A few days ago, I addressed an op which I felt dealt a bit too preachy on "how to address sex" in the pulpits of America (and perhaps beyond). Dave Miller, editor of SBC Voices, had his own take on the subject and I find his 6 Points far better than Dr. Ed Stetzer's 5 Points. Perhaps you'll see what I mean here with a portion of Dave's post:
"So, for me, the “how do we address sex in church?” issue is not a theoretical one. It’s very practical. I have to do it Sunday.
So, here’s my thoughts on how to handle this hot-potato issue:
1. God made us male and female and called his creation very good. Sex was made by God as a gift to husbands and wives. We need to remember that. If I act as if sex is dirty, shameful or disgusting, we insult God’s creation.
2. Sin has, in fact, made sex into something dirty and disgusting for many people, because we have turned from God’s plan, ignored his ways and embraced immorality and impurity. So, I cannot treat sex lightly, or feed into the sexually-charged culture in the way I treat the topic.
3. Some topics deserve to be treated in private, not in public. If you want to know my opinion about certain practices, ask me in private. I’m not going to address them here or from the pulpit. I will address them appropriately, but not publicly.
4. Using sex and sexual topics as a means of attracting a crowd to the church is, to me, a sort of ecclesiological prostitution; what one cult used to call “flirty fishing.” It is my role to address sexual topics when they come up, but it is not my role to be a sex therapist or to promote sexual activity among my members. Using a series on sex to promote church attendance just seems crass to me.
5. Thank God my dad taught me verse-by-verse expository preaching. Pick a book and preach through it. Then, when a subject comes up, you can just blame the Bible! I’m not addressing sex on Sunday because I’m a perv, I’m addressing it because I’ve finished chapters 1-4 and now it’s time for chapter 5. So much is solved by preaching verse-by-verse.
6. Preaching about sex is like walking a tightrope. This is a real part of real people’s lives and the Word speaks to it directly, apologetically and unashamedly. I need to do the same. However, I need to be tactful, respectful, avoid crassness and crudity. Walking that tightrope is not easy. Especially when you are my size (and age). (excerpt from Dave Miller, SBC Voices: As the Kerfuffle Turns)
For those of you who rarely take the time to read the comment sections in blogs, I think there is another portion of this "hot potato" conversation worth mentioning which I have copied and pasted for your convenience:
Bill Mac wrote:
I’m going to take a bit of a contrary view here. I think the bible speaks very little about sex, and for the most part the church has done due diligence in teaching about it. Now, the sum total of verses that talk about sex may be dozens, but the messages are few, and simple.
Don’t have sex before you are married.
Get married to someone of the opposite sex.
Have sex only with your spouse.
Don’t withhold sex from your spouse.
Don’t lust after people other than your spouse.
Has the Christian church really withheld the above? And if not, what’s the problem? If someone is preaching through the books then by all means don’t shy away from the sex verses, but it’s not really that hard. The verses quoted in the article is encapsulated in what I’ve written above.
We don’t need books on sex, and seminars on sex. People know how to have sex. Sometimes they need to be told when and with whom. That message is pretty simple.
14DAVE MILLER REPLIES:
I can see your point, Bill, but I’m not sure I agree. In a culture as sexually sick as ours, I think the need to address things more directly and more biblically increases. Kids in my church come through high school having a certain (unbiblical) set of sexual values drummed into them. They are taught that it is unthinkable hate to question the righteousness of the homosexual lifestyle.
In a culture like that, it is more important to address sexual morals biblically (and perhaps more frequently) than in healthier cultures. I do not think it is advisable to ignore the topic. Not in a culture as sexually charged as ours. That leaves the other side shaping the values of our young people.
TO WHICH I REPLIED:
Dave, I am not sure, perhaps Bill Mac will return and expound, but I don’t think he would at all disagree with what you are saying here. It behooves the church and minister to address the misinformation which you describe. It is extremely important not to water down the word to be politically correct as society is doing in the school systems with the introduction of books like I Have Two Mommies, etc. That is more than appropriate for you. In fact, I think it would also go a long long way for a minister to take the time to address this issue in a closed session with all his youth teachers and leaders who will be the main influence of their young people.
For my part, I am no longer a youth leader, but I did address these issues with the permission of parents in our youth group sessions. Today I address them with my grandchildren and it is a topic we discuss on occasion over dinner when the littlest of these are not present.
I think if all preachers took the approach you share in your six points in your op, then there would be no hunger for the “hype” we see in the man from Seattle and his kind. My greatest concern at this juncture is that by validating his kind, we not only invite greater misuse of the sacred texts of Scripture, but risk the multiplication of his kind of “hype” and sensationalism. And the scariest part of that is, when one thing loses its sensationalistic attraction, the systematic bent to follow is to create a greater Circus and more explicit acts to draw the crowds. selahV
So, there you have another look at the way to approach the "hot potato" subject within the church situation. I cannot stress any stronger my complete and utter dismay towards my opposition to others within our convention who continue to endorse Mark Driscoll's book, REAL MARRIAGE. Especially, when one reviewer said he ought to republish it under the title REAL SEX, because that is how it written.
Another prominent Southern Baptist voice offers another review of this book as a result of the "kerfuffle" Mark Driscoll's book and presence at Liberty University caused. I think it is well-worth taking the time to read and to consider as a warning for all those who would consider using Driscoll's book as a "marital counseling" guide. (And to be clear, this is exactly what happened to some dear young couple I know who have lived a celibate life and are getting pre-marital counseling...this is part of the reason for my own interest and my public outcry). Below is a portion of what Heath Lambert, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology, Boyce College, Louisville, Kentucky writes:
"Because I am a professor who teaches many classes on marriage, a pastor who does ministry with many married couples, and a husband who is married, I have a great stake in books on marriage. I am always interested when a book on marriage is released. I am always excited when such a book is written by an influential Christian leader and his wife with the potential to influence massive numbers of people.
I really wanted Real Marriage to be a helpful book and was concerned when I began hearing that many of the reviews on the book were negative. I was even more concerned when I found, after reading the book myself as well as a number of the reviews, that many of these negative reviews were far too favorable of the book. In fact, I was sad when upon completing the book it was clear that this book is a dangerous and troubling one that will cause confusion and difficulty in many marriages.
It is not as though there is nothing of any value in the book. The problem is that the good elements of the book are so frequently obscured and/or contradicted by very many bad elements of the book. The mingling of these helpful things with a lot of bad things are what I refer to as the ironies of Real Marriage." Excerpt from The Ironies of Real Marriage A Review of Mark Driscoll, Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012.
I do hope this offers another, less "hyped" and greater-balanced, perspective into what has become an extremely volatile discussion and debate among Southern Baptists today. If not, it is not for lack of trying to walk Dave Miller's "tightrope" in my sweatpants and "Ask-About-My-Grandchildren" tee-shirt. selahV
RELATED POSTS ON MARK DRISCOLL "KERFUFFLES":
Hariette Petersen on: Redefining Sin, Discernment, Admonishment, and Exhortation
Peter Lumpkins on: Mark Driscoll responds to Peter Lumpkins