A Message to Your Pastor (and Mine)

Last Thursday, I asked, Will Your Pastor Preacher on Sex? Only a handful of people commented that their pastor had indeed spoken publicly on the topic of sexuality in their church. Which is sad.

Especially since the Bible has so much to say about it.

Pastor's hands holding Bible & blog post title

But before we get frustrated with preachers for not speaking up and speaking out about sexual intimacy, I want you to know that I have compassion for pastors. I’ve been in close relationships with them and seen the pressure they receive. Many hear from church members to preach on this and not on that, to say more of this and less of that, to say it this way and not that, etc. And yes, I’ve been there when a preacher mentioned sex from the pulpit and got an earful from parents of young children who thought it was inappropriate.

It’s easy to say that pastors should ignore all those voices and simply preach the Word, but:

  1. They are human. And have you ever been under heavy fire like that? It can be very discouraging.
  2. Their jobs and family livelihood are tied to these choices. Surely, you consider how what you say at your job could affect your employment. Just consider that they may face the same concerns.
  3. Most pastors try to both preach the Word and be responsive to their congregation. If their churchgoers don’t seem to want a sermon on sex, they may conclude that they can deliver the message in a different way or simply use their precious time to preach on something the congregation does seem to want and need.
  4. Some pastors don’t feel like they’re in a good place to preach on sex because their own marriages are not in a good place regarding sexual intimacy.

I believe what pastors largely need is not our frustration and criticism, but our reassurance and support. Maybe we can counteract the voices that object to mentions of sex in the pulpit with a message of encouragement. Maybe our words can embolden our pastors to speak on the tough stuff and reach out to those in need of godly wisdom regarding sexual intimacy.

Could you take your pastor aside and give him that message of encouragement? Could you write your pastor a note or letter explaining why you believe this topic is important, and why you trust your pastor to deliver a good sermon? Could you speak to the elders and let them know you desire and support efforts to speak up on sexuality as a church?

Look, I’m just little ole me in my church — one of many sitting on a chair in the sanctuary on Sundays. I’m not on church staff or a pastor’s wife or in any formal leadership position. But I believe the voices of the congregation matter in encouraging those in leadership to be bold and faithful to the Word. A swell of voices from the sanctuary could be just the gentle push your pastor needs to speak what God has put on his heart to speak.

Here’s my message to your pastor (and mine):

While engaging in my online ministry, I have heard so many stories of hardship and heartache regarding sexual intimacy in marriage. For many spouses, there is confusion, pain, and temptation surrounding the sexual act. But I have also heard stories of redemption and revival, once couples begin to experience sexuality in their marriage the way God intended. I know, as a pastor, you’ve heard such stories from individuals and couples as well.

You have many topics competing for attention as people try to navigate this topsy-turvy world, but I want to encourage you to preach from the pulpit and/or teach in a Bible class on the subject of godly sexuality. With so many wrong messages out there, the Church must be even more bold about teaching the truth of God’s design for sex. Not only have some in our congregation been impacted by adultery, pornography, and sexual assault, but many marriages are suffering from sexual deprivation and lack of intimacy or conflict and bitterness surrounding the marriage bed.

You have my full support to speak up regarding these matters according to the Word of God. I will speak to the elders on your behalf and actively defend you among those in our congregation who may struggle with this private act being appropriately discussed in public. If we need to provide additional care or programs for children during sermon time so that you can be free to say what needs to be said, I will help in any way I can. If I disagree with something you say, I will speak to you respectfully and privately, and I will encourage others to do the same. I will be an advocate for you and the importance of dealing with this topic head-on in our church.

I appreciate your willingness to speak where the Bible speaks. Please know also that I will pray for you and your own marriage. May God bless you and your ministry!

Now what would you like to say to your pastor? How could you encourage him to speak up and speak out on the timely issue of sexual intimacy in marriage?

6 thoughts on “A Message to Your Pastor (and Mine)

  1. Pastor

    J, I am a pastor who has the awesome privilege of preaching the Word of God every Lord’s Day. All of the reasons you listed why pastors don’t preach about sex are true, but the number one reason why I won’t preach from the pulpit about sex often is because I’m an expository preacher. In other words, I preach a NT book one paragraph systematically. And as you may know, it takes time. Occasionally, I’ll divert to a relevant OT passage, but I mainly stick to a NT passage for our worship service. Other than 1 Cor 7 & Heb 13:4, there really are no more clear explicit texts in the NT that speak of sex as the great and wonderful gift it is within the context of marriage. If God allows me to have a pulpit long enough, I will, without shame, do my best to preach what the text says. That’s how I would answer your kind encouragement.

    However, I do agree that a class would/could be very beneficial, depending on the health of the church. But, as you’ve implied, it’s hard to shepherd stubborn sheep. For some strange reason, pastors are the objects of the harshest critics. People leave and fizzle out for the most immature reasons. Therefore, patience and long-suffering are certainly necessary in this topic of discussion. I don’t think the pastors in my conservative evangelical camp are ashamed of what the Bible says about sex; it’s just that we don’t see the pulpit as the right place for it UNLESS it’s in the text we’re preaching for that sermon. I read your blog from time to time, and it should encourage you to know that most of my pastor friends do see the need for biblical teaching when it comes to marital intimacy. The challenge pastors face is when, where, and to whom. God bless.

    1. nylse

      I appreciate your response and agree with the last statement in terms of timing. But please help me to understand something – you only preach from the NT? Why? Can’t you do the same for the OT? Is it not relevant? is expository teaching only applicable for NT? I am puzzled.

      1. Pastor

        Fair question. I can see how you’re puzzled. I strongly believe that the OT is relevant and important. It’s just as much “God-breathed” as the NT (2 Tim 3:16). However, my church only has one worship service per week (must be a cultural thing?). So, I only get about 40 min. per week to preach. I have the conviction that since we are New Covenant believers, Christians should be primarily focused on the NT. Like I said above, I do preach from the OT occasionally and every week I read from the OT from the pulpit. I love the OT! But given the limited time I have to preach the Word, I believe that the NT should be emphasized more (Heb 8:6; Col 3:16; Eph 4). Plus, Paul liked to quote the OT a lot so naturally there is ton of cross-referencing going on too. I hope that clears things up. Blessings.

        1. Chuck

          I have a pastor who, like you, preaches only from the NT. And, yes, we only have one preaching service a week.

          Bu it seems to me that the limiting of your preaching to the NT leaves you with only half a gospel. There is almost nothing revealed about the the character and heart of God the Father in the NT.

          In the OT, we read of God’s interactions with Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets. In books like Ezekiel and Jeremiah, we read of God’s sorrow and anger at the sins committed against his people by false prophets, and by his own nation when they slide into idolatry. Where in the NT do we read anything of God that approaches the Father’s joy, like we do in Zeph. 3:17 (“he will exult over you with loud singing.”)?

          And, since this is Hot, Holy and Humorous, and you correctly point out that there are only 6 verses that speak/teach about married sexuality. Wouldn’t it behoove a minister to teach from the OT, if the only book about married sexuality is found in the OT?

          I’m not trying to bust your chops; I know that the task of preaching and teaching is both sacred and difficult. But to limit the knowledge of your congregation to the NT doesn’t seem wise.

  2. Greg

    Great post–and a good reminder/gentle reprimand to write my pastor a well-deserved thank you (long overdue on my part), and also encouragement to speak about this again as the Lord leads. Like you shared, we need to be praying for Godly boldness, and an understanding, repentant spirit from their congregations. E-mail sent!

  3. Amanda Quick

    Hi, a thoughtful and helpful post as always. Thank you for all you do. But please may I pick you up on one thing? Not all pastors or preachers are male – inclusive language would be so appreciated. All pastors face challenges, as you acknowledge, but women pastors can additionally face issues around prejudice and exclusion. Thanks again and I will bear your challenge in mind in my preaching!

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