GRAPEVINE -- The Rev. Ed Young has sex on the brain.
At 6 a.m. Friday, Young, the flamboyant pastor of Grapevine's Fellowship Church, and his wife, Lisa, hopped in bed together on the roof of their church to talk about sex.
Their sex-talk-athon was scheduled to end at 6 a.m. today.
The goal of the 24-hour "bed-in" was to point to the importance of frequent sex in happy, long-lasting marriages. It also drew attention to their new book, Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse.
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At the beginning of the bed-in, which was streamed live online (thesexperiment.com/bedin), the Youngs, dressed warmly to ward off the morning cold, sat under a white comforter and made small talk about planes from nearby Dallas/Fort Worth Airport flying overhead.
As the sun rose, they began talking in person and via electronic devices with friends, marriage counselors, news outlets, pastors and others about the value of sex in sustaining marital intimacy.
"We want to shout it from the rooftop what God says about sex," Lisa Young said. "Right now the media is full of TV shows, movies and music about sex in an ungodly way. We want to take any opportunity to present sex in the right framework and the right perspective for people to see."
As the couple took periodic breaks, videos of some of Ed Young's sermons about marriage were shown.
One of the pastors interviewed, the Rev. Mark Batterson of the National Community Church in Washington, D.C., praised the Youngs for setting the example of talking about sex from the pulpit.
Batterson said that though it doesn't sound romantic, some recommend that couples pray before going to bed.
"When you grow together spiritually, you grow together physically," he said.
Lisa Young noted that their new book deals with much more than seven days of sex.
"Everybody thinks about sex. We are sexual creatures. But we don't think deeply enough about it," she said. "Our culture portrays sex as a simple physical act, but it's multifaceted. It's an emotional act. It's a spiritual act. If you minimize it as just a physical act, you've missed a huge portion of it."
Parents with healthy sexual marriages, she said, can be good examples to their children.
"I'm not talking about having sex in front of their kids," she said. "We're talking about touching and loving and kind words."
Ed Young said they want to start a new sexual revolution.
"The sexual revolution of the 1960s led to a lot of pollution," he said. "A true sexual revolution -- revolution means change for the better -- starts with God.
"We've allowed culture to hijack something that God invented and something that God wanted us to talk about."
Sex is a hush-hush topic in many churches, he said.
"We think the church is the second-best place to talk about sex," Ed Young said. "The first place is in the home."
'The Bible is full of sex'
Fellowship Church was founded in 1989 as an affiliate of the First Baptist Church of Irving. Ed Young's father, the Rev. H. Edward Young, is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of another megachurch, Second Baptist in Houston.
"My father is our biggest fan, especially about this subject," Ed Young said.
Fellowship Church is loosely affiliated with Southern Baptists but has more of the flavor of a nondenominational congregation, Ed Young said.
Some 15,000 to 20,000 attend Sunday services at its campuses in Grapevine, Fort Worth, downtown Dallas, Plano and Miami, a spokesman said.
"We're a Bible-teaching church," Ed Young said. "The Bible is full of sex. The Bible is R-rated, and there are some really crazy parts. People messed up with polygamy and adultery, but God's ideal is one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage."
The Youngs, who met when they were 15, have been married for 30 years and have four children. They first drew attention to sexual topics in 2008 when they challenged couples in their church to improve their marriages by having sex every day for seven days.
"I couldn't believe the response," Ed Young said. "We had requests for interviews from the television networks and newspapers all over."
In addition, a publisher contacted the Youngs about writing a book on the subject.
In Sexperiment, the Youngs say that some couples are so alienated that they should seek out a Christian counselor before taking the seven-day sex challenge.
Although sex is a forbidden topic in some churches, Lisa Young said, many church leaders are aware of the high divorce rates and problems with marriages and are conducting weekend workshops on how to sustain closer relationships.
The Youngs got the idea for encouraging seven days of sex three years ago. They read the results of a survey of 40,000 married couples, who said they wanted to have more sex but were hampered by the pressures of their careers and caring for their children.
"There are too many sexless marriages out there," Ed Young said.
Mark Crook, dean of Christian counseling at Louisiana Baptist University in Shreveport, lauds the Youngs' goal of trying to solidify marriages. But he questions their methods.
"I'm afraid they are setting themselves up more for ridicule than anything else," he said.
Also, Crook said, some of the suggestions about encouraging sex "could very well harm some churches."
The Rev. Derik Hamby, pastor of Randolph Memorial Baptist Church in Madison Heights, Va., said he agrees that the church has a role in sexuality.
"I don't know Mr. Young or his training in counseling. I wonder whether having a large audience as a pastor makes you an expert in all things," Hamby said. "As ministers we need to be giving help in marriages, but we also need to know the boundaries. Also, I see megachurches using a lot of sensationalism trying to get attention, and a lot of it rings hollow with me."
Ed Young said he's counseled hundreds of couples with troubled marriages during his years as a minister.
Lynn Busch, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Fort Worth, said sex is important in creating intimacy in marriage. But the Youngs' challenge to have frequent sex will be difficult, she said.
"We live in a very sexualized culture, but intimacy is very difficult for us," she said. "We are so busy and so distracted with each other working. When parents come home, get the kids to do their homework and get them to bed, all they want to do is sleep. It's hard to feel sexual when you are so exhausted."