Thinking Out Loud

March 18, 2014

Your Critics are Your Friends

celebrity-jeopardy Driscoll Noble Furtick

The above picture is taken from an article by Matthew Marino at the blog, The Gospel Side, titled Celebrity Jeopardy, Pastors Edition. In it he said one thing that for me really nailed it:

Last summer, in a post entitled “When did evangelicals get popes?” I pointed out the ironic similarities between celebrity video-venue preachers and the papacy that Protestantism rose in protest against. Extending the irony has been Pope Francis’ humility this year in contrast to the growing list of celebrity pastor abuses…

I encourage you to read all of it.

Like Matthew, I got comments — by email, Twitter and on the blog — that my emphasis on this topic and of Driscoll in particular was skewing too negative. But I think that there’s a time and a place to raise awareness of issues and thereby hold leaders accountable.

And if Warren Throckmorton’s blog post yesterday is accurate, maybe now is the time to back off:

…As it turns out, the publisher, Harper Collins Christian, has now corrected the section in question by quoting and footnoting the section of Ryken’s book I identified. Nearly all of the problems I identified have been addressed…

More to the point, there’s been an indication of true repentance as posted at Christianity Today yesterday in an article titled Mark Driscoll Retracts Bestseller Status, Resets Life.

…In the lengthy letter via Mars Hill’s online network, The City, Driscoll reflects on what he has gotten right and wrong over the past 17 years, which have seen the church he founded grow beyond his expectations to an estimated 13,000 people worshiping weekly in 15 locations in five states. Many praised the statement on Twitter for its humility, while many others said it still left their concerns unresolved…

[The full letter was leaked on Reddit.]

In Proverbs 27 we read,

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.  (ESV)

If I am critical of the prominent writers and pastors who have been the subject of recent brought-on-by-themselves controversies, I am doing so as an insider, as someone who wants to see the scandals off the front page of the Christian websites and blogs. So we bring things into the open hopefully for a short season in order to see a turnaround and as a preventative that things don’t get worse.

Several years ago I wrote a paraphrase of II Tim 3:16, the verse that talks about scripture being useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. While I am NOT drawing a parallel between a blog and God’s holy word, in the paraphrase I noted that scripture:

  • shows us the path God would have us walk
  • highlights when and where we’ve gotten off the path
  • points the way back to the path
  • gives us the advice we need to keep from wandering off the path in future

Now mapping that back to the verse in Proverbs; this is the kind of thing I hope that we would do for and with one another. “As iron sharpens iron…”  The goal should be that we would raise the standard of integrity, point out when and where we leave that path, find the way to get back on track, and put safeguards in to place that stop us from wandering.

Furthermore, I would want someone to do that for me.

March 5, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Random screenshot from this week's Phil Vischer Podcast because, honestly, we didn't have a picture this week. Left to right: Phil, Christian Taylor and Skye Jethani

Random screenshot from this week’s Phil Vischer Podcast even though there’s no reference to it in the link list, because, honestly, we didn’t have a picture this week. Left to right: Phil, Christian Taylor and Skye Jethani (Click image to watch)

Each installment of the link list takes on a different flavor, and this one is no exception. No, that’s not right, it is an exception, that’s what makes it different. (Maybe I should have gone with the “no two snowflakes are the same” intro.) 

Clicking anything below will take to PARSE, who own the link list, then click the items there you wish to view.

Like I said, no time for picture shopping this week, so Mrs. W. suggested we mine the vault for classics:

Purpose Driven Parodies

January 23, 2014

More Driscoll Plagiarism Instances Emerge

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:47 am

I will give this to Mark Driscoll, he borrows from good sources. But people keep turning up new blocks of text from his books that were either copied wholesale, or slightly altered but unmistakably lifted from other sources. There’s nothing wrong with this if you note it in a footnote or in the foreword, or afterword, or introduction, or acknowledgements, or end-notes. That’s a total of six places you can practice good scholarship. “Be sure your sins will find you out.” How long did he think he would get away with this?

Anyway, my wife said something I felt worthy of leaving on the latest Driscoll article at Warren Throckmorton’s blog which contains the latest discoveries, and then a quick reader added an appropriate supplementary suggestion.  It all reminds me of conservatives in the 1960s and ’70s buying rock ‘n roll records just so they could burn them.

I don’t usually post comments here I made elsewhere here, but since neither was my own…

Comment re Mark Driscoll Plagiarism

May 15, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Giving Thanks

“For what we are about to receive…”  The human and the dog seem sincere but cats are always overly dramatic. (And why does the cat have a marking that looks like another cat’s tail? Photoshop? No way!)

Time for another link list. Try to have your suggestions in by 6:00 PM Eastern on Mondays. More during the week at Twitter.

Songs with substance: Classic worship

If you check the right hand margin over at Christianity 201, you’ll see that all of the various music resources that have appeared there are listed and linked alphabetically. Take a moment to discover — or re-discover — some worship songs and modern hymns from different genres.

April 4, 2012

Wednesday Link List

The timely graphic above has been making the rounds on Facebook.

  • Who was where, and when?  This Bible Gateway timeline of Holy Week is worth studying.  Click to see the post, then click again to see the image, and click a third time to enlarge it. You’ve never seen the Good Friday & Easter story in such detail.
  • And if you’re looking for a meaningful Easter song, go back a year on this blog and revisit this one.  Or this one.
  • A Christian group prayed over a section of highway leading into their town and anointed it with oil.  An atheist group decided to wash off the blessing. My favorite quote from this article: “What is inexplicable to me is how atheists or secularists could possibly be affected or  ‘offended’ by prayers when they don’t view them as having any real value?”
  • A Delta Airlines passengers refuses to shut off his iPad showing a child-centered pornographic film. The flight attendant refused to intervene.
  • Teens can see the Bully movie in Canada, but can’t in the U.S. In the meantime, the movie is drawing out discussion to a level that gives the issue some profile.
  • Mark Driscoll has stepped down from chairing the Acts 29 church planting network, turning responsibility over to Matt Chandler, which in turn relocates the ministry to Dallas from Seattle.  But he’s also stepping down from the council of The Gospel Coalition. 2-in-1 story at Wartburg Watch.
  • The blog Church and Synagogue Security News, now has a section devoted to security issues arising on mission trips.
  • CNN’s Religion blog gets inside the spiritual heritage of Oikos University, the Christian college in California where Monday’s shooting took place. Excerpt: “Korean-American Christianity probably represents the fastest-growing part of the Asian American religious landscape…”
  • If you enjoyed yesterday’s post by Alicia Yost from America’s Next Top Mommy, here’s another of her well-written adventures in parenting.
  • If October Baby isn’t playing at a theater near you, here’s the official trailer.  And here’s a review: Jeff and his wife really liked it.
  • Check out a couple of (very) modern worship songs from Harvest Bible Chapel in Oakville, Ontario.
  • Seductive faith: If it feels good, you’ve done it right. But consider the source of that kind of thinking.
  • Meet Jason Meyer, touted as the successor to John Piper at Bethlehem Church in Minneapolis. Elsewhere, Piper says, “The reason we are moving forward with the succession plan now has to do with a strong conviction that good pastoring is more than preaching.”
  • Financing a Christian college education ain’t easy. But a “miracle” can happen if you’re willing to work for it!  This Canadian story mentions a few principles that may apply more widely.
  • Nobody puts their hand up anymore in school, or elsewhere.  It’s all done with clickers.  Even the kids at the Bible Quiz at Southgate Church of Christ got mentioned in this New York Times technology story. They’re using 150 of them to record answers to 180 multiple choice questions.
  • Want more links? There’s always Lisa Buffaloe’s Links to Blog Blessings. Or check out The Read and Share File at Master’s Table.
  • Note to regular readers:  The link to the Christian Blog Topsites that usually appears in the sidebar has been removed as the site was apparently hacked. My computer did not entirely avoid some consequences, but is at least functional. Citing health concerns, proprietor Mark Strohm has decided to take the site down. We thank Mark for his years of service to this blog, introducing us to new blogs and introducing new readers to ours.

February 20, 2012

Mark Driscoll to UK Church: You Suck

His offensiveness knows no borders. I wrestled with the headline (post title) for this one, but there’s no polite way to encapsulate the partial transcript of this radio interview with Seattle’s Mark Driscoll and Surrey, England’s Justin Brierley host of the radio show Unbelievable, whose wife happens to pastor a local congregation across the pond…

This is just a sample, click the link at the end to continue reading –if you dare! — or just click over now. (The link in the first paragraph takes you directly to the full podcast.)  Commentary is by Chris Massey.

Justin Brierley, the unfailingly polite host of the British radio program, Unbelievable, recently podcast the entirety of his hour-long interview with Mark Driscoll.

Things did not go well.

There are many moments in this interview that could provide fodder for discussion. For example, Christians in the UK may be rather non-plussed by Driscoll impugning their entire country for not having, well, Mark Driscoll:

Driscoll: I go too far sometimes. Almost every other pastor I know doesn’t go far enough and that’s okay ’cause the church tends to be led by people who are timid and fearful of going too far. I mean, let’s just say this. … Right now, name for me the one young good Bible teacher that’s known across Great Britain.

Brierley: Hmm …

Driscoll: You don’t have one. That is a problem. There’s a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.

Brierley: So you think that the Bible teaches …

Driscoll: You don’t have one. You don’t have one young guy who can preach the Bible that anybody’s listening to on the whole earth.

I’ll leave it to the Brits to decide whether their churches suffer from a glut of cowards and a want of controversial celebrity preachers.

Much of the interview revolved around Driscoll’s views on women and their role in marriage and the church. When Brierley confessed that his own wife is, in fact, the pastor of his church, things got incredibly awkward:

Driscoll: I’m not shocked by the answer, by the questions you ask. I love you, but you’re annoying. ‘Cause you’re picking on all the same issues that those who are classically evangelical, kind of liberal, kind of feminist do.

Brierley: I think it’s because those are the issues here that people are thinking about. … [Brierley says he's impressed by much of what Mars Hill Church is doing].

Driscoll: ‘Kay, let me ask you a few hard questions.

Brierley: Go ahead, go ahead.

Driscoll: So, in the church that your wife pastors, how many young men have come to Christ in the last year?

[It's clear from the tone of Driscoll's question that this is not a bona fide inquiry about the souls in Brierley's church. It's a veiled criticism. Driscoll is going to prove that women pastors can't get the job done (i.e. attracting men to the church) and he's going to belittle Brierley's wife & church to do it.]

Brierley: Well we’re not a huge church, unlike yours, but I’d say there’s two or three probably in the last year who certainly, yah, I’d say have come to Christ in a pretty meaningful way.

Driscoll: Okay and in the church, what percentage is young men, single men?

Brierley: It’s difficult to say off the top of my head, but I’ll freely say it’s certainly not a big percentage, no.

Driscoll: Kay, and are you okay with that? Do you think that’s the best way to go?

Brierley: No, but can it be so easily put down to the fact that the church is being run by a woman? I mean, is that …

Driscoll: Yup. Yup. You look at your results, you look at my results, and you look at the variable that’s most obvious.

[Yes, he did just say that. His results are better than hers. And it's because he's a man and she's a woman.]

continue reading Mark Driscoll’s efforts at international diplomacy

February 8, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Yes, it's that giant drum kit from last week; only now we know it's at Breath of Worship church in Livingston County, NY and played by pastor Dr. Mark Temperato. See below.

Don’t just sit there; click something!

  • Like I said earlier this week, I don’t agree with everything James MacDonald does, but I love this quote in reference to T. D. Jakes, “I don’t think that throwing grenades in his lap as he seeks to ascend the hill of biblical orthodoxy represents the behavior ethic of Christ.”  The article is over MacDonald’s resignation from The Gospel Coalition.
  • An anonymous pastor clarifies once and for all that the kind of “church discipline” we read about in the recent Andrew story is Biblical but only where the person has not confessed their sin.  In the now well-traveled story, the Biblical injunction is being wrongly applied.
  • A 72-year old priest in St. Louis had a tendency to go off-script when he could adapt words from his sermon to better suit the theme of his prayers. But the “new English-language translation of the missal may have given bishops an opportunity to rein in freewheeling priests who have been praying in their own words for decades.”  So the Rev. William Rowe was fired.
  • For their final album, the David Crowder Band cracks the Christian charts in the #1 position, earning this writeup from Billboard Magazine.
  • Roast Pastor Department: “Only in the church will you find people who constantly disagree and argue with someone who has devoted their life to diligently studying the Scriptures.”  Read this great analysis of a problem that’s more widespread than you might think.
  • Okay, so the drum set pictured in last week’s WLL here is legit, and it is located in a church.  And the drummer is the pastor.  And the “Dr.” in Dr. Mark Temperato refers to not one, but three doctorates, presumably from School of Bible Theology Seminary and University in San Jacinto, CA. Try to look away, but you know you want to read this.
  • Here’s a story we missed last month: Australian tennis legend Margaret Court (as in tennis court; bet she’s never heard that one) is now a conservative Evangelical pastor with the expected conservative Evangelical view on marriage in general and gay marriage in particular.  But the location of the Australian Open is named after her.  So a movement started to try to rename the stadium, spearheaded by — just to confuse us in North America — someone named Phelps.
  • Christian Music:  The Canadian music and media site Your Music Zone has the announcement about a companion book to go with the song and CD Blessings by Laura Story.
  • Also at Your Music Zone the word that Downhere and Hawk Nelson are among contemporary gospel nominees for a Juno Award, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Award in the U.S.
  • Christian Publishing: The book Heaven is for Real has now spent longer — 53 weeks versus 52 — sitting atop a New York Times bestseller list than The Shack.
  • I never thought that reading a devotional piece about the hymn, Abide With Me, would turn up a reference to an interview with Chris Martin of Coldplay, but he’s quoted as saying, ” that of all the songs he had looked at, he found that 18th century ish hymns expressed joy and pain in the same song best.”  It’s interest to re-read the hymn’s words in that context.
  • You are expected to whisper in the library so you don’t disturb other patrons, but a man in Seattle is free to watch porn on the public library computers, in full view of another patrons seven-year old and ten-year old daughters.
  • A pastor leaves a sealed envelope in his desk addressed, “Read to [the congregation] in the event of my untimely death.” Then, two months ago, he is killed with his wife in a car crash. What words did he want his church to hear?
  • Jeff Bethke’s “religion” spoken word video finds an ally in David Bowden who says, I Believe in Scripture.  Meanwhile, James White takes 51 minutes to respond to a Muslim who responded to Bethke.
  • Reporters aren’t allowed at the National Prayer Breakfast, but the Washington Post reproduces the transcript of President Obama’s speech.
  • Lots of music links this week, here’s the new video from the band The City Harmonic, “I Have a Dream (Feels Like Home).”  Great song, guys!
  • Kent Shaffer crunches more numbers and comes up with a list of the top U.S. churches to watch and learn from; assuming you want to limit your study to the American church, and limit your role models to Evangelical megachurches.
  • With just a few months to go before the Olympics in England, churches are coordinating evangelistic efforts.
  • Tim Challies has started producing his own infographics; his Books of the Bible chart is a must-see.  Click a second time for a full-sized image; I guarantee some of you will be copying and forwarding this one.
  • If you still find yourself wanting more to read, here’s a link that will take you to Dan Kimball’s ever-growing series of Wednesday Weird Bible Verses.
  • We close today with a video from YouTube channel Get out the Box.

Join us tomorrow at Thinking out Loud for a non-interview with Todd Burpo, pastor and author of Heaven is for Real.

February 2, 2012

My Letter to Andrew

Andrew is the central character in a story about church discipline at Mars Hill Seattle which has blown up in the Christian blogosphere since Matthew Paul Turner posted part one on January 23rd.  (Covered on this blog, here.)

Or at least he was the central character. More of the recent conversation concerns ecclesiology, and church discipline in general and opportunity for ad hominum remarks concerning Mark Driscoll.

So I’m wondering if anyone is really reaching out to Andrew in all this…

Dear Andrew,

It’s never a good idea to offer advice where it wasn’t asked for, nor is it a good practice to listen to unsolicited advice from people you don’t know.  I’m admittedly half a continent away, and equally separated by age; and there are those close to you who more suited to speak into your life.

I just wanted you to know that besides re-blogging what Matthew Paul Turner wrote, I also prayed for you. James 3:2 says, “We all stumble in many ways…” Welcome to the community of the broken.

In hindsight, you probably weren’t ready to get married. You know that now, and I know there is much remorse attached to your story. You are no doubt much wiser today than you were just a few months ago. Of all the fruit of the Spirit, self-control is the most needed when facing temptation that is being constantly fed by a 21st century worldview of sexuality.

One of the things about your story struck me very early on in MPT’s version of it: “Andrew was born and raised Independent Fundamental Baptist, so not only was Andrew accustomed to Mark’s anger-laced fiery style of sermon, he had a deep appreciation for it.”  It never really occurred to me that people could be attracted by an authoritarian leadership style, but if that’s what you grew up with, I can see that it might have been a comfortable fit, once you got past a few of the doctrinal differences.

But then — and at this point someone would normally write, ‘through no fault of your own,’ except that it was, after all through a fault of your own’ — you saw the other side of how this authority plays out when someone apparently crosses the line from “in” to “out.”  To be labeled a “wolf,” or called a “predator.”  That’s strong language. There are some who would say you had suffered enough at this point; you were repentant, remorseful and humbled (if not humiliated) and that it was time for restoration; time to move on to the next phase, of living and walking in the fullness of all God created you for, because if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We can know the feeling of being ‘washed clean’ of our sin and get back up on our feet standing in the righteousness of Christ.

Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently…

I don’t get the spirit of that verse playing out in the email you received when you felt changing churches was the option you wanted to pursue, and I certainly don’t get it from the letter that was sent to the membership.

But you know what?  It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter what men do or even what church leaders do.  Your ultimate judge is God himself.  He is the one you answer to. Yes, under his sovereignty pastors and leaders are appointed, and we’re told to honor that office and pray for them, but they are fallible.

In the meantime, Andrew; hang on to God.  Keep praying.  Continue to read and study your Bible.  Find a place where you can engage in corporate worship with other believers who don’t know you or know this story.  Maybe find a Christian counselor or mentor who can continue to help you work all this out over time.  But don’t allow discouragement or disillusionment to take over your life.

And pray for the people at Mars Hill.  Not a prayer that comes from a smugness nor from bitterness, but simply pray that God will lead them to be both forthright in their application of the gospel, but agents of grace in how they allow that to play out. Pray for them to get better at it, to improve in their understanding of the mystery of grace.

Pray because there are going to be other Andrews.  There’s going to be a ‘next time’ involving someone else, and the next Andrew may not be able to handle it in the manner that you did.

And don’t write that church off, either.  Church congregations are like small cities, with as many stories taking place as there are people.  There are, to be sure, countless people there who are doing good, growing in faith, and deepening their understanding of the ways of God; because of the leadership there, and sometimes in spite of the leadership there. 

Nor should you be in distress when someone you meet follows the instructions given to them in the membership letter and shuns you.  It’s far easier for humans to believe something bad about someone, and people subject to authoritarian church leadership will, after all, do what they are told. 

In the meantime, church history is filled with people who experienced rejection for a variety of reasons, including rejection from the religious establishment so you’re actually in good company.

As you choose a permanent place of worship, and enter into future relationships, I know you’ll do both with a wisdom you have gained from this process.

Your brother in Christ,

Paul Wilkinson.

January 25, 2012

Wednesday Link List

The rug and lamp cozy living room theme from Grace Community Church in Fremont, Ohio as seen at the blog, Church Stage Design Ideas

Why are opening remarks called an introduction, but concluding remarks are never called an extroduction?

  • Emotionally stirring:  Caiden Hooks, eight-years-old, lost his eyes to cancer.  He shares his faith in a baptism video produced at LifePoint Church in Columbus, Ohio: “We live by faith and not by sight.”
  • Frank Viola attempts a classification of Evangelicals into four distinct streams.  It’s actually part two of an article he posted in May.
  • Last week I found myself in the middle of a discussion concerning a Catholic parent whose eight-year-old daughter is being invited to Bible study run by Evangelicals.  It’s good to see both sides of this scenario.
  • Or how about this one which goes all the way back to December 30th — that’s so last year — where he’s Baptist and her parents are Church of Christ and insist he convert before marrying her.  They say that otherwise, he is “leading her to hell.”  Yikes.
  • When a faith healer like Todd Bentley reports of crusade miracles taking place, it would be helpful if there were sufficient information to verify the claims. Update: Bentley has just been refused admittance into Australia.
  • Here’s a fun idea; the world’s most popular provider of cosmetic beauty — Photoshop — marketed as if it’s a consumer product that actually changes people in the real world.
  • Haiti for Christ was in line for much needed financial support from Mark Driscoll’s network of churches, but when they found out the organization had a female pastor, they pulled the plug on that support.
  • Comment of the week: At an article at Reformed Arminian about KJV Onlylism, this response: “I am KJVJSB — KJV Just Sounds Better. I can’t bear the ugly English in the NIV in particular. So I swap between the NKJV and the KJV…”
  • An excellent piece from across the pond about the ongoing value and need for the ministry of Christian bookstores.
  • Speaking of Driscoll, Todd Rhodes thinks we’ve gone from speaking too little about sex, to talking too much; especially Pastor Patrick Wooden. (Note: Audio clip content is unnecessarily and uncomfortably graphic.)
  • One of the worst things about being newly — or not so newly — married is hearing the same question over and over and over and over again: So when are you having kids?
  • Meanwhile, over at Mandy Thompson’s house, the topic of contention is FDT or Family Devotion Time; somewhat complicated by the fact that he’s the preacher and she’s the worship leader.
  • Often by promoting a moral high ground, the church unknowingly is pushing sexually active young people toward having abortions.
  • Polish pop star Doda this week was fined the equivalent of $14.95 — no, make that $1,495 — by a Polish court for comments she made in 2009 suggesting the Bible’s writers were drunk and on drugs.  Doda disagreed: “If someone is a deep believer, I would not think such words could offend someone.”
  • How about a blog that mixes video games and theology?  That’s what David is trying to do at Reclaimer 105.  Or maybe you’re in youth ministry and just need a good game analogy to get a message across.
  • Still lots of heat over a July piece here concerning Perry Noble’s charge to his congregation, ‘Show up on time for church, or else.’
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last week, turned up a rare 30-second clip of King’s humorous side when he guested on The Tonight Show.
  • So why is the Pajama Diaries comic here today? It was the words “Sunday School Tuition” that got me. We use the phrase in one context and forget that it means something entirely different in a Jewish context. Besides, most church children’s programs don’t charge fees, while the various synagogues I checked online were charging between $200 and $550 per child.

December 29, 2011

Mark Driscoll on Marriage and Sex: Candid as Usual

The man who doesn’t mince words, is not surprisingly equally candid when it comes to comes to marriage and intimacy in marriage.  In Real Marriage, Mark teams up with wife Grace and reveals much in the way of personal details of their own marriage, both in its early days and presumably as recent as yesterday.  It walks the fine line — without truly crossing it — of too much information; while at the same time making your marriage the focus of the book’s content.

The full title is Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together though a proper disclaimer would warn you that the book is divided into two parts, with sex being the theme of the second, and probably being the focus of much that will be written about the book both before and after publication.  The book does warn more conservative types — and less urban types — to sit down while reading the Q & A chapter on what types of sex are permissible within the bounds of Christian marriage.

First person narratives written by two authors can be as awkward to read as they are tricky to write, so there are sections of “… I (Mark)…” interspersed with sections of “… I (Grace) …” but beyond that the book flows well and Grace’s background in public relations means she was undoubtedly a gifted writer long before this.

Mark — no stranger to print with more than a dozen previous books and tons of online copy — is especially vulnerable here as he is brutally frank about everything from his own sex drive to various conflicts that have arisen in their married life.  As with so many pastors today, the availability of online audio and video means that you can almost literally hear Mark speaking as you read.

God does not give us a standard of beauty — God gives us spouses.  Unlike other standards of beauty, a spouse changes over time. This means if your spouse is tall you are into tall. If your spouse is skinny, you are into skinny. If your spouse is twenty, you are into twenty. When your spouse is sixty, you are no longer into twenty, but rather into sixty. And if your spouse used to be skinny, you were into skinny, but now you are into formerly skinny. We are to pour all our passion and pursuit of sexual pleasure into our spouses alone without comparing them to anyone else in a lustful way.   (p. 108-9)

Mark’s take on this subject is born not just out of theory and research, but from thousands of interactions with individuals and couples as a pastor and conference speaker.  Just a page past the above quotation is this anecdote:

He had a beautiful wife but was never sexually satisfied.  His mind was filled with sinful fantasies from pornography he had viewed, as well as sexually experiences he had enjoyed before marriage. Some would have been sinful to do even with his wife, others were not sinful but she was opposed to them because they violated her conscience. Over the course of some years in their marriage, rather than killing these sinful desires, he occasionally nurtured them by daydreaming about what it would be like to make his fantasies realities.  One day he did — with another woman.

He decided to never tell his wife because in his flawed mind, it was better for her not to know the truth and be devastated. He actually considered his lying somewhat loving but she could tell something was different and so she pressed him for answers. Eventually he confessed.  As we met during their counseling session, while his wife wept continually, he tried to downplay what had happened by saying it was only one day of their life, he did not love the other woman, and similar inane efforts to make his sin seem less sinful.

Nothing seemed to get through to him until I (Mark) simply told him he was not only an adulterer but had become an adulterer because he was first an idolator. The first commandments are that we are to worship God alone. If we obey, we then do not worship other people and things as functional gods. When we disobey we then continue to worship but do so as idolators treating people and things as gods. His sin was not just sleeping with a different woman, but sleeping with another woman as a worship act to another god. Sex was his god, a bed was his altar, their bodies were their living sacrifices, and he was a pagan priest committing idolatry.  (pp. 109-10)

Again, I don’t know of anyone else who is a forthright as Mark Driscoll and who delivers a message with such passion and authority. With sections dealing with oral sex and masturbation, Mark (and Grace) face no question too difficult to deal with.

While I probably disagree with Mark’s doctrinal position in other books dealing with other topics, I was intrigued by how he would handle this, and I was not disappointed. The book has value to engaged couples, newly marrieds, and people like my wife and I who are a few decades in.  Real Marriage releases January 3rd from Thomas Nelson.

An advance copy of   Real Marriage was provided by Graf-Martin Communications, a Kitchener, Ontario firm which works with North American publishers and author agencies to provide additional promotion and publicity for books and book-related products.

Looking for more details? Check out Aaron Armstrong’s review of the book at The Gospel Coalition.

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