I admit it, I haven’t been to church in a long time. This is because, as a kid, I was hauled to church every week and I’m still getting over it. I sat on hard wooden pews, sweated in the summer, froze in the winter, and got to eat a bleached wafer and drink grape juice once a month when we had communion (no, Methodists didn’t get to drink wine like the Catholics and Episcopalians, who always had more fun than we did).
Sometimes, because I feared I was probably going to hell since I regularly had mean and impure thoughts, I tried to listen to the sermon. I really tried, but I don’t think I ever lasted through an entire one. I did become an expert on the vocal arc of a sermon, though, and always managed to tune in when the minister was zeroing in on the finish, at which point we would get to sing “Glory Be to the Father.” That was my favorite song, since it meant we were about to be freed for another week.
But that was then, and what is happening now makes me think churches have changed a lot since my childhood. Ed Young, a minister at the Fellowship Church in Dallas, has now challenged the married men in his congregation to have daily sex with their wives for the next week. To emphasize his point, Young dragged a bed up to his pulpit. “God is pro-sex,” said Young, 47, who emphasized he planned to meet his own challenge with his wife of 26 years.
Well, good lord. Maybe it’s just because I’m an agnostic, but there’s something about a minister promoting sex that is about the unsexiest thing I can think of. What was he thinking? What was his wife thinking? Where did that bed come from, anyway? Hasn’t anybody heard of using theirr imagination these days?
Something tells me the human body doesn’t respond well to edicts. Which is why abstinence-only education doesn’t work. Which is also why “do it for the next seven days” won’t work, either. We’re talking sex, not calisthenics, here. Sex has a certain magic and alchemy to it. It thrives on spontaneity. I see nothing magical or spontaneous about some hammy, middle-aged minister and his port-a-bed exhorting a bunch of congregants to “do it because they’ve said ‘I do.’ ” Just reading about it, I can feel my libido wilt; I can only imagine the effect on people who were in the congregation. Their sex lives are probably on life-support as we speak.
Above all, sex should be fun, and there’s nothing fun about following a minister’s orders. Not any minister I‘ve ever seen, at any rate.
But wait! I do see an application for this. Maybe Ed Young should take his bed on the road and preach at abstinence-only gatherings. The sight of an old guy pushing frequent sex will probably horrify the kids so much they won’t even think of sex for a week.
In the meantime, if God is really pro-sex, he needs a better earthly instrument than Ed Young.
(COPYRIGHT 2008 BY RUTH PENNEBAKER)