Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"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.


Jesus-in-the-city said...

Hi there, Alisha! I've missed you! We're finally back from our holiday with the fam on the other side of the pond with the funny accents :)

It's so funny you posted this article because God has, very coincidentally, been using Pastor Mark and his sermons to minister to me lately. And not just regarding marriage. Pastor Mark is really really well read and well studied when it comes to the Bible. I listen to a lot of different people preach and teach on Scripture and I would definitely say that he is a very blessed and anointed man of God. If anyone hasn't heard him I recommend his church's website where a huge catalogue of video sermons can be found.

Having listened to a few of pastor Mark's messages on marriage in the last week and planning to listen to another tonight, my opinion is that he is using his marriage and his experience in marriage as a testimony to Jesus and how our Savior helped heal certain aspects of his union. He's using what he and his wife learned and he and his wife wrote the book together. I don't think if he had negative views on women's roles, that he would have felt it necessary to ask his wife to co-write the book with him. I also think that his views on women in the church and in the household seem scripturally sound to me. Many people might not like them because they feel convicted about their own home situation or maybe they just have a difference of opinion but that doesn't mean that it doesn't come from the Word of God. There are lots of things that come from the Word that don't measure up to the way of the world today, but we're called to be a peculiar people, set apart from the ways of the world and God's Word is the same yesterday, today and forever regardless of whether Christians have chosen to mold their lives around it.

Anyway, pastor Mark is not my pastor. Mars Hill is not my church, but I respect the man. I have gained a lot from his sermons in a short amount of time and I believe God has used them to answer prayer for my marriage in a big way. I think people should listen to his messages and make their own decisions. His church is actually covering his book with a sermon regarding each chapter of the book and the first sermon was last Sunday so if people want to get a look at the book and the pastor for free they can go to the Mars Hill website and listen for themselves for free.

Oh, and just a comment about the first writer you quoted. 1/3 of all women HAVE actually been raped or molested and that's just the amount who have reported it and I don't think it's out of line to say that a lot of Christian marriages do have sexual issues, otherwise why would there be an even higher divorce rate in households of Chrsitans who claim to be born again than in non Christian marriages. They may not all be regarding sex but it's probably safe to say if things aren't working out in other areas, eventually, it might lead to the bedroom. I think it's true that we can't turn to pastors to give us advice for every aspect of our lives BUT the Bible DOES give sound leading from God on every aspect of our life, and if what the pastor is teaching is in line with that the Bible teaches, then why not listen to them? After all, isnt that's why we have pastors...To lead us as sheep? And isn't being a member of a church about submitting to the one you've entrusted to lead you and your family within your community?

Alright, baby is sleeping so gotta quit writing and actually get some stuff done! I hope you're doing great! Email soon! Glad to see your posts! Love, Aja

PS as always, sorry for misspellings and wonky sentences, I'm on my iPad so can't edit :)

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