Ed Young, founding and senior pastor of Fellowship Church, has drawn international attention for his new Sexperiment series after staging a 24-hour bed-in with his wife atop his church. Some Christians even called the attempt to get people talking about sex "gimmicky." But according to the evangelical megachurch pastor, his preaching style is not "gimmicky" but "God-driven."
In an interview with The Christian Post, Young said the bed-in event to promote Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse and his other out-of-the-box approaches to preaching, including driving a Ferrari on his church stage last year, were inspired by Jesus.
"We are simply doing what Jesus did. He was a multisensory communicator. He uses words and pictures to tell stories like none other. That's what we're doing. It's as simple as that. Our philosophy is actually a couple of thousand years old. We are just doing what he did," Young told CP.
Most churches today preach 70 percent information and only 30 percent application in the sermons, he said. But if they were following Jesus' style of preaching, they would do it the other way around.
"Almost of 70 percent of his words in the Gospel were words of application. In other words, the so-what principle of doing the stuff. Thirty percent were words of information. The church kind of got that backwards," argued Young.
Shrugging off criticism, he added, "So the Christian should be the most creative, the most multisensory teachers and leaders and everything else. For people to criticize that, they don't even know the Bible. They're not even reading the Bible in my opinion."
In the interview, Pastor Ed Young also speaks about people's reaction to his latest book, why kids and singles – not just married couples – should also hear his message on God-created sex, and why couples walking with the Lord should have regular sex.
The book Sexperiment was on The New York Times Best Sellers List for two weeks following a successful debut in January. The creative publicity stunt may have helped. Three days after the book was released, Young and his wife spent 24 hours sitting in a bed atop the roof of their Grapevine megachurch, which has four locations in the Dallas area and one in Miami, Fla., to spread the word on how marriage done God's way should look like.
The title is provocative and the challenge of the book is equally so: have sex for seven straight days. The Youngs who co-authored the book promise that Sexperiment will help couples deepen marital intimacy, and yes, even bring a husband and wife closer to the Divine by elucidating God's purpose and design for sex. According to the Youngs, who have been married 29 years and have four children, frequent sex in Christian marriages is healthy because it means spouses are practicing biblical principles of oneness, unconditional love, sacrifice and forgiveness.
Young's church, which did the "Sexperiment" for the first time in 2008, is currently doing the seven-day sexperiment for a second time during National Marriage Week USA, which concludes on Valentine's Day.
The following are excerpts from the interview done on Feb. 10, 2012:
CP: The Sexperiment kicked off on Feb. 7 and goes until Valentine's Day. According to the calendar, you should currently be on Day 4. How has it been going between you and your wife Lisa?
Young: It has been going absolutely fantastic. We are trying to tell people that the point is not to make 7 out of 7. It shouldn't be the point of it. The fact is that sex is more than just sex. It's multifaceted and multidimensional.
During this week, we are giving out what we call sexual chocolate, seven pieces of chocolate and wrapped around the chocolate are seven different reasons (divinity, unity, purity, priority, legacy, creativity, loyalty) why we should make love if you are married, and for singles to think about and pray about when they get married. We have seven different devotions people can go through online whether they are single or married to go through.
We have seven different chocolates and if you are married then to have a romantic evening or day and for singles then just eat the chocolate.
CP: I remember that in Sexperiment, you were so tired on the last day that you didn't do it on the last day. This time around, have you been keeping to it?
Young: I mean I've already been tired. No, really. On day 3, with the speaking. I just went to bed. We try to make up for it.
CP: But that's okay right? That's the message?
I've been blown away by the response to the book that Lisa and I wrote. It's not just in the Christian community but it's also exciting for people who are not followers of Christ who have just raised the doubts and the book and the whole concept.
CP: What has been the reaction you been receiving from the book? Is it more shock, positive, critical?
Young: It's been positive. The only negative that we would hear is from a few Christians. You have to wonder if they really know the Lord first of all and if they really know Scripture because Jesus was the most multisensory communicator of all time. He always used word, picture and visuals and things like that. I'm just taking a page out of his playbook.
The only negative stuff you get is from the super spiritual crowd who look down upon believers who talk about something that God is not shy about.
In fact, my wife has something to say about that. How radical was it that Jesus preached on a mountainside instead of inside a temple? And yet we put a bed on top of a church and we have so-called Christian people who say that's ridiculous? I would say they are ridiculous. Their heads are in the sand. Anyway, that's a whole other story.
But, 95 percent of it has been overwhelmingly positive. People are saying, "Wow!" Church is the second best place to hear about sex. Number one is the home. Number two, the church. Sadly, you know, the church has been silent about the topic that God...what people don't understand is the reason that they are silent about sex is that it goes all the way back to Plato. Plato basically said that the body is bad and the soul is good. Then Augustine perpetuated that vibe in his writings that we don't need more sexual baggage and the church perpetuated that.
Then Martin Luther, the great Reformer, also said we don't need more sexual baggage. Those guys are great guys but that's why the church is so antiquated. They weren't thinking right. So basically the church had a platonic layer on it and it's bound to brush it off.
Romans 12:2 said it can be transformed by the freeing of our mind. I think when you think right and you think like God then you act right. When you think right then you feel right and when you feel right you act right. But for far too long, we've been thinking wrong and when we think wrong, we feel wrong and act wrong. And that is true about sex.
CP: According to your book, Sexperiment is not only about sex but about intimacy. You explain how having more sex can create more intimacy and intimacy more sex. This sounds like the chicken or the egg. What does come first?
Young: You're exactly right. Definitely, intimacy comes first. God created sex – the content to be used in the context – which is the marriage bed. When we take a God-given gift and use it in a God-forbidden way, it results in chaos.
I don't hate on the world, our culture, because they don't even understand God's view of sex. What we wrote in the book is that we want to show God is a big God and He wants us to have big sex and He has a big purpose for our sexuality. If we don't know the Lord personally, then we are going to have little sex and it's going to be limited and we're not going to discover the dynamic, the depth that God has for our relationships.
Sex and marriage are so interesting. Sex and marriage are about nonsexual things. The book is not like a sex manual. We talk a lot about nonsexual things. Every marriage deals with the same stuff. Everyone. Marriage goes successful when it negotiates through these closing points to go to the next level.
The reason why we wrote the book is because my wife – Lisa and I wrote it, of course, so it's not like a guy talking about sex, it's a woman as well – Lisa was the one who gave me the idea. She read an article in a parenting magazine. They interviewed 40,000 young fathers and these fathers said that they were not having the intimacy that they desired. The moms said that as well. Within the article, it says that some of these marriages were committed to having sex for seven straight days. Thus, we had the idea for this "Sexperiment." We shared it with our church and we said, "Hey, if you want to participate in this experiment, go for it for the next seven days." And from there, that's how we wrote the book.
It's not that people don't desire sex. People do desire sex. But it's because of the kids, the careers, the commitments – those are all blocking barriers to sex. So what we say is, when I say "I do," basically it says, "I have the privilege of doing it with you for the rest of our lives."
CP: That leads to my next question. You mentioned in your book, God first, marriage second, and kids third. You also write, "Sex should never the sole foundation of any relationship, Christ should occupy that position (p.9)." Why is it important to keep these priorities in this order? Some people tend to put their kids first, which is out of order.
Young: There is no difficult issue to love your kids. Kids should supersede everything. Lisa and I have four and we would give our lives for our kids.
However, the marriage is the main thing. One of the greatest things you could do as a parent is to have a great marriage because those values are more caught than taught. But when your kids see that the marriage is the main thing, then they in turn will go out and find someone who will understand the priorities and importance of the marriage.
So, marriage is where it's at. Genesis 2:24, it says the man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. Well, spouses stay, kids leave.
I think, too often, people are too kid-centric instead of marriage-centric. In order to be marriage-centric, you got to have the Date Night, Mate Night at least twice a month. You got to be intentional to put your kids down, not when they're ready, but when you're ready. You got to be intentional about saying "No" to the good so you can say "Yes" to the best, which is your spouse in marriage.