Evangelical Sex

Amy DeRogatis begins her study of Evangelical ideals of sex, Saving Sex, by recounting Texas Pastor Ed Young’s 2012 “bed-in,” which he held on the roof of Fellowship Church. With his wife, he spent 24 hours live-streaming interviews urging Evangelicals to have sex more often. 

Young considers himself a cutting-edge radical, but as DeRogatis says, “Anyone who has observed American evangelical culture over the past few decades knows that, despite Young’s claims, evangelicals cannot stop talking about sex. . . . Pastor Young’s specific interest in spicing up evangelical marital sex is hardly radical.”

Evangelicals, she writes, “did not turn away from the sexual liberation movement begun in the 1960s, they simply made it their own, publishing sex manuals, running sex workshops, and holding counseling sessions to instruct husbands and wives on the best techniques for a sexually satisfied marriage. Evangelical sex manuals published over the past sixty years present a uniquely Protestant approach to the joy of sex.”

Of course, Evangelical sex is not just the Sixties with an Evangelical flavoring. Evangelicals believe that some sexual activity is sin, and “in the evangelical worldview sexual sins impact everyone. Evangelical sex writers claim that a person’s sexual misdeed has individual, communal, and eternal consequences. Those who fall into sexual sin and impurity, according to most of these texts, jeopardize their own salvation, the salvation of their future children, and those souls waiting to be brought to Christ.” DeRogatis is right, and count me an Evangelical.

Saving Sex examines Evangelical sex manuals, the courting practices of Evangelicals (e.g., purity balls), and highlights how for Evangelicals “the sexual body plays an important role in personal salvation. That is why in recent years American evangelicals have taken the lead in public and private discourse to describe and define the limits, possibilities, and purpose of human sexuality. Evangelical popular texts promote the Godly sex, performed by the pure bodies of born-again believers, is an act that signifies salvation and can further the kingdom of God.”

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