Sex -- a sacred connection between you, your partner and God? Reclaiming sex as a holy part of marriage and religion seems to be all the rage among evangelicals and other Christians across the country. The reason? To combat the evils sex has become associated with in the mainstream media -- among them: the high divorce rate, promiscuity and homosexuality. The question: Is bringing the oft-taboo topic of sex to light in a church also causing a bit of controversy in the process?
Most recently, the head of Fellowship Church, a Texas-based congregation with 20,000 members, is challenging his married, heterosexual churchgoers to have sex (with their spouses) every day for seven days straight, according to AP reports. Fellowship Church founder and senior Reverend Ed Young will deliver the sermon "Seven Days of Sex," on Sunday November 16, while sitting in bed in front of the Dallas-based chapter of his church. This is the second segment in a series entitled "Leaving Lust Vegas," which the church's Web site says is an answer to a sex-crazed society filled with "romance novels and chic-flicks [sic]" and adult Web sites and late-night TV, where "lust is lurking around every corner."
Church Leaders Call to Bring God Back into Bed
In an interview with CBS, Young describes people's reaction to his proposed week of sex: "We've had a few people go, 'Man, I wonder why you're doing this,' or, 'That's kind of odd, talking about making love in church.' But, again, I think the church has allowed the culture to hijack sex from the church, and it's time that we moved the bed back in church and put God back in the bed, and I think we are the real sex-perts because, after all, we're made in God's image and he's the one who wants us to do it his way."
In the video clip where he announces the upcoming challenge, Young, 47, says he and his wife, Lisa, will also be doing it for seven days straight, which he jokes is "normal" for them. And he promises the congregation there will be a reward at the end of the week of sex: belonging to the "happiest church on planet earth." The church's site has promises as well, including that those who follow Young's "Vegas" series will "discover real satisfaction in the life God has in store for you as you learn how to leave Lust Vegas for good."
Young is not alone in bringing sex "back" to religion. Earlier in 2008, Paul Wirth, head pastor of Relevant Church, a Florida-based group, issued a "30-Day Sex Challenge" to tackle the nation's 50-percent divorce rate. The church's Web site explained, "We believe you can have a great sex life; in fact, we believe God wants you to have a great sex life."
And during Lent of 2007, Epic Church pastor Tim Kade delivered a sermon called "The Greatest Sex You’ll Ever Have," with a companion Web site, which caused some controversy among community members who found the content too racy for religion, according to Fox News.
Religious Sex Scandals
While the last few decades have seen a spate of religious-themed sex scandals, one religious leader who seems to have plunged further than most from his once-spotless pinnacle is Ted Haggard. The former evangelical pastor and former president of the National Evangelical Association was once an outspoken opponent of homosexuality -- until 2006, when a sex scandal involving a homosexual prostitute and a cash-for-sex relationship swirled about him. He was fired from his position as the head of 14,000-member New Life Church, according to the AP. Haggard never fully acknowledged nor denied the claims, but he said there was enough truthfulness to them to merit his firing. In November 2008, he announced that he was sexually abused as a child, and when the sex scandal leaked, that memory "started to rage in my mind and in my heart," reports the AP.
In Alexandra Pelosi's documentary "Friends of God," Haggard says, "You know all the surveys say that evangelicals have the best sex life of any other group," according to ABC News. But given Haggard's own personal track record, the question is whether any kind of sex life, whether condoned or promoted by religion, or paraded around by celebrities, can possibly be wholly lust-free and pure in mind, and whether it should be at all. –
Mary Kearl (http://www.aolhealth.com/healthy-living/relationships/pastor-sex-challenge)