Church sermons to explore sex and gay love
Churches in Dresden are to deliver sermons on love and sex. Among the themes to be explored is the "tender love" between men in the Bible and “everyday eroticism”.
Rudolf Renner, who is organising the programme, told The Local that homosexuality was a "hot topic" within the church in Saxony.
"There are still some people in the church that think homosexuality is a sin," Renner said. "The relationship between the church and sexuality is very tense."
"The Bible presents pictures that are both pro and anti body," Renner said. "How to reconcile these has been the subject of religious debate for years."
One of the sermons focusses on Jonathan and David - Old Testament figures who appear in the Books of Samuel. The nature of their relationship, and the possibility that they were homosexual lovers, has occupied religious scholars for centuries.
"Sexuality is a personal matter," Renner said. "I don't ask anyone about their sexuality but if someone comes to church and tells me they are gay, I will welcome them like I would anyone else."
Mira Körlin, spokeswoman for the parish, said: “Saxony has an image of being very conservative when it comes to religion.” She told The Local the sermons were an attempt to help rid Saxony of its reputation as the heartland of religious conservatism.
And that seems to have worked faster than expected, with Germany's mass-circulation Bild tabloid picking up on the story, which it headlined "First church preaches about sex, love and eroticism."
The report was accompanied by a large photograph of a topless woman, her nipples blurred out by crosses, passing an apple to an equally scantily-clad man.
Other sermons on offer include an address by student priest Tillmann Popp titled "Susanne in the bath - a (not) very ordinary, ordinary story" and a presentation by feminist theologians on the subject of "everyday eroticism."
The Protestant Church in Germany has been displaying increasing acceptance of homosexuality. In August, the first gay church wedding took place in Seligenstadt near Frankfurt.
And in April, Robert Zollitsch, the head of Germany's Roman Catholic Church, called for those with "different lifestyles" to be granted the right to be employed by his church.