I eagerly answered the phone when I saw my pastor friend calling. After catching up for a minute, he got to why he had called: “My church is organising a regional men’s retreat. I’d like you to teach a session about sex.”

I got quiet on the other end of the line. Then I began to laugh.

“No, I’m serious,” he explained. “Our men need to be discipled by the Word in this area of their lives.”

A few months later, I stood in front of about 80 men and opened up the Word to show them four basic, crucial truths God has given us on the topic of sex – sex has parameters, isn’t just physical—it’s spiritual, it’s a good gift from God, and He designed it to bless my spouse. The reaction of the men afterward floored me. It was like I had opened the floodgates. Married men, single men, young and old, told me they hear about sex so often now from the world but not enough in the church. They were grateful to discuss it openly, without shame, and within a biblical framework.

Since that experience, I began to look for ways to bring teaching about sex into our church deliberately. The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017, passed the Australian Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage across our nation and changed our culture. Sexuality is discussed more often in the news, school classrooms, movies, social media, and politics.

In the past, many pastors didn’t have a strategic plan to include teaching on sex in the regular teaching of their church. They may have intentionally brought it up in marriage classes or youth ministry, but they didn’t consider what the Bible says about gender, sexuality, and marriage important enough to include alongside doctrinal teaching.

Yet the early church did not see sex that way. Jude dealt with a culture much like ours, and he said that people who “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ,” will receive condemnation (Jude 4). Denying Christ happens with false teaching about Christ, but denying Christ also happens with false teaching about sex.

Here are three ways we have the opportunity to bring light and truth to the confusion:

1. Show the beauty of God’s design

One reason we get nervous about teaching about sex is because we know that while it is a great gift from our Creator, sex is also abused, misunderstood, and sometimes a point of contention in marriages. While I am not advocating for being unnuanced, some of these concerns are not a problem when we focus on the bigger picture in our teaching, showing the beauty of God’s design. We are pastors, not sex therapists. There is so much in God’s Word regarding the beauty of God’s good design without covering issues of technique between married couples, health problems, or all the ways people use sex sinfully. There may be appropriate settings to teach those and other topics or refer church members to a counsellor, podcast, book, or other resources.

Part of how we fight lies is with the beauty of truth, and God’s plan for sex within the protection of a marriage covenant can’t be beaten by the counterfeits of the world. Satan has tried to turn sex upside down, and through Bible teaching, we turn sex right side up. Show how God protects us through his parameters and how Christian couples glorify God when they enjoy his good gift with their spouse (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

2. Be age appropriate and strategic

It may not be appropriate for me to preach Proverbs 5:18-19 in Sunday morning worship with primary-age children present: “…rejoice in the wife of your youth… Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” But when I taught these verses as part of our Adult and High School Sunday School class on sex, I was glad that church members heard these words on their pastor’s lips. Hearing a pastor say that sex is a beautiful gift from God, meant for our delight and bonding in marriage, takes some of the shame out of this topic. It opens doors for discussions with parents and teens and among married couples.

Thinking intentionally about your Sunday morning situation will help you know how to plan. Could you contact parents and offer additional children’s classes for a few Sundays so you can speak more freely? Plan with your leaders for intentional Sunday School classes, Men’s or Women’s Bible studies, and small groups. For example, while our men’s group has read some great books, this year, I strategically chose a new book on biblical manhood that addresses issues like pornography. I knew we needed to discuss these topics in addition to forming a positive vision of masculinity.

3. Don’t forget to teach about the spirituality of sex

 The broader culture insinuates that sex is hardly different from other physical actions like working out or eating, but the Bible teaches us there’s much more going on (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). The unity between marriage partners in sex points to the new covenant unity enjoyed between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). The bliss we experience in the marriage bed points us ahead to the bliss we’ll experience at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

The part of the Bible with more to say about sex than any other section is in Proverbs and Song of Solomon, known as wisdom literature. We must have wisdom from God as Creator to know how to use this gift properly.

Marriages need to be encouraged. Teens and young adults are confused. Young believers need to be discipled. The wisdom they need about sex is right there in their Bibles. Maybe all that is needed to unleash it is a courageous pastor willing to point them to it. Our God loved them enough to give them the gift of sex and also loved them enough to give them his warnings and blessings regarding sex. 

©2023 Tim Counts. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Tim Counts

Tim Counts is the pastor of Northshire Baptist Church in Manchester Center, Vt., and serves on the leadership team for Small Town Summits. He blogs regularly at He Must Become Greater.

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