I've heard thousands of sermons over the years, and a ton of them were about sex and money; greed and lust.




It is as if the two issues are synonymous, and in a way, they are.




I can't think of any two topics that dominate more of the focus of the three major monotheistic religions &

Judaism, Islam and Christianity.




It is as if human beings are in a constant battle with the flesh &

money and lust &

as opposed to their spiritual desires.




Now let's be clear: I like money and sex. No, I LOVE money and sex! But there is a thing called restraint and doing things within boundaries.




For instance, it has never been my desire to have all of the latest clothes, gadgets and cars. The key is finding contentment with what you have.




It always has been mind-boggling to see people work themselves to death in order to buy a $700 pair of shoes or leather jacket. A few years ago, The New York Times had a story about these lowly paid assistants starving themselves to buy the "in" handbag. That's dumb.




When I turned 14, my parents bought my brother and me a pair of Jordache jeans and a polo shirt. Now if you recall, Jordache was all the rage in America, one of the leading designer jeans. But I politely asked them to return the items and buy me two or three pairs of Levis. It made no sense to me to have one pair of jeans when I could buy three for the same price!




Call me old school, but I also don't get $200 for a pair of Nikes. Now, if you have the means &

meaning your mortgage, car and life insurance and light bill have been paid &

then go right ahead. But, really, what's the difference between a $200 and a $50 pair of sneakers? The box?




We all want to make enough money that we don't have to pinch pennies. I'm right there. But when we cross the line into greed, where no amount is enough, and we keep pushing and pushing and pushing for more to the point where we are willing to sacrifice our integrity for a buck, then that's where the problem comes in.




And that's also what people of faith preach about sex.




There must be some part of you that says sleeping with multiple partners isn't healthy.




It may be pleasing to you physically, but there might be an underlying problem at hand, and that's really what you want to address.




Last year, my ordained minister wife and I held a workshop at a marriage conference, and I made the point to the few men in the room &

that's another story! &

that I don't want to work all day and dream about bedding Halle Berry, Salma Hayek or some other starlet. God has blessed me with a gorgeous wife, and she should be the one that I desire.




That requires both of us to see the other as sexually charged and not just say, "Oh, well, that's my wife or husband." That is being dismissive, which is never a good thing.




But people of faith also are going to have to stop being so rigid when it comes to these issues. If I make $1 million a year, that means I can tithe $100,000. If someone's heart is in the right place, making him feel bad about getting paid is counterproductive.




We also should stop this nonsense of not wanting to discuss sex openly. If the position of your religion is that sex is off-limits before marriage, good. But that doesn't mean you can't talk about this wonderful creation of God, Allah, Yahweh. So many people are confused when it comes to sex because they don't want to discuss it.




When churches, mosques and synagogues engage in healthy discussion about sex and money, then we are better off for it. But forcing the issue underground allows nonspiritual forces to gain a foothold, and that's why we are such a lustful and materialistic culture today.




Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN contributor and the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith." Please visit his Web site at . To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at .