Friday, April 20, 2012

Heath Lambert reviews Real Marriage in Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood

Lambert concludes that the book Real Marriage is going to be positively harmful and that there are too many contradictions between the Driscoll's rhetoric and practice to make the book helpful or even practical.

JMBW Spring 2012 p 42
Make no mistake: men and women will be introduced to pornogaphy because of this book. ... The Driscolls introduce their readers to the titles of pornographic books, magazines, and videos; they provide technical names for specific kinds of pornographic films; they list the names of celebrities who have starred in pornography; they even provide web addresses where readers can meet people for sex. As I look back on that sentence I am overwhelmed that a Christian minister could be so irresponsible.  I can tell you for an absolute fact that therea re young men and women alla cross the country who will read Real Marriage, have their interest piqued by some of the details the Driscolls provide, will turn to Google for a search on those things, and will not come up for air again for hours--perhaps months and years. 

Mark Driscoll's adventures in Christian porn (or would it be better to call it sanctified erotica?) are not news to me.  I heard where he went with his inane Abishag fantasy back from the 1999 sermons.  I was in my twenties, alas, too young and ignorant of Old Testament literature at that time to realize how patently stupid the Abishag hypothesis is and how much warping of biblical texts was required to even make such a speculation possible.  A person's understanding of scripture can change a lot in ten years while Mark Driscoll's "exegesis" can remain essentially static about wifely stripteases and holy blow jobs. 

I haven't read Real Marriage and don't plan to but I am, unfortunately, not surprised that the Driscolls provide those kinds of details.  Years ago Driscoll once opined about Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima saying she was a Catholic while working as a Victoria's Secret model and getting photographed naked.  Driscoll remarked that because she was a model she apparently couldn't spell the word c-o-n-t-r-a-d-i-c-t-i-o-n and swore that he did not look up any photos of her naked.  Since he says so ... but it may be telling that he still knew who the woman was in order to make his point. 

To be fair, I suppose a guy like Mark Driscoll might consider such things to be, uh, authenticating details that make his case and argumentation more persuasive.  Let me play with this rhetorical device a bit to show you how it works.  Mark Driscoll can say that it's not all about numbers on church growth but that they want to see more people meet Jesus.  Now I could have two kinds of retorts to that which convey different levels of detail and meaning.  I could say that this is like a man claiming that he doesn't have to marry a woman who looks like some model but that if she has done modeling work he won't complain and would prefer to date her over other women.  Or ... I could say that this is like a man who says he doesn't have to date a woman who looks just like a Victoria's Secret model but if the woman he marries looks like Miranda Kerr ...  

See how that worked? Obviously one of these two lines of retort is far more detailed.  Driscoll, it seems favors the second kind of retort over the former.  In scolding young guys in his church about having unrealistic expectations about women he said that they needed to get over the idea that a woman could conjugate Greek verbs, homeschool all the kids, cook food and then at the end of the day put on clear heels and know what to do with a steel pole. 

Uh ... clear heels? What to do with a steel pole?  Uh ... who actually cares about crap like that?  Driscoll has said that the criticisms some people have had about Real Marriage say more about their problems than problems in his book.  If that's true then can't it also be true that how Driscoll authenticates his authority to speak on things like pornography and unrealistic expectations about women tells us more about his own unrealistic expectations of women than about what he thinks the unrealistic expectations of other men may be?

Getting back to Heath Lambert's review, Lambert observes that the problem with this approach is not just the above cited concern that the Driscolls will introduce people to pornography.  The other problem is that despite the lip service the Driscolls pay to practical considerations there can be precious little practical advice. 

JMBW Spring 2012 p 39
Another example of impracticality was Mark Driscoll's chapter on pornography. Driscoll's chapter was fifteen pages, and only the last few concerned practical help for people struggling with this problem. ... I have counseled scores of peopel who struggle with this problem and have neer met one who was powerfully and qualitatively changed by a description of the billions of dollars spent on porn ... . People struggling with pornography simply do not need these things. That means that the thing people most need is what Driscoll spent the least amount of time developing. I was sad at an opportunity, now missed, to provide so many people with practical help.
Identifying the details of a problem is not the same as proposing a plausible solution.  Let's say for the sake of discussion everything Karl Marx proposed about the problems in certain forms of 19th century capitalism were legit (remember I said "let's say for sake of discussion", okay?). Does that mean that what Marx proposed as the solution is practical?  By extension think of Mark Driscoll as a kind of Karl Marx, just because he thinks he's diagnosed the problem doesn't mean he has and it certainly isn't proof that he's got a viable solution. Let's say for sake of discussion that he grasps correctly that certain things are problems.  It doesn't follow from that that even if this were true that his solutions are necessarily wise or practical.

As for Lambert's disappointment at the lack of real discussion by the Driscolls about friendship I'm not surprised he found so little from the Driscolls about friendship.  In some twelve years of preaching I can't say that I recall Driscoll ever demonstrating even a basic grasp of friendship.  It's apparent he has poured himself into his marriage but if you did a survey of the names he's dropped as "a good friend" over the last ten years and asked whether and when Driscoll hung out with all these people he's described as "a good friend" you might not get much of an answer. 

And that Grace was made Driscoll's "functional pastor" means the man is deluded about the significance of headship and a hypocrite.  If "it's not headship until you disagree" but Driscoll's submitting to Grace as his "functional pastor" then why not appoint Grace to the executive elder board as the Lead Pastor, eh?  If she's the spiritual authority and guide for Driscoll then Mars Hill in a very real way is spiritually headed by whomever is the "functional pastor" over Mark Driscoll.  What was Mark Driscoll's beef with Justin Brierley again ... ?  Ah, that's right, that Brierley was married to a woman who was a pastor.  But as long as we're talking "functional pastor" and not actual pastor I guess it's okay, huh?  Lambert may want to concede that the subtitle is "The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together"  You've got to admit that's not false advertising.


The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

Yeah- the "functional pastor" thing gets me- especially since dear Mark believes women shouldn't preach. While there may be Biblical grounds for saying THAT, where's the Biblical ground for an elder being unaccountable to anyone but his wife? That concerns me.

Rest of the shared article very interesting as well, thank you. Maybe this has been the most reviewed book in a while...?

Anonymous said...

Driscoll's a perv....plain amd simple.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

The "functional pastor" role for Grace could be construed as Mark Driscoll really being a "functional egalitarian". :-)

Most reviewed book in a while? Eh ... I doubt that. It may be the most hyped up book in Christian books since, maybe, Love Wins by Rob Bell but it seems unlikely to be teh most reviewed book in a while.