A Church Absurdity

Friends,

I normally stay away from the absurd, but this story is, to be sure, not at all that absurd. It is almost beyond comprehension, but that’s just me.

All those old sayings about Christians being terrified of sex are out the window. There is a new trend going on in churches that involves preachers talking to congregations about sex. (Imagine the irony! Catholic priests can’t talk about it; Protestant do nothing but talk about it! Maybe only husbands and wives ought to talk about it? Do any of you want to hear your preacher talk about your sex life let alone his own?) Oh, it is all the rage. From large billboards, to television spots, to several week long sermon series–wow, what a great time to be involved in church!

Just imagine for a moment the Christians around the world who this very day will be persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ as the Only Way. Imagine their suffering, their loss of dignity, their loss of property, and for many the loss of their lives. Now imagine the church here in America. This week’s sermon: Sex: Indulgence and Abstinence.

Take for example this church in FLA and the recent challenge offered up by their ‘pastor’:

TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida pastor has a new challenge for his parishioners. It involves sex – a subject that may be taboo in many congregations.

The Relevant Church in Tampa’s Ybor City has issued a 30-day sex challenge.

“It’s going to be tempting and awkward at the same time for sure,” said parishioner Brent Cayson.

Single men and women can’t have sex for 30 days, and married couples are urged to have it every day.

“If you look at studies, studies say in 30 days you can develop a habit,” said Pastor Paul Wirth.

It definitely caught wives in the church by surprise.

“Our married people are far more fearful than our single people,” said Wirth.

In a more detailed version of the story we learn of the pastor’s point of view on how to ‘connect with God’:

Wirth has found biblical references that he says suggest Jesus disapproved of pre-marital sex and promoted sex in marriage. So, he believes people connect to God through life-long commitment.

30 straight days of sex or no sex? I’m trying hard to understand what this is supposed to prove about a ‘connection’ with God. (So, does 30 days of no-sex teach us that a vital connection with God begins with a vital commitment to, uh, no one?) Forgive me, but what sort of connection would that be? Also, ‘Wirth has found biblical references…’? Isn’t the Bible about Jesus? (Oh, I know, Jesus talked more about sex and money than anything else in the Bible, right?) It ‘caught the wives by surprise…’? That just tells me that there were no women involved in the planning of this of this charade. Of course it caught the wives by surprise! I don’t know a woman on the planet who would agree to such an absurd proposition. This is the height of American self-indulgence!

I normally stay away from these sorts of posts, but this is so absurd that I had to weigh in on it. Even personal holiness, if that is what this ‘pastor’ is driving at isn’t merely about developing a habit. Seriously, holiness is about becoming like Christ for the sake of Christ and the glory of God. It is about being set apart from the culture, from the world, from sin. It is not merely about habits. This demonstration shows me two things. First, it shows me that this is really about publicity (as in ‘Yea! I got my name on Foxnews.com). Second, it shows me that level of biblical understanding is profoundly pathetic in churches in America.

I doubt anyone from that congregation will read my post, but if they do I hope they will enlighten me as to what exactly this has to do with anything even remotely connected with the Scripture? What sort of mangled exegesis was produced by such a self-centered hermeneutic? What sort of training must one go through in Bible College in order to produce sermons of this nature? I couldn’t do this if I tried. Seriously folks, the church really needs to wake up! The church, if the church would just preach Christ Jesus and Him Crucified all this other stuff would be common sense. I know that is naive.

I’d like to issue a little challenge of my own. To any preachers who happen to read this or parishioners who happen to know a preacher, here’s a challenge: Challenge your preacher to spend 1 month, 4 weeks, 4 straight Sundays, preaching nothing but Jesus Christ. I’m not talking fluffy ‘Jesus loves me this I know’ stuff. I’m talking hard-core, deeply exegetical, thought provoking, God-honoring, Scriptural sermons. Challenge him (or, God-forbid, her) to preach nothing but the cross for one month. No 50 days of adventure. No 40 days purpose. No 30 days to live. No 12 steps to better hair, family, and finances. Just Jesus. Preach on sin, justification by grace, propitiation, the coming wrath, sanctification, the cross. Preach Jesus Christ who took the weight of the world of sin on his shoulders. Preach it for one month. Forget about sex. Forget about purpose. Forget about your best life now (which, truthfully speaking, in Christ, won’t be our best life because our best life is yet to come). Forget about all that you have been taught to preach in order to be relevant and preach Christ; preach the Word in season and out of season. Preach the Word.

Soli Deo Gloria!

jerry

PS-if you need help getting started, I have 90 Days with Jesus right here at this blog. Have at ’em free of charge.

PPS–I don’t know why people are so convinced that the straightforward proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so irrelevant that they have to preach all sorts of nonsense and issue all sorts of challenges like this. I cannot hail this sort of relevance at all. I think if this pastor really understood his call to preach, he would search the Scriptures for something more than ‘what did Jesus say about sex.’ Instead, he would search the Scriptures for what they say about Jesus (See Luke 24, John 5, John 20, Revelation 1). What could be more relevant, more radical that preaching a message that 95% of the world hates, disagrees with, and actively works to destroy? Preachers really need to open their eyes and see the world that is dying in its sin because they are more interested in sex than they are in Christ.

8 thoughts on “A Church Absurdity

  1. Or how about preach through the sermon on the mount? I’d like to hear a preacher unpack that hard hitting stuff. Or maybe straight through a gospel? Maybe any SCRIPTURES instead of cheeky, creative shock-value stuff?

  2. Chris,

    Thanks for stopping by. I hope the challenge can be taken up too. This sort of nonsense is really, in my opinion, killing the witness of the church.

    Brian,

    Good to hear from you. I hope Cincy is treating you well. I’m like you: I love those expositions of Scripture that make us actually think. I think a church can be relevant by being irrelevant. I know there are a lot who disagree, but at some point this nonsense has to change or I fear the church will cease to exist in any real, meaningful way–save for the Remnant.

    jerry

  3. Hi Jerry-

    After much publicity of my church’s upcoming series, I googled my Pastors name. Your blog came up, so I decided to read a little. I am intrigued and thankful that you have your point of view from a civil, thought provoking view. I guess I should give a little background of myself, so that maybe you can understand a bit more about Relevant Church.

    My husband and I started going to Relevant 2 years ago. It was a breathe of fresh air to us. Not because it wasn’t CHURCH or because it didn’t teach the Word of God – exactly the opposite. It felt more like a real, comfortable environment of love with the Word of God at the very center of it (and the worship music that we love!). I did not grow up in a Christian home and was saved only 5 years ago. Though I was blessed enough to have been given a beautiful, loving, kind husband, who was raised in the Church. In a Godless world, a church to reach out to people like me is so vital. All Pastor Paul and his staff are doing are trying to reach a generation of people who are Godless. How do you get these people to pay attention? How do you make Jesus real to them? You bring the Word of God to them in a creative, fun, new way. The package may be wrapped differently, but it’s the same on the inside.

    We are very close to the staff members of this church and have known for awhile what this series would be and entail. Unfortunately, the media has taken much out of context and, in my opinion, missed the boat on the purpose. I believe there will be much emphasis on the needs of both women and men in a relationship. Our world today is riddled with unthinkable, demonic, unsightly things. I think what Pastor Wirth is trying to say is that sex was created by the Almighty Creator and it is for HIS glory! I don’t know if you are married or not, I know nothing of your life or history. What I know is mine – when I am connected with my husband in an intimate way (whether it is physical or not), I feel God’s presence. As odd as it may sound, it’s the truth. I feel as if we grow closer and stronger together. Now, I will say, I don’t think that just sex will solve other issues. I am blessed to have married a strong, Christian man who truly loves me as “Christ loves His church.” I am his 2nd love and I treasure every part of him, as I know he treasures every part of me. He fulfills my needs (which are not sexual, as with most women), and in turn I try to meet his needs. How terrible is this? Why would God be ashamed of something like this? Another form or expression of love, done within the Biblically based relationship, is truly bringing Glory to our Lord.

    Many people call Relevant Church home. I am very proud to be one of them. Moreover, I am proud that I have a Pastor who is doing everything that the Lord leads him to do, all for the glory of the Kingdom. One meeting with Pastor Wirth and you see a true, human sinner trying, as we all are.

    I am open to more communication, so please do not hesitate to ask any questions.

    Be Blessed!
    Kara

    P.S. I invite you to check out the site. Click on media and it will bring you to other sermons.

  4. Kara,

    I edited out the link to Relevant because I don’t allow too many links to be posted. No personal offense is intended.

    I can’t disagree with anything you have said. I don’t know the preacher there, the church, the people, or what he preaches on a weekly basis. I am glad that you are a person of Christ, I’m glad your husband loves you and you he, and I’m glad that you have a church to call home. None of these things are the focus of my objection and are, to be sure, beside the point.

    I am a 37-year old man, married, with three sons. I am of a generation of wickedness too. I am a preacher in a small, local congregation in Ohio. Yet, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why a person would need to hear what a preacher has to say about sex within a marriage. I’m sure your preacher is trying–all of us are! But the very fact that the church is called Relevant sends up red flags to me. It implies that what I’m doing is irrelevant and it implies that there will be a whole bunch of people who see nothing relevant whatsoever about what is being done there.

    I am 37 and I cannot imagine standing up on Sunday morning to preach and telling my congregation, “In order to be relevant and reach a generation of God-haters and sinners and people awaiting the wrath of God I am going to talk to you for 6 weeks about your sexual relations.” That might sell, might put butts in the cushioned, stackable chairs, but it is not the faith once delivered, it is not the Gospel, and it will not bring anyone to living Faith in the Son of God.

    It works for you. Great. But I see it for what it is. And in my judgment, it is a ploy. Jesus had very little, if anything, to say about sexual relations. (He did one time discredit homosexuality and divorce by referring to the Genesis story of God giving a man and woman in marriage, becoming one flesh. But even that was to make another point altogether.)

    As much as I would like to agree with you, theologically it is impossible. I don’t think having a good sex life, or abstaining from sex if you are single, necessarily has anything to do with Christian faith. It is a sensational, titilating idea intended to peak people’s interest. Or, a gimmick. You said I could ask you some questions so I will.

    1. Has your pastor explained to you how we are justified by Christ? Can you explain biblical faith? How about grace, do you know what that is?
    2. Has your pastor explained to you the difference between sanctification and justification? (Becoming holy/being made right with God).
    3. Do you understand why Jesus came to earth?
    4. What is the relationship between works and grace?
    5. Do you know what propitiation is and why it matters?
    6. Do you know why the Bible was written? Who it is about? Why it matters?
    7. Can you explain the difference between Father, Son and Spirit and why it matters?
    8. Can you name the books of the Bible?
    (Oh, there’s about a thousand others, but this is a nice start.)

    Now, will your faith hold up if you were persecuted because of Jesus? Will a better sex life with your husband strengthen your faith in Christ if all of a sudden we were overtaken by Muslims who said, ‘convert or die’?

    I’m sure everything you said is true, but it is milk. I think if your preacher loved you as much as you say he does, he would care enough to teach you the deep things of Scripture, the meat. And before you ask, yes, it matters what you think about such things. I think your preacher, gifted and wonderful as he may be, should open his bible and preach Jesus Christ Crucified as the apostle Paul did. But he is not accountable to me.

    Thanks,
    jerry

  5. wow what a story. you could go about making really good jokes on this one. however it is really a serious subject these day’s. just look at the anglican church and what it is doing to it. I think that if sex is spoken about in church it shouild be about preaching abstinance to our teenagers. I don’t think anyone has the right to tell husband and wife how many times a week to have sex. This could really put the guilts on some women as well as men. People tend to take serious things that are spoken by their pastor.

  6. Dave,

    Thanks for stopping by. The Bible really has very little to say about sexual relationships except perhaps in the book of Leviticus and Romans 1. I think the real issue here is what I said above: Will such sermons lead people to saving faith in Christ? I don’t think they will. They might be helpful practically, but the will do nothing salvifically. I don’t even think preaching abstinence to teenagers is meaningful. That is a job for parents. Teenagers should be taught the Scripture, Jesus, Holiness and why these things matter and why they are relevant to even teenagers lives.

    If people paid that much attention to pastors, then pastors need to do a better job communicating the Word of God. But that won’t put butts in the folding chairs now will it?

    jerry

  7. saw this at:

    Slice

    and it more than likely is right at how bad at our churches are becoming

    It Won’t Be Long Now…

    It is only a matter of time before we see couples in bed, “on stage”, in churches to celebrate sex.

    Two years ago I predicted that we would have the equivalent of pagan temple prostitutes in evangelical churches.

    Except in church, it will be married couples (for now) demonstrating it all in public.

    You’ve been warned.

    The clip from YouTube below a promo for Revolution Church’s sex campaign last summer.

    (One of hundreds of churches engaged in this sort of thing.) I give it 3-5 years before we have the real thing in church somewhere.

    Slice

    —————————————-

    2 Timothy 4:3-4

    For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

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