Postcard from... Denmark

 

Helen Russell
Tuesday 23 April 2013 18:59
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A priest, a sexologist and a midwife walk into a church… no, this isn’t the start of a Nordic joke, it’s a new initiative by a Zealand priest to get more of his congregation to make babies.

Poul Joachim Stender is well known for his interest in sex. The author of the 2010 book Med Gud i sengen (“In Bed with God”) describes carnal knowledge as “so beautiful and life-affirming, it can only have come from God”.

Known as “the marked minister”, Stender regularly attracts criticism from his fellow theologians for his outspoken views. One highlight was his reinterpretation of the Old Testament story of Jacob’s ladder. In Stender’s version, the angels travelled up and down a giant phallus as God’s way of encouraging us all to go forth and multiply.

But he also has many fans. On his Facebook page, he has more than 1,500 friends and his “likes” range from the Danish Sexology Association to Dolly Parton.

Now the priest of Kisserup Parish is redoubling his efforts to get the nation breeding following statistics showing that Danish birth rates are down.

His Ascension Day service called on the congregation to stop putting off parenthood, listing women in the Bible who had difficulty conceiving, and why (“Abraham’s wife, Sarah: too old!”). Guest speakers talked about the benefits to a relationship of having children before the sermon came to a climax (apologies) with Stender’s rally cry: “Do it for the sake of Denmark! Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!” JFK would have been proud.

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