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.