) is just one example of how one stream of Greek philosophy has shaped our thinking more than Scripture. The end result is the kind of perspective that you describe.

    So glad you had the opportunity to speak at the student forum. I think that sort of conversation is so important.

    Jen, have you seen Jim Reynolds' book, THE LEPERS AMONG US? The subtitle is, "Homosexuality and the Life of the Church." While the book is focused on homosexual behavior, the church, etc., there is a wonderful discussion on sexuality, the larger context is on the power of the church in ministering to people with sexual struggles. I have an extra copy and will send it to you if you would like. Just let me know.