Why preach on sexuality issues?
- Breaks the silence on sexuality in religious spaces and helps reduce stigma.
- Affirms that sexuality is a sacred gift of our createdness.
- Addresses harmful biblical messages that are pervasive in the culture.
- Acknowledges the reality of people’s lives.
- Demonstrates that religious leaders are comfortable talking about sexuality issues and open to offering pastoral care.
Guidelines for preaching on sexuality issues
Preparation is more than just sermon writing.
- Make the congregation aware of sensitive topics coming up in preaching (take into account age appropriateness, congregants’ history, etc)
- Prepare referral lists for potential pastoral care needs following the sermon
- Identify related events in the life of the community (not individuals’ stories, of course) so that the sermon isn’t the only time a particular issues is mentioned.
Concentrate on teachable moments.
- Start with integration of sexuality issues in the service, perhaps based on current events, rather than a whole sermon on sexuality.
- Remember sexuality issues are more than behavior and orientation, and are often in the news. Address the
- Sermons can’t stand alone – the rest of the service is a place for education, too.
Practice what you preach.
- Use inclusive language (for example, refer to “people who can get pregnant” or “same-sex couples”).
- Observe healthy boundaries, especially if you are telling a story from your own life.
- Tailor the message to your congregation, meeting them where they are and helping them to stretch a bit further.
- You are not perfect; your examples shouldn’t be either. Don’t be afraid to discuss how you have grown or changed on an issue.
Material adapted from A Time to Build: Creating Sexually Healthy Faith Communities, by Rev. Debra W. Haffner