My point is not to try and compete with the world. Let's face it - it's not a competition at all, since the world has already lost. Jesus overcame the world, and we share the victory in Him.
My point is that we shouldn't let the world dictate by bad example, what we can and cannot do. Just because the secular market loves their steamy sex scenes, does not mean that we have to completely avoid any mention of sex. After all, God sure didn't shy away from it. Sex is mentioned enough times in His Word, and not always in the best context, either.
What we should take away from that is that whenever God mentions sex in His Word, it's for a reason, and not for the reason of boosting market share. He doesn't mention it to tease or excite us, either. We can apply the same criteria in our writing. It has a point in the story, i.e., it's not gratuitous. It helps develop understanding of a character, illustrates a principle, or moves the story along, but it isn't in there just to make the story more competitive in the market.
Diego and Sally Hyland are two characters in the Pod series of books. Diego is a pastor who has been friends since childhood with Joshua Cardan, and I love writing them as a positive image of a Christian marriage. In the first book, I included this short scene, which I think illustrates much of what I'm getting at:
Sally sat up on the bunk and looked around.
“What is it?” Diego asked.
“I thought I heard music. I’m not sure, but it sounded like Bach.”
He listened, turning his head first one way and then the other. The only sound was the waves against the hull of the boat. “I don’t hear it,” he said.
“I don’t hear it anymore, either.” She lay back down on the bed. “Between Josh’s secrets, your secrets, and being pregnant, maybe I’m just getting too edgy.”
He kissed her. “Go to sleep. You’ll have enough to think about tomorrow.”
Grabbing him around the neck, she pulled him in for another, more passionate kiss. “What if I don’t want to go to sleep just yet?”
Nothing graphic, but enough to illustrate that the couple has that passionate side to their relationship. They're about to have sex. She's already pregnant, so they're going to do so because they want to, not because they're trying to have a baby, and there's nothing wrong with that. I don't need to write the scene with lots of descriptions of the entire bump and grind for the reader to understand, and I don't really feel much worry that the scene as written is going to be a stumbling block to someone.
Yeah, it crosses some lines that some Christian publishers establish, but I don't believe it crosses any lines that God has established. Honestly - who do we answer to? God? Or a publishing house?