Yes, the church talks about sex. It talks about sex a lot (could you say we talk about it "a plethora?"). Some would condemn the church for this action, claiming that our obsession is leading kids into lifestyles of sexual sin. Others, of course, would suggest that the church is simply trying to present an alternative to the sex saturated with which we are surrounded.
I think there is an element of truth in both sides. However, I would like to suggest that the major problem with the church's approach to sexuality is that it is saying the wrong things about sex.
The church's discussion of sex has often been very static. It attempts to teach simple biblical truth, but it often does so in a way that is condemning and uninviting.
If we are to be a respectable voice on sexuality in our culture, we need to develop a dynamic, honest, and life giving conversation about sexuality.
Let me give you a few examples:
1. The church must move away from talking about abstinence and begin talking about chastity.
The church's focus on abstaining from sex--avoiding it at all costs, as come with a price. First, it removes context (why should we avoid sex) creating a sense of unrealistic expectations (Can a person really remain pure until marriage?). Secondly, it paints sex in a negative light, which hurts marital sexuality for those who do remain virgin's heading into marriage.
Chastity, on the other hand, presents something of Paul's theology lost on the American church. Namely, singleness is a blessing from God. Remaining pure, focused on serving Christ without the constraints of sexual relationships, was a big part of the ministry of Paul and many other early Christians. Chastity provides purpose in singleness instead of a lingering sense of "missing out."
2. The church needs to present grace rather than condemnation.
The church is built as a beacon of truth and grace. We are far too often so focused on the truth that we neglect the grace. The fact is that most of our church people have struggled with some sexual sin in their life. If the only talk they receive is one of condemnation of sin, we fail to show the mercy of Jesus that leads people out of their sins.
3. The church needs to be consistent.
Can I just be honest? It seems to me that we are OK with some sexual sins and not OK with others. We turn a blind eye to our guys checking out girls, with looking at much soft pornography (Swimsuit Issue?), and with guys and girls fooling around to a certain extent. However, if someone even utters the words "I'm gay" a barrier is built between them and the church that can often never be overcome.
Homosexuality has become the leprosy of the modern church as we seek to ask these people to yell out "UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN" if they get too close to our church's or people.
I am not here to advocate that homosexuality is OK, because I believe that any sexual act committed outside of a male-female marriage is sin, but there is still a problem here. We cannot be taken seriously on the issue of homosexuality when 80% of our teens are sexually active, 50% of our marriages end in divorce, etc. God says more about divorce than he says about homosexuality, folks. We need to put forth a consistent message.
4. The church should be realistic.
Most of our people have struggled or are struggling with sexual sin. We need to stop pretending otherwise. Every time we preach a sermon about the need for purity, calling our people to never look at pornography or think about cheating we will certainly get some amen's. However, we will also ostracize many of our people who are told in all too clear a way that they are not good enough to be part of the church.
The church is about grace. Christ dined with sinners, spoke with adulterers, forgave the worst of people, and loved them all. If we are to become relevant, we must learn to do the same. It is only in lovingly providing grace that the chains of sin will be lifted, and our people will find the freedom of Christ.
How has the church's discussion of sex affected you? What changes would you like to see the church make in regards to sexual conversations?