Sex – The Missional Position

kinnon —  January 10, 2012 — 6 Comments

It’s true. I live for terrible puns and dubious double entendres. But what better place for a bad pun than a blog post on Celebrity-Driven Ministry Leaders selling their opinions on sex?

So, apparently this week Junior Ed Young and his dear wife are going to spend 24 hours in a bed on the roof of their church talking about sex – as a way to help market their book on marital bliss – Sexperiment. One might reasonably ask, “How ridiculous is that?” Or “Why didn’t they set their bed up on a wing of their private, French-made, jet?”

And, of course in that same bringing-sexy-back marketing space, Rupert Murdoch’s Zondernelson has released Pastor Mark + Wife’s Real Marriage. Or, as I like to call it, TMI from the Driscolls.

Since I doubt I will ever read the Driscolls’ book, let me direct you to a number of good reviews/critiques/comments of/on said book; this review from Rachel Held Evans, an oblique critique from Emerging MommySarah Bessey, Susan Wise Bauer’s very well-written review, and this excellent non-review from Chaplain Mike at the InternetMonk. As well, I simply must link to the brilliant commentary from Eugene Cho — one which has generated 72 comments at this point in time.

But if there was a missional position on sex, I’d want to point you to my friend, Dave Fitch’s post from last year, We Are Broken. Though primarily focused on the LGBTQ discussions within the church, Dave makes an important point when he calls us all to knowledge our own sexual brokenness regardless of orientation. He says,

By saying “we are broken” we are clearing the table… …When the leader confesses “I am broken” it forms the safety and the space by which we gather before the cross. Frankly, regardless of whatever sexual orientation we inhabit, if you feel like everything is perfect in your life in this regard, there simply is no need to discuss your sexuality in the church. Taking all particular sexual sins off the table, can we agree, together that WE ARE BROKEN? The gathering of people before Christ is for the broken. And …. “we are broken.” [emphasis added]

This isn’t the ”perhaps we were broken but we’ve been fixed and we can get you fixed too“ approach of the Driscolls and the Youngs. One which wants to get into improving the mechanics and frequency of sex. But rather it is an acknowledgment that we are all sexually broken people living in a sex-obsessed society. (I realize that certain of my cat and dog readers won’t appreciate the ”get you fixed” phrase. My sincere apologies.)

Marketing Sex

Madison Avenue Ad Men have known since before Mad Men that sex sells. Mark Driscoll and Junior Ed Young know it too and might I suggest they’ve been using it to market their ministries for a while now. See my 2008 post, Jr. Ed Young Knows — Sex Sells – a post which is waaaay more fun than this one. Never afraid to steal a good church marketing idea, Ed has drawn from the sexual marketing wellspring before – only this time he includes a book in the offer.

And through the 1st decade of this rapidly aging millennium, Pastor Mark has been doing his Christian sex therapist to thousands routine with his repeating series on Song of Solomon. It should be noted that his new book would apparentlysuggest that in spite of his “wink, wink, nod, nod, nudge, nudge” Pythonesque delivery of his 1st SoS series, things were not quite as peachy, personally, as Pastor Mark inferred — noted by my blogging friend, Wenatchee the Hatchet, a former Mars Hill congregant, in this post.

And in turning again to the Missional Position, in his We Are Broken post, Fitch writes,

Can we… agree among our missional communities that before anyone discusses this issue, goes public with a statement on the sexual issues of our day, before we get into the actual details, or any of the issues are to be determined, before we can even discern this among ourselves, before we can even examine ourselves before the Spirit, we must make way for a safe place that is comfortable, loving and supportive where we can mutually submit to one another and say “we are broken.” From here, we can love, care and have discernments about ANYTHING. But most importantly, from here we can submit one to another to Christ, allow His gifts, his discernments to take shape in a group. God by the Holy Spirit can work here.

Again, this kind of unusual place will probably have to happen in small missional communities (where you can avoid the ideology). Because we live in one of the most sexual charged, excessively sexually focused, sexually abused, sexually broken cultures (compare U.S.A. to Africa or even Europe), we will need to make way for these kind of places. And so to deal with any of this, we do not need a do’s and don’t’s list of what’s permissable and what is not. We need a place where the Holy Spirit can work in and among His people, a place of uncovering. Otherwise we will get no where in this mess.

So the first item for missional communities (and I would argue for the broader church as well) to accomplish in this day of controversy over sexual relations, is discuss how we can put ideology aside, and come together in small spaces where there can be redemption because “we are broken.[emphasis added]

Would that the stars of the Celebrity-Driven Church acknowledge their own sexual brokenness and quit offering themselves as leading exemplars of Christian sexual fulfillment.

kinnon

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

6 responses to Sex – The Missional Position

  1. I haven’t read Driscoll’s book yet but from the previews and reviews I’ve seen I believe he spends the whole first part of the book dealing with his and Grace’s sexual brokeness earlier in their marriage.

  2. My greatest discomfort with this whole thing is that whenever we call these fruitcake pastors to task we are charging their batteries. It’s like slamming the door on a Jehovah’s Witness — it only validates their self-perception as rejected prophets of God — and motivates them to go knock on 25 more doors.

    They don’t care what people are saying about what they do or preach — they’re just happy that people are talking about them.

    The issue isn’t really that these guys think they know what they’re talking about (there is no indication, other that they can create and audience, that they do) but that when we challenge them to honesty there is no accountability driving them that direction. The live in the celebrity bubbles that they (and we) have created for them.

    I’m not sure what the solution is — other than to roll our eyes — do damage control when we can — and model a completely different approach.

  3. Kathleen Overby January 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Ahh Bill, you made me smile. I heard Eugene Peterson briefly talk about his sex education. As a pubescent boy, he and his best friend spent hours and hours scouring and reading all that their library offered on the subject of sex. When they were through, he thought, “Hmmm, it’s simply just about plumbing. That’s what it comes down to”. If you see this couple together, they are one ~ mind, body, spirit, soul. There is much tender hearted loving kindness present. Their lives are the book, the living words, the love letter. Wonderful to behold…….

    As the wife of an extremely generous lover, I enjoy the lavish gift of sex in marriage. But when it is this good, it holds a very small slot in our lives, ironically. The intimacy is obvious when you see a couple together.

    When sex isn’t very good, it becomes a huge slot holder. Tellingly. :) :) :)

    I feel so sorry for MD’s wife. Poor thing. Pitiful and pathetic creature who is trapped until she wants freedom.

  4. Ministerial narcissism – the gift that keeps on giving.

    I was in one of these contempo former warehouse, now, music hall churches a couple years ago, and the sermon was the pastor and his wife talking about the problems they had encountered in their marriage. Strangely, I found it one of the most affirming statements of the power of God’s grace to transform a marriage. Why can’t they all be like this couple.

What do you think?