I tried to go without commenting on this, but found that I couldn’t resist. And yes, that means I run the risk of doing the very thing I’m advising against.
Generally, I think it’s not a good idea for pastors to get involved in giving sexual advice, certainly not to large crowds at a time. I mean our intimate lives are, well, intimate, and maybe advice about sex is best saved for marriage counseling sessions. Call me a prude (but I bet my congregants are breathing sighs of relief right about now).
But Pastor Ed Young from the Fellowship Church feels otherwise. And I will grant that he deserves major, major credit for being frank and relevant about sex, which Christianity has a bit of a reputation for ignoring or worse. Pastor Young recently challenged his (married) congregants to strengthen their marriages and their overall quality of life by having sex for seven consecutive days. Now, let’s leave aside for the moment that at least half of my congregation are singles– he told his singles to ‘eat chocolate cake’– and the fact that he and his wife proudly testified to their near-success in this challenge (which, I mean, is not something I’d like to share from a pulpit) I see at least two issues here.
Seven consecutive days? That seems to place a focus rather more on quantity than quality, and I don’t think that is a positive step for a marriage. Can relationships benefit from increased physical intimacy? Sure. But not if it is a bit of an obligation. That strips the spontaneity and a fair amount of the romance and sexiness out of the moment.
I’m trying very hard to not make this a gender thing, but some people (some are men and some are women) measure their satisfaction in their marriage or relationship or intimate life by sexual markers (quantity and/or quality), while others do not. Put simply, you can have a whole lot of sex and not improve the quality of your relationship if either you or your partner doesn’t measure closeness and satisfaction that way. Would you not be better served by attuning to your partner’s needs and desires– physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, however– than assuming that just because the person speaking enjoys sex and finds that it strengthens his marriage, you should too?
But probably the kicker here is the source. Can you imagine how that gets played out in congregants’ homes?
“Honey, are you ready for a little ‘intimate time’?”
“Aw, not tonight; I’m frankly kind of bored of it since we’ve been at it the past five days.”
“But, baby, Pastor said we should.”
Going out on a limb, but I think any sexual proposition that contains the phrase ‘pastor said so’ is bound for failure.
You want my advice to couples?
For seven consecutive days, spend quality time with your significant other, doing something you or they enjoy (which may or may not be a physical something, and I’ll bet when the physical something does happen–and it will– the quality is improved for both partners). Watch a movie *while sitting together*, cook a delicious meal, play a card game, go dancing, take a walk holding hands, whatever. And the best part? Singles can spend quality time doing the things they enjoy, too. Paint, read, (ice) fish, treat yourself to dinner, spend time with a loved one, turn your music up loud and boogie till you drop. Point is, in this hectic, frenzied season, take time once a day for the next week to do the things you love by yourself or with the people you love. And hey, if sex is what you love, go for it. But if you and your partner enjoy a to-the-death match in Scrabble, that can in many ways be just as special if you’ve intentionally taken the time to put your own well-being and the well-being of your relationship first on your list.
So go on, treat yourselves well. Pastor said so.