Spend any amount of time in the evangelical world or blogosphere and you have probably run across a sex challenge of some kind. I have seen the challenges come in the 7-day, 10-day, and 30-day varieties. Their basic common trend is: have sex ____ number of days in a row to revitalize your marriage. In the last week or so several prominent pastors have published books on sex further adding to the evangelical preoccupation with the topic.
Sex challenges, along with preaching through Song of Solomons, are often propagated as means by which one can grow the church. After all, since the world cares about sex, it needs to know that God and church care about sex. Sex challenges, the paragon of niche marketing, can miss the need to minister to the least among us. I fail to see how the challenges aid the parentless child brought to church by their grandmother, the widow grieving the loss of a spouse, or the aging who just worry if they can faithfully care for their spouse up to end.
Even more, in our zeal for sex challenges, evangelicals miss the one sex challenge that Scripture actually does give us: the challenge to abstain for prayer. Scripture clearly states: “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5)”
When was the last time you heard a pastor challenge a zealous young couple deeply passionate in their intimacy that they might mutually agree to take some time off for a season of prayer together? It makes me wonder: in our zeal to recover Biblical sexuality have we lost the balance of Scripture? What if prayer can do more for your marriage?