December 18, 2017

Top of My “Don’t Read” List

NOTE: Before you read this post, please read the Moderation Rules in the box below.

• • •

Unless something unforeseen arises, I won’t be reading Mark Driscoll’s new book, Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship & Life Together. I have read the first chapter and several passages quoted in reviews, but only in preparation for this post.

It’s simply not the kind of book I think is wise or helpful.

Besides the fact that it is not written for people like me, who have been married for a few decades, I can’t imagine wanting to read this book. Is this because I am older and wiser now? Who knows? I guess I did read a few books like this when I was younger, but to be honest, even then I never found them that helpful for me personally or for the people I was trying to serve as their pastor.

Mark Driscoll disagrees.

Because we are a pastor and his wife, we really do want this book to be used of God to help people. It’s the kind of book we wished we could have read earlier in our marriage, and wish we could have given to those we served in ministry. So we wrote what we hope is a book that is biblically faithful, emotionally hopeful, practically helpful, sociologically viable, and personally vulnerable.

I think what he has given us is just another evangelical circus act.

First of all, what pastoral theology taught Driscoll to be a marriage counselor or sex therapist?

That is not a pastor’s job.

I know. I know. Driscoll believes that the church is called to be missionaries to our overly sexualized culture. Hmm. How did Paul serve people as a missionary in the immoral, pornographic world of his day? Does Driscoll’s approach bear any resemblance to apostolic ministry?

For someone touted as truly Reformed with a high view of Scripture, where in the Bible do you find anything like this kind of self-focused, self-promoting, sensational (note how “Sex” gets pride of place in the subtitle), confessional-style, behind-the-scenes peek into someone’s home and bedroom employed as a legitimate tool of ministry? Packaged and promoted to be a bestseller, to boot. Become a big shot, write a book. Act all vulnerable and real. It’s the American way, not the apostolic pattern.

The very last thing any of us need is a purportedly Christian “how to” book exposing the intimate revelations of some hot-shot celebrity pastor and his wife to guide us in the most important relationships in our lives.

This, in a nutshell, is the bane of American religion.

What I have read from the book convinces me that I would have some criticisms typical of the usual flak Driscoll receives for the persona he sets forth, the coarse, in your face style which is his trademark, and, not least, his opinions about men and women. For example, if I were a strong complementarian like Driscoll, and believed it was my duty as a husband to protect my wife, why in the world would I encourage her to share the intimate details of her sex life with the world? And how is it that a biblicist like Mark Driscoll has bought into the therapeutic ethos of the culture, promoting this kind of “vulnerability” as an approach to ministry?

But I don’t even want to go there. The whole approach is off-base. I find the very idea of this book as misguided and distasteful as Ted Haggard appearing on Celebrity Wife Swap as a “testimony” to his “resurrection.”

This is our idea of Christian “impact”? Of helping people see Jesus? Of helping people become truly mature, pure, and loving followers of Jesus? If I want to experience a little boy running around the room all day shouting, “Look at me! Look at me!” then I will invite my three-year old grandson over to spend some time with me.

What we need are real people in our lives. Real family members. Real friends. Real brothers and sisters. Real pastors. Real churches. Real neighbors. Who will tell us and show us what real life is like. And actually walk beside us in it. Not hand us a juicy book.

Furthermore, we need people who are courageous enough to refuse to pander to our personal preoccupations and our culture’s obsession with sex, even within marriage. We need people to help us discern what is and what is not an appropriate topic for public conversation among followers of Christ. We need spiritual mentors who will look us straight in the eye and tell us to get real help if we need it. We need older men and women who can come alongside younger men and women and mentor them about virtues like chastity, privacy, respect, modesty, and restraint.

And…we need pastors to hear our confessions and pronounce absolution through Christ’s finished work. Pastors who will nourish us with the Word of the Gospel and food from Christ’s Table. Pastors who will catechize us and teach us and pray for us so that we will die to ourselves each day and rise again to walk in newness of life with Jesus — a life of faith that works through genuine love for others, including our spouses. Pastors who will encourage us to seek first the Kingdom, to involve ourselves in an enterprise bigger than ourselves and to serve others with grace, kindness, and humility. Pastors who can help us put all of life in perspective in Christ and not focus our attention on such things as which sex acts are permissible for married couples.

We need spiritual nourishment and spiritual formation. And I am not using the word “spiritual” in some dualistic sense that leaves out matters like marriage and the marriage bed. I mean it in the sense of our deepest selves, our very lives and all that they encompass.

What we do not need is rock star celebrity pastors pontificating on the big screens of their cool megachurches about how Song of Solomon is a sex guide or writing books laying bare the intimate details of their lives in wrongheaded attempts to be relevant and edgy. Hurting and bewildered people deserve better than that.

Even if Mark Driscoll says some good, helpful things in this book — and I’m sure he does — I wouldn’t be able to hear them over the circus music.

You see, this rant is really not about a pastor and his wife and the book they wrote. It’s about the system of American evangelicalism that glorifies all the wrong things and seeks “answers” in all the wrong places.

• • •

For further analysis, here are two critical reviews of Real Marriage:

 

Moderation Rules for This Post

  • Short comments only. Anything longer than one reasonably sized paragraph (3-4 sentences) will be deleted.
  • No provocative sexual language will be tolerated.
  • No links.
  • I will be the judge. I will not explain my decisions.
  • Don’t take moderation personally. It’s not. It’s just the rules by which we are playing this particular game.

 

Comments

  1. I like this post. One duty of pastors is to hold each other to account for compromising the Gospel, and you do a good job of that here.

    I’m embarassed for Driscoll’s wife and his church. I’m also mad that he’s made it more difficult for me to enjoy studying Song of Solomon.

    • “I haven’t read the book, but if I had this is what would outrage me…”

      • I trust the reviewers are correctly describing the content, and Driscoll has a long history of this kind of junk.

        • So how is this different than people treated Rob Bell?

          • I didn’t read Rob Bell’s book either. And I refused because of the way he and the publisher provoked controversy by putting out their video before the book came out. It was pure manipulation and provocation unworthy of Christian teaching. I read enough of the Driscoll book and its promotion to know I was being manipulated again. I also read enough detailed reviews to get a good sense of the book’s contents and approach (good, bad, and ugly, as Rachel Evans said). That gave me informed rationale for not wanting to read it.

            Pastor Brendan, if you read my post, you will note that my complaints are not so much about the details of the book as for the whole approach of celebrity pastors presenting themselves as experts and communicating through sensational means. This was not a “book review” but my rationale for not wanting to read it in the first place.

            Read the last sentence again. Mark Driscoll is not the problem; he is a symptom of the problem.

  2. I think might HUG’s predictions in regards to Driscoll , could be correct…i really hope not though.

  3. I was recently married in July. We’re in our mid- to late 20’s. In the months leading up to our wedding I quickly learned to see the difference between marriage “tips” and “advice” (which everyone had to a degree) versus the long-term commitment that some older and wiser Christian couples made to us in regards to mentoring and being there when things get hard.

    Older married couples, even those in the evangelical wilderness, please don’t think that you never have a place of ministry. Find a dating/engaged/newlywed coupe, make them cancel their podcast subscriptions, scare the bejeezus out of them, and promise to walk with them.

    • One of the best comments ever.

    • Alright, I’m stealing that for Facebook….

    • scare the bejeezus out of them

      this won’t be difficult at all…. unless they are total zombies

      GregR
      nice post, Sean

    • Ultimately, I think much of the advice literature hypes up the whole affair and turns out to relate oddly to real experience. From my years listening to Dobson, I expected to have to “work” at marriage really hard or it would kind of naturally entropy and blow up. But here’s the issue with advice books: You don’t need a 10-step-plan to communicate, or make long lists of things to confess to each other; not unless you are in serious trouble and a counselor is trying to help you see or deal with something.

      Just go have coffee, and TALK. There is no program. Just the coffee.

  4. Welsh Willie says:

    (Light’s pipe.) Interesting that you should feel such a strong reaction, such…resistance. Good, we’re making progress. Let’s explore this some more next week. And you can tell me about your mother.

  5. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Real Marriage and The Sexperiment make me pine for a book about celibacy. 😉 If the median age of first marriage keeps rising and the job market in America is still rickety now would be the time to publish a book about the discipline of celibacy rather than glut the market with marriage books. I worry that the majority of American evangelical authors couldn’t write a book about celibacy because none of them would be allowed to have jobs. Out of curiosity, have any evangelicals written books about celibacy in the last forty years? 🙂

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

      Correction, perhaps it’s more true that American evangelicals couldn’t write books about celibacy because none of them have any experience actually being celibate.

      • Not with a lot of churches promoting the quiver full movement. Along with telling kids to get married by 21 or 22.

        • WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

          True, though some stats quoted in Relevant suggest that 80% of self-identified evangelicals aged 18-29 have had premarital sex and they can’t ALL be from the quiverfull movement … can they? Some of them must have had non-quivering parents.

          • Though that study did not control for religious observance, only self-identification. When divorce statistics control for regularity of church attendance, observant Christians have a lower divorce state than the general population (though still too high). I suspect the same would be true with premarital sex.

          • WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

            Joel, I was thinking about that as I read the article, too. Stats are curious things.

      • There’s Dawn Eden’s The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On about living chastely while celibate.

        Haven’t read it myself, of course 🙂

        She’s not Evangelical; more or less non-practiciing Jewish converted to Catholicism, so I don’t know how that would appeal or not.

        • WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

          I was about to suggest that probably only non-evangelicals have any idea how to broach the subject. I’m short on cash but I’ll see if I can find the book. I think evangelicals have shot themselves in the foot by seeing celibacy/chastity as a “gift” in some permanent sense rather than a discipline. For them any “heteronormative” state of arousal must be taken as prima facie evidence of the necessity of marriage. In this respect Driscoll is the cruder evangelical in phrasing but perhaps not in thinking. Thanks for the book title Martha.

          • Oh, if you can’t afford the book, Dawn has a blog – lemme just check, it’s been a while since I visited:

            dawneden dot blogspot dot com

            Yep, she’s still there and still blogging! Have a look through the archives, you’ll get an idea of what she’s saying.

          • WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

            Just spotted it in my city’s library system, but I’ll probably read the blog to get some idea what she has to say and maybe check out the book later.

      • Do you often spout untruth? I was 30 when I got married and a virgin. MOST if not all of my close friends were the same. Please don’t take your ignorant, intorllerant opinions and make such sweeping statements.

        • WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

          Do you have ISBN numbers of books about celibacy writtten by evangelicals that touch on lifelong celibacy within the last forty years, Believer? My point is not that evangelicals don’t wait, it’s that waiting predicated on eventual marriage isn’t in everyone’s future. I’m nearing 40 and have never dated anyone in my life and am not sure if I will. What do evangelicals and YRR’s have to say about that other than “get married?” these days? I’d sincerely like to know.

          • When I first realized that I had the gift of celibacy, (encouraged by a Wycliffe spiritual gifts test and Sipe’s book on Celibacy), I had the standard reaction from at least one mature Christian woman. “Until you find the right man.” My instinctive answer, “I have, it’s Jesus” was left unsaid.

  6. Years ago I found, and listened to, Driscoll’s exposition on the Song of Songs. He used it as a way to riff on his personal views on marriage and sex, based on some very superficial exegesis. His assumption is that Solomon wrote the song about himself and his wife, before he acquired the other 699 wives and 300 “girlfriends,” as we’d call concubines nowadays–before he went all weird.

    Rachel Held Evans nailed it: The man likes to project. He saw himself as Solomon, his wife as the Shulammite girl, and interpreted everything to justify his own behavior. It did a fair amount of violence to the text. One learned little about biblical sex from that series, and far, far too much about Driscoll.

    I don’t see much point in reading the book after that. Seems he’s sticking to his modus operandi.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Rachel Held Evans nailed it: The man likes to project. He saw himself as Solomon, his wife as the Shulammite girl, and interpreted everything to justify his own behavior.

      That sounds a LOT like what I’ve heard called “Bedroom Games” or Sexual Fantasy Role-Playing (with or without fursuits).

      (At least, what people think you do with fursuits. IRL, almost all fursuiters are costume hobbyists who wouldn’t risk their expensive wearable soft-sculpture that way; that and the face that overheating is a constant problem in suit.)

  7. How to be tame? This will be challenging…. 😯 Quite challenging 😉

    I’m waiting for the other big dogs to weigh in. You know darn well that John MacArthur will not leave this alone and he will respond and fire across Driscoll’s bow. WW4 (III was over the SOS) will errupt and of course John Piper will have to get involved. Some of these people thrive on attention.

    On a more practical note what sickens me is a couple of guys that I know of who were burned out by accountability, confessions, etc…over sexual mistakes. I know that feeling all too well….it’s one of the tihngs that sent me over the spiritual edge. Now you have people hammered and broken by the system and another part of the system almost “normalizing” or saying…hey that’s okay. There is a problem with mixed messages and Christianity as a reuslt is schizophrnic. It leaves confused people more confused, and of course the broken wounded.

    • The best form of “accountability” is confession and absolution with a trustworthy, ordained pastor. Laymen very often don’t understand the risk or temptation to abuse another’s trusted confession or that the only response to confession is the Gospel, absolution. Heck, a fair number of pastors don’t.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The best form of “accountability” is confession and absolution with a trustworthy, ordained pastor.

        Isn’t that how they do it on the other side of the Tiber? And the Adriatic?

  8. BTW…with some of the neo-reformed I’ve always wondered…where do you draw the line when it comes to being “used by God” or as some say, “for the glory of God.” Where is the line? I mean if you have a headache do you take Tylenol for the glory of God? If your nose itches do you sneeze for the glory of God? Not to be distasteful but if you have the stomach flu and are home from work and you will be sick…do you vomit for the glory of God? Per CM instruction I wont take this post in a sexual direction…but that is another door. With stuff like this…where of where do you draw the line?

    Please understand i am not trying to be distasteful…but with some of the voices from this camp I think it’s a legitimate question.

    • There is the old (and kind of fallen by the wayside) Catholic tradition of “offering it up”; taking any situation of trial, pain and suffering and uniting it with the passion of Christ for the graces for souls.

      Part of that is bearing sickness and illness with as much equanimity as you can manage; not to complain or whine needlessly. Try to console yourself, while you’re rushing to the bathroom every five minutes to expel fluids from both ends of the digestive tract, that you’re not dying – you just feel that you are.

      (Above details may or may not be based on personal experience of the winter vomiting bug. No spiritual bouquets were formed during the duration of the sickness, alas, as deponent was too busy throwing up over the side of the bridge on the walk home from work after suddenly becoming indisposed).

    • On a similar track… or maybe not…as mentioned before my wife and I caught a glimpse of Celebrity Wife Swap starring Ted Haggard. His wife at one point was describing her book apparently about the struggles of going through the fallout of Ted’s actions. At one point she stated something like “I believe God put this homosexual Junkie in Ted’s path as a test….” which caused me to almost choke on the cereal in my mouth…first – what makes him so unique that God would choose to test him? and second – isn’t there such a thing as personal accountability, taking responsibilities for one’s actions, choosing wrongly because you have free will? Or is this a case of “the drugs/devil/my wife made me do it”….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        At worst, it’s both.
        1) I’m So Speshul.
        2) It’s Not My Fault.

      • Okay, I know the missus has to find some way to deal with the whole public, messy fall-out that her husband was having sex and doing drugs with a male prostitute, but come on: why couldn’t it equally (and more likely) be that God put Ted Haggard in the homosexual junkie’s path to help him as a pastor and Christian?

      • I love how the OTHER guy is a “homosexual junkie.” How can you say such a distasteful thing; and secondly, not think it applies also to your husband?

    • If you’re gonna tow the line for the YRR, then yes. Vomit to the glory of God.

  9. I haven’t read Driscoll’s book only some reviews. As a result I would like to borrow someone else’s copy and flick through it but I’m not prepared to actually pay money for it! I did read Tim Keller’s book last month ‘The Meaning of Marriage’ and I am wondering how the two books, both coming from the reformed theological camp, compare – has anyone read both?

    • Matt Purdum says:

      Haven’t read either one, but you can be certain that Keller’s work is more sober and Biblical.

      • Turns out that Tim Challies is intending to review it next week. Personally I thought Keller’s book pretty good although I didn’t agree with everything – but definitely one of the better books on marriage that I have read.

  10. I wonder what would happen if the book was renamed “A real marriage”. From the reviews and in general it seems to me that we too easily turn our situation, our lessons and our solutions into the way everybody has to go. Worse: we start to support our statements with scraps of scripture instead of taking scripture as the start and foundation to test our ideas, thoughts and acts.

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

      This is a very good point. “A real marriage” is both more open-ended and more accurate. It might not change how much the Driscoll’s lay out a whole series of rules to be followed but even non-Christians who have reviewed the book have said the practical advice is useful in many places even when they consider the religious beliefs to be crazy.

  11. I only read the first few paragraphs and a couple of comments, but decided that I’ll post a very critical comment about the post anyway.

    Nevermind.

    That would be wrong.

    • One need only take a taste of something rancid to know it is rancid.

      • Furthermore, George, you’ve missed the main point. My complaint is not about the details. Quote: This is not the KIND of book I think is wise or helpful. It’s the entire approach. Read the last sentence of the post again.

        I also posted links to fuller reviews that discuss content details, if anyone cares to read them.

    • Clever, but not fair. This is clearly not intended as a book review, only an explanation about why Mike is not going to read the book. All reader’s make this sort of decision all the time. You decide you’re not going to read this or that book, and there are perfectly valid reasons, based on impressions from excerpts you’ve read, reviews, promotional material issued by the publisher, etc. Sometimes you only have to know a little about a book in order to recognize it’s not for you. Well-reasoned explanations like Mike’s are helpful.

    • Well, I read the introduction and the first chapter and decided that I wouldn’t read anymore of it. The decision was made to release that material in hopes that people would read it and buy the book. It’s perfectly legitimate to preview the book by reading that material and making your decision based on that. It’s also fine to express one’s views. It would be wrong to review the book itself without reading it. That’s not what happened here.

  12. Technically, Charles Finney was “reformed”, i.e. of a Calvinistic tradition, but what he taught was in direct contradiction to Calvin’s teaching and five-point Calvinism. Beware of labels. Often they are nothing but a ruse.

    We shy away from words like “heretic”, because they are so confrontational, like Gingrich being criticized for using the word, “liar”. But if I claim to be “X”, but live and teach in direct conflict with the meaning of “X”, I am not “X”. I am something else. In defense of all those who truly are “X”, I need to be called out as something other than “X”.

  13. Thank you, Chaplain Mike – there’s nothing to add!

  14. Driscoll is frustrating to me because I think doctrinally, he’s very good (his book Doctrine is a great overview of Christian theology for the average person), but his macho-man personality annoys me even though I’m a complementarian, too. He blames young men for being lazy and unwilling to grow up without recognizing that it’s largely the result of a divorce culture and feminized culture that destroys young men’s incentive to marry. I’m tempted to say that you’re being a little too hard on this book, though – I think there could be some good stuff in it. Don’t know if I’ll check it out though.

    • Here’s the problem with this crowd and doctrine….In a nutshell I believe many of these fundys have made doctrine an idol. That’s the problem…and whether it be YEC, or how women are to be treated their obsession with these issues shows that they have elevated it to a status of worship. Mark Driscoll, Tim Challis, and crowd are worshiping these items over Jesus. For them Jesus isn’t enough…..

      • Josh in FW says:

        Great insight, especially for an “agnostic”.
        🙂

        • I try…. 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Well, Eagle got burned pretty bad by in-country experience. Kind of like “I used to be an Evangelical, but then I took an arrow to the knee” for real. Only it wasn’t just one arrow.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Totally agree Eagle.

      • Where in Calvin’s teaching is any mention of YEC or complementarianism? I fail to understand how Driscoll is a good representation of reformed (Calvinist) teaching. To borrow from Campolo, someone switched the price tags.

        • If Driscoll is “reformed”, then the reformed community had better start issuing apologies to all of the arminians they have demonized for centuries.

      • What people who claim “doctrine is an idol” miss is that Jesus’s command is to teach the doctrines that he taught. Protecting Christ’s teachings from abuse and misuse is honoring Christ.

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

      Kyle, there’s other stuff to add, like the housing bubble, and the “mancession”. Driscoll and other YRR guys past 35 have literally capitalized on a housing and job market that no longer exists yet they speak as though guys can “man up” and replicate their success. The problem is the “real job” that supports a whole family isn’t what it used to be, there may not be as many of them. In major recessions and depressions the median age of marriage goes up because times are hard and that’s what we’ve been seeing.

      • Exactly. I don’t suspect any malicious intent on Driscoll’s part, I think he’s genuinely, honestly, completely unaware of all of this. So young men continue to get beat up when they need support and encouragement instead.

      • You just took a load off my shoulders. I never thought of it that way.

  15. Good post. Well said. Thank you.

  16. Well, for starters I could never buy into Driscoll’s view of men and women in general. I believe his ideas turn adult women into dependent children once they walk down the aisle, and gives mere men powers and “lordship” that belong to God and God alone.

    I find the book to be embarassing, and this is from a nurse who teaches sex and reproduction in detail to aspiring nursing students. Driscoll does not seem to understand that his personal STORY is not data, and that many (most?) marriages look very little like his.

    Finally, as other reviewers have mentioned, the entire thought that a married Christian couple need concrete direction from a pastor as to what is and is not acceptable in the marriage bed is silly and insulting. For the love of Pete, even the RC Church stays out of this, with the only prohibition being acts that are intended to thwart conception.

    As the kids all say…TMI !!

  17. Chaplain Mike –

    Did you get to read John & Stasi Eldredge’s book – Love & War, a play off the well-know Love & Respect, I suppose? If so, what were your thoughts on it?

    [link deleted by moderator]

  18. Since much of the Evangelical world’s Christian walk starts out with something that ‘they do’, it naturally follows that ‘how to’ books (on everything from a-z) will be a big sellers.

    One never quite ‘arrives’ in their view of the Christian life.

    There is always another seminar to attend, and another (‘how-to’) book to read.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Since much of the Evangelical world’s Christian walk starts out with something that ‘they do’, it naturally follows that ‘how to’ books (on everything from a-z) will be a big sellers.

      So this is another specific example of the generic “Just like fill-in-the-blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” Christianese knockoff culture?

      • Sorry for the late reply. A 12 hr. day at the salt mine…sheesh.

        I think my fatigue is drained my brian cells. I guess I’d say it’s (the book) is just attempt to inform Christians on how to be a better wife or husband. What that has to do with the gospel, I don’t know.

        I am think about writing a book on how to do ‘Christian plumbing’. Maybe tyhe profits would help to keep me out of that salt mine.

  19. Five years ago, Driscoll was a superstar on college campuses, the leader of the young, hip, and reformed movement.

    And now this. (heavy sigh)

    Maybe Driscoll is just cashing in on the void…I mean, “5 Love Languages” and the Eldredge stuff is starting to be corny, even to some Christians.

    When I’m asked to do a wedding, I always do pre-marital counseling, but it’s very personal and transparent. I’ve got a long list, almost like proverbs, that I’ve written down over the years that I share with young couples. Some of the things are Biblical (submit to each other); some are from my own experience (no secrets); some are common sense (don’t insult your wife in public and expect sex later; don’t name call while arguing, etc.) ; some are from my mom and dad, advice they gave me about relationships (The three most important things you can say to your spouse are “I love you”, “Thank you”, and “I’m sorry”. Say every one every day). I am always very careful to remind these couples that even though I’m a pastor, I’m not a professional relationship counselor, and that if there are any big issues they want sorted out before getting married, I can refer them elsewhere. I also tell them that I’ll be available to them for life, if they ever have problems, and would always be willing to meet with them…but that I would also refer them to appropriate counseling.

    I speak as a pastor who is divorced, and suffered greatly under “pastoral” and “Christian” counseling during the course of that period in my life. Too many of us are vain enough to believe what our congregations believe…that we are there to fix every problem they have, and that we are capable of doing so.

    Great post, CM. I actually read Rachel Held Evans’ review yesterday. Good stuff.

    • Hey, that raises a question. Is it a requirement in Protestant churches for couples to do a pre-marriage course?

      In Ireland, anyway, it’s generally required that if a couple are having a Catholic wedding, for a sacramental marriage one of the requirements is that they do a pre-marriage course (the idea is that for a marriage to be valid, the couple have to have a proper understanding of marriage and what they’re binding themselves to, so that their consent is informed and free). Generally, pre-marriage courses are recommended (they’re not compulsory as such) to ensure that this understanding is there. There is also the Pre-Nuptial Enquiry, which is more specifically religious; you need to provide evidence of your baptism and confirmation and that you are free to marry and understand the requirements of a Catholic marriage.

      Various agencies do them, with all kinds of degrees of religious content from “a fair bit” to “none” and they can last from several weeks to one-day specials. Of course, this doesn’t mean that couples going in necessarily intend to stick to their vows, just that they’re doing box-ticking of all that has to be done for The Big Day, but at least something is covered about communication within marriage, dealing with conflict, money management, and so forth.

      • Martha, the Pre-Cana prep here in the US of A can take several forms, from once a week seminars that last for a couple of months, through an older couple mentoring the engaged ones along with the priest, and Engaged Encounter, a spin off of Worldwide Marriage Encounter (two team couples, a priest, and a focus on communication). The EE weekends are intense (DH and I were a team couple for years) and usually from a group of 12-18 couples, at least one calls it off after the weekend.

        The thought, of course, is a reminder that “A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime”…..as well as that a broken engagement is much better than a broken marriage.

        Along with you, though, I would like to know how our other Christian brothers and sisters prepare for marriage in the church….?

        • Pattie,

          My wife and I were a Marriage Encounter team couple for a while back in the nineties after doing our weekend – one more tool for the toolbox…

      • Martha…

        Most protestant pastors I know do recommend some pre-marital counseling, but I find that it is generally loosely structured, and sometimes (not always…so don’t y’all throw anything) centered around the hierarchy of the home. Unfortunately, I know more than one pastor that believes that I Corinthians 7:4 means that the wife has to provide sex to the husband anytime he wants it, whether she wants to or not. If you read the passages surrounding, and look at the context, you get a different picture.

        This said to reinforce the idea that many pastors are not qualified to do marriage counseling.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Unfortunately, I know more than one pastor that believes that I Corinthians 7:4 means that the wife has to provide sex to the husband anytime he wants it, whether she wants to or not.

          “I’m going to have about fifty kids, and my wife can’t do a thing about it because she’s Catholic. She gives me any lip, I take her right out to the boat pond — ‘Pope says you got to do it, Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!'”
          — Some Bill Cosby comedy monologue from decades ago

          • Mmmm – in the very much older theology of “paying the marital debt” (e.g. back in Chaucer’s time), the idea was that marriage involved consent to sexual intercourse, so there was no question of refusal (this was also the idea in law that within marriage there could not be rape, as consent was assumed beforehand). Both husband and wife have yielded authority over their bodies to the other.

            The thing is, this applies to both parties. If the wife owes payment of the debt, so does the husband. Which means if she’s in the mood and he’s not, too bad, gentlemen.

            The idea is that if one party is genuinely unable or unwilling, then the other party should not abuse their freedom to insist on their rights.

            It may be horribly mediaeval, but at least it was even-handed. Marital theology has been developed a lot more in recent times, mainly down to Pope John Paul II who developed the topic of the “Theology of the Body” in a series of 129 lectures during his Wednesday audiences between 1979 -1984:

            “Throughout these speeches the main emphasis is on the intrinsic goodness of the marital act. The power of love between spouses is said to both lead to and be nourished by the moral use of the conjugal act. Thus, moral exercise of sexual intercourse uses the form of the body to reveal the love of God toward Creation.”

    • Too many of us are vain enough to believe what our congregations believe…that we are there to fix every problem they have, and that we are capable of doing so.

      THIS: is the point that many missed, or glossed over in Rachel Held Envans post. WE are a big part of the problem with our Disneyworld sized expectations of the pastor. WE have helped make this bizarro world where the pastor is God’s anointed to fix EVERYTHING. We have helped , knowingly or not, to make this bed. Driscoll is cashing in on a system that is shallow and filled with fun house mirrors.

      We cant’ be surprised that now the “show” looks all distorted. No kidding.
      Greg R

      • +1

      • True. It’s so easy to criticize the pastors (especially the more “successful” they appear to be) but many of us have unrealistic expectations about what our pastors can do for us. It isn’t enough that they be a pastor. Now they have to be a marriage counselor, public relations expert, experts in every area of theology and church life, etc.

  20. Thank you Michael Mercer. In fact, mega-thanks. I just posted this on my Facebook page with the following comments:

    Yesterday, I read the interview with Mark and Grace Driscoll in Christianity Today (CT) and was deeply disappointed with the questions the Driscolls were asked by the interviewer. This reveals to me the sad fact that CT has accepted too much pop-cultural Christianity for the good of its mostly evangelical Protestant readership. While CT is always fair-minded, and rightly seeks to avoid unnecessary controversy, it does so at the cost of being prophetic 97 out of 100 times. This is why we need bloggers like the iMonk team to remind us of things the subscription media miss. In this case the mainline Protestant magazine Christian Century (CC) is more likely to review this book adequately. This happens more often than many conservatives grant. (I will look for a CC review but I doubt they will consider this book serious enough for their readership.) The sad fact is that evangelicals have not come very far in how they address sex and marriage since these kinds of books appeared in the 1970s. The ancient church had a much healthier theological perspective, one we desperately need. Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body would be far more valuable reading if you really want to understand the issues of the body and marriage. Popular handbooks on what we can (or should) do in the bedroom are not genuinely pastorally or theologically responsible.

    • Lauren Winner’s “real sex” is the best evangelical book I’ve read on the topic.

    • David Cornwell says:

      I remember CT when it first started. It WAS something to read. It was a thoughtful and intelligent commentary on the state of conservative theology and an alternative to the fundamentalist mindset of Bob Jones. Today I don’t know what they are.

      • Dan Crawford says:

        I’ve subscribed to CT for 20 years, but I may not renew. David’s comments are on point. Their interviews with the several of the Republican candidates this year could have been done by a ten year old. Not once did they touch any substantive issue relating to the candidates’ professed beliefs in God and some of the policies they either endorse or would impose. CT’s sister publication, Books and Culture, has a rather insipid review of the Driscoll book.

        • What’s wrong with Books and Culture’s review? It’s somewhat appreciative of some parts of the book, but it raises many of the same concerns as Chaplain Mike (particularly on the celeb-pastor phenomenon) does in this post.

    • Thanks, John.

  21. Logos Bible Software and Mark Driscoll are doing “The Real Marriage Tour” series of conferences based on, or in conjunction with, this book:

    http://www.gotothehub.com/liveevents/real-marriage/

    $35 per person. 7-10pm Friday / 9-noon Saturday

    Pastor Mark will be addressing key issues like these:

    * Tough and good lessons learned from Mark and Grace’s story.
    * Dating – keys to success and failure.
    * Married people, guess what, you are supposed to ‘date your spouse’.
    * Friendship in marriage – it is a simple idea, but often difficult to maintain.
    * Taking out the Trash – You will have to attend to learn how.
    * Sex as god, gross or gift?
    * Can We __________?

    • What is it with fundagelicals and conferences? I mean man…..they explode out of the Christian industry in a way that business, government, and the health care industry probably couldn’t come close to!! But is that the “good news?” You charge $35.00 to hear the message…

      Those of you who are Christians…did Jesus do that? Charge $35.00 before he gave the Sermon on the Mount and admitted people into the presentation? Why are Christians obsessed with conferences?

      • Jesus never had to rent a place, pay for heating and a/c, lighting, food service, room setup, clean-up, etc. He could just walk into any old synagogue on the Sabbath, or sit down on a hill.

        Besides, these things are good for the economy, aren’t they? They get and keep $$ in circulation. 🙂

        As little interest as I have in this thing (you’d need a micrometer to measure it), $35 for 6 hours isn’t too bad. Probably cheaper than a night (with drinks) at a Comedy Club. Of course it will be more like $70/couple. And I suspect they’ll be pushing lots of Mark Driscoll materials and other things – sponsors include Food for the Hungry, Vyrso (Logos’ ebook program), 5lovelanguages.com, Bible Study Magazine (a Logos publication), and Resurgence. Logos and Driscoll will probably receive a lot of publicity and sales from this.

        And, of course, thousands and thousands of couples will put their marriages (present and future) on firm footing from the wisdom they learn from Mark and Grace Driscoll.

      • Matthäus says:

        I have this theory that the Evangelical obsession with conferences stems from consumeristic values. In a consumer society, if you have a problem, you buy a product to solve it. Evangelicals subconciously apply this to their spiritual problems, so we see “products” like conferences, retreats, paid-entry “worship” concerts, and even books promising to change your life. Such products are consumed with the expectation of results without discipline even if the consumer knows at some intellectual level that discipline is required… which is why you find people back in line three to six months later for another so-called life changing experience.

      • There will be a “love offering” as well as the $35 admission fee.

        When the conference has progressed sufficiently there will be a homeless child presented on stage, and she will tell her sad and tragic story, and she will give her testimony too about how Jesus has blessed her.

        And the leaders of the conference will ask for a love offering, and they will tell the audience of their generous offer of one-half of the proceeds to the child. So dig deep, pilgrims.

        • @Ted:

          I really don’t think so. The Food for the Hungry sponsor may have some kind of donation promotion, but I suspect any part-you-from-your-money doing will be mostly for Driscoll’s books and DVDs and/or Logos/Vyrso versions of the same.

      • If I felt I needed it $35 is a paltry sum to invest in bettering my marriage. And having to pay for something gives attendees a vested interest.
        I understand that it costs money to rent a place and put something on.

        In my field it costs from $500-$1000 per day to take a course!

  22. Clay Knick says:

    There is a great review in B&C on Driscoll’s book. Thanks for this, MIke. You are spot on.

  23. I wish someone – not even Driscoll, or a pastor, but someone – had the guts to write a “How to stay married” book that went “Forget sex. Marriage is not about sex. Here’s what it is about: it’s about learning to live as two, not as one. Oh, and don’t confuse your first fight – even if it’s a really bad one -with ‘falling out of love’. You have to ‘fall out of love’ eventually if you’re to get on with loving and living together.”

    Something like Chesterton wrote in his “Appreciations and Criticisms” about Dickens’ “David Copperfield”:

    “But the wise old fairy tales (which are the wisest things in the world, at any rate the wisest things of worldly origin), the wise old fairy tales never were so silly as to say that the prince and the princess lived peacefully ever afterwards. The fairy tales said that the prince and princess lived happily ever afterwards: and so they did. They lived happily, although it is very likely that from time to time they threw the furniture at each other. Most marriages, I think, are happy marriages; but there is no such thing as a contented marriage. The whole pleasure of marriage is that it is a perpetual crisis. David Copperfield and Dora quarrelled over the cold mutton; and if they had gone on quarrelling to the end of their lives, they would have gone on loving each other to the end of their lives; it would have been a human marriage. But David Copperfield and Agnes would agree about the cold mutton. And that cold mutton would be very cold.”

    • Martha,

      Good word. I don’t know if you get Seinfield in Ireland, but one of my favorite episodes is where one character (George) finds out that his IQ increases when he abstains from sex. He becomes a rocket scientist as they say. While another character (Elaine) finds she becomes “dumb” when she doesn’t have sex.

      I’ve got to admit, even as a married man, I sometimes think I would be better off and get more done, and my wife not feel quite as bothered 🙂 if I could just get past 50 or 55 or 60 or whenever my mind and body will stop being preoccupied with the fairer sex:)

      • I think it’s about 95.

      • Sorry to tell you this austin…I’m 60 and sex is STILL on my mind, but in a wistful way. The possibilities are now few and the energy is not quite there anymore, but the subject STILL intrudes in my daily life. Even for a married man of 34 years!

        • I’m just about there myself. I’ve been reading lately on how the sacraments are God’s medicaments. Somehow this is the weekly mending process that works best for me. Maybe it works for Mars Hill, but I can’t imagine asking also for a Viagra tablet when I kneel with my great spouse to take the cup and wafer. I don’t think it would sell many books, though.

      • Austin, George was also launching some homers out of Yankee Stadium while he was abstaining, as well. Cudos to Ted for the post of the day!

        • Wow…I just used “also” and “as well” in that sentence. Maybe I need to stop having sex so much…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Lee, if sex made you stupid, most of the country would be brain-dead and on life-support.

      • “whenever my mind and body will stop being preoccupied with the fairer sex:)”

        A young novice went to an older monk. “Father”, he said, “what must I do to avoid lust? I have labored, I have fasted, I have prayed! Nothing helps! When does lust leave a man?” The older monk responded, “My son, three days aftera a man is buried in the ground.”

    • Well said.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “Here’s what it is about: it’s about learning to live as two, not as one. Oh, and don’t confuse your first fight – even if it’s a really bad one -with ‘falling out of love’. You have to ‘fall out of love’ eventually if you’re to get on with loving and living together.”

      Wisdom, listen to it. This whole post if is worth more than everything Driscoll has ever written. Martha speaks to us from a deep well.

      • A hearty amen to that!

        AND any couple who tell you that they “never fight”…..they are either lying or one of them is comatose.

      • I’m in the same position as the curate in the joke:

        A married woman came out of Mass after a sermon by the new curate on the duties and glories of marriage. When asked what she thought of the sermon, she replied “I wish I knew as little about it as he does!”

        😀

        I’m single, and one reason is that from a young age I knew I didn’t have the vocation for marriage, and one part of that discernment is my very real difficulty in putting aside my own self for another. I knew I couldn’t do it (or would have great difficulty doing it), I knew it was necessary, I knew marriage was not for me. But I can do sports commentary, so to speak, on what I see on the pitch below.

    • Great response Martha. Real love is proven and also grows during the daily grind of human life.

    • Martha, I had an OT professor who was always explaining things in terms of Judaism, rabinnic interpretations, the Talmud, and Fiddler on the Roof.

      He would often say that a modern Western marriage is like “hot soup getting cold” (that is, the couple first falls in love, then gets married, and often becomes disillusioned). But the traditional Jewish marriage was (in theory) like “cold soup getting warmer”. First, get married (usually with arrangement by the family), then get to know one another, get used to one another, and perhaps discover that maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

      Not sayin’ that it’ll work these days, or if it ever did; but there was probably less disillusionment.

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

        C. S. Lewis alluded to this being a common process in The Four Loves and that ours was an age that got the idea of preferring the hot soup getting cold process, if memory serves.

      • Ted, for a story of How Things Were Done in the Old Country, here’s an anecdote my mother told me about how a relative of hers got married.

        Her mother was a widow, running the family farm, and every month she went into town for the farmers’ mart. One month she met a man there, got talking to him, asked him his business. He told her he was looking to buy cattle. She replied “I’ve a nice little heifer at home.”

        And that’s how my mother’s relative ended up married 🙂

        • It works for some, but maybe back in the old country better. My mother is the youngest of five in an Italian family that emmigrated to Connecticut. All of her older brothers and sisters were victims of arranged marriages, and all ended up either divorced or suffering miserably in marriage. My mother refused to marry the guy they had chosen for her and married my father instead. Her parents disowned her (and by default me and my sister, whom they never saw), but Mom lived happily ever after and got even. She and Dad were married nearly 55 years when he died, and after 8 years as a widow she hasn’t stopped grieving.

          • That’s actually pretty much my grandfather’s story, Ted. His mother (again, a widow running the family farm – see a thread here?) wanted him to marry a certain girl. He wanted to marry my grandmother instead. I’ve never understood why great-grandma disapproved of my gran, because she came from a respectable family and was of the same social class, but great-grandma just didn’t like her for some reason.

            So it came down to a big showdown: dump her or walk out that door and never darken it again. Grandpa, being just as stubborn as his mother, walked out; she disinherited him, and he never did return to the family home. But he did marry for love 🙂

          • My mom’s parents never even met my father; they refused to. Dad said the first time he saw his father-in-law was when the old boy was laid out in his casket. The mother-in-law softened up after that, but it was too late. She died soon after, I’m told, when I was about 7. I have a hard time calling them my grandparents. They didn’t earn it.

            I don’t think that soup ever warmed up.

  24. A few thoughts.

    You are right Chap that we live in a sex obsessed world. And much of this seems over the top, but…..

    Evans seems to use any excuse to beat up on Driscoll I suspect b/c she doesn’t like his views on men/women and granted I probably say that b/c I don’t particularly care for her views on men/women 🙂

    And this Challies guy seems like the reformed type i would go crazy listening to, he seems, at first reading granted, to be one of these “eat a cracker for God’s glory” types, for example the following quote from a recent blog of his on the book where he talks about plastic surgery

    “I am not saying that cosmetic surgery is inherently sinful or that it is always wrong. But at the very least we have to see that it very often is sinful.”

  25. Only a week into the new year and we already have a contender for “Quote of the Year”:

    “What he has given us is just another evangelical circus act.”

  26. Not on my “to read” list either….for one, Driscoll isn’t dead. 😉

    But on a broader level, much of the church has made marriage an idol. Survey the preaching topics in many churches and you get a lot about “marriage and family” but not much about the Gospel. At least in the circles I ‘ve passed through.

    A second reason is, Driscoll learned well from Bell. Write a controversial book, everyone will comment on it and drive your sales….

    I’m not interested in how to be more like Driscoll…or anyone else, except Christ.

    • Spot on, Chris. NOT everyone is married or should be.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Survey the preaching topics in many churches and you get a lot about “marriage and family” but not much about the Gospel.

      It’s called “Focusing on the Family (TM)”, and its corollary “Salvation through Marriage alone.”

  27. I don’t really care about Mark Driscoll’s sex life. I really, really don’t care what he thinks of mine.

    Yes we do live in a sex-obsessed culture, and Driscoll’s message to counter seems to be that it’s OK to be sex-obsessed in the context of marriage. While that has some ring of truth to it, I think it just ends up creating more problems than it solves. The thing that has bugged me for awhile now about Driscoll is that while he believes we can’t let culture define certain things about male behavior for us, it’s perfectly OK to let it define other. The image he puts forth of a good, Christian man seems to be something that’s a cross between the average ESPN viewer and a construction worker.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The image he puts forth of a good, Christian man seems to be something that’s a cross between the average ESPN viewer and a construction worker.

      More like The Man Show without the beer.

      • Actually, knowing how passionate many of the “young, restless, and reformed” are about their beer, I would say the beer should be thrown in there too…

        • Maybe it’s because I’m a menopausal middle aged woman, but PLEASE, oh please church people like Driscoll. I don’t want to hear about sex, sex, sex all the time, with or with out God.

          • Well, I am not a menopausal middle aged woman, but I feel the same way. I don’t want to be a prude, but I don’t want to hear about sex all the time either. Keep that for one-on-one or couples’ counseling.

            I also don’t like going to men’s retreats for that reason. Anytime Christian men get by themselves in an organized setting, the topic inevitably settles on sex. As though there are no other struggles we have in life (materialism, workaholism, depression, etc.)

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I am a 56-year-old man who was never able to marry. Since I was saving myself for a marriage that never came, you can guess which boat I’m in. (I would probably break down completely if a unicorn laid her head against my chest.) Living in Ground Zero of the Sexual Revolution and involved in a fandom that attracts a lot of sexually weird types, I have enough problems “hearing about sex sex sex all the time” without “church people like Driscoll” weighing in.

            It’s to the point I look forward to talking about Manly Wade Wellman or My Little Pony when one of my East Coast contact’s weekly “lifeline” call. I think he’s helping my head out as much as I’m helping him keep going.

          • Welsh Willie says:

            Headless Unicorn Guy–you must write a book on this.

  28. Seems Driscoll is morphing into some type of John Calvin – Frazier Crane hybrid…..

    Other than the obligatory Biblical references to ensure it’s considered a Christian book, I’m having difficulties understanding how this book is any different than any other marriage/sex guide that is already available to the market. Just don’t understand why so many in today’s church feel the need to atttempt to do it better than the world.

    Isn’t the gospel and Christ enough?

  29. Hooray, Chaplain Mike, we agree on something! (Except that part about our needing pastors to hear our confessions and pronounce absolution). I think we agree on more than my occasional outbursts here might lead you to believe.

    I will not be reading Driscoll’s book either. Way back in 1973, Marabel Morgan wrote The Total Woman which taught that “a Total Woman caters to her man’s special quirks, whether it be in salads, sex or sports,” and is perhaps best remembered for instructing wives to greet their husbands at the front door wearing sexy outfits, or draped in transparent saran wrap, with nothing (but herself) underneath. “It’s only when a woman surrenders her life to her husband, reveres and worships him and is willing to serve him, that she becomes really beautiful to him,” Morgan wrote.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that what goes around still goes around, and perhaps Mark Driscoll is the Marabel Morgan of 2012.

    Maybe he should rather have reflected on the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:12, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

    My wife and I have been married for 48 years now, both of us were virgins on our wedding night, we have three children and six grandchildren, and I’d say we are happily married according to G. K. Chesterton’s definition.

    • “Mark Driscoll is the Marabel Morgan of 2012”.

      Now there’s an image for you.

      • In defence of men, how many unfortunate blokes came home from a hard day’s work wanting nothing more than to sit down, read the newspaper, and have their tea – only to be greeted at the door by their wife draped in saran wrap???

        “Sorry, dear, I’ve just remembered – have to work overtime tonight!”

        • 🙂

        • Morgan assured everyone that this response was quite impossible.

          Also, the Saran Wrap routine was not to be repeated too often however: it was necessary to change outfits. Many men secretly want many different women; what better, therefore, than to be many different women.

          Also, do not forget to take a long, pampering bath first. It takes significant preparation to pull off this stunt all the time.

    • The sad implication is that if a husband wonders off to fulfill his lusts with another woman, it is the wife’s fault for not catering to his “needs”. I wish this could just be called legalism. It is absolute sham. It’s horrific. And there are scriptures that are twisted to defend this attitude. The image of Joseph laying down his life for the Holy Family or Paul’s image of the husband laying down his life for his bride as Christ for the church is entirely lost.

  30. Dan Crawford says:

    What does the phrase “used of God” mean? Does it mean God will be so impressed by Mark that he will use his book to help save its readers?

    • I get stuck on prepositions, and they taint my understanding of things. Ask Martha of Ireland about that (Personally, I think she should be—more humbly—“from” Ireland, but that’s way off-topic and besides, it was Jeff who dubbed her “of”).

      Back to the topic:

      The phrase “used of God” sounds more formal, more biblical, more authoritative, than “used “by God” and therefore commands the holy stamp of Almighty approval. It says that God endorses this book, even the language that proclaims the endorsement (But does the author use the KJV in real life?).

      Just my two cents, and I too have only read the content page and intro.

      Now Mike, I would consider that a rant. But short, thankfully.

      • Martha O’Ireland would have been my suggestion.

        “Used of God” in this context is christianese to sacralize the otherwise profane and add an aura of reverence the vulgar, beginning with the first sentence, “How’s you love life”?

    • In the tradition of Mark Driscoll I need to use the restroom here shortly. I intend to use it for the glory of God!! 😯

      • Sounds EPIC.

      • Eagle, you are living your best life now.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Whole new meaning to the term “Holy S**t”…

      • Drink a glass of orange juice while you’re in there too…

        (I know someone will get it!)

      • While there, you will be meditating upon the text of Job:

        “Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters”

        😀

      • Hey! It’s BIBLICAL! Just remember the five constipated men of the Bible:
        1. Cain (he wasn’t able)
        2. Sampson (he brought the house down)
        3. Moses (he took the tablets)
        4. Solomon (he sat for forty years)
        5. Noah (he floated for 40 days)
        (or)
        5. Balaam (he couldn’t move his a__) (not the way I learned the song, but it looks like a common version)

      • You know I had a deeply spiritual experience in the restroom earlier, especially as I was washing my hands. Verses from Genesis and Ecclesiates just bounced around my noodle!! I mean when I was getting ready to throw away that paper towel (for the glory of God of course!!!!) Ecclesiates 3:6 bounced around in my noodle. Should I write a book of the expereince and try and cash in the consumeristic craze while it still exists? What should I name the book? “The Real Restroom Expereince: How to Wash Your Hands (and everything else you wanted to know) for the Glory of God!”

        I’m going to need help with editing!! 😛

        • Remember what it also says in Ecclesiastes: “Of the making of many books there is no end…”

        • May I suggest a Scriptural amendment to your title?

          From Habakkuk 2:14:

          “As the Waters Cover the Sea: The Real Restroom Experience. How to wash your hands etc.”

          😀

    • In conservative/fundamentalist evangelical circles, it’s a phrase used to tell people something is an instrument of God’s use and plan. Very similar to the use of the word “godly” to describe a ministry or person. It’s used to both spiritually validate the person/thing/ministry, and to automatically invalidate all opposition, questioning or criticism, and often those who would voice it as well. Been on the receiving end of that, and it ain’t pretty.

  31. A couple of things, Mike:

    #1: You called this a rant. Wrong. I know a rant when I read one, and this ain’t it.

    #2: Although you didn’t come right out and tell us “Don’t read Driscoll” in your…uh…essay, not rant, the title does suggest that. I want to warn you that when Driscoll himself told us all “Don’t read The Shack” I went right out and bought a copy! So beware.

    Well, Chuck Colson also warned against The Shack, and that may have contributed to my delinquency; but my point remains.

    • Ted, one thing I like about CM’s book reviews is that he doesn’t tell us not to read things. He just gives his opinion on whether it sucks or not.

      Now, I’m gonna dust off my collection of Dan Brown titles…

    • I actually liked the Shack. When you tell someone not to do something, in some cases that almost gives some the incentive to do so. I’m not saying that’s right…but some people are going to go out and pick it up out of curiousity.

  32. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Oh,yeah. I-Can-Beat-You-Up Driscoll. (More relevant nicknames for him will get this deleted, so…)

    I figure Driscoll is sexually obsessed, possibly even a male nymphomaniac, and it comes out in his Song of Solomon series, claims of Visions, and this book. He’s trying to self-medicate, self-treat, and self-indulge his kinks all at the same time, and as a CELEBRITY Megachurch Pastor surrounded by yes-men, he can’t show any weakness. One day, it’s all going to blow sky-high and his CELEBRITY career is going to end in a big sex scandal.

  33. Oh Lord, I feel sick.
    I pray for his wife Grace.
    This breaks my heart.
    I’m still unraveling sexual abuse that happened 50 years ago
    so I speak with some experience…

  34. A number of these self-help books have drifted into my house from friends… boundaries, 5 love languages etc. I had a book given to me the other day from a non-denom friend of my wife about marriage and how married guys should view all other women aside from their wife. And after a short read I came away with this… according to this book guys just cannot control their sexual urges so they need to wall themselves away from any woman except their wife. If I am in a business meeting with a woman and we are alone I should not talk to her. If I go over a buddies house and he happens not to be home I should not talk to his wife lest I awaken the sexual beast in me. There is a huge assumption that males have no self control and must go to extraordinary means to make sure that another woman doesn’t tempt them to weakness.

    I sure hope we are better than that. And as for what I can do or cannot do in the bedroom (puts hand to nose and wiggles fingers while making Bill the Cat sounds)….

    • I get your rant Rag, but there is some wisdom to being proactive if for nothing but appearances sake. Billy Graham supposedly had a hard and fast rule not to be alone with any woman. There is some wisdom in being careful. I know if I go to make a call on some one and the man is not home, if the woman is home alone, unless she is old enough to be my mom I try to stay outside in the door way or visible. This is not b/c I’m a ravenous beast or she a fluzzy, but rather more to keep any rumors down

      • …I can understand the perception thing Austin so point taken…

      • David Cornwell says:

        “hard and fast rule not to be alone with any woman. There is some wisdom in being careful.”

        Exactly. Our church has policies in place for meetings such as this, and for the protection of children. A school I went to about a month ago, for a photo shoot, required a background check on me before I could be around the children. These things are the sad realities of life today and seem to be necessary for the protection of everyone.

        • I agree that there should always be two deep leadership when it comes to children, and if you are visiting a stranger on business or going to someone’s home that you do not know it is good to have two there in case there are perception issues. But to not talk to any woman, especially those who you know for fear of lust… sorry, not buying it. I am not saying to seek out, but let’s say I was in Ireland and found myself in a recommended pub and I happen to see a wise Irish woman at the end of the bar who identified herself as “the Martha of Ireland”, I certainly would not go running out of the establishment screaming ‘Don’t tempt me woman, I’m weak in the flesh’….. you know what I mean. Sometimes these things are taken a bit far.

          • David Cornwell says:

            “not talk to any woman, especially those who you know for fear of lust… sorry, not buying it. ”

            I agree. I think relationships in church, such as a pastor in a counseling session, etc. are another matter however. A pastor visiting a congregant can be a tricky matter also. Common sense would solve a lot of problems.

          • Believe me, Radagast, if you met me in the flesh you might run away screaming, but not on the account of carnal temptation 😉

      • Ugh, no no no no no! This is exactly how Christian men have been objectifying women for years. It dehumanizes us, makes us dangerous, not to be trusted or interacted with, excludes us from any kind of equal non-sexual relationship, ensures that women are seen primarily for their sexual value. I hate hate hate this attitude. It needs to die.

    • One of the lively posts at the Friendly Atheist last year was the discussion over how CJ Mahaney defines “modesty”. The post had a link to his sermon and with background images of women dressed modestly. What pissed me off was that he let guys off the hook. If a guy has problems with lust its due to the female dressing inappropriately. I heard the same thing in Crusade which coached women on how to dress. It’s crap, passes the buck to the female and is something I could see Mullah Omar of the Taliban saying in an edict as he orders women how to dress.

      • Amen. I get so tired of hearing the “Well, we all know men just can’t control themselves.”

      • You are ignoring evidence in favor of a liberal pipe dream view of the world. When women consume as much porn as men, you will have a point. But men and women are wired very differently, as science proves over and over again.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That is of course assuming that “male porn” and “female porn” are directly equivalent. To me, Twilight and bodice-rippers can become the female equivalent of porn, hooking on an emotional level instead of a genital level. In many ways, Sparkling Edward is a gender-flipped version of the Perfect Porn Star, to whom no RL member of the opposite sex could ever measure up. Just as porn can condition men into unrealistic expectations of women, so romance novels can condition a woman into unrealistic expectations of men. (This subject popped up on the Lost Genre Guild list some months ago, and several Guildswomen weighed in on how Romance novels (including Christian Romances) messed up their expectations when they encountered RL men.)

        • This is a false argument. When women start making a much porn as men make, taking into account what women like, I think you will see women consume as much porn.

      • Lauren Winner points out in her book that there is such a thing as immodest male clothing too! I think that in most contexts women shouldn’t dress in a way meant specifically to sexually provoke, but there’s a lot of gray area between a skimpy clubbin’ outfit and a potato sack…specific absolute rules can be degrading to both men and women, especially since an outfit that follows the rules with one body type might break them with another. And of course there have been some cultures where women walk around topless and it’s not seen as sexual. I don’t know how I’ll handle it if I ever have daughters.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And after a short read I came away with this… according to this book guys just cannot control their sexual urges so they need to wall themselves away from any woman except their wife. If I am in a business meeting with a woman and we are alone I should not talk to her. If I go over a buddies house and he happens not to be home I should not talk to his wife lest I awaken the sexual beast in me. There is a huge assumption that males have no self control and must go to extraordinary means to make sure that another woman doesn’t tempt them to weakness.

      Isn’t that the rationale in Extreme Islam for the burqa & locked harem?

      • Exactly Headless U Guy! That is why I get so tired of that mentality. Men may be wired differently, but that does not give them an excuse for not having any self control. At least not in my mind.

  35. …And I did catch a piece of the Celebrity wife Swap with Ted Haggard. Personally I don’t care what this guy does in the bedroom. But what I saw was a guy who can’t take off his mask and quit playing pastor – even in the interaction with his own children. If someone was to smile at me as much as this guy does I’d have to slap him…. (and then go to confession…)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Like he’s worn the mask so long there’s nothing left of him but the mask?

      Nothing but an empty void under the mask?

    • David Cornwell says:

      Truthfully Haggard is a hard man to watch.

  36. cermak_rd says:

    Some couples really do need help with matters in the bedroom. For that, there are a number of books written by qualified people (though I will admit, I do not know what the academic qualifications entail to be a sex counsellor–perhaps study in psychology and physiology) from a secular perspective.

    I think most of those would work better for most couples experiencing issues than what looks like a hackneyed attempt to fuze spirituality and sexuality.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Especially since humans have a real BAD track record when combining the sacred and the erotic.

    • YES. A good pastor will hand a married couple having problems with sex an actual book on sex written by an actual sex expert, not write his own creepy too-personal book.

  37. Thank you for your perspective… I’m so tired of the circus music myself.

  38. I haven’t read the book and likely won’t, and so I won’t comment on what the book does/doesn’t say. However, I will add that there is an unhealthy preoccupation with sex both within American culture in general and within American church culture.

    Even when I was growing up in middle and high school youth groups in the 80s and 90s I felt this way. It seemed like every other lesson in Sunday School and youth group was on sex, either directly or indirectly. And while I know the leaders felt like they had an obligation to combat the over-sexualization of the youth, I felt in a way they were contributing to it. I used to think, “If you all wouldn’t talk about sex so much, maybe we wouldn’t think about it so much. Treat as human beings capable of discussing a wide variety of topics, and not just horny, sex-obsessed teenagers.”

  39. You ask in your comments for “real” talk about these things. But has that not been the problem in this world, we have a sex obsessed culture and all the people on the outside of the church see is, “Don’t have sex before marriage”. But don’t we as Christians need to talk about sex? Is there not a whole book in the the OT about relationships and sex that was graphic enough that Jewish boys could not read before a certain age. It is a gift from God and therefore we should talk about it as such; and honesty and openness are better than people groping in the dark looking for answers from all the wrong places, like culture. I have not read Driscoll’s book, so I cannot comment on whether it is the best source, but it is nice to know that he and his wife are trying to be open and honest and talk about sex and open the door for discussion in the church; a discussion that has been sorely lacking.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Sometimes I wonder if Driscoll sermons, Christian sex books, and Juicy testimonies are just ways for Evangelicals to get their porn fix with a Bible cover for a plain brown wrapper.

      • Really disappointed to see someone celebrate not reading a book and the bashing that book because they have a bone to pick with the author. Reminds me of the fury of the Harry Potter series years ago and boy, were they wrong on that one.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Back in the 90’s they got their porn by unraveling the affairs of Bill Clinton. In the place I worked it was all that conservatives could talk about, sharing the details around the office each day.

      • It goes to show how screwed up some fundagelicals are about this issue. It allows them to get their porn fix, while not engaging in porn per se, but its still similar. I wonder if for some fundys if that is the end goal with accountability or testimonies. To brag about their conquests and what they have done all while looking hip or cool.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “People are people, and the world is full of tricks and twistiness yet undreamed of.”
          — one of The Whole Earth Catalogs

    • I find it sad that there is a celebration here of not reading something and judging it. Reminds me of the Harry Potter fury years ago, and they were very wrong about that series.

      I do not think that trying to help the church be more open and honest about the difficulties in marriage and the topic of sex is a bad thing. Our culture is obsessed with sex and we have Christians have been too silent and left people out in the cold looking for answers.

      Tim Keller and his wife have written the best book i have read on marriage. So, if Driscoll is not your thing try “The Meaning of Marriage”.

  40. I don’t like Driscoll’s approach, but it _is_ true that too often evangelicals treat sex as something shameful or at least taboo. I do a lot of volunteer youth ministry, and it bothers me that youth today can’t really talk about sex in many Christian settings, so all their “education” comes from our badly broken culture. Also, we tend to compartmentalize, separating our faith from our sexuality – separating sex, in other words, from the only source available to us of the strength and wisdom to respond to our impulses in a holy and moral way. Treating sex as taboo or treating it as entertainment are equally destructive options; we need a third way, that treats sex as sacred – especially if, as Paul indicates, there’s a parallel between our desire for physical union with another human being and our desire for spiritual union with God.

  41. CM, the real bane of American religion is this train of thought:
    * God, the omniscient supreme being, has the perfect wonderful plan for everyone’s life.
    * Therefore, if I am a christian, devoted to Jesus and in the center of His will and wisdom, I too will discern this plan and speak and live my best possible life, I won’t waste my life, and I will have the best possible advice for others on their life.
    * Ergo, as a committed christian, my opinions on sex and marriage and family, and politics and foreign policy and finance and medicine and any other conceivable subject have the imprimatur of God’s insight, so I may as well write that book about sex, or run for President, etc., so that God’s rule is brought to everyday life.
    * Also, I really should buy the book that my pastor wrote about sex, because he’s more in tune with God, and is seeing through the glass less darkly than me, and so has an even more detailed view of God’s advice for me.

  42. I read the headline, saw the pic next to it, and two minutes later I still cannot stop laughing! I’m almost afraid to read the article! That was beautiful, maaaan …

  43. Driscoll’s droll book: does it come in hardcover??? 😉

    okay…okay…enough innuendo…

    so, another “how to” book for the godly incompetent? if i remember correctly, there was no book or even pre-marital counseling that could have prepared me for the real challenges i was going to deal with in my first marriage…

    marriage does have that quirky knack of bringing out the worst in us. yet, that is not really bad nor unexpected. and it takes wiser, more mature saints that have weathered the reality of life together in marriage to help give right perspective to the newly married couple as they navigate stormy seas…

    {sigh}

    as with most phases of life we are all wiser by hindsight. i understand myself better now. i certainly understand my ex-spouse much better than i did before. communication & personal dysfunction were the real challenges & no amount of theoretical grace could accommodate such things. real change needed to happen, but more severe damaged accumulated to the point of fatal fracture. and no book would have run interference on those real issues beforehand… 🙁

    • cermak_rd says:

      My sibs both married young. The young people they married weren’t bad or evil or anything like that, I’m sure they had imperfections and flaws…everyone does. Our mother had married our father at a very young age and one assumes there must have been some happiness in there at some point in time, but I never personally witnessed it. They finally euthanized the feral dog their marriage had become 19 long years later. My mother remarried and stayed happily married until the end of her days. My father is still single. When he showed up at my Mother’s visitation, I couldn’t help myself and stated, “Oh dear…he’s come to make sure she’s dead.” My sibs glared at me but I think only because they couldn’t laugh under the circumstances. Anwyay, neither of their first marriages lasted. Or their seconds. There is hope for one of the currents.

      My and my husband’s marriage has lasted (coming up on 15 years). To be honest, I can’t explain it. We didn’t do anything better or anything. We married later in life and lived together first, but I don’t think that had any impact on the longevity of our relationship. I couldn’t begin to give any useful marriage advice other than perhaps, keep your sense of humor, you’ll need it.

      I can tell you that you seem to have investigated the ruins of your first union, and I think that is important in both healing from the fracture and in evaluating the wisdom of future unions into which you may be tempted to enter.

      I’m sorry about the pain, though.

      • wow…thanx for the thoughtful response…

        yup. i am a firm proponent of marriage, at least the type that i believe God intended from the beginning…

        yet i must resist the urge to overly ‘idealize’ said institution or fool myself into thinking i’ve addressed all the issues relating to the failure of my first marriage & so i will not be dealing with those same issues in the next…

        and yes, i will eventually marry again. no hurry though. the issues of dealing with conflict are the most intimidating to me now, although the dynamics of any future marriage will not be the same as the first one i weathered…

        i have a much better grasp of the peculiarities of my personality, my strengths+weaknesses, my expectations (tempered, of course), & i am much more relaxed about life now. i think God is still in the business of transformation & granting more freedom & i also believe He wants to bless me with another marriage. just my own sense right now even after the devastation of my recent marriage dissolution still litters my soul…

        {sigh}

        i know my situation is not unique. and i also know i am not an exception either. i suppose the theme of newness/renewal & starting fresh including an inevitable second marriage, part of the journey i am on. i don’t think i will be a great repository of sage marriage advice to my boys, but i do know i will be able to encourage & support them in their unique challenges should they decide to marry some day…

        God is good. life is good. the blessings do indeed outweigh the bullshit. of this i am convinced…

      • Well most studies show that people who marry in their 30s stay married longer and reported greater satisfaction in their marriages, so I’m guessing the fact that you did marry later in life is directly responsible for part of your success. You just can’t know yourself at 21 like you do at 31.

        • i married @ 29, two months before i turned 30…

          i knew i needed to have some years accumulated before making the big “I DO”…

          however, the delay in getting married still did not help minimize my own personal dysfunctional issues. i really needed some professional counseling & anti-depressant/anxiety meds to help me deal with those issues instead of having my then wife inadequately try to accommodate me in the relationship…

          {sigh}

          as i stated earlier; we are all wisemen by hindsight… 🙁

  44. “The very last thing any of us need is a purportedly Christian “how to” book exposing the intimate revelations of some hot-shot celebrity pastor and his wife to guide us in the most important relationships in our lives.

    This, in a nutshell, is the bane of American religion.”

    Amen.

    I read way too much about this book when Challies reviewed it. In fact, I was shocked. He basically came to the same assessment and conclusions and would not recommend it.

  45. Does this tie into “Christian Hedonism”?

  46. Oh, thank you. Exactly.

  47. In other words: “I refuse to try to learn anything from you because I have already decided what I think about you.”

    • Exactly what I was thinking!

    • Based on a pretty consistent track record, I might add.

    • Cary and Matthew –

      Yes – I don’t want to learn from him. He has proven to me, by his SOS teaching, that he warps scripture for his own, or “some” purpose, and I do not want to learn from a man that would do this. So, do I lack humility or am I wise?

      I would rather read the gospel of John and sit at Jesus’ feet. I grow tired of books to “help” or “serve” me. Many pastors today think that they have a corner on “something” to market to the rest of us. I don’t think that it is a pastor’s calling to “market” something! BTW – he did pick a hot/money making topic didn’t he?

      • As someone (memory suggests it was Charles Dickens) once said, you don’t need to eat a whole egg to know that it’s rotten. In fact, you can tell without eating any of it, provided you’ve got a bowl of water handy …

  48. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Even if Mark Driscoll says some good, helpful things in this book — and I’m sure he does — I wouldn’t be able to hear them over the circus music.

    “Circus music” or “Bad Touch” by the Bloodhound Gang on calliope?

  49. That Other Jean says:

    Dear God! I have read both Rachel Held Evans’ review of Mark Driscoll’s book, and the review at “The Friendly Atheist,” and I fail to see what a man who would berate his pregnant wife for a sexual encounter which occurred when she was in HIGH SCHOOL, or a woman who would feel it necessary to apologize in tears for such an encounter–to a man who was not a virgin when they married–could say about marriage that I would be willing to trust. I feel sorry for Grace.