Is there a untapped connection between retailers like Victoria's Secrets and evangelism? I'll let you decide. Before I start, here's a promise: the story below is entirely true.
Years ago, when I was preaching at the North Syracuse Christian Church, I was in the middle of a sermon series through First Corinthians. One Sunday we came to chapter seven. More specifically, we landed on those verses asserting the husband's and wife's conjugal rights to one another. Never one to shy away from topics, I happily plowed ahead with a sermon on what a great gift we have been given in sex. (This was when Mark Driscoll was about twelve years old. I'm thinking he basically stole his ideas from me.)
The sermon went well and was kept (more or less) in good taste. I extolled how amazing God was in designing us for marriage. I pointed out the New Testament never directly links sex with procreation. It enhances intimacy. It strengthens the marriage. And, it's enjoyable. In fact, I announced, sex was just about the most fun you could have without laughing. In fact, I went on, this may be one time when laughing is not always such a good idea.
"Christians," I announced near the conclusion, "Ought to be the greatest lovers in the world." Seldom in my life have I heard such heartfelt amens, at least from men.
Later that afternoon, two men in the church who were brothers, Howard and Jack, took their wives over to one of Syracuse's large flea markets. They went off looking for car parts, while the two sisters-in-law, Dorothy and Betty, chatted away while they browsed passed the various tables.
That is, until they came to this one table. There, displayed for everyone walking by to see, was very suggestive lingerie. Dorothy stopped long enough to grin. She nudged Betty to have a look and whispered, "After that sermon this morning we need to buy some of these."
The problem was it had not been Betty who was standing beside her. In fact, it was a man Dorothy had never seen before. And, he was looking at her and grinning. Betty was off looking at another table. Dorothy didn't know what to say.
"Wow," the man shook his head in amazement. "And just what church do you go to?"
And in that moment a temporary link may have existed between Victoria's Secrets or its many competitors and church growth.
I'm not exactly sure how Dorothy answered this, but it might have been a great moment of witnessing. It is always possible, of course, that she simply wandered away red-faced, muttering something needing to look up before talking in the future.
P.S. No great theological insight here. It's sometimes good just to laugh at ourselves. And, if you're going to post about the inappropriateness of risque undies, just take a deep breath and push the "close window" button on your browser. You'll feel better.