Do Christians spoil sex?

My son, Drew, pointed out that CNN  (“belief blog” here) has a post entitled, “How Christians Spoil Sex.” The blogger at CNN is picking up Jon Acuff‘s blog entry, “Sex” at his site, “Stuff Christians Like.”  Acuff argues that “Christians need to do a better job of connecting God with a vibrant sex life.”  What makes these entries interesting is my son’s email subject line to his siblings and his parents. Email subject line: “Obviously they’ve never met my father.”

The reason for my son’s comment is that he has heard countless times (as I was working on my dissertation on the Song of Songs and continue to study this fascinating book) that if Christians do not have a correct view of the physical relationship with their spouse, it is not God’s fault. God has clearly spoken of his delight in the celebration of sex within the confines of marriage in the Song. 

Acuff’s  exhortation  to communicate God’s view of sex exposes an obstacle in the church: we simply do not know how to preach the Song on a Sunday morning. We can preach the epistles with ease and even Romans for months. But the majority of pastors are reluctant to handle an equally inspired OT scripture text that speaks literally (and not allegorically) about breasts, passion and desire. Until we are able (or willing) to share this equally inspired text with the entire church family, there will be a disconnect in the body of Christ concerning sex.

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12 comments on “Do Christians spoil sex?

  1. Tom says:

    Dr. McGinniss,

    Do believe teaching Song of Solomon as you propose to the entire congregation is appropriate given the various age ranges that will be present during the sermon?

    Thanks.

    • mmcginniss says:

      Tom,

      Great question. Let me start the discussion by asking another question. Is any other book in the Bible age specific? Or does any other book come with a congregational caution before reading or preaching? Should we impose limits on some portions of Proverbs (for instance chapter 5) as well? What do you think?

      • Tom says:

        There has historically been a tension with some of these passages and their appropriateness in preaching. Some pastors in preaching through these passages have “toned down” the obvious meaning so as not to offend or titillate their congregation.

        There are other books of the Bible that often come with disclaimers, namely the apocalyptic books.

      • mmcginniss says:

        True. Is the appropriateness in preaching culturally driven or scripturally driven? I wonder if we are letting culture (even our Christian culture) dictate what is appropriate in preaching and not the Bible.

  2. Tom says:

    To some extent, probably both. Missionaries deal with contextualization issues all the time to not offend the people to whom they are ministering (1 Cor 9:19-23). Would you purposely preach SoS with all its vivid sexual imagery knowing that it could offend parents who may have their children with them in the service or others who may feel uncomfortable addressing the topic in mixed company?

    • mmcginniss says:

      It has been my practice to let people know where I am going if I feel the message’s content may cause someone to feel uncomfortable. I preached on Prov 5 and before we sang the song before the message I made an announcement about the topic so parents could be prepared. With the Song I think there are levels to explaining various metaphors. I can be more explicit in a couples’ retreat than on a Sunday morning service.

  3. Tom says:

    So, then you are contextualizing your preaching to the audience. Is it your goal to be as explicit as possible when you preach through SoS or only to convey the basic truths of the passage and allow the congregation to apply them to their own marital relationships?

    The reason I ask is that one could become very explicit when one preaches through parts of Leviticus, but instead most just teach on general principles of purity, hygiene, and holiness.

    • mmcginniss says:

      I am not sure I am contextualizing as much as being sensitive to the “sensitivities” of my audience. I do not want them to turn off to the message simply because the word “breasts” was read from the pulpit. Then again, I will not shy away from reading it either simply because someone is sensitive. To understand the Bible we need to explain the metaphors in the SoS. Depending on the audience, I will provide more or less detail.

      This brings us back to my original question:is this sensitivity driven by cultural appropriateness? Should our Christian culture be able to handle the SoS on a Sunday morning in a mixed group since it is in the Bible? Does the Christian audience need to change to conform to God’s word?

      • Tom says:

        The issue of appropriateness in teaching through SoS has been addressed by John MacArthur in the past. His point is that by “explaining the metaphors” particular pastors have turned SoS into soft porn.

        Here are the links to MacArthur’s address dealing with the misuse of SoS:

        http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4168

        http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4169

        Does MacArthur have a valid point, in your opinion?

      • mmcginniss says:

        MacArthur has a valid concern as he responds to Driscoll’s preaching of the SoS. However, does he go too far the other way? MacArthur encourages his readers to look into his study Bible as an example of how he would preach the SoS. I would be curious to know what you think of MacArthur’s “preaching of the Song” if you consulted his study bible. Look at chapter seven of the Song.

  4. Tom says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of MacArthur’s study Bible. What is your impression of how he handles chapter seven?

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