Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jefferson Takes on Marriage

Now high profile Christian rapper Jefferson Bethke has released another spoken work piece, this one on Marriage, love and sex. What do you think?


Sunday, January 29, 2012

WOW! Fred Hammond's Powerful Testimony!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mark Driscoll Responds to Critics

Shortly after reading super commentor Aja's defense of Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, I read a response written by the man of the hour himself. From CNN:

... My wife, Grace, and I recently published "Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together," which quickly became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller.

In it, we’re brutally honest about our past struggles, share the lessons we learned along the way and talk frankly about sex. Criticism has ensued.

... We knew before we wrote the book that we’d catch a lot of flak, especially on the chapters dealing with sex. We also knew the criticism would come from every direction, as some people would think we went too far and others would think we didn’t go far enough.

But we wrote it anyway. Why? Simply put, we want to help marriages — and single people aspiring to marry — and we wanted to do so in a way that is practical, biblical and applicable to the reality of today’s culture...

The book identifies three ways people tend to view sex: as gross, as a god and as a gift.
Sex as gross

Some people are very uncomfortable talking about sex, even with their spouses.
Many Christians, because of upbringing and past church experiences, view sex as gross and something that should not be talked about in public.

Unfortunately, this view is pervasive in the church. Many couples have honest questions about sex and various sexual acts but struggle to find a pastor willing to teach on these topics.

With nowhere else to turn, these couples find wrong and damaging answers in magazines, television, movies, porn and more.

The practical result is that couples divorce their sex from their spirituality, talking to their pastors about “spiritual” issues and ordering their love life around advice from “secular” sources.

Next time you’re in line at the grocery store, read the headlines on the women’s magazines that are shouting at little kids standing in line with their parents. Our culture has made the wrong answers about sex far easier to find than the church has made the right answers to find...
You can read the entire post here. I admit, he does make a lot of good points. BUT... I'm still curious as to why I, as a Christian woman, should feel compelled to get all Salt n Peppa "Let's Talk About Sex, Baby" with my pastor. I'm NOT saying it's wrong. Just that I still don't see why a sex therapist, marriage therapist or Christian psychologist might not be a better idea. Unless of course the pastor IS one, too.

I do agree that the "sex is gross" meme is still all too common in churches today. So, even Driscoll's critics should give him and Grace credit for getting the faithful to openly discuss this. And you can't blame them that thousands of people want to know if they can get kinky tonight... like SWV and Missy.

After all, they could've just held a bed-in like one pastor and his wife did...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tea Party Jesus?!?

Yeah, pretty weird stuff. From God's Politics:

The American Values Network (AVN) just released a few teasers for its Tea Party Jesus — Sermon on the Mall animated film coming out later this week.

The video will be a satirical take on the Sermon on the Mount with various quotes, signs and policy positions of the Tea Party. While I don’t think the creators of the video would argue that this same test be applied to every piece of legislation Congress considers, it is an interesting experiment.
How often do we divorce the things we say and do or the beliefs we hold from what we read in the Gospels about the person and teachings of Jesus?
Yeah, guess that's a good question, but I can't even start to ponder it because I'm stuck on "Atheist Ayn", as in Ayn Rand, which is this merry band's "patron saint".


"Real Marriage" & Real Manliness?

Geesh. It seems I can't click on my little Firefox icon without soon seeing yet another eyebrow raising blog about Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll.

A couple of weeks ago, I read a really great review of Driscoll's new book, "Real Marriage" by Rachel Held Evans. Here's an excerpt:

 Given Driscoll’s alarming preoccupation with sex and “masculinity,” and the immaturity with which he has addressed these subjects in the past, one would think Christians would approach this book the way they would approach a book about nutrition written by a pastor who struggles with obesity...(or a book about overcoming procrastination written by me!)  But Pastor Mark continues to grow a devoted and impassioned following, which means thousands of couples around the world will be looking to his new book, Real Marriage, which he co-authored with his wife Grace, for advice.
...  As others have noted, the book focuses so much on sex that it can create the impression that it’s the most important element of marriage.  Also, as I’ve noticed before, Mark has the tendency to project. Because his wife was abused in the past, he believes that the majority of women were abused in the past. Because he and Grace struggled with their sexual relationship, he believes that most couples struggle with their sexual relationship. Because he likes sports and hunting, he assumes that “real men” like sports and hunting. Because his marriage is based on a hierarchal pattern of submission, he believes that “real marriage” is based on a hierarchal pattern of submission.

...By his own admission, Driscoll’s troubled sex life affected his teaching of Scripture, so it will not do for Christians to continue to insist that pastors who teach the “timeless truths of Scripture,” cannot be wrong.

Which brings me back to my original point: Just because someone is a pastor does not mean that he or she is an expert on sex...or money or relationships or marriage. Christian couples struggling in their marriage should seek professional counseling, and not rely exclusively on a single pastor (or his or her interpretation of Scripture) for help. 
I have to agree with Rachel about turning to your pastor for EVERYTHING. What is that about, anyway? If a minister is qualified and experienced in counseling, great. But he or she does not know all. Would I go to my plumber for investment advice? My lawyer to install new windows in my house?

Nothing says I'm a manly-man for Christ like the ever so tough combo of hoody, leather jacket, scruffy face and hipster hair.

Anyway, today I read yet another SMH article about Driscoll, this time excerpts from a British radio show in which he was supposed to be talking about "Real Marriage" (H/T: Catholic & Enjoying It!). From Cognitive Discopants (isn't that like, the coolest name for a blog?!):

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.
... 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.]
 Ewww. I know over on the FAR Facebook page from past postings, Driscoll has a few devoted fans. And looking at some of the comments in the blogs I quoted from, many of them are quite vocal (if not always pleasant) in their defense of him.

But I personally shudder at some of these celebu-pastors. We've had a long history with seeing many of them fall shamefully from grace (Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker, Ted Haggard). I'm hoping the city that gave us Starbucks and Microsoft hasn't given us the next great Evangelical Pulpit Fail.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is A Christian Rap Battle Brewing?

Move over Common & Drake. There's a new rap battle heating up.

First up, Washingtonian YouTube sensation Jefferson Bethke, who's video "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus" has been viewed by millions in a matter of days (when I watched it like a week ago, it was at 3 million views; as of this writing, it's at over 13 million).

My friend Mary (hi, Mary!) facebooked me the link to this video, "Freestylin': Jesus= Religion", which takes Bethke to task over the meaning of "religion", what Jesus actually said (and didn't say), and the Law. This video features a Lutheran brother "freestyling"- at least that's what they claim. But considering this song's less-than spontaneous flow (in spots, he just stops and talks altogether), I really think it's more of a spoken word piece.

Okay, so it's not "Ether". But there were a few solid points made. Here's another:

There are tons of them popping up from Orthodox Christians, Muslims and even atheists. I think the coolest part of this "beef" is just how many people are talking about it, debating and sharing. It's funny to me since just a couple of weeks ago, I was reading an article about the rising levels of indifference regarding religion in this country. While I believe this is undoubtedly true, Bethke's video and the many counter arguments being read and heard all over the internet prove that many people are passionate on the subject.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hating Religion... Loving Jesus. Are these the only two choices?

 Jefferson Bethke. The most controversial figure in the world of Christian blogging since last week's tizzy over Mark Driscoll's latest book.

If you haven't heard by now, there's a little spoken word video made by a young Christian named Jefferson Bethke of Washington state that's making the interwebs go all aflutter. If you haven't seen this on your Facebook news feed yet, you will. You can also go ahead and click "Like" to this blog's Facebook page by clicking here if you have not done so yet. Go ahead, click it.... CLICK IT!

Ahem, anyway, the video:

Of course, Mr. Bethke's video could not be a bona fide hit without critiques. Like this one. Or this one. Or this one.

I posted this video on my personal Facebook page and received a lot of great comments. My brother Joe wrote:

I believe this is a wonderful poem, a great discussion starter, and if this piece can get anyone interested in knowing more about the Christ, his life and what he did; I say job well done.

Then I believe it is up to us to the church (which this young man said he loved during his clarification verse) to educate them in more detail. After all how much can you pack into a four min. poem (and still make it flow)

Finally I think this was inspired. If we through out all of our thoughts on what he could have further clarified, or we wish that he included, I believe what he actually said has weight. Now that this video is going viral, in our discussions I hope that our conversations can be as honest, and fresh, and inspired as this young mans.
...  The word religion itself is pretty much a blank slate, dependent on how one uses it. I think to say that "Jesus loved religion" in the context of the religious orders of that day, would be false, and since this young man draws his references from Jesus's Life and death, then I see no great contradiction in what he has stated. After all, the church that the early disciples would build was not yet created, but he does warn against the dangers of being like the leaders of that time. Hypocrites and elitist law loving judges.

 Another friend wrote:
To me it got out the fact that religion as we have come to know it is man made and really has very little to do with Jesus and His intent. I love it because though there is so much debate, that video has over 9 million and rapidly growing and this guy got the main message across and every pair of ears that heard it is accountable for the information and it will spark discussions about the topics relayed which is much needed within the church and religious sectors. GOD is going to get the glory anyway because JESUS as SAVIOR is mentioned! God is still doing His thang! I'm impressed! :)
A third friend took issue with the Kevin DeYoung rebuttal in particular. He wrote:

Sorry, but Kevin Deyoung and others like him need to get a life. I mean, really... you're going to analyze this kid's poem line by line? How about trying to come to grips with why this thing went viral in the first place? This poem has clearly tapped into something deep in the hearts of many, many people who are truly dissatisfied with what they've been experiencing as "church." E.g., the cult of leadership, pastor as CEO, abusive authority, the Sunday morning "showtime," organizational priorities trumping the needs of people... I could go on but you get the idea. People today are desperately looking for something real, and the only reality that will ever satisfy is an actual full-blown encounter with the living God. More and more people are simply done with church as we have known it because that kind of reality just ain't happening there.

Anytime I hear people defending organized religion, or the church as we have known it, it's usually because they have a vested interest in play. And lo and behold, there it is on his webpage: Mr. Deyoung pastors a Reformed church in Michigan. And for someone who mentions Matthew 18 in their critique without actually following Jesus' words there (i.e. how about contacting Jefferson first before tearing his work apart?), well, it's just typical of the mindset: I'll tell you what to do but don't expect me to do it. Nothing against him personally, he seems like a nice guy, but the intellectual equivocation over the real issues just gets a bit much to take sometimes.
I contemplated writing a response, but... nah. I'm wrapping up maternity leave and heading back to work on Tuesday. Plus I have much to discuss (I spent a third of last month in the hospital...!). BUT, please feel free to comment here. Do you agree with the video? Or do you have reservations about it? Share!

And Happy 2012! To my 3 new followers, welcome abord!

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