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Sex in the Pews
A new generation is flippant and dangerously casual about sex, but, even more disturbing, completely ignorant of what it means to be women and men.

For a view of where culture is heading, watch commercials. They define what is powerful and acceptable enough to make us spend. Advertisers are smart; they know what sells and what will fail quicker than an electric shaver salesman at an Amish wedding.

Two current commercials are baring a brave nude world…

With this in mind, I declare unofficially that manhood, womanhood, marriage and sex have lost all meaning in western culture. Two current commercials are baring a brave nude world and these sales pitches should not be ignored by the church.

The first of these finds us in a bar packed with women waiting to meet that special guy. Sadly, all the men are pigs – yes, literal pigs. These “pigs” are not getting to first base. After all, what self-respecting woman wants bacon bits? Then a miracle occurs. The pigs become men again in the boys room when a condom falls into their hoof – I mean hand – from that most titillating of vending machines. Only with protection in their pocket are the males in the room perceived as real men.

A second similar 30-second statement begins with a man and woman gazing into each other’s eyes over a candlelight dinner. He pulls out a box and nervously slips it across the table. The beautiful, blushing bombshell slowly opens the velvet case and gasps. She sets the box aside and whispers, “I do.” We discover, however, that in the box is no engagement ring, but a sexual play toy. It is not marriage this couple hopes for, as sex trumps love and marriage for a new generation.

At this point, my mother is about to pick up the phone and you are wondering what on earth this means for a missional kingdom witness. So here’s the point: A new generation who will become – latex unwilling – the parents and grandparents of the future, are not only extremely flippant and even dangerously casual about sex, but, even more disturbing, completely ignorant of what it means to be women and men.

If these ads are any indication of the way in which manhood, womanhood, sexuality and the marriage covenant are being understood, then the body of Christ has not only repenting to do, but an incredible opportunity to propose a different vision to the empty, meaningless and soul-numbing drivel of a culture deceived by the shallow reduction of human beings to grunting swine and desperate damsels.

It’s time for sex in the pews. The church must talk about sexuality – not simply as a moral issue, but as a shared human reality that requires Christ-transformation. Afraid and ashamed because all of us are somehow messed up and unwilling to admit it, we have allowed the beautiful divine gift of sex to be seductively defined by pop culture and God-denying doctrines that propose the abuse of dignity, the mockery of reproduction and an inflexible equality that denies uniqueness and neuters, rather than encourages, the dance of mutual submission.

This easy disposability of the self, the other and the vow are aptly symbolized by the condom which, ironically, is advertised as the way to keep us at a safe distance in the most intimate of acts. Sex is so much more. We are so much more. We who know the maker must now give meaning to the way we are made and keep making.

Phil Wagler is lead pastor of Zurich Mennonite Church, Ontario.  He proposed to his wife the old-fashioned way in 1993.  You can e-mail him at

Originally published in Canadian Mennonite, July 9, 2007.




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