Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
The Reverend Carla Dunbar, pastor of the Portland- based Buff Bay and Orange Bay Church of God of Prophecy churches, is not shy about sex, her sexuality or speaking about sex and the church - or in church.
She describes herself as "very married" to Canute Dunbar, her partner of 28 years.
The Dunbars have been married for 17 years with "four children, four grandchildren and one to come".
Doing pastoral duties since 2000, after giving her life to the Lord in 1994, Dunbar was ordained in 2005, and also wrote a paper titled 'A Theology of Sex for the Caribbean' while studying at the theological seminary.
"My lecturers were impressed with it and so I was encouraged to do more on the topic," Dunbar said. The result was 'Attitude and Perceptions of Christians Towards Sex as Worship'.
"I saw it as worship. I still do, in the right context," Dunbar said. She argues that, "God has given over one book, Songs of Solomon, to sensuality."
Dunbar adds that while some take it in an allegorical context, she also takes it literally.
She refers to the Apostle Paul's writing on sex in Corinthians I, verses six and seven.
"If God places so much importance and emphasis on it, why should we not look at it that way instead of saying that my erogenous feelings that I have are part of sinful nature?" Dunbar asked.
Dunbar states without any trace of grandstanding: "I am comfortable with my sexuality. I am very sexy and sensual and I love it. I have no problem with sex and sexual positions."
However, some Christians are. Dunbar said in one class which she was hosting, a pastor's wife classified "downtown girls" as "whores", as "they just use positions to tief people husband".
Dunbar advised that maybe what that lady needs, then, is to be a lady in the living room and the kitchen and a proper downtown girl in the bedroom.
"I do not think God has a problem with variety in sex," Dunbar said, adding that whatever a couple decides between them is acceptable.
And she opines that: "If sex was only for procreation we would not have the erogenous feelings associated with it."
There are those Christians who abandon one form of worship - sex - for another, spreading the word of the Lord, as Dunbar relates how one bishop's wife had to hide his shoes in order to get some attention from him.
He was out every night preaching and for about eight weeks she only saw the bishop when he came home to change his clothing.
"How do you do that and abandon your first ministry, your wife or your husband?" Dunbar questioned.
"Your married life can't be breaking down and you are out there preaching God off the cross. If the family life is breaking down it will affect the ministry."
The Sunday Gleaner asked Dunbar if she peached about sex in the two churches she is responsible for and she replied "Certainly, they say pastor take care of them pickney first."
However, she clarifies, "I mostly teach on it." So there is a singles ministry, where topics such as 'Embracing Your Singleness', 'Understanding Sexuality' and 'Embracing Sexuality' are explored.
She advised that, "The erogenous feelings you have now are good. It is something to enjoy but you must have self-control."
However, "it is not something to fast and pray about to go away", as when that single person settles on a husband or wife "you will need it".
Dunbar said in her denomination youth ministry is for persons 40 years old and under, and in Buff Bay, about 85 per cent of the congregation consists of young people.
"The older ones who are there embrace my style of ministry, which is not considered orthodox.
"We are living in times when you have to be relevant," the 44-year-old Dunbar said.
"If they (the young people) choose God, you must find ways to keep them so that the things in the world will not entice them."
She engages the young people in service clubs, such as the police youth club, has a mentoring programme, and persons are assigned an accountability partner in whom they confide and from whom they get support.