The latest Geico ad featuring Salt-N-Pepa performing their classic hit, “Push It,” has me thinking about the fullness of the Salt-N-Pepa catalog. There’s “Shoop” and “What a Man” featuring En Vogue, but the one that most men of my demographic will never forget is “Let’s Talk About Sex” which debuted in 1991, went Gold, and peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. “Let’s Talk About Sex” is a song about the AIDS crisis and the American unwillingness to talk about sex. It is, despite it form and the over-abundance of Cross Colors clothing, a word that we still need to hear some 24 years later.
In my post yesterday, I glibbly glossed over Paul’s treatment of prostitution and fornication in the Corinthian Church. I joined the tens of thousands of other preachers who will decide to not touch the Epistle lesson with a ten foot pole, but we do so at our own peril. The Church, especially my beloved Episcopal Church, is in desperate need of a conversation about sex. We need to do the difficult work of establishing a biblically sound sexual ethic for the 21st century. As we spend tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars working to develop a theology of marriage, we seem to have put the cart before the horse. According to a 2012 article in Relevant Magazine, 88% of unmarried young adults, ages 18-29, had been sexually active. 88%! And the number only drops to 80% for those who self-describe as evangelical.
It is important for the Church to have a pastoral response to those seeking to make life-long, same-sex, commitments. We should affirm the norm of life-long monogamy, and a new theology of marriage is desperately needed, but we have thrown the baby out with the bath water. In our infighting over same-sex marriage, we forgot to spend any time talking about sex. We’ve neglected to speak cogently about what God intends for us in sex. Maybe, as we settle down on the marriage debates, we can come back to it, but by then, we’ll be in the third, or maybe even fourth generation of sexually active, unmarried young adults who, if they heard anything at all about sex, heard that they shouldn’t do it. Well they are. Now what?
Given my 1998 victory in the “Best Blusher” category for the Manheim Township High School Year Book, I probably won’t talk about sex from the pulpit on Sunday. It’s embarrassing. It isn’t easy to talk about it. It makes us uncomfortable, but Salt-N-Pepa would remind us that in some cases, it is a conversation about life and death. So please, let’s at least start to talk about sex.