Church Tries to Ignite Married Couple's Sex Lives

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It's not often that a video on a church Web site will carry a warning that it may not be suitable for children under 13.

And some people in Joplin, Mo., say the billboards that Ignite Church has put up in the town shouldn't be viewed by children, either.

But Ignite Church's Lead Pastor Heath Mooneyham said the message of both is all about love, and God's purpose for it -- which includes sex.

The billboards -- one of which features a man in jeans and T-shirt, his tattooed arms holding the legs of a woman who has her arms around his neck, and her legs wrapped around his waist -- are to advertise a series the church is doing about sex, and how married couples should be having more of it, so they will avoid being tempted into sin.

A similar image was the first to display on the Ignite Church website, and at the church's related site, MySexLifeSucks.org.

"We're doing a series about sex, and God's intended purpose for it," Mooneyham. "We're hitting things like adultery and pornography."

Mooneyham indicated that in a poll on the church's website, 86 percent of the respondents said they were not having enough sex in their marriage.

"This is really one of the major issues that's ripping marriages apart. They are at a higher risk of adultery, looking at pornography -- that leads to divorce," Mooneyham said.

So he decided to try to do something about it, planning a series of Sunday "experiences" about sex at the church, and creating a series of videos on the subject for the Web site.

"Some people think we are porno-fying the church," Mooneyham said, but he argued that what the church is really trying to do is help people with their marriages -- helping the faithful stay faithful.

The billboards around town may feature people in sexual poses, but they are married people, he said.

That distinction might be lost on some Joplin residents, especially since they carry the name of the Web site MySexLifeSucks.org in bold black letters.

The message on that site might be even more controversial: "God Is Pro Sex. It Should Be Exciting."

"There is no way ever I would take my kids to a church with a big sign advertising sex," Veronica Warren told ABC affiliate KODE-TV in Joplin.

One of the billboards is near a Sonic fast food restaurant.

"People bring their kids to Sonic and their kids are going to look at that sign and say, 'Mommy what's that mean?' and, oh my God, and then that parent has to explain," Warren said.

"You got a lot of people's attention now, but you made a lot of people mad," she said.

Getting people mad is not the church's intention, Mooneyham said -- but he does want their attention.

"The town's divided down the middle on this," he said. "This is the Bible Belt. They're freaking. But the congregation has been really great about it. They understand the message behind it."

Despite some people's reservations about what the church is doing, Mooneyham said that the way the world is today, kids are already exposed to sex at an early age.

If that is going to happen, he said, he would rather have them exposed to it in church.

"God created it and he's not freaked out by it," he said. "So I don't see why we should be."

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