Pastors Say Let's Talk About Sex in Church

On a recent Wednesday at East Hill Church in Oregon, the topic of the sermon was an unusual one -- the sex lives of parishioners.

"How many of you are married? It's not a sin," Pastor Ted Roberts said to the crowd.

"You already have a sexual partner so you don't have any sexual questions or problems. OK."

Roberts and his wife, Diane, believe that because sexual images pervade our culture, why not bring the discussion to church?

They host a series of provocative discussions they call "Sexy Christians," where they talk not about the sins of sex, but its joys.

Church leaders have traditionally left the topic of sex to the secular world, but there's a burgeoning trend among some churches across the country to address human sexuality.

In sermons and special seminars, pastors are tackling topics ranging from how to keep passion in a long-term relationship to how to recover from porn and sex addiction.

A new billboard in New Jersey advertising the Web site is not an ad for an online chat group, but for the Discovery Church, where Pastor Randy Smith hosts weekly discussion groups.

"Sex was invented by God for us to use and to enjoy," Smith said.

Speaking From Experience

The Robertses, who have been married for 38 years, say God never intended sex to be sinful. But for many couples, talking about sex is steeped in shame.

They say it's time for that to change.

The Robertses experienced their share of troubles early in their own marriage. Diane says she was very unsatisfied in the first five years of their marriage. She believes the onus is on women to communicate their needs to their husband.

"If you are not communicating, they don't know what your needs are," she said.

Ted said he was addicted to pornography and alcohol, so he can speak to troubled men from his own experience.

Diane says she counsels many women who find out their husbands are leading secret lives -- having affairs or engaging in Internet sex.

She tells them to talk to their pastors.

"They say, 'Well, I could never do that,'" Diane said.

Not Mere Promotion of 'Bad' Behavior

Talking openly about sex is not without critics, who want the discussion out of the church and back into the privacy of the bedroom.

Some worry that talking about sex will encourage underage and unmarried couples to engage in it.

"Talking about sex doesn't promote it," Ted said. "We're involved in it on an ongoing basis. We're sexual beings. But talking about it in a biblical perspective, you can bring a healthy orientation."