Christians Promote Holy, Hot Sex in Marriage

In some retranslations of the passage, the word "embrace" might mean "fondle," according to the authors. They even suggest the line, "let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits," is a veiled reference to oral sex.

"Sex is such an important part of what we believe," said Episcopo. "There's a lot of guilt and pain and complacency about sexual relationships and a lot of ignorance about exactly what the Bible says about sex."

Bible as Sex Guide

Episcopo first thought about such a conference after reading the book in 1999, but concluded "my women weren't ready for a weekend on sex." But this year -- with the average age of her church-going females at 40 -- she decided the time was right.

Using the Bible as their guide, women answer, among other things: "How can I be both sensual and godly?" "What does the Bible have to say about sex?" "Is it possible to get beyond the pain of sexual abuse?" "How do I get over my guilt?" "How do I make sex go from boring to sizzling?" and "Does the Bible have any suggestions?"

Interestingly, some of her participants are single. "We try to give them a vision for sex but to remain pure," she said. "Sexual relations are sacred and it's important to keep for marriage."

That and some other subjects -- adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, prostitution and incest -- are still taboo, even in ministries that talk about sexual relations.

But, according to Melanie Wells, a Dallas psychotherapist and Christian, that is because God says wielding power over another is wrong -- even in a marriage.

"I try to deal with marriage as citizenship, as a democracy with one man and one vote," she said. "You have to register, know the issues and vote your conscience. If you don't do that, you abdicate the power and responsibility and that's a cop out."

Too often, according to Wells, Christian attitudes toward sex have "squeezed the life out of people, and it happens sexually, too."

In her practice, Wells tries to change the conversation about sex from physical obligation to emotional intimacy. Some couples still struggle.

"It's a real hard shift for people mentally to go from an entirely prohibited activity to do it all the time," she said.

Wells is also critical of Christian attitudes toward premarital sex, which she argues encourages teens to marry young out of guilt. She also veers from the standard position on homosexuality.

"I don't generally get involved in correcting people's behavior or orientation," Wells said. "They have heard all of that before they get to me. They don't need another lecture and it's not any of my business."

Truth and openness in one's sexuality is important, she argues. "Christ can certainly handle that."

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