November 22, 2017

Riffs: 4:30:07: Daily Sex With Pastor Mark

UPDATE: TSK goes through the rumor mill and separates fact from fiction from bullxxxt. (If I was in Seattle I could say that.)

I listened to Mark Driscoll’s “Banned Video” presentation, wrote two posts, scraped both, and then tried to figure out what’s bothering me.

I finally think I have it. If you haven’t watched it, here it is.

First, the obligatory paragraph: I love Mark. He preaches the gospel. He’s straight on about Jesus. I love his books. I love his approach to church planting. I share his burden for guys. I like the comic edge. I’ve defended him in these pages and will continue to do so.

Now the secondary obligatory paragraph: I disagree with Mark on several points, and I doubt I’d be a member of MH if I were in Seattle. What’s he doing is important and incredible, but as a post-evangelical I’m not entirely on the same road he is. But if I criticize him, it’s as a brother and one who respects, loves, supports and prays for him. I’d like his elders to tame him, but I’m sure it’s hard.

What’s bothers me in that presentation?

It feels like discipleship is almost completely (and increasingly) identified with a particular style of maleness, and that is a problem.

I’m very supportive of saying how Christianity calls us to real and robust maleness, but Jesus didn’t call men to maleness. I preach many of these things to my young men, and call them to be real men, strong men, sexual men, as they follow Jesus. Jesus calls men to discipleship. To be like him, maleness included. There are aspects of discipleship that are more important than having sex and showing chest hair. From washing feet to sacrificing your own agenda as a guy to taking up your cross and dying, we need to be focused on Jesus as our model in everything, and not be diverted down the road of super-sizing the sexual, gender emphasized part of life.

I have to admit that when I heard Driscoll say that young men want to know how to have sex with their wives once a day, I was stunned. I know Driscoll walks the edge, but this was the kind of juvenile distortion I don’t expect to hear. I’ve had plenty of young males ask me about sex in marriage, and I’m not bashful or less than straighforward, but this isn’t a good answer, and it’s presenting the wrong description of a Christ follower.

Clearly, someone needs to stop and say “Wait a minute. What are we saying about the Christian life? That it promotes healthy, happy sex? Amen! But that it defines that terms in the mindset of a twenty-something male who thinks daily sex is a “need” that he deserves to have met by his “Biblically submissive” wife? Time out!!”

Yes. Time out. Time out to think about the fact that when you ask me what it means to follow Jesus, my first couple of answers will be insightful. And if I start talking about the culture war, global warming or having daily sex with my wife, I’m not thinking of discipleship, I’m thinking agenda. If you think good evangelicals are immune from this, go splash some cold water in your face. You’re wrong.

Listen, a lot of young preachers I enjoy talk a lot about sex and gender issues. Good for them. When I preach on sex and gender my students listen, ask questions and want more. I have a grasp on how this works. But I cannot present the Christian life primarily as a way to great maleness. Given too large a place, that’s close to just another prosperity gospel.

If you follow Jesus, you may have lots of sex or no sex. You may give up sex because you have to care for a sick or ailing spouse. You have to put your sexual agenda at the bottom of a list of things like crying babies, the stress of daily life, emotional realities and physical facts. If a man tells me his wife provides him daily sex, I’m happy for him. He’s way above average. But I have some questions about periods. Crying babies. Housework. Illness. Non-sexual affection. And I have some questions about demands being made for the sake of some idea of sanctified maleness.

If a guy shows up to talk to me about his marriage and says his wife is depriving him of daily sex, I’m going to bluntly tell him he needs to rethink what marriage means in more realistic terms.

Jesus was the perfect sexual male, and he never had sex. He called us to take up our cross, lose our lives and find his life. He called us to fight, but also to serve, love, wash feet, go after lost sheep, be tender, weep, pray and just hang in there.

Jesus isn’t about anyone’s- ANYONE’S- idolatry of maleness. When feminists do it, we call them out for running the whole Christian faith through the grid of feminism. The same critique applies to evangelical maleness. Christ Jesus judges it all, and takes us to something that fulfills, but exceeds.

I love pastor Mark. I really pray for him. But the statement about daily sex is too far, and in the wrong direction. Let’s hear more about discipleship, not so much about gender. This is starting to feel out of balance. Let’s stop telling God what he has to do for guys and talking boastfully about what he will do for guys. Let’s talk about what Jesus has done for everyone, and the example of sacrificial, serving, humble, strong, amazing love that he gives to all of us.

When I think about what a statement like this can do to a struggling ministry marriage, particularly where everyone is overworked and feeling neglected and pushed about by commitments, etc…..it makes me sad. Not a wise sentence. But I am afraid it’s part of a not-so-wise turn of emphasis that needs to be recalibrated to make Jesus, not maleness, look great.

Get on the phone with Dr. Piper a bit more, brother. Seriously. You’re a gift to the church, but this isn’t the way to describe following Jesus in most marriages.

Comments

  1. Well, I actually sort of laughed while I was watching the video and also wanted to cry… First of all, I discerned an arrogant spirit about the whole video, including the way Mark talked and expressed himself. Being edgy doesn’t have to be arrogant. I also understand what he was trying to say about “A few good men” it takes to plant a church- my husband and I have been in that environment and helped 13 get started. But this whole type of mindset- that it takes a “man” to do all these things is so arrogant- It is a very American- Machismo attitude that we can do it all on our own. And the men who don’t succeed in church planting are just wimps who can’t cut it. How dare we think we can do anything without the leading and work of the holy spirit- with humble submission to the father and servant leadership. Come on- we are tired of hearing all this macho stuff. Real men are like Jesus- showing their strength through service and humility. Men that need to force it on others have something to prove. Christ never had to prove his masculinity. The world’s greatest need are kingdom laborer’s both men and women- who are willing to serve the lord in the Harvest. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

  2. I preach in Lexington, KY, at a traditional SBC church. At first, I found Driscoll’s style refreshing — now I’m embarrassed.

    I blogged about it here:
    http://bromattsblog.wordpress.com/2007/05/02/mark-driscoll-reformed-loose-cannon-i-am-officially-off-the-bandwagon/

  3. jmanning says:

    Kingdom Heir,

    That was a good word brother. I’ll have to remember that. Thanks a lot.

  4. I’m a therapist and have counseled quite a number of people who formerly attended Mark’s church. Between hearing their stories, reading Mark’s blog and watching these videos, I have to say that Mark’s picture should probably be in the DSM-IV next to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (look it up). He’s more interested in looking cool and having a lot of power than anything else. That’s the arrogant thing everyone is referring to; his ego is the size of Montana.

    I also want to speak up about what it was like to watch that video as a woman. I literally had tears in my eyes half way through and couldn’t finish it—I had never felt more excluded by someone’s speech in my life! How many times did he say “guys, men, dudes,” etc? It was so exclusionary that it hurt. He doesn’t seem to realize that when he does that stuff, it is offensive to a woman’s very dignity as a human being.

    And yes, he does treat women as sex-objects, which you see in the video with his sex statement. It is dehumanizing and infuriating, and it shocks me that people think he just unthinkingly says things erroneously sometimes. No, he says what he thinks–believe me–and he thinks of women as sex objects. Narcissists don’t see people for who they are; they only see what people can do for them and their ego (and their sexual appetite), and that dynamic is all over Mark’s materials. I can’t think of anyone I’d more like to be out of the pulpit than him.

  5. jmanning says:

    shall,
    the video was to men i.e. church planters

    that might be a reason you felt excluded, it wasn’t a general video for the entire congregation

  6. There has been inference on some comments here that MD wasn’t saying that daily sex is something to strive for; it is just something on the minds of young men. But if one wants to make that case, one would have to include the rest of the things he lists as not being things to strive for: getting married, making money, buying a home, paying bills, fathering songs, loving and instructing daughters. I doubt anyone is willing to say that the rest of those things are not things to strive for … neither would MD and he included daily sex on his list so it can only be interpreted as something not only on the mind of young men, but something to be expected and pursued.

    BTW, why doesn’t he include loving your wives? The only reference to wives is about sex. … yeah, he does treat women as sex objects.

  7. the video was to men i.e. church planters

    So, there were no women in the audience in Orlando? I was not there and there are so many reports circulating (and recirculating) around the blogosphere that I have no idea what is true.

    But, I know that at least one man at the conference thought the exclusionary message needed some counter. Bill Hybels’ response to the video is what made this into a big deal in the first place.

  8. jmanning,

    but wasn’t this shown at a church planting event where there were women church planters present? It wasn’t an all-guy crowd as I understand it…

  9. Speaking as an unmarried, virgin woman and in some ways to add to what “Joy” above has said:

    I look forward to one day marrying someone who has an almost constant sexual desire – because that’s also my reality.

    There are many women out there whose sexual appetite is equal to a man’s, not all of us are shy about sex or all about avoidance.

    I think that this video, post, and most of the comments I’ve seen here are sexist because all of you are putting women in a box – I understand that a lot of women don’t have the appetite, but the church’s handling of this on the whole leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of my girlfriends who grew up in a godly context and left the church did it because they felt their strong sexuality was unanswerable. This is a story behind many sexual women – the church doesn’t answer us. We’re pressuring sexually driven women who could fill the sexual needs of driven men out of the church because there’s a fundamentally wrong assumption that all women are either “sluts” or “chaste” and there are no healthy sexually driven women, at least, not the way men are.

    There’s so many stupid myths out there, about how women are driven by emotions and men by visuals – I’ve got both in full measure. By most Christian standards, I’m a freak. I’ve lived my whole life as a woman identifying more with what the church says about men than women. Women who struggle with sexuality and pornography (often written rather than visual) are afraid of the church because we are ignored and ostracized by the church.

    And if sex on demand is an issue, whether exactly literal or not since that’s such a poor choice of wording, it should be for both a man and woman in a marriage.

    [edited by moderator]

  10. I take exception to the idea that this discussion has promoted sexual stereotypes. Noting the real stresses and realities of marriage isn’t being stereotypical. It’s being realistic….about men and women. Gee….plenty of women want sex from husbands who are too tired or preoccupied or addicted to porn or watching too much sports to be interested. That’s stereotypical and realistic as well.

    We’re all human. We’re all different. Marriage is a constant compromise and never a constantly perfect anything. I simply see MD’s statement as indicative of a new idea of discipleship that is driven by the culture war and the prosperity gospel, not by the example of Jesus. That’s controversial, I know, but I don’t get paid the big bucks to be boring.

  11. [edited by moderator]

    Helen- No problem with your post, but I needed to edit it because I edited the previous one.

  12. I have edited two post for excessive frankness. Various individuals, couples and cultures have differing values on the appropriateness of sex at various times. This should be discussed….just not in this thread.

    Have mercy!

  13. Please refrain from making broad accusations like “misogynist” in this discussion or it will have to end.

  14. Michael,

    That’s sure a controversial mouth full and I say AMEN!! It is a give/take relationship in my marriage. Sometimes I am up for it and he’s not, so I defer to him… Sometimes (rarely) when I say no, he does defer to me… (and pouts… ) but we make it up to each other. There is no power hold… Sex is not used as a weapon or a threat.

    J Manning, I echo the questions of John Meunier and sled dog… On the site, there was even a woman on the speaker line up. So was this conference specifically directed towards men? My understanding is that it was not!

    There was another point on the video… Did anyone hear this?

    (Paul) uses soldier language…”Endure hardship, like a good soldier” When you think of pastoral ministry…You don’t think of a guy who can fight” Then he goes into talking about telling the lady with the tambourine to park it and what to do with the nut jobs. “To be a church planter requires a skill set that is far more like a soldier readying for battle rather than the typical pastor that is just able to love them and pastor them…”

    This is in the first few minutes, so it would be easy to go listen to it again.

    My question is… are we fighting a war in the flesh or in the spirit. Are women not qualified to fight spiritually??

  15. Michael – no problem; thanks for explaining.

  16. A smart and educated mouth.

    Slick.

    Somewhat arragant – and that is somewhat needed – sometimes.

    But please spare us from the ‘sex’. Good grief, I am sick and tired of the flaunting and ‘free and easy’ speech of Christians who think that every marriage is a hollywood event minus the silver screen that drips lipstick.

    The youth (and adults) of this age need a good dose of celibacy, self-control, conservatism, and oh yes, i think we have also forgotten to blush. Red cheeks have dissapeared and ‘anything can be talked about and published and shown to anyone at any time in any form in any way…

    Hmmm… I really wonder what Jehovah and His Christ really, really think of the state of the church and the message it theoretically preaches?

    I really, really wonder… don’t you. But then again you probably dont really give a hoot. If you are like me, in speech we show we care, in reality our lifestyles, actions and conversations betray the war within.

    Oh well, back to the lonely path of a life lived between deception and truth.

  17. As one person stated, it wasn’t just “daily sex” it was “at LEAST sex once a day”. Mark emphasized the “at least” part of it. It was confusing. I don’t really know what he was saying. As someone else pointed out, it was in conjunction with how to pay the bills and how to be a good father.

    I agree that his message is more driven by agenda than anything else.

    I also have a problem with his use of the word “banging their girlfriend” and “retarded car”. I know I do not want my sons using the word “banging” when it comes to making love to their wife. Banging? Really! That is really a vulgar and an offensive term and the connotations for a woman are not very good. I am sure he has daughters. I don’t know one father who wants some guy, even if that guy is married to his daughter, to be describing what he does in the bedroom as “banging her”. He could have just as readily used “having sex with their girlfriends” and it would have gotten across the point just as well without the disgusting euphemism. I think people in Seattle are intelligent enough to understand his point without resorting to such vulgar talk.

    Also, there are many people who have children who are retarded and I know with my friends, this is a sensitive issue when people throw around that word. People might think that this is a petty grievance but we need to know that people with children who are retarded are sensitive when people throw around that term so flippantly. He could have used the word “lame” or “stupid” to describe the car.

    It is not that I disagree with a lot of what he says, it is that I disagree with why he says it and how he says it.

  18. Michael, I had to laugh at your term, “excessive frankness” and I respect your choice to edit my post. If what Helen said was in response, would you email it to me, please? Thanks. (No need to post this.)

  19. I have a mentally handicapped son, and I’m not too sensitive when a teenager throws around the word “retarded”…but coming from a church leader? Kind of lame and insensitive.

  20. newsong, yes, what I wrote was in response to your deleted comments. I’ll e-mail you via twylacentral.com (the URL under your name) and tell you more or less what I wrote (I don’t have an exact copy).

  21. The thing is, I think the whole “have sex…at LEAST once a day” was supposed to be funny, not serious. If you look, he has this twinkle in his eye and a slight grin when he says that.

    That doesn’t excuse the fact he said it, ’cause he should know some people will take it seriously.

    And to be honest, I thought it WAS funny. And I think he was just using the typical “Driscoll Hyperbole” to make his point.

    And hey, in this area, he’s still ten steps more mature than he was a few years back. 🙂

  22. Michael,
    I praise God that you still pray for Mark. He is leading part of Jesus’ flock, and he needs much prayer. The LORD is really using him, and yes, he makes mistakes, but praise be to God who considered him faithful appointing him to the ministry.

  23. okay, i’m pretty post-evangelical, i would say, and i don’t know much about the driscoll guy, but isn’t he the one who said that ted haggard had his little bit of ‘trouble’ because his wife had ‘let herself go?’

    all i can say is i’m glad i’m not married to him and i wish he wouldn’t extrapolate ALL KINDS OF STUFF from the bible that doesn’t really seem to be there in the first place.

    and honestly, i didn’t even watch the video because i can’t believe that it would even be good for me to hear it. it would just make me feel MORE hopeless about the church in north america.

    but i must confess i find this monk person interesting and i think i’ll be back.

  24. Jeremiah Lawson says:

    Driscoll didn’t say anything like that about Haggard’s wife, Michelle, but it was attributed to him by folks on the blogosphere. What he actually said is different but I don’t feel like researching where that was. As has been explained here at Internet Monk more than a few times, just because it’s been attributed to someone doesn’t mean it’s what they said.

  25. I’m ‘so’ post-evangelical that I am no longer able to even comment on the kind of things your readers and you are tweaked over in this video. What we need is not church plants but more people coming home to the true (yes, broken and human in oh so many places but true) Church that Jesus instituted. The plants and splits and derivations and good people involved in shadows of the truth will go until Christ’s triumphant return but it sure would be nice to see this misguided love and energy building the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, blessing Christ as we live as one.

  26. Any man who preaches that his “Biblically submissive” wife owes him daily sex obviously has no idea what a woman experiences during sex or how much pain and discomfort she feels afterward. Or if he knows, he certainly doesn’t care, and won’t allow her to complain. Sex takes a toll on the female body, and daily sex is especially exhausting and hurtful. I won a divorce on the grounds of sexual abuse because my husband demanded daily sex as his marital right, which left me with permanent physical injuries!

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  28. “culture war, global warming or having daily sex with my wife”

    Sooooooooooo offensive for you to compare those things.