For two years back in the late '70s, I lived in exile in deep South Georgia, way below the gnat line. Meigs wasn't the end of the world, but if you stood on your tiptoes you could see the end of the world from there. I was closer to Florida than a McDonalds and could only pick up two channels on my television - three if I went outside and turned the antenna.
One Sunday, while living in Meigs, I went to a homecoming service at a small country church, way back on a dirt road. The guest speaker was a young guy, probably in his 20s, who had been raised up in that church. The folks seemed very proud of the fact that he had made a preacher.
I arrived a tiny bit late and wound up sitting in an aisle seat on the second pew, next to a lady who might have been a hundred years old. She had to squint to see and hold her hand up to her ear to hear - and she elbowed me in the ribs throughout the entire service, commenting loudly on the events of the day.
Once the sermon started, it was apparent that the young preacher was going to hit every major sin in the Good Book. First he talked about the evils of drinking - men drinking up their paychecks instead of taking care of their families - and the lady next to me was right there with him. "
"Amen, brother," she would shout. "Preach on! Preach on!" And then she would elbow me and say, "That boy is doing a fine job. He's really preaching!"
And on and on it went through a whole litany of evil behavior. Gambling. Coveting. Running around on one's spouse. And after every point of emphasis my new friend would elbow me and tell me what a fine job the preacher was doing.
He finally got around to the evils of tobacco - smoking cigarettes and cigars and (gasp) dipping snuff. As soon as he said that about the snuff, the old lady stood up, knocked my feet out of her way with her cane and started out of the pew.
I said, "Ma'am, where are you going?"
She said, "Home! That young whippersnapper has done quit preaching and gone to meddling!"
We've all been there, haven't we? Anyone who has ever been to church on Sunday has had his - or her - toes stepped on, including me. Especially me. And if you haven't, well, if you haven't had your toes stepped on, your preacher isn't really earning his keep.
But some sermons really make us squirm. I always try to skip the annual sermon, for instance, when the preacher talks about tithing. They always want you to send your money to the lord, but they give you the church's address.
One time the Southern Baptist Convention tried to get their entire denomination to boycott the Walt Disney Corporation because they let homosexuals have a party at Disney World, and one time our preacher told our congregation that nobody in our church could watch Desperate Housewives.
Didn't bother me, of course, but my lovely wife, Lisa, wrapped our television set in a plain brown wrapper and watched anyway.
And once in a great while preachers will come out against alcohol, but I don't think they do that as much as they used to. In fact, Wayne Ingle told me the other day that Baptists were becoming more and more like Methodists and would sometimes even speak to one another in the liquor store.
Now I told you all of that foolishness to tell you this. Finally a preacher has come up with a sermon topic that the men in his congregation can believe in.
The Rev. Ed Young, of the nondenominational Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas, will issue a challenge this week to his congregates, at least the ones who are married, to make a commitment to have sex every night for a week. He says that intimacy will strengthen the marriage and bring the couples closer.
Can I get a witness!
He says that he is tired of the way society promotes out-of-wedlock promiscuity and wants his church members to reclaim sex for what it is - a cherished gift from God.
Young's church, which has satellite campuses in Plano and Ft. Worth, has a regular weekly attendance of about 20,000, but the number is expected to grow this week due to all the publicity his sermon topic has generated. I have been trying all week to get my lovely wife, Lisa, to attend.
I can't wait to hear how it all goes down. I bet he gets more "Amens" and 'Halleluiahs" from the men in the congregation than he's had in a long time, but Pastor Ed better look out for the women. Something tells me a lot of them might decide that he has quit preaching and gone to meddling.
And just for the heck of it, I checked with a several local pastors to see how their topics of the week compared with Ed Young's. The Baptists and the Presbyterians are all preaching about sin and they all claim to be coming out four-square agin' it. But at Conyers First United Methodist Church, John Byers is preaching about Adam and Eve, so that might get interesting. Let's face it. That stuff Ed Young is preaching about had to start somewhere.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.