Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A few thoughts on Practical Theology for Women's Review of Real Marriage


Wendy and Andy Alsup have written about Real Marriage. As former members of Mars Hill who also served in leadership they have a unique perspective from which to consider the book. Wendy used to serve in Women's ministry at Mars Hill (her first book was well-reviewed by the late Internet Monk Michael Spenser).  Wendy and I also used to serve in the Theology Response Team together.  I also observed Wendy moderating discussions in the Women's Theology forum on the old moderated Midrash.  I have been impressed by her theological acumen and her character. 

The Alsups and I also attend the same church and my positive impression of the Alsups has not changed over the years.  Long-time readers will know I have regularly linked to and commented on Wendy's blog for years.  I don't know Andy quite as well but I know any man who would marry and stay married to Wendy is a solid guy.  I know that sounds like gushing a bit on the internet but there you go.  Since as far back as six years ago I have been struck by Wendy's ability to be a voice of reason in heated settings.  That women's theology forum was not a "safe" place because women were anything close to civil or thoughtful toward each other!  It was a place for safe and civil discussion because Wendy actually moderated discussion, which was sadly more than I can say for the majority of moderators of Midrash forums at the time.  I can name names of the people who I thought actually did moderate discussions--Wendy Alsup, Paul Petry, and James Harleman actually put in more than a token effort to make sure arguments didn't get overheated or out of hand on Midrash.  They may not have always succeeded but I can testify that at least they actually tried. 

So with that in mind Andy and Wendy reviewing Real Marriage has caught my attention. Since I'm posting more than once about it you can surmise it has kept my attention. 

Andy explains in simple terms what others have mentioned, that as a marriage counseling book the book is middle of the road.  It's not the best nor worst book out there on the subject.  I might add only that having read a bit of Real Marriage myself it would appear Mark picked up things in counseling other couples but seemed certain that no counselors were ultimately qualified to counsel him because of sin in their lives.  It sometimes seemed in chapter one as though Mark was implying he would only take marriage counseling from Jesus. 

Seeing as Jesus was never married one wonders what practical insights and advice Jesus had about marriage!  Within the Martian culture I saw over ten years single guys were said to know nothing about relationships.  That Jesus was the token exception merely proved the rule.  Apostolic instruction on how and why it might be better to remain unmarried got transformed into a moral obligation to marry unless you were smuggling Bibles into some foreign country to non-white people.  People without non-white relatives might not fully appreciate both how stupid and racially presumptive that sort of remark comes off as. 

Over the years Driscoll has made much of how ninety percent of people are going to marry at some point.  Okay, how about half of them divorcing?  Statistics, as the axiom goes, come after lies and damned lies.  In any case it would appear that in the scope and focus of his teaching Driscoll is pretty much always going for the ninety percent.  I doubt Driscoll would be capable of ever writing a book called Real Celibacy.

Andy sums up the book succinctly enough as follows:

To put it in perspective, this book is like a field guide for the young people represented by young culture in Seattle, many of whom are like a kite in the wind with marriage and responsibility having not seen it modeled well for them.

So if you've neever had marriage or responsibility modeled to you adequately in your own life the book can be useful. 

If you're looking for a gospel centered teaching guide on marriage, this isn't it. If you are looking for a moderately prescriptive christian perspective on marriage and want to hear it from a couple who are in and of their culture, this might hit that target. Mark and Grace are their target demographic.

Ouch.  So this means Real Marriage comes off as a self-help book written by its authors to help themselves as well as others?  I don't have much reason to doubt that as "gospel centered teaching" goes that the Driscolls would simply not offer a gospel centered teaching approach.  I have written obliquely about the backdoor prosperity gospel I sensed at Mars Hill where if you repent of your sins, shape up, fly right, and get your ducks in a row that that hot or hunky spouse is in children's ministry waiting for you to volunteer.  That was practically the sales pitch for years for certain ministries.  You weren't going to meet that future spouse in the choir because nearly all the women were married (or in my case I liked them as friends and was not interested in dating much anyway). 

But the observation that Mark and Grace are their own target demographic seems spot on.  What if you're not that target demographic?  As in you've been raised in a Christian home, haven't dated anyone, and don't have the exact same baggage as Mark or Grace Driscoll?  Well, it sounds as though from reviews I have read that a book by the Driscolls would not necessarily be of any use to me.  I've seen the 9 reasons Real Marriage is for singles and it made me laugh. I've already shared my own doubts that Mark or Grace Driscoll seem to display much real knowledge about friendship.

If friendship is the big selling point for their book and they sincerely think friendship in marriage is not discussed in Christian books on marriage they may need reminding that companionate marriage is a relatively new invention and that "friendship" as the foundation for marriage in ancient near Eastern societies (i.e., you know those cultural settings in which authors of the Bible wrote those books of the Bible) was not the same thing.  As I put it for years, to no avail, a lot of what Driscoll and other Martian leaders pass off as "biblical" is a cherry-picked selectively engineered pastiche of customs from ancient Near Eastern societies and the butterflies and twitterpation of mutual sexual attraction as a prerequisite to marriage valued in contemporary society. When I said the Bible says nowhere that mutual sexual attraction is ever necessary as the starting point for a truly "biblical" marriage Mark said that it was necessary and also preferable.  He can say so but that doesn't make it so. As C. S. Lewis so wryly put it in The Four Loves lots of people got married who weren't in love but somehow produced offspring.

Song of Songs, as a book of poetry which may not refer to Solomon at all, or if referring to him sees him alternately as a villain or an archetype of pleasant life depending on who's interpreting, does not count.  In fact the more earnestly a man tries to insist Solomon has to be the beloved the more problems open up in the text.  If it's a fictitious work of idealized erotic love that can be typologically read as being about God and His people those blunt textual problems vanish.  Of course in the hands of Driscoll Song of Songs can't be a fanciful and gentle pastoral; it has to be an epic narrative about the sexual extravagance of two married people. 

Seeing as he seems to have never preached from the Psalms in fifteen years it's hard not to make a case that Driscoll doesn't really care about poetry that isn't within the rarified subgenre of sanctified erotica, at least when it comes to discussing anything from the pulpit.  For a guy who keeps saying Spurgeon's his favorite preacher this seems even weirder and more inexcusable. Of course Driscoll's paid homage to Puritans whose interpretation of Song of Songs he's still going to make fun of.  The fan base does not seem to fully appreciate how much a lot of what Driscoll does comes off as name-dropping more than serious attention to big names.

This book uses a combination of nonlinear narrative, and finally reverse chronology, to tell a story with the end of the book revealing greater context for circumstances within the book. ... This book is a revealingly intimate autobiography of a man who came to a breaking point and rebooted his life. This seems counter intuitive, but is actually quite enlightening when interpreting the book "Real Marriage".

The reveal within the book begins in chapter 11 with Mark under a great deal of pressure and fighting his way through it. This chapter completely changes how the book can be interpreted. In this chapter Mark lays out a blueprint for how he wants to change his life. In the intimate details that follow, Mark tells a story of mistrust and hurt that culminate in what is basically described as an emotional breakdown. The story now picks up again in chapter 1 with Mark filling in what was going on behind the scenes throughout the book. Mark and Grace were both sexually active adolescents as was fairly typical in their culture. This story now shifts to a young couple doing what young people do, making mistakes along the way. Over the years as their lives became intertwined, Mark and Grace learned more details about each-other's past, specifically as it pertains to this autobiography, their sexual past. Mark describes the emotional toll and cost in trust this caused between him and Grace.

Other reviewers have remarked upon how sloppy and confusing Real Marriage is about facts, dates, timelines and the like.  Seeing as Mark Driscoll got his degree in speech communication it's not surprising that he and Grace would not be all that good about writing as an art unto itself, or that when it came time to write a book about doctrine Breshears was brought on board.  If it takes a former member and deacon at the church to actually make sense of the chronology this a potential sign that the writing was not very clear. :)

Throughout the book, when talking about intimacy and marriage issues, Grace describes how her actions had hurt Mark and, in hindsight, how she had fallen into this state of low self worth through abuse, reinforced by patterns that were present in her own view of herself and through people in her life. Mark describes the toll on him and their relationship and the effect this had on his ministry in the church. What stands out as odd however is that Mark shares equally intimate details of these events, but from a different perspective. What started in chapter 11 now adds context to the back story. This book was written as a chronicle of a young pastor struggling to understand his wife and then her response to him. Chapter 11 is about reverse-engineering your life from the last day forward. This sounds like a reasonable approach, everyone needs goals to strive for. Wait, what?! Somewhere things got off course. Are we talking about life goals or a relationship?

I have not read the book but I've read enough reviews to know that Mark was going to trot out "reverse engineering your life" yet again.  You'd think for a self-described Calvinist who leans so heavily on the sovereignty of God and direct revelations that Mark Driscoll wouldn't be so continually fixated on reverse engineering his life.  He wouldn't be advising young guys to have a five-year plan in which they imagine whether or not they will be married, how many kids they will have, how much money they will make, where they will live and those details.  Since I'm not a member of the Politburo and the Soviet Union fell apart decades ago I've never warmed up to this five year plan stuff.  Is Mark Driscoll secretly a Soviet dictator or something?  Maybe it's just my fault I was a kid who grew up to see how the Cold War sorta worked and began coming of age during the years the Berlin Wall came down?

What stood out earlier as odd about Mark's perspective of the past was that Grace was humbly reconciling her past, but HE wasn't! What at first appears to be a book about their marriage is really a book about Grace's marriage. We actually know very little about Mark's. From the beginning of this book, Mark has made passing references to Grace's mistakes and abuse that lead to difficulty in their marriage, but what about him? He had been in previous sexual relationships prior to Grace, and with Grace prior to their marriage. What affect had this had on him and how he would view relationships going forward? Not much is said about this, in fact Mark barely recognizes his responsibility in this at all.

Yes, I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed this even from chapter one.  Mark Driscoll spends some time explaining his anger at Grace's lack of faithfulness to him but it didn't seem he ever stopped to ask himself why he was attracted to the sort of woman who would be sexually available to him outside marriage.  I didn't feel like reading all of Real Marriage to find out.  That Andy Alsup could read the book and notice that Mark Driscoll never once addresses the question of why he was drawn to women he could fornicate with lets me know that it wasn' t just me wondering about that question in just chapter one of the book.  That the question never comes up and is never answered may be more telling than anything.

When viewed as a whole, the end gives context to the beginning and now some pieces fall into place. This is a story told by the inside voice in Mark's head about a period in his life when he was a pastor under pressure in a large young church. He acknowledges the effect his depression and anger had on his relationship with his wife and on the church and then his resolve to attack that problem and take it apart until it was gone. He decided he deserved better and set out a path to achieve that. He has yet to recognize his own responsibility in much of this, to the point that his wife is publicly apologizing to him for past offenses he participated in himself with seemingly no remorse or consequence on his part. The dichotomy between their viewpoints is striking.

What is particularly striking in light of, say, the snafu with Andrew, is that if Mark Driscoll can state in a book that the cure for his moodiness was more frequent sex then the cure for his unstable moods is something he may be deprived of by divine providence one day.  He'd better take heed from a pastor like Bill Clem who explained how sex was impossible during the final years in which his wife Jeannie was dying of cancer.  If Mark Driscoll needs sex to stabilize his moods then if it were anyone but the top dog preaching pastor at a megachurch a guy who admitted he needed sex to stabilize his moods would probably not get the support Mars Hill members put behind Driscoll now.  As for all those unmarried people, do orgasms get to be a mood stabilizer for them?  What's good for the goose should be good for the gander, right?

At length I arrive at Wendy's part of the review, which I'll write about in a separate entry.


Gem said...

"In fact the more earnestly a man tries to insist Solomon has to be the beloved the more problems open up in the text." -WTH

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My husband of nearly 30 years is a recovering porn addict and told me that the way SoS is taught with "Solomon as hero" is a stumbling block for him. Solomon lived in the flesh what porn addicts live between their ears. He was is not a "role model for good Christian marriage"!

I often lurk and read, but don't post much. Mara is my friend who often recommends you. Keep on shedding light! God Bless!

Jim Jacobson said...

I enjoyed Andy and Wendy's review as well as yours. It's hard to watch the growth of something that seems somehow corrupt at the center. In all of MD's sex talk, I have wondered the same question that Wendy brought up:
"the pastor's wife has the “most important job” in a new church -- “having sex with the church planter.” I wonder what the Driscoll's story would be if Grace became incapacitated long term.(?)
I just don't find his ministry honoring to women in the least.

Graham said...

It makes me sad reading various reviews and viewpoints that very few people out there are allowing Driscoll the grace of growth. It's easy to judge the guy by interpreting what he says now through the lens of what he has said in the past; it's much harder (and requires more effort of those who his brashness has hurt in the past) to recognize that God may have His hand on Driscoll somehow, and despite his shortcomings is actually moving him along in redemption and sanctification.

While I have some of the same concerns about this book, I feel that your POV here, and Wendy's in her review, are biased toward cumulative bitterness. If I had been judged by what I do and say now through the filter of what I did and said five or ten years ago, I would be in big trouble. Driscoll has done you the service of working through many of his issues visibly and on record. We don't have to agree with the guy, but I think we miss the point when we fail to recognize that God is at work on him as well as through him. I think that Driscoll's story will play out as a journey toward holiness through imperfect leadership rather than a consistent and systematic volume of how-to leadership material.

I would recommend, as hard as it may be for those who find him distasteful, watching the sermon videos that correspond with this book. It's easy for those who have been watching Driscoll for some time to see that this is not the same man you thought you knew a few years ago.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Graham, growth and change are not monolithic or one-directional. Driscoll has changed a lot in ten years but not always in good or healthy directions. Some things are better now and other things are significantly worse. If you were at Mars Hill ten years ago and heard Mark's warnings about denomination-level power brokers who make strategic decisions that have nothing to do with lives shared with regular church-goers in the trenches you'd know that Mark has slowly and steadily turned into exactly the kind of church leader he warned us against during the Timothy sermons, and hoped he didn't become.

I'm glad he's not speaking casually as though Arminians are the same as Pelagians, and I'm glad he's not still on the courtship hobby horse, but in other ways Mark's growth and change are not really encouraging. Ten years ago Mark would not have performed a pre-emptive strike on the theology and character of a specific Christian the way he did with Justin Brierley, would he?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Let me try to rephrase things to give you some perspective on what I'm getting at. You say Mark has done me the favor of having visibly and publicly worked through many of his issues.

A 2012 book looking back on a period from 1997-2007 is not visibly and publicly working through issues, it's selling a marriage book which includes a story about how he says he and his wife worked through some issues in the past. A best-seller in 2012 describing events ranging from 1997-2007 is not a case of visibly and publicly working through issues, it's recounting how those issues were privately dealt with within the history of Mars Hill.

Put yourself in the position of a person who was connected to the church for, say, eight to ten years and regularly gave money.
Put yourself in the position of someone who heard Driscoll sermons and teaching circa 1997-2007.

During the sermons from 1997 to 2007 that Driscoll preached did he ever discuss that he resented his wife over the lack of sex he felt there was in his marriage? During the Dead Men sessions circa 2002 did he ever let on he was not having very much sex or satisfying sex? During the times when People Against Fundamentalism and other groups spoke up against his chauvinistic views of women did he ever concede that he WAS actually chauvinistic or misogynistic or begin to hint at why?

No, none of the above. Instead he kept on keeping on and let members of his church defend him against charges that he was prone to an unhealthy obsession with sex; that he had chauvinistic and misogynistic views; and to further state that he was a great husband who had a healthy relationship with his wife who was a model pastor's wife and that Mark was all about honoring and protecting women.

So, no, he was not working visibly or publicly through the issues he mentions in Real Marriage in 2012 during the period of 1997-2007. That's what's troubling. Being told through a best-selling book on marriage that all those sermons and teachings on sex were being given in years of resentment and bitterness on Mark's part toward Grace and that he was guilty of the things members continually believed he wasn't guilty of should be troubling. It even should be a bitter discovery.

If you spent years in a church where a guy like Driscoll joked that he didn't see how single people made it through the day; or that single guys were like cartons of milk that expired by the age of 30 then reading Mark Driscoll admit to the problems in his marriage during the same times in which he was making those sorts of jokes is going to be a bitter discovery. Should it be sweet discovering that I gave money to a church founded by a man who turns out to admit by way of a best-selling book he was actually guilty of all the charges I and others defended him against years ago? Do Driscoll and his defenders think that conceding the point now after at least twelve years of warnings about the feminization of the church that he resented women after all means everyone should just get over everything and move on already? Last year's stunt about effeminate church musicians and his reaction to criticism over that has not instilled in me a great deal of hope that he's improved as much as some people think he has.

Driscoll has said that for Christians there is forgiveness but that doesn't mean there are no consequences. How he handles himself in the wake of all these confessions and the full outworking of their significance will let us know how reconciled he is to consequences.

Graham said...

I have been at MH for 12 years. I was there for every issue you describe. I am still there. It's likely we know each other, and while I'm unsure who you are, I know when you left and why.

My point is that while I agree that it's bitter that these things are coming to light now, it's also encouraging. It's encouraging because these things are coming to light at all, and that they are (as Andy Alsup put it) giving context to the rest of the story. That means that there is vulnerability there that we have never seen before.

I do not deny that there is plenty of shit floating around with Driscoll's name on it. And I do not deny that many of the things he has taught over the years should be publicly repented of and apologized for. I have had a long process of working through damaging teaching I have locked on to over the years; some from MH, some from the church I grew up in.

Clearly, though (based on your Part 2 rant), you have some bitterness toward Driscoll and MH, which I'm sure you wouldn't deny (nor, honestly, would I be surprised at or offended by). I'm suggesting that that kind of bitterness will cloud the discernment of anyone, even someone who wishes to offer up some wise critique on a middle-of-the-road marriage book. I'm not saying that what went on a few years back was acceptable, but I am saying that one should be careful when allowing it to inform their current perceptions too much.

I get the too-little-too-late angle. I really do. I still think though that there's plenty of baby to go with the bathwater.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I thought it might be you at first but wrote as I did just in case it wasn't you. You raise a couple of fair points for consideration.

I think there's still a lot of baby with the bathwater. As I've pointed out in several settings Mars Hill members have done more to help me out in the last two years than Mars Hill critics have, and there is more to Mars Hill than Mark. And I can agree that better late than never about chauvinism and misogyny is good if it sticks.

The firings of 2007 did not infuriate me at the time but the capital campaign news did. At the time, honestly, I wondered if there were good reasons to fire Petry and Meyer. When the actual stated reasons were provided I concluded they were not good reasons but by then I was still upset about the million dollar purchase that turned out to be a boondoggle that was being billed as good stewardship.

Bitterness is a fair subject to raise. If bitterness skews vision does this mean everything Mark preached on sex and marriage from 1997-2007 has no value? What about expressions of bitterness within the scriptures. Is Psalm 88 a problem because it is permeated by grief and bitterness and ends without hope? What about the desire for infanticide in Psalm 137?

Now as Real Marriage goes I would say my concern isn't that the confession is too little too late. It's too much too late with "late" sometimes seeming to come later. In 2007 pastors got fired and news was broken about the property purchase through documents internal to Mars Hill months after the firings. Okay. Now in 2012 the Driscolls have confessed to a bunch of stuff years after the fact that covered a period of about a decade through a best-selling book.

Mark has taught consistently that repentence involves (among other things) confession followed by restitution. I'm just not sure that confession followed by a general apology and royalties is the ideal set-up for Mark moving into a new phase of his pastoral career. That and i was disappointed by the pre-emptive strike Mark did on Justin Brierley. If Mark has turned over a new leaf the signs are still ambiguous.

And to indulge in an Abramsian pun, maybe Mark, Mike, and Lief could meet at Lief's pizzeria some day and discuss whether the Mars Hill that is now is what they envisioned fifteen years ago.

Graham said...

I totally understand where you're coming from, including the ambiguity of the leaf-turning; the Justin Brierley situation is just plain annoying.

However I don't think that it's fair to decide that Mark intended to make profit on his confession, and that is what motivated it. Planning to write a best-selling book is like planning to be President. There are a lot of factors that are beyond one's control, and I think you're giving Driscoll too much 'credit' if you're chalking this up to orchestration and profit motive.

Regarding bitterness, no it does not suck all the value out of anything; but it does cloud it. It causes a leaning toward worldly wisdom and worldly sorrow instead of their godly counterparts. I have no problem with the Psalms. They're in the canon for a reason. The Psalms are not blog posts or book reviews though - they are poetry written to God in anguish or exulatation, and to others in encouragement and admonition. Do you see the difference? I sure do.

One thing I learned from running a business with a group of guys is that sooner or later, everyone goes insane. There is a lot of very mucky water under the bridge here. My prayer is that God continually gets in the way, and, to borrow a Driscollism, that He gets His Glory and we get our joy. My hope is that in this situation, His Glory looks like reconciliation, repentance and restitution.

Last bit: I'm growing more and more confident that when we all get to Heaven, many of us will hear Jesus say 'Well done, good and faithful servant - but you didn't need to be such an asshole.'

Rory Jones said...

Graham said, "the Justin Brierley situation is just plain annoying." It's not annoying. It's sin.

Here's an article on bitterness you should read. http://www.theologyforwomen.org/2011/07/what-bitterness-really-is.html

"The “Bitter Card” has trump power. Pop that baby out, and you can dismiss the criticism. It’s played this way: person A has a grievance that he/she does not feel is being understood. Eventually Person A vents too often, too emotionally, or even sinfully, or gets too close to unsettling the happy delusion of the establishment and consequently in danger of getting too much influence. At this point, play the “Bitter Card.” This puts them on the defensive and, in the minds of the clueless, guts their argument. Plus it has the added benefit that you can say that their defensiveness is proof of the truth of your claim. Often people who play the “Bitter Card” employ Hebrews 12:15 and warn that the bitterness could result in the defilement of many.

So, let me explain. Biblically.

… The “root of bitterness” in Hebrews 12:15 could more aptly be applied to the scourge of immorality and its abuses than to the wounded, spiteful, angry, and sometimes over-the-top venting of those who have been “defiled” by it. In other words, friends, the disgruntled are more likely the “many” who have been defiled by the “root of bitterness” ... than bitter souls who ought to be dismissed for having a bad attitude..."

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Let me be clear, I question the WISDOM of making confessions in a book that nets royalties and then preaching from that book, not the motive. MH has a long history of folks supposing that if the heart is good there will be wisdom. But that's not necessarily true. A godly man can still make very foolish choices. See the reign of Jehoshaphat.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Graham, I do appreciate your concern about bitterness, but you're also trying to have it both ways at two different levels about bitterness.

At the first level you mention bitterness clouds perception with worldly sorrow and wisdom rather than the godly counterparts. Okay, if this is true of me it is true of Driscoll, too. I'm a nobody blogger and Mark's bitterness took root within his ministry as a self-described apostle, Bible-teacher, and megachurch pastor with prophetic capacities who has shaped the spiritual lives of tens of thousands of people over the course of fifteen years. Assuming bitterness is always a sub-Christian response that taints insight, in whose life would bitterness do more lasting and far-reaching damage? In whose life would persistent bitterness become a bigger problem for the body of Christ?

Now at the second level, you grant that Psalm 88 and Psalm 137 are expressions of bitterness and despair that are in the Bible.
Notice the problem here? If you affirm the canonical value of expressions of bitterness in the psalms of lament at the second level and still maintain your case at the first level you're trying to have it both ways here, too. Bitterness clouds perception and taints insight in living Christians ... but not for the authors of scripture.

But even if we restrict this idea to just the authors of scripture that negates the statements at level one unless you use level one to claim that bitterness and despair even expressed in the Bible is still sub-Christian. You either have to concede bitterness can be a genuine and legitimate, if not normative, Christian emotional state because it is found in Scripture itself; or you have to say that expressions of bitterness taint even truths that could be gained from scripture itself.

The Alsups and I want Mark to apologize to specific people he's harmed along the way over the last ten years. If that's somehow not biblical feel free to make a case but if I'm supposed to be bitter because I discovered the pastor at my church for about ten years turns out to have lived a very different private life than the stuff he extolled in public my question about that is, why wouldn't I find that bitter?

Graham said...

Whoa now, easy, both of you.

I'm not playing the bitter card to dismiss the arguments that you or Wendy are making; nor am I suggesting that bitterness hasn't been a massive issue for Driscoll that has clouded much of what he has taught over the years. I was bringing it up because it seems to be an ongoing theme, and I thought it pertinent that we should all guard against it. Just cause Driscoll nursed it for years doesn't mean we should too.

What I'm suggesting is that Psalms are rants TO GOD, not to the general public. And they are Spirit-insipired scripture. I'm fine with them on those terms, with the recognition that if I find anything in there difficult to swallow, my issue is likely with God and with my own heart. The same cannot be said of our book reviews and blog posts...

You, and many others, are frustrated by incidents from a few years ago, which are still top of mind for you. I get that. I also understand that your desire is for Driscoll to clearly apologize to those who have been hurt by his sin. Totally agreed. Like I said, there is much floating around out there with his name on it, and it is his job to deal with it rightly.

My last bit, incidentally, was not in any way aimed at you. I don't think you're being an asshole, nor Wendy or Andy. I think tyranny for the supposed sake of the Gospel is still nothing more than filthy rags and calls for godly sorrow and repentance.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I think we're probably on the same page about bitterness being a legitimate and ongoing concern now that you've explained yourself some more. That said, rants to God in the Psalms could still be about events and concerns of specific times and places. After all, David made all sorts of personalized commentaries on his enemies but this isn't a great venue to discuss the way in which to understand imprecatory psalms as being concerned about God's glory and the condition of His people. :)

I've spent the years since 2007 telling both sides that all of that stuff was a cluster$@%^.

Something I wrote earlier about critics and defenders alike is that this practice of imputing comprehensive guilt or innocence by way of theological planks in a platform clearly doesn't apply anymore. For instance, people who pin Mark's chauvinism or attitude on Calvinism don't understand that he wasn't always a Calvinist. They also obviously don't care.

There are a lot of folks who would be a "Nathan" to Mark's "David" who don't want to bother entering the throne room or who want to come up with theological reasons why nobody should be kings or kings aren't in the Bible or why kings who rule as they feel comfortable with are to be heeded. Well, Nathan didn't correct David's theology about kingly rule in some discourse, he made the case that "you are the man". Nathan also didn't tell David he had disqualified himself from kingly rule. What some folks may not be able to admit is if they play their Nathan role David might be sorry and end up keeping his job and that's not necessarily what they really want.

Graham said...

Couldn't agree more.

Gem said...

I recall a video interview (which I could not find online) with hip Mark informing young men that he has sex daily with his wife. I found another video circa the same time which has a similar statement that young men "want to know how they can have sex with their wife at least once a day". http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/riffs-43007-daily-sex-with-pastor-mark

Don't get me wrong. I'm married nearly 30 years and have enjoyed passionate and mutually satisfying sex with my husband thousands of times, but MD painted a very unrealistic portrait to young men who already enter marriage with porn influenced expectations.

Now that the book has come out? I know he misrepresented his own sex life in those interviews.

As far as bitterness? From what I have heard, the pornified version of Song of Solomon is in the book. (Fruit of the bitter root of Mark's unresolved childhood baggage growing up behind a strip club and other early sexual experiences?)

Please think seriously for two minutes about Solomon's character and track record with "marriage". HOW can anyone hold him up as "good role model" for marriage???

Solomon learned some lessons the long hard painful way and was humble and WISE enough to write himself into the play as the villain. The woman and her monogamous shepherd lover are the role models.

Fraid I think Driscoll's favorite bits around chapter 6 are an uptick in villain Solomon's attempt to seduce the woman away from her lover and into his harem as his latest conquest. She remains faithful to her shepherd lover.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Gem, Mark did not say he had sex once a day in that video that was linked to by Internet Monk. He said young guys wanted to figure out how to have sex with their wives once a day.

There are things people like to imagine Mark said that he didn't say. For instance, he did not in fact say anything about the Haggards marriage but people already disposed to be offended by him have imputed this to him. That it was foolish to "take one for the team" in the wake of the Haggard scandal by now should be something everyone can agree on, even Mark.

People attributing things to Driscoll they can not only not prove but that can be fact-checked and corrected does not do critics of Driscoll any favors. Do I still consider Driscoll's handling of Song of SOngs deeply problematic and lacking in real exegesis? Yes, that hasn't changed. Do I think anything is gained by misrepresenting or misunderstanding statements that were adequately dealt with years ago by other Christians? No.

Because ancient patronage systems were what they were not all scholars think Song of Songs was ever written by Solomon but that it was commissioned by him, perhaps. Some consider it a northern Israelite satire on the corruption of Solomon's reign.

Solomonic authorship on the whole is thornier in some ways than might be presented in soudbites. For instance it becomes apparent by the end of Proverbs the book is a collection of existing materials and not material Solomon came up with. There is not necessarily firm evidence Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, though that traditional ascription has been common over the centuries. If Mark has in fact misrepresented things related to scripture and sex over the last ten years it has not necessarily been how much sex he has but about the simplicity and accuracy of his claims about Solomonic authorship of Song of Songs or Ecclesiastes in particular and his approach to the wisdom literature at a more general level.

How often Mark claimed to have sex in the last twelve years is simply not on the table in any public statements or teaching that I know of. It's also irrelevant in as much as the tension is not between actual claims about frequency of sexual intercourse but something more subtle, the contrast between the nudge, nudge and wink,wink homiletic style from 1997-2007 culminating in the Scotland sermon on the one hand, and the admission about how infrequent and unsatisfying sex was on the other. This is a significant gap between reality and rhetoric in itself without people pretending to themselves that Driscoll lied about how often he had sex in his marriage. That gap is scandalous enough if people stop to think it through without having to invent false statements that even I can't recall ever hearing from Driscoll in the course of twelve years.

Gem said...

Point taken. Unfortunately, I can't find the interview which left me with such a strong impression of daily as a "given" in his own marriage. (My recollection is that he was quite clear and cocky about it)

Thankfully, we're not in his favorite demographic and have never been followers. Overcoming the sexual addiction was hard enough for my husband without having Driscoll as enabler.

Honestly, I don't think Driscoll will be able to come out of the fog unless and until his wife does. And I think their children becoming teenagers is going to rock the boat. Teenagers are not so easily controlled (a good and healthy development, but it will rock Driscoll's world...)

Graham says "God may have His hand on Driscoll somehow, and despite his shortcomings is actually moving him along in redemption and sanctification." Yes, and God wants Grace to speak and minister freely. She could have a powerful ministry!

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Maybe, but obviously we don't know for sure.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I might also add as a cautionary note from the life of David that his failures as a father and king later in life were even more miserable than those of his earlier reign. Taking a census, being out of the loop abot Adonijah installing himself as king, possibly being hoodwinked by Nathan and Bathsheba into keeping a promise he never remembered making possibly because he didn't make it, and then instructing Solomon to kill men he promised safety to because David perceived them as threats to the united kingdom of Israel were not exactly bright and shining moments and that's even if we set aside the implication that David's lack of sexual relations to Abishag signaled impotence. V. Phillips Long and other scholars have indicated that Kings opens with a story that can be read as a case of royal impotence in the final days of David at multiple levels but that's not the kind of innuendo Mark has preferred to find in the narrative of Kings. Then again, Mark's not a biblical scholar in the professionally understand sense of that term. Many of the saints in the Bible had lives that did not end especially well.