Why It’s Not a Good Idea to Talk About Sex in Church


There are just things you don’t talk about at church, right?

Absolutely not!

I think the church is meant to be a place where we talk about the things that are really the most difficult to talk about in life. If we can’t do that in our church community, where will we do it?

Certainly, one of those topics is sex.

Both in its beautiful, glorious holy intention that God designed sex to be between husband and wife in marriage, and also in the fallen expressions of sex that pervade our culture.

So if you’re a Pastor, layperson, or Elder at a church, maybe you’re a parent or a leader in some other fashion, or perhaps you lead a youth group or a small group, I want to talk to you on this podcast about how important it is to talk about sex in some way or another. And share some light ideas about how you might begin to go there with the people who are in your care.

Sex is a very sensitive topic. Bringing it up on Sunday morning can be difficult and raise many questions. 

Questions like…

  • What if a lot of people are struggling, what do I do? 
  • How do I care for them?

These questions, in addition to the ones mentioned in this podcast, are very difficult for leaders. But I want to emphasize how important and meaningful it is when people who are in church or Christian leadership, in their home or a small group, youth group, or from the main pulpit in a church, speak up about these topics. 

Here are a few helpful ideas that can help start or strengthen the conversations about sex.

Share stories of Sexual redemption. Making use of books and resources for sexual redemption.

Borrow from other people (listen to others’ sermon notes, borrow liberally without plagiarizing)

Reach out to us at Regeneration Ministries (for consultations, an interview, resources, hosting a parent group or workshop)

Resources to have available in your church:

Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing by Jay Stringer

Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry

Born Again that Way: Coming Out, Coming to Faith, and What Comes Next by Rachel Gilson

Treading Boldly through a Pornographic World: A Field Guide for Parents by Daniel Weiss and Josh Glaser

Great sermons on sexuality: Holy Sexuality – series by Bay Area Community Church

Help the show:

This Episode’s Transcription

Josh 0:03
There are just things you don’t talk about at church. Right? I don’t know, I don’t know. I think church is meant to be a place where we talk about the things that are really most difficult to talk about in life. If we can’t do that in our church community, then where are we going to do it? We’ll take those topics underground. And certainly one of those topics is sex, both in its beautiful, glorious holy intention that God designed sex to be with between husband, wife and marriage, and also the the Fallen expressions of sex that pervade our culture. So if you’re a pastor, a lay person at a church and elder to church, maybe you’re a parent or a leader in some other fashion, maybe you lead a youth group or a small group, I want to talk to you this podcast about how important it is to talk about sex in some way or another, and maybe some ideas, some light ideas about how you might begin to go there with the people who are in your care. Because you don’t want the people who you are shepherding to be orphaned, in the area of their sexual life in the area of their sexuality. And if you’re not talking to them, if church if their Christian community is not a place, where they can be talking about addressing dealing with their sexual lives, then they are sexual orphans, they’re going to be sexual orphans, they’re going to be cast into the culture, and the culture will undoubtedly sweep them up into what it has for them sexually, which is not good. So let me start by giving you a little comical start here, top 10 reasons why you should not talk about sex in church, why talking about sex in church, or in a Christian community is a bad idea. You’re ready, here we go. Number 10. It’s just too difficult. Let the people in the pews let the people in leading deal with that difficulty on their own. It’s too tense. It’s too complicated. It’s just messy. And I don’t want to get my hands dirty in that stuff. Number nine, why you should not talk about sex in church. You give the idea that God cares about this part of people’s life. Number eight, you let people know that you’re aware that they’re dealing with this, this difficulty in their life, you’re aware of where they and their loved ones are struggling. If you talk about this in your Christian community, that’s going to happen. Number seven, why talking about sex in your Christian community is a bad idea. You could threaten the culture has monopoly on sex. Right now the culture has got a monopoly, sex seems to be the culture’s idea. And you start talking about at church, you’re gonna threaten that monopoly. You don’t want to do that. Number six, you might give the impression that sex was God’s idea in the first place. gasp number five, you might give the impression that when Jesus said he came for the sick, came for the broken, he came to to save the sinners, you might give the impression that he meant this area to that he meant sexual sin that he meant sexual brokenness, that he meant sexual dysfunction and, and, and sexual sickness. Number four, you might give the impression that Jesus can help those who have been not only those who struggle with sexual sin, but those who have been hurt by sexual exploitation by sexual abuse. You might give people in your care that idea number three, if you talk about sex in your Christian community, you might alleviate shame by letting people know that they’re not alone. If you use words like and you talk about pornography or infidelity, sexual abuse, same sex attractions, bisexuality, transgenderism, if you talk about those things in your Christian community or from the pulpit, you might give the people listening the impression that they’re not alone. And correspondingly, number two, you might find that people then come out of hiding with the things they’re struggling with. And the number one reason why talking about sex in church or in your community is a bad idea. You might just find that if you do, that more sexual sinners start coming to church, more sexual sins start showing up like they did around Jesus. And of course, I’m being facetious comical. I’m not trying to point fingers. I recognize that in Christian leadership, talking about sex can be a real difficulty and a real challenge for so many reasons. It can be difficult to address because there are different levels of readiness in your congregations or in your community. There are different ages, you want to be appropriate for different ages, there are different sensibilities and you want to meet people where they are. Sex is a very sensitive topic. And so to bring it up on a Sunday morning, and you know, 30 minute 40 minute sermon, sometimes less, that can be very, very difficult to do It can the reality is he did talk about it, I kind of alluded to this in the facetious part, that it can open a can of worms, like what if a lot of people are struggling? Then what do I do? How do I care for them? How am I pastorelli responsible, then, if people do come come out of out of hiding, and start talking about this in our church, and then what if the pastor or the leader or the parent has sexual struggles, either from the past or in the present of their own, and, and the whole idea then gets even more complicated, and recognized for pastors to for people who make a living in, in church or in professional ministry, that if they’re wrestling with these things in their own life, it’s not just a matter of, of his an embarrassing or reputation, it’s not just a matter of, of how do I reckon with this on my own, it’s also there’s also just the fundamental reality of like, this is my, my livelihood. If if I have to step down or step away from ministry, because of this part of my life, then what am I going to do? How am I going to support my family, and I’m not trying to make light of any of those things. Those are very serious and very real. And, and I say them out loud, to all of you listening. So that if you are in a church and wondering why people in your leadership, don’t talk about it, know that this is very difficult for anybody to do. And for the for these and many more reasons. But also so that if you are in leadership, I just want you to know, for the same same in a similar vein to why it’s difficult to talk about, I just wanted to name those things to let you know, that I actually do know, this is difficult stuff to talk about. It’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful to work at regeneration and provide this ministry as a parachurch ministry that comes alongside local church congregations that come aside comes beside church leaders and parents to help them and equip them. We we are different parts of the body, do different things. And so I recognize that this is not easy. But I do I do want to just emphasize how important and meaningful it is that when people who are in a position of church leadership or Christian leadership in their in their home or a small group, youth group, or from the main pulpit in a church, that there’s something unique about when when you speak up about these topics, when you say something from that position, that can do something in that community, that that we cannot that a parachurch ministry Can’t you have a power and authority to really break down some walls and move with an incredible compassion and love that we don’t because of your position, because you are the father or mother in the family, the leader in the small group, the pastor at the church. And so I really want to honor your position with that both in how difficult it is but just how impactful you can be. So let me give you just a few ideas to wrap up here a few ideas. I’ve got about seven or eight ideas, just off the top of my head that might help you to begin to broach these things even this light kind of little little steps you can take that might be helpful. First, share stories from the pulpit or from your whatever your your, your position of leadership is of sexual redemption, shares, just mention them here and there. Have books available at your church of sexual redemption. And there are lots and we can include some in the show notes here. Just just just so people know, one of the one of the inroads to my own personal healing was I was at a retreat, Christian retreat center. And one of the books they had in the library was on sexual redemption. It’s a book called Eros redeemed by Dr. John White, written long ago, this is over 20 years ago. And there there are so many really high quality books now that that can just as you have them available, you’re letting people in your congregation know, hey, we know that this is where you are, we know these are real issues. So have books available share stories of sexual redemption. This is really easy when when you’re giving a list of examples of things that people struggle with, include something sexual in the list, you know, just drop it in there right in the middle. You know, so maybe you’re you’re teaching on how Jesus came to save the sinners or how we used to struggle with with these things now, and now we don’t or, or we know that people struggle with X, Y, and Z. When you’re when you’re sharing X, Y and Z share something about sex. So hey, you know, people look, we’re all here because we’re struggling with sin. We know some of us struggle with pride some of us struggle with with greed. Some of us struggle with fear. Some of us struggle with pornography, some of us struggle with same sex attractions. Some of us struggle with infidelity in our marriages. And we’re getting a lot a lot of sexual things there. But with some of us struggle with with workaholism, and putting work first, I have a struggle with idolizing the opinions of people. I mean, if you’re giving a list, just just drop one or two of those in there from week to week. And part of what that will do is it it kind of normalizes that struggle and lets people in your congregation or people that you’re leading know, hey, wait a minute, like he’s including me as a part of this group. Because so often those who struggle sexual sin, I think, especially those who have sexual sin, can have this deep sense of shame, that I’m the only one and if no one’s talking about it, then that shame is exacerbated.

Josh 10:03
And notice to that when I give those examples, I didn’t say some of you are struggling, or some people out there are struggling, I said, some of us are struggling use, use that first person, language of, of I and US, so that you let them know that this is an us thing we are in this together, that can go a long, long way. And along with that, if you have a personal story of sexual redemption, share it, share it. I know that so many parents and pastors fear that if they share their their shortcomings in this area, they’re going to give people quote unquote, permission to do the same. And research just doesn’t back that up. Anecdotally, and even the research doesn’t back it up when you share that this has been an area of struggle for you. And that God has led you to freedom in this area. It actually frees people up to come and talk. And I’ll say a little bit more about that in a minute. If you’re still wrestling with this area, then then that’s not the place to share it get help for yourself first. You don’t want to put yourself up as an example, if this is really an area where you’re struggling. Next, and this is Don’t Don’t be prideful. Borrow from other people. There are churches, there are parents that are leadership, people leadership, who have done a great job talking about these things. So listen to their sermons, read their sermon notes, and borrow liberally. I mean, don’t plagiarize but say hey, you know, such as such a church or such such a pastor said this, I find it really impactful. This is not original to me, I wanted to share with you because I think it’s really helpful, really good stuff. Next regenerations here, we are happy to help you. Whether it’s consulting with you about a message you want to give, whether it’s coming and standing with you or doing an interview with you, or come in and have us come speak to your parents, we do trading boldly workshops and parental guidance workshops, to help equip parents to walk with their kids. We’re happy to come to a small group and provide one of those. We also give talks to men and women about sexual integrity, we also can can talk about issues of sexual abuse and infidelity. It can get really deep and really complex there. So it may not be the appropriate thing to do at a Sunday morning service or at one one off thing but but reach out to us and talk to us, we’d be happy to work with you to help your church in this way. We are a parachurch organization. So we are here to support and walk alongside the local church. Listen, I’m going to end with this. We people are thirsty in this area. They truly are sexual orphans, there are so many sexual orphans who their parents didn’t talk to them about it. Or if they did it was it was not helpful. They’ve struggled with their with their own sexual sins or things done against them. They’ve kept it to themselves, when they opened up to people about it. They’ve been deeply hurt or betrayed, or they just kind of left walking away going like that was completely unhelpful and embarrassing. I’m never doing that, again. There’s so many sexual orphans, in your congregation, in your community. And I know it because they come here. I know it because they reach out to us, the email us. It’s just here, some of you listening. That’s your story. And we are here because we don’t want you to be orphaned anymore. God wants to put you in a family in a spiritual family. And we want to see the church grow to be a place that truly is a spiritual family, for people who struggle with all sorts of things, whether it’s just temptations or attractions or things that have happened to them or things that they’re currently struggling to that they’re doing. So when we go speak places, it’s not uncommon for us that somebody would pull us aside afterwards or email us after the fact and just say, hey, that story. That’s my story. Or, hey, that thing you’ve shared, I struggle something like it or somebody my family struggles with it. Can we talk and we want you as a pastor, as a leader, as a parent, to be equipped to have some of those conversations. So that’s what this podcast about. I hope it’s been encouraging to you, Jesus, you know, the specific circumstances of everybody listening, whether they’re struggling themselves, they’ve been orphaned themselves. They’re leading a family. They’re leading a small group, they’re leading a school, they’re leading a church. Lord, would you come alongside them you came Lauren as the Great Shepherd. Would you bless and help these under shepherds and to care more deeply for those in their care and to help them especially those struggling with sexual sins either there they’ve done or that I’ve done against them, but I pray for them. We need them. We need them. We need them. So bless and keep them Lord, and Jesus name, Amen.

Thanks For Reading.

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