Sunday, June 03, 2018

Prelude and Review of Jessica Johnson's Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll's Evangelical Empire

A PRELUDE to a review of Jessica Johnson’s Biblical Porn:
Twenty years of Mark Driscoll in media on the subjects of porn, men, women, sex and marriage:

This first one is ... nsfw
The Evergreen
Thursday, January 30, 1992 WSU, Pullman, Wash.
pages 4 and 5
Do we need adult entertainment?
By Mark Driscoll
Opinion Editor

It's time we dispel the myths and do some pornbusting. There is a myth that all pornography is covered by First Amendment protections of free speech. In Miller vs. California the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that some pornography is obscene and not protected by the First Amendment.

The Court considers material obscene if:  “ ... the average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient (lustful and carnal) interests; the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law, and the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value." When someone rents "Bimbo Bowlers from Buffalo" or subscribes to those glossy magazines filled with a buffet of bevies it becomes public business because it is publicly sold. Videotaping the wondrous birth of a child is acceptable, but there is no need to videotape the conception.

A few lonely guys sipping beer and admiring gleaming breasts never hurt anyone, right? Maybe not all lonely guys wouldn't date rape a woman or become "Chester the molester" and increase size of an eight year old boy's rectum by rape because of what they saw ... but some do.

Some porn flicks climax with a woman being raped and then killed. Things look so real it's difficult to know if it's not real ... in some cases it is and the woman was actually raped and murdered for your viewing pleasure. Isn't this wrong? Doesn't this, and even soft porn, degrade women?

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, as well as social scientists and public health officials, said continued viewing of things like violence and porn desensitizes some viewers about victims in the real world. Others, like Ted Bundy, admit pornography encourages rape, killing and dismemberment by giving graphic examples to emulate.

Some men become 'addicted’. Other lust-athon-ers can't climax when having sex with their wives unless a naked centerfold of another woman is next to their wife's head on the pillow to excite them.

Today's films and magazines are increasingly violent and bizarre. Oral and anal sodomy, rape of women (and enjoying it), bondage, adults raping children, women on their menstrual cycles in various stages of sex, defecation, mutilation, intercourse and oral sodomy with animals (almost every animal on the ark is now a film star in some sex flick) and adults urinating on each other hardly classify as mere entertainment.

What we often fail to hear is that a number of "actors" and "actresses" are in slavery. kept drugged or held at gun point to make these films. The adult entertainment industry is big business: magazines, peepshows, topless dancing, live sex shows and movies compete for the lonely. In the 60s we had "free love" but today it's $5 for the first minute and $1.95 for each additional minute. Getting naked is big business.

According to nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas there are more adult bookstores in this nation than there are McDonalds, just in case you get McHorny. Three hundred and fifty child porn magazines are published, 500.000 "dial-a-whore" calls come in daily from New York City alone, there are 500 X-rated theaters nationwide that sell 2 million tickets a week bringing in $500 billion in annual revenue. X-rated fare accounts for 20 percent of home video rentals.

Even the Bookie is peddling flesh on campus. Why? Because they know glistening bare, breasted G-string clad wet-lipped prostitutes compel men to jerk into their pocket and grab $5 to support a chronicle of lust. Some retailers in town put the forbidden fruit high on the shelf and out of harm's way for kids - kids in diapers, maybe, but the best thing to do is get rid of all the smut so none of it falls into the hands of children or potential sex offenders.

A number of porn companies have been linked with organized crime. The $5 spent on a magazine or movie, multiplied by hundreds of thousands of perverts every day, fills the war chest of organized crime. The Supreme Court has left it up to you, the average citizen, to determine what is accepted by community standards. The squeaky wheel gets the grease - if you're upset start squeaking. Some may think I'm advocating social upheaval and a moral crusade.  you betcha Red Rider.

Writing letters to the editor, confronting business owners, picketing, boycotting, demanding clear and tough laws should get the media out and pressure some changes. Porn only will stay around as long as we want it. The question now is whether or not we do.
Lori Leibovich July/August 1998 Issue

"For financial reasons or whatever, the parents of Gen Xers put their lives ahead of their children's," says Lief Moi, 35, a leader at Mars Hill and the co-host, with Driscoll, of "Street Talk," a nationally syndicated Christian radio show. By playing the "dysfunctional family" card, Moi, Driscoll, and others implicitly coax young people to turn to church as a place where they can experience the family and fellowship they missed out on as a kid. The church then becomes appealing to college students for the same reasons that fraternities and sororities are: instant community.
"Some of us haven't given ourselves over to the American Dream yet," Driscoll says into the microphone. "How do we make sure we don't become victims of what harmed us— parents who weren't around because they were too busy making money so we could go on vacations and look like a family?" The phones are dead.


By setting themselves up against their elders, postmoderns are ingeniously adding an anti-establishment spirit to their movement. "I really preach; it's not just three points to a better self-esteem," Driscoll says. "Megachurches have perfect services with perfect lighting. We're a friggin' mess." Driscoll delivers his sermons largely off-the- cuff, and refuses to follow a point-by-point outline like most pastors at megachurches do. "I'm very confrontational," he says, "not some pansy-ass therapist."

William Wallace II
 Member   posted 01-18-2001 11:13 AM             
 Christian pornography. Christian phone sex. Christian cyber-sex. Christian lap dances.
 Someone recently asked me about these issues. And, they are quite valid.

 The problem with many unfaithful unmanly unmen is that they have heads filled with desires and dreams, but they marry a Christian women raised on a steady diet of gnosticism (so she hates her body) psychology (so she thinks too much before she climbs into bed) and guilt ridden don't have sex because it's a dirty nasty thing that God hates and makes you a slut youth group propaganda from hell/Family Books.

 So the poor guy is like a starving man who is told he can only eat once every couple weeks and his restaurant only has one crummy unspiced bland item on the menu and he either eats it or starves to death.

Bummer for that guy.
What the guy wants is to see a stripper, a porno, and have some phone and cyber sex. What the guy needs is a good Christian woman. The kind of woman who knows that men like unclothed and sexually aggressive women. Why? Because they are breathing. As long as a man is alive he is ready for sex every minute of every day.

Ladies, listen closely. The guy will never get the big dreams out of his head. He can either explore them with his wife, become bitter and sexually repressed, or sneak off to Deja Vu or log on to the net and escape in a moment of adventure. Birds fly, ducks float, dogs bark, and men think about sex every minute of every day because they have a magical ability to continually think of two things at one time, one of which is always sex. Any man who denies this is a liar or has broken plumbing.
So it would behoove a good godly woman to learn how to strip for her husband. Some nice music, a couple of drinks, candlelight and a wife who has thrown her youth group devotionals to the wind would be nice. Most women do not do this because they are uncomfortable with their bodies. Know that for a man there are two variables with a woman's body. One, what does she have to work with? Two, how does she use it? Now I will tell you a secret, number two is the most important.

How about a Christian guy who wants to watch porno? Maybe his wife should get a Polaroid and snap a few shots of her in various states of marital undress and bliss and sneak them into his Bible so that when the guy sits down to eat his lunch at work and read some Scripture he has reasons to praise God. Or, maybe if the lady would plug in a camcorder and secretly film herself showering, undressing, making love to her husband etc. she could give it to him when he's on the road for weeks at a time, or maybe just so the poor guy can see his wife as some undressed passionate goddess. I have yet to find a wife take me up on this be rebuked by her husband.

And what guy breaking his stones on the job every day wouldn't like a hot phone call from his wife now and then telling him in great detail what awaits him when he gets home. Or how about the occasional instant explicit message from his wife rolling across his screen giving him some reasons to expect that dessert will precede dinner that night.

Do you know why the adult entertainment industry is raking in billions of dollars? Because people like to have sex and have fun. Does it lead to sin? Yes. Can it lead to worship. Of course. If you resist this message, please stay single until you get your head straightened out. If you are married and fully constipated, bummer for you and your upcoming divorce.

Radical Reformission
ISBN 0-310-25659-3
Mark Driscoll
copyright 2004 by Mars Hill Church
page 14
... So I married Grace, began studying Scripture with the enthusiasm of a glutton at a buffet, and started preparing myself to become a pastor who does not go to jail for doing something stupid. To pay the bills, I edited the opinions section of the campus newspaper, writing inflammatory columns that led to debates, radio interviews, and even a few bomb threats--which was wonderful, because the only thing worse than dying is living a boring life. [emphasis added]

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

pages 59-60
This was drilled home for me one night when the church phone in our house rang at some godforsaken hour when I'm not even a Christian, like 3:00 a.m. I answered it in a stupor, and on the other line was some college guy who was crying. I asked him what was wrong, and he said it was an emergency and he really needed to talk to me. Trying to muster up my inner pastor, I sat down and tried to pretend I was concerned. I asked him what was wrong, and he rambled for a while about nothing, which usually means that a guy has sinned and is wasting time with dumb chitchat because he's ashamed to just get to the point and confess. So I interrupted him blurting out, "It's three a.m., so stop jerking me around. What have you done?"

"I masturbated," he said.
"That's it?" I said.
"Yes," he replied. "Tonight I watched a porno and I masturbated."
"Is the porno over?" I asked.
"Yes," he said.

"Was it a good porno?" I asked. [emphasis added]
He did not reply.

"Well, you've already watched the whole porno and tugged your tool, so what am I supposed to do?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said, "You are my pastor, so I thought that maybe you could pray for me."
To be honest, I did not want to pray, so I just said the first thing that came to mind. "Jesus, thank you for not killing him for being a pervert. Amen," I prayed. "Alright, well you should sleep good now, so go to bed and don't call me again tonight because I'm sleeping and you are making me angry," I said.
"Well, what I am supposed to do now?" he asked.

"You need to stop watching porno and crying like a baby afterward and grow up, man. I don't have time to be your accountability partner, so you need to be a man and nut up and take care of this yourself. A naked lady is good to look at, so get a job, get a wife, ask her to get naked, and look at her instead. Alright?" I said.
"Alright. Thanks, Pastor Mark," he said as I hung up the phone and walked back to bed shaking my head.
He actually called me "Pastor" and was not laughing like Pete had, which was an encouraging first. You may think I'm a jerk of a counselor, but I think deep down most other pastors think like I do and just don't say what they think because they lack whatever deep psychological problem I have that prevents me from filtering my words through a grid of propriety. The truth is that the guy actually did what I told him and today has a wife and some kids and no longer watches porno.
The next day I sat alone in my house, wondering if I really wanted to be a pastor. Meanwhile, the phone kept ringing. So I turned the ringer off because it was otherwise very hard to ignore.

The Biblical Man

...And most guys are just simply frustrated, that I have talked to, because they're not getting enough sex. I'll give you one story. Won't name his name, but I remember meeting with a--this is a lot of my marriage counseling. I don't think I'm a great marriage counselor but I do think I have one key insight that I'll share with you. Oftentimes I meet with couples and here's what I hear--the wife says, "I don't feel like we're connected. I don't feel like we're close. I feel like he's a little irritable." And then I ask, "How often are you having sex?"  And she's, "What does that have to do with anything?" [slight chuckle] That effects everything.  You know. Frequency is important. ...

"You guys have sex every day and then come see me again in a month and if there's still communication problems, he seems depressed, he's lethargic, THEN we'll talk because there's OBVIOUSLY a problem. But we're gonna start with what SEEMS to be the most obvious solution." 

I'm telling ya, ninety-nine percent of the time they come back a month later she's like, "He's just totally a different guy. [emphasis added] ...

Mark Driscoll
Sex: A Study of the Good Bits of Song of Solomon
Edinburgh, Scotland on November 18,2007

about 23:05

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, she says, is my lover among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade and his fruit is sweet to my taste. What is she talking about? Oral sex on her husband. That as he stands, she likes to be beneath him and his taste is sweet. It is a euphemism for oral sex, in your Bible. The Jews wouldn‘t even let men read this until they were married or thirty. Now you know why. You‘ve got Jewish boys under the blankets at night with a candle. [Laughter from audience.] Men, I am glad to report to you that oral sex is biblical. Amen? [Minimal response from audience.] No, you can do better than that. [Laughter from audience] The wife performing oral sex on the husband is biblical. God‘s men said, Amen. Ladies, your husbands appreciate oral sex. They do. So, serve them, love them well. It‘s biblical. Right here. We have a verse. The fruit of her husband is sweet to her taste and she delights to be beneath

I'll tell you a story if you don't tell anyone else of a man who started attending our church because of oral sex. Right? So many women go to church. In your country it's sixty or seventy percent. "My husband won't come to church. He doesn't have any interest in the things of God. He doesn't understand why church would apply to him." We had a woman like that in our church. She became a Christian. Her husband was not a Christian. He hated the church, wanted nothing to do with the church. She kept browbeating him about Jesus. "You need to get saved. You're gonna burn in hell."
He had no interest in that. 

And so, finally, I was teaching a class on sex and she said, "Oh, so oral sex on a husband is what a wife is supposed to do?" I said, "Yes." She said, "My husband's always wanted that but I've refused him." I went to 1 Peter 3. I said, "The Bible says that if your husband is not a Christian that you are to win him over with deeds of kindness." I said, "So go home and tell your husband that you were in a Bible study today and that God has convicted you of sin.  And repent and go perform oral sex on your husband and tell him that Jesus, Jesus Christ commands you to do so." [emphasis added] The next week the man showed up at church. He came up to me, he said, "You know, this is a really good church." That handing out tracts on the street thing, there's a better way to see revival, I assure you of that.

--you say, "Won't that make me dirty?" No, it'll make you a good wife, and ladies, let me assure you of this, if you think you're being dirty he's pretty happy. [emphasis added]

 Copyright (c) 2008 by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
 Published by Crossway Books
 PDF ISBN: 978-1-4335-0423-5
 ISBN-10: 1433501295
 ISBN-13: 9781433501296

page 166
... For example, before I met Jesus I was guilty of sexual sin. I was sexually active prior to marriage and also occasionally looked at pornography. But because Jesus died for those sins and saved me from them, I have been able to put those sins to death. [emphasis added] As a result, you were brought into a family where your mom and I truly love one another and have been faithful to one another in every way.  We know that apart from Jesus , dying for our sin, sin would have killed our marriage. You would have been either raised by a single mother or trapped in a home of sin and bitterness, marked by unrest and hostility between your mother and me, if it were not for Jesus' death on the cross.
How many of you would think that a couple that doesn't have enough sex is experiencing demonic spiritual warfare? It's true. How many Christian marriages divorce?  Well, statistically, more than those who are not Christian. When non-Christians can work it out a rate that is more successful than Christians that would indicate to me that Satan has really found a way to climb into bed between a husband and a wife and, in one way or another, cause devastation.

When I'm meeting with a couple and one of them, maybe it's the husband, says, "Well, my wife's not being very nice to me so I'm gonna deny her sex and until she's nice to me I'm gonna withhold it."  That's demonic. ...

To be sure, there are sex addicts in marriage who are unreasonable in their expectations of their spouse but what I'm talking about is the common situation where one person in the marriage wants to be intimate more often than the other and they're rejected, they become bitter,  Satan comes in and feeds that bitterness, baits the hook of their flesh with the temptation of the world, and all of a sudden Satan puts in front of them images and people and opportunities to lead them astray and to destroy everything.

Part 1 of The Peasant Princess
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Song of Songs 1:1-7
September 21, 2008

How can you say you believe the Bible except for the parts that God shouldn’t have written because they’re too exciting. Those are the parts you should teach DAILY.

Now what happens and some say, “But we do believe in the book and we will teach it, but we’re going to teach it allegorically.” Right? And there’s a literal and an allegorical interpretation. They’ll say, “Well the allegorical interpretation is not between a husband and a wife Song of Solomon, love and romance and intimacy. What it is, it’s about us and Jesus, really? I hope not. I get to heaven and this goes down, I'm, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I mean it’s gonna be a bad day. Right? I mean seriously. You dudes know what I’m talking about. You’re like, “No, I’m not doing that. You know I’m not doing that. I love Him but not like that.” The primary point of the book is literal, husband and wife, then there's allegorical things we could learn about marriage, love and intimacy that do apply to the church's relationship to God but that's not the primary point.
part 2 of The Peasant Princess
Pastor Mark Driscoll | Song of Songs 1:8 - 2:7 | September 28, 2008

And this is part of our theology. “Husbands, love your wife as Christ loves the church.” What does that mean? You  make sure that she is safe. That’s what it means. He needs to be a protector, and he needs to be told by his wife  what he’s doing and what to do. Now a lot of women don’t feel comfortable talking like this woman. She says, “Put  your arm under my head. Put your other hand in a place that Pastor Mark can’t talk about, but I really like. Take your time. We’re going to need to stop for snacks. My blood sugar level will drop. This could be a while.” That’s what they’re saying. “Refresh me with raisins and,”— right? That’s what they’re talking about. [emphasis added]  Now  some of you ladies are like, “Can we talk about these things when we’re intimate? Can I speak?” Yes. “Well, I don’t  want to boss him around.” He would appreciate it if you did.

All right, if you told him, “Do this. Do this. Do this. Do this.” You’re like, “Am I bossy?” He’s like, “Yes, praise  God. Now I know what I’m doing.” Now, the truth is most men, and particularly newly married men, we don’t know what we’re doing, but we pretend like we do because otherwise we’re embarrassed, and you could talk and tell him, “Do  this. Do this. Do this. Never do that again.” Just let him know. Every husband, deep down, wants to take good care  of and satisfy his wife, and if she tells him in the intimate moments what to do and what not to do, it helps him,  and she tells him what she enjoys and what she is willing to do. Okay? Now the big, big debate — here we go — is  this little line here. “With great delight I sat in his shadow and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” What is she  talking about? The commentators freak out at this point.

Joseph Dillow has the best commentary on the Song of Songs that I have ever read. He says, quote, “We have a faint and delicate reference to an oral/genital caress.” She is telling him, “When you enjoy this, I do as well.” Somebody said, “Are they allowed to  talk about that?” Yes, it’s in the Bible. All Scripture is God-breathed. What this means is, married couples who are Christians should talk about everything sexually. Nothing’s — you’re not allowed to sin, but do you want to try this? You want to try it? Talk about it; discuss it. Put it out on the table.
Part 7 of The Peasant Princess
Pastor Mark Driscoll | Song of Songs 6:11-7:10 | November 09, 2008

What she says was, “I was about the course of my normal daily affairs, and this desire awakened in me, this desire erupted in me. I had this crazy idea what I wanted to do with my husband.” It’s good to have passion. It’s good to be a woman who’s in touch with her desires, and if you’re married, it’s good to act upon them. Now the problem is, she had already promised her girlfriends that she would spend the day with them. Sometimes, when you get married, guys, you got to tell your buddies, “Sorry, I know we had tickets to the game. I can’t go tonight. My wife’s my priority. Something’s come up.” Ladies, sometimes just looking at your gal friends, on this occasion they’re single, and she tells them, “Look, I know we were going to spend the day together, but I got this crazy idea, I got to go home, and I got to be with my husband.”
She says that in Verse 13, and her friends respond, “Return, oh, return, oh Shulamite,” — that’s where the gal comes from — “Return, return that we may look upon you.” “Hey, we want to be with you today.” “No, you don’t. Not where this is going.” Chapter 7, why — he then speaks, the husband speaks to his wife. You’ll see that she is visually generous. He is verbally generous. She lets him see everything, and he talks to her with constant encouragement to overcome her insecurities. “Why should you look upon the Shulamite as upon a dance before two armies,” — the footnote in the English Standard Version is the Dance of Mahanaim, the preponderance of translations will call this the Dance of Mahanaim. The Dance of Mahanaim, so you know, is an ancient striptease. She is going to dance for her husband, okay?
Now before we get into the details, this is a Bible, okay? And what I’m reading is in the Bible, and II Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is Godbreathed.” We believe that. We believe that the Bible, unlike anything else, is divinely inspired by God the Holy Spirit, through human authors, that 3,000 years ago God decided that this would be written down. That God knew we needed to learn this, and, as we read it, some of you will say, “I don’t like it.” Don’t judge the Scriptures by your prejudices. Allow the Scriptures to judge your prejudices. “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, including,” — and I’ve had some people say, “Well, you should preach the books of the Bible, but not that one.” Really? If it’s one we’re uncomfortable with, it may be exceedingly important.

Here is a sacred moment where a wife is visually generous. A husband is verbally generous. She is going to dance for her husband. It is in your Bible. [emphasis added] He begins with her feet, and proceeds upward. “How beautiful are your feet in sandals, oh noble daughter.” First thing he says is, “I love your feet,” and he notices your shoes. I don’t know why, but this is huge, huge. Okay. I have no reasoning. I’m just the mailman. Shoes count. You have amazing cute, little feet, and I love those shoes. He then proceeds north. “You’re rounded thigh are like jewels, the work of a master’s hand.” He says, “I love the curve of your legs.” You will notice he is verbally generous, as she is visually generous, and, I will reiterate, they are married.

Okay? Verse 2: the most debated in all of Song of Songs. “Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine.” Now if this is what he is speaking of, then she has a large, round, red moist belly button, which would indicate to me some sort of massive traumatic injury, like farm machinery broke, and, at this point, the commentators are like, “We can’t say that. We can’t say that. That’s a woman’s place, and we have no — we can’t say that.” And my argument would be this. If the Bible says something, then we should let the Bible say what it said, because that’s God speaking. I don’t think it is the navel. What you will note that I do throughout the course of this series, is when we hit a very controversial, very sexual portion, I quote other people. Okay. It’s called blame-shifting. So then, if you are offended, you can send them an e-mail. Call them nasty and things, and I was just reading what they said. So I will do that for you now.

That the navel is the navel has been discussed over here. If the Hebrew word translated "navel" in Song of Songs 7:2 ALSO appears in Proverbs 3:8 when a father advises his son then whatever "navel" is it has to be something both men and women have.
The following post listed all of the times in a roughly eight year period in which Mark Driscoll mentioned “clear heels” in sermons from the pulpit, thirteen if memory serves:

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)

page 164

As with many things in marriage, communication is key. When I came to the conclusion that the cure for a lot of my moodiness was having more frequent sex with my wife, I simply told her. Yes, it's that simple. [emphasis added] For years, when I would endure depression, I tried to talk to Grace about it. Her natural inclination was to want to have long talks about our feelings toward each other, and I know that connecting with her like this is important. But sometimes I was just too frustrated and ended up blowing up and hurting her feelings. The truth was I wanted to have more frequent sex with my life, and we needed to discuss how that could happen.

To make matters worse, seemingly every book I read by Christians on sex and marriage sounded unfair. Nearly every one said the husband had to work very hard to understand his wife, to relate to her, and when he did that to her satisfaction then, maybe, she would have sex with him as a sort of reward. After many years I finally told Grace that I needed more sex. I asked if we could have sex more days of the week and try a variety of positions. She'd be the one to decide exactly how we would be together. Grace said that helped her think about our intimacy throughout the course of the day, which helped prepare her mind and body. To our mutual delight, we discovered that both of us felt closer more loved and understood, and were more patient with each other if we were together regularly in some way. And whether my depression was testosterone-induced or not, I just generally felt happier. [emphases added]

Page 177
Can we _____?
Having taught the content of this book around the world, we have been asked thousands of sex-related questions.
Before we answer the most common and controversial questions, a bit of preface will be helpful. If you are older, from a highly conservative religious background, live far away from a major city, do not spend much time on the internet, or do not have cable television, the odds are you will want to read this chapter while sitting down, with the medics ready on speed dial.

If you are one of those people who do not know that the world has changed sexually, read this chapter not to argue or fight, but rather to learn about how to be a good missionary in this sexualized culture, able to answer people’s questions without blushing. For parents, grandparents, and those in caring professions such as teachers, pastors, ministry leaders, and counselors, this task is all the more urgent.

Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll's Evangelical Empire
Jessica Johnson
copyright (c) 2018 Duke University Press
ISBN 970822371601 (ebook)
ISBN 9780822371366 (hardcover: alk. paper)
ISBN 9780822371533 (paperback: alk. paper)

I asked for a review copy from Duke University Press, which they kindly provided me. 

There’s a saying that’s been popular in neo-Calvinist circles that what you win them with is what you win them to. Mark Driscoll can say “it’s all about Jesus” but Jessica Johnson’s book Biblical Porn presents a substantial case that the Jesus who Driscoll said “it’s all about” was a reflection of Mark Driscoll’s interests, marriage and sex being foremost among them. The Mark Driscoll who said he grew up next to a strip club in a rough neighborhood may have moved far away from that strip club, but Johnson’s book draws upon Driscoll’s teaching over his time at Mars Hill as preaching pastor to argue that the heart of an ultimately strip club conception of men, women, sex in married life has been the heart of his preaching and teaching.

Over the last twenty years the thing that made Mark Driscoll most famous was the book he published in 2012 with his wife Grace, Real Marriage.  His star was not cemented by Death by Love, a book in which chapters were dedicated to people Mark counseled whose personal stories became grist for discussing theories of the atonement; nor was it Confessions of a Reformission Rev, which in hindsight reads like a manifesto for governance changes that anticipated the controversial 2007 governance battle that culminated in elder terminations.  No, it was Real Marriage that catapulted Mark Driscoll into being a celebrity Christian pastor who became a New York Times bestselling author, with some help from Result Source. 

That 2012 book was the culmination of a twenty year trajectory within Mark Driscoll’s preaching and teaching and public discourse ranging all the way back to an anti-pornography polemic he published in his student years.  Mark Driscoll figured out within the first few years of Mars Hill that sex sold and that a way to spark interest and discussion was to talk about sex.  So Driscoll spoke at length and in some detail about marriage and sex to a degree that was considered, for a time, scandalous.   Yet here we are a few years later and the way some have written about Mars Hill it’s like Seattle never had a Mars Hill, although it’s not hard to understand why someone who wrote for The Stranger would like to think Seattle is now as if there weren’t a Mars Hill.  All the same, Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill happened in Seattle and that has to be accounted for.  A general reader history of Mars Hill has not been written and Johnson’s book is the first academic monograph to take up Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll as a subject that I’m aware of.

Paul Constant’s review of Johnson’s book reminds me in a paradoxical way that Mark Driscoll’s shtick within Seattle could be described, in a phrase, as finding a way to be the Dan Savage of evangelicalism. In that Mark Driscoll and Dan Savage are both men who grew up in Catholic homes, rejected that Catholic upbringing, and proceeded to make careers getting off on telling other people how to get off, the brands of Mark Driscoll and Dan Savage in the history of Seattle may be far more intertwined than their respective fans may realize.  Both men have, arguably, made names for themselves selling a gospel of sex but whereas Dan Savage would be for pornography Mark Driscoll would, officially, be against it, and yet … one of the criticisms evangelicals and fundamentalists have levelled at Mark Driscoll over the decades has been that his shtick seems indistinguishable from pornography and may, in fact, be a kind of porn in itself. 

So it’s altogether fitting Jessica Johnson’s book sets out to make precisely that case at an academic level, to define what Mark Driscoll’s brand of “biblical porn” is and how it was central to his appeal.  The challenge for Christian readers will be whether they can accept Johnson’s case; the challenge for everyone else will be the academic language Johnson uses to discuss her subject.

Fortunately, the core idea of “biblical porn” is simple. “Biblical porn”, a paradoxically anti-pornography pornographic conception of the human condition in which you can be saturated with porn from Satan or saturating your life with a married life in which the sex is sanctified Christian porn. Your life is either a porno for Satan or a porno for Jesus and if there’s not enough sex in even a Christian marriage then Satan gets that, too.  It might be impossible to distill such a binary of spiritual warfare refracted through sexuality in Mark Driscoll’s thinking more vividly than Driscoll himself did in “Using Your Penis” on the unmoderated Midrash when he wrote as William Wallace II. Johnson quotes from this material on page 70 of Biblical Porn but you can find the whole raw text of “Using Your Penis” at Wenatchee The Hatchet:

What the guy wants is to see a stripper, a porno, and have some phone and cyber sex. What the guy needs is a good Christian woman. The kind of woman who knows that men like unclothed and sexually aggressive women. Why? Because they are breathing. As long as a man is alive he is ready for sex every minute of every day

Ladies, listen closely. The guy will never get the big dreams out of his head. He can either explore them with his wife, become bitter and sexually repressed, or sneak off to Deja Vu or log on to the net and escape in a moment of adventure. Birds fly, ducks float, dogs bark, and men think about sex every minute of every day because they have a magical ability to continually think of two things at one time, one of which is always sex. Any man who denies this is a liar or has broken plumbing.
Mars Hill leadership moved quickly to purge the William Wallace II materials within a few months of their publication. People who began to visit Mars Hill as long ago as 2002 had no idea that Mark Driscoll wrote things like the materials quoted above.  For outsiders who wonder how on earth a guy like Driscoll got so far despite having spewed out so much bilge the answer is that Mars Hill was always just tech savvy enough to figure out when and how to purge content that got them trouble, generally something said by Mark Driscoll, whether it was his William Wallace II screeds, his Proverbs “Lovemaking” sermon, or other material.  Driscoll benefited from being just savvy enough to know when to purge content and his leadership circle could gamble on the hope that whatever incendiary or ridiculous thing Mark Driscoll said in mass or social media there would be a way to finesse the controversy or, barring that, a way to redact and purge content.  The history of this blog from 2011 to 2014 can stand as a vivid reminder of just how wildly delusional that hope turned out to be.  
So, thanks to Mark Driscoll leaving absolutely no room to doubt what he meant, “biblical porn” is pretty easy to understand as Johnson describes it.  Some of the other terms she uses are going to be more opaque for general readers.
One of the biggest challenges to understanding Johnson’s book is in the subtitle, her use of the word “affect”.  There are those who would think, wrongly, that Mark Driscoll should be the subject of some discussion about charisma.  “Charisma” only makes sense if we’re talking about flesh and blood person-to-person interactions.  The super-majority of Mark Driscoll fans the world over have never met him in person or had a conversation with him. 

Famously, he can be a remarkably engaging speaker. But how do you try to describe the ability of a speaker to emotionally stir an audience, who may have heard a sermon in Shoreline mediated by a video screen of a sermon, that was really preached a week or so earlier in Ballard, and is being presented to a campus audience by way of a DVD player? 

You can’t call that “charisma” so what can you call it? 

Mark Driscoll used to claim Mars Hill Church was a kite in a hurricane. While he would say the hurricane was the power of God there is a more anthropological and prosaic way to describe what the “wind” in that hurricane was. That “wind” can be thought of as what Johnson calls “affect”--the mental, social, physical energy of those who invested themselves into the preaching and teaching of Mark Driscoll and, more particularly, into the expansion of Mars Hill from its rise to fall. 

Driscoll’s “biblical porn” was the catalyst for generating and directing affect, inspiring men and women to live out and conceive of life in the categories of masculinity and femininity defined by Mark Driscoll through his various teachings about what the ideals for men, women, sex and marriage were using biblical texts as pretexts.  As I’ve written at Wenatchee The Hatchet, Driscoll and other neo-Calvinists were able to make a case that young college-age men and women could drink, smoke and get laid (in marriage) to the glory of God.  Driscoll refined an ability to skip past higher cognitive functions and appeal directly to the libido of the proverbial lizard brain and figured out how to employ biblical texts as a pretext for consistently making these sorts of appeals. 

Despite the vividness with which Mark Driscoll demonstrated his polemical point that every guy’s insatiably eager to have sex, Jessica Johnson has a working definition of pornography that Christians and non-Christians alike may find hard to accept at face value.  Johnson is not using porn as cinematic, literary or artistic depictions of body parts in motion.  On page 7 Johnson describes biblical porn as:

… the affective labor of mediating, branding, and embodying Mark Driscoll’s teaching on “biblical” masculinity, femininity, and sexuality as a social imaginary, marketing strategy and biopolitical instrument. … not simply as image or text, but also as imaginary and industry—or, more precisely, imaginary as industry. This industry is not interpretive but affective; it consists of material and immaterial labor that is social and embodied, producing surplus affective value that can be manipulated and exploited—the “carnal resonance of conviction.

That is an academic mouthful and people may be apt to stumble over any number of terms.  What does Johnson mean by “affective labor”?  There are signals in the verbs, of course, but we need to come back to what “affect” is.

“Affect” can be the emotional engagement that can exist between a speaker and an audience as mediated by technology; the emotional responsiveness of an audience in a church campus; or online via a personal computer or laptop; or listening to a sermon on an mp3 player on a military base.  “Affect” can be thought of as social/emotional potential energy that can be transformed into a response and the social and creative power that is catalyzed by hearing or reading that sermon that can be translated into action, the released kinetic energy of going out and doing things.  As usual, Mark Driscoll turns out to have been astonishingly transparent about his methodologies. Johnson references an article written by Janet Tu Mark Driscoll was described as saying:

"One of the most important things I can do is agitate people to the point where they start to investigate," he says. "Otherwise, they're indifferent."

Note how Mark Driscoll said that he wanted to agitate people to the point where they started to investigate.  A more honest answer might have been to and “and also do something.” This is where we can come to a clearer understanding of what is involved in Johnson’s use of “affect”.  To briefly shift metaphors a bit, not just any materials will be suitable for fuel.  You need something that is capable of combustion, so to speak.  Promise implicitly and explicitly to young men and women that they can drink, smoke and get laid to the glory of God in Christian marriage and you’d be not-so-amazed at what that can inspire people to do.  Whole societies have been built on that sort of thing, right?

Now there’s a way to describe people who agitate people to act and respond to media saturation with a message; and do so in a way that also seeks to integrate people into a cohesive range of practical goals.  We can call these people propagandists. Having written somewhat extensively about how Mark Driscoll can be understood foremost as a propagandist rather than as a traditional pastor I feel I can mention this merely in passing.  That is a description of “what” I think Mark Driscoll is and Johnson is able to quote Mark Driscoll himself as confirming that when you pitch a message to and through a church in a campaign you saturate every element of church life, pulpit teaching and small group activity with a unified message and integrated content.  Johnson writes that when Driscoll was promoting his Campaigns to other churches he spelled out what the powerful advantages of the campaigns were.

As he addresses how Campaigns connect all aspects of the church to the pulpit, Driscoll emphasizes "taking the one big idea in the pulpit and packaging it in a Campaign that permeates every aspect of your church, [so] you connect all aspects of your church to the pulpit and leverage the pulpit to move your people into mission." (Biblical Porn, page 170)

I strongly believe that future scholarly work on Mars Hill would benefit from taking everything Johnson has observed and also connecting that ethnographic work to Jacques Ellul’s writings about propaganda and technique.  Whether or not that sort of scholarly, let alone lay-level writing, ever takes place remains to be seen.  Johnson’s book is the first book by an academic about Mars Hill that I think is worth taking seriously and, I hope, not the last.  There’s a lot of history about American Christianity, media industry activity, and social dynamics that could be written about Mars Hill, a church that arguably lived and ultimately died by the power of social media. There’s also a lot that could be written about Mars Hill, potentially, as a case study in what some writers have called “surveillance capitalism” but perhaps that’s just something to consider if you’re a sociologist or media scholar who comes across this review.

As Johnson’s book details Mark Driscoll was actually astonishingly transparent about his overall range of methodologies, whether in advocating “riot evangelism” or taking up the pen name William Wallace II and writing screeds like “Pussified Nation”.  He was essentially telling us he was a propagandist whether we had the scholarly nomenclature with which to understand that as what he was doing. The methods and ends managed to be … almost predictable for those of us who had the dubious honor of being able to observe the things as they transpired—agitate, assimilate/reject, consolidate.  If we in Seattle more generally or within evangelicalism more particularly just try to “move on” and pretend none of this happened then we will fail to analyze the transparent technocratic methodologies that were used within Mars Hill and completely fail to interrogate the industrial culture apparatuses that were able to make Mark Driscoll a celebrity Christin in the first place. 

For that task Johnson’s book could be nothing more than a prelude, even though she has passages where she touches upon what some call the Christian industrial complex:

While the church elders disparaged those “consumers” who merely attended sermons without contributing their talents to the church in the form of volunteer labor, Mars Hill’s multisite network increasing operated according to the logic of multinational corporations like Starbucks, replicating throughout Seattle and beyond Washington state. (Biblical Porn, page 55)

And in other contexts directly discusses it, such as on pages 146-147 where she mentions the evangelical industrial complex as described by Skye Jethani or by Rachel Held Evans. Johnson notes that what both Jethani and Evans do in denigrating the evangelical industrial complex is either completely ignore or simply blame the empire of volunteers who make such branded empires as a Mars Hill possible.  Not being a Christian herself we shouldn’t expect Johnson to have the time, energy or resources to investigate the culpability of the Christian industries (for want of a better term) in promulgating celebrities like Mark Driscoll.  She does seem to be aware, however, that a writer like Rachel Held Evans finds it too easy to blame Mark Driscoll’s fans for giving him some kind of power rather than interrogating a star-making apparatus that Evans herself can benefit from:

In Evan's and Jethani's critiques of the rise of celebrity pastors, those supporting the evangelical industrial complex on the ground are either blamed or ignored. Collective sacrifice and labor is not only unrecognized but also unaccounted for, leaving the cultural, social, and spiritual costs of the evangelical industrial complex unexamined. A closer investigation into the calculated employment of an affective economy through which to enlist congregants' material and immaterial labor--both voluntary and inadvertent--in support of leaders' cultural influence and spiritual authority is necessary. (Biblical Porn, page 147)

For that matter, if we wanted to find an example of another explosively growing disruptive techno-utopian start-up company that is even more pervasively connected with what some call surveillance capitalism Mars Hill was small potatoes compared to, oh, Amazon.

Johnson, like many an academic these days, uses the term “neoliberal” throughout her book, and that will be a term that will alienate and bewilder many readers.  She does provide a definition by way of David Harvey’s definition, that neoliberalism is an ideology that proposes that human flourishing is best advanced by allowing individuals the liberty to realize their entrepreneurial potential within institutional frameworks characterized by strong property rights, free/unregulated markets, and free trade (Johnson, page 166, though I’m summarizing).   On page 71 Johnson makes a useful comparison between Mark Driscoll and Billy Sunday that helps to articulate what she means by the difference between contemporary neoliberalism in practice and earlier policies that could be identified as Social Gospel:

While his masculinist posture from the pulpit echoed Billy Sunday's railing against the "emasculated" church, Driscoll did not encourage social activism, but rather entrepreneurialism, chiding young male Christians to "man" up. This paradigm from social justice to venture capitalism indexed Driscoll's sermonizing on biblical masculinity at the advent of the twenty-first century. (Biblical Porn, page 71)

By now I doubt many former leaders at Mars Hill would contest the idea that Mars Hill was a self-replicating franchise in which entrepreneurial drive was considered crucial in determining whether or not a man was manly enough to helm the launch of a new campus replicating the franchise.  But it’s too easy to assume that this was unique to Mars Hill, as if there were no other companies committed to relentless and perhaps even ill-advised expansion of a brand presence.  Johnson’s comparison of Mars Hill in the 1990s and early 2000s to Starbucks seems apt.  If anything I would propose that as disruptive technocratic utopian corporate megalithic brands committed to what is now called “surveillance capitalism” by some progressive writers there’s nothing about the dynamics of brand loyalty to Mars Hill that may not be replicated at higher and potentially more dangerous levels by consumer loyalty to something like … Amazon. 

Mars Hill was as necessarily and quintessentially a 1990s Seattle emergence as Amazon was and in the long run it’s not altogether clear that what Amazon may have in mind for Puget Sound society is necessarily going to be better for Seattle than Mars Hillian ideals.  An actual person had to post Andrew Lamb’s case to The City; Alexa can send conversations between spouses to some random contact based on a few verbal prompts without the couple being aware of their conversation being recorded.  We should not act as if Mars Hill is the only corporation that emerged in the Seattle area that has a history of mercenary commitment to brand saturation at the expense of exploiting people. 

Another salient argument Johnson makes that will be both hard to understand and too readily rejected by many readers (or altogether ignored by reviewers) is that in the age of surveillance capitalism the social power of the group is what drives cultic dynamics.  In other words, if we’re back to “affect” every person whose affect is the wind in the proverbial hurricane Mark Driscoll had to have enough loyal participants to use that hurricane wind to guide the kite that was Mars Hill.  An old social scientific concept applicable here is the diffusion of responsibility.  When any one person can defer action they may opt to do nothing and as “everyone else” takes that path Kitty Genovese dies.  But the diffusion of responsibility can work the other way, and when you can persuade hundreds or thousands of people to invest themselves and they actually do so that becomes a powerful society or subculture.  When a culture rewards and praises entrepreneurial drive people can invest into that culture with gusto. 

Mars Hill was not like the Jerry Falwell style culture war or a Pat Robertson style culture war because by anchoring his preaching and teaching content to Christian appeals to “biblical porn” Driscoll was able to catalyze members and volunteers to serve Mars Hill growth.  He’d tell men to volunteer for children’s ministry with the nudge and wink that it would be there they might be most likely to find their future wives, who would all find men volunteering in children’s ministry an aphrodisiac.  When he launched a singles ministry event in 2005 he said that some were worried that it was all going to devolve into a meat market and to this he said “You should hope it’s a meat market if you’re ever going to get married.” By harnessing the cumulative libido of a generation of young people, the co-founders of Mars Hill but Mark Driscoll most particularly, sought to harness that creative energy to building what they believed would be a new and revolutionary form of Christian society.

The way that Johnson warns us against assuming that the authoritarian cultural approach has to be cooked into Calvinism or religion or this or that falls short by way of being so dryly put:

Placing blame on a given religious institution or leader for the abuses of spiritual authority and population control does not further understanding or foster learning concerning how dynamics of power work. Othering such cases and processes affords the opportunity for further abuses of authority in both "religious" and "secular" political domains, on a grander scale. ... I suggest that bodily sensations, pleasures, and impressions engender a continual extension of fields and forms of control--not through top-down domination or self-population regulation, but social conviction. This affective process of atmospheric attunement is not predicated on religious identity or ideologically partisan.  (Biblical Porn, pages 93-94)

Johnson is clearer when she makes a case that we live in an era in which agitation is something that can be done not just by preachers but by journalists and basically anyone with a Twitter account:

However, in the twenty-first century journalists and preachers are not the only purveyors of scandal; audiences across the conservative and progressive evangelical-secular spectrum capitalize on and contribute to a social media industrial complex in which congregants and critics are not only consumers but also producers of content. (Biblical Porn, page 162)

Put that way, Johnson’s observation touches on why someone like Mark Driscoll, blogger among bloggers, could so often disdain bloggers that, as he once put it, have no confessional or “tribal” affiliation or accountability. 

Another way to translate this concern Johnson raises is to point out that in the history of media discussion about Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll there’s an internet myth that Mark Driscoll talked about Gayle Haggard.  Johnson debunks that myth thoroughly while pointing out that what was disturbing about Driscoll’s blogging in response to the Ted Haggard scandal was how he simply used whatever was happening to Ted and Gayle Haggard as a pretext for his conventional shtick about dudes and gals and sex.  The myth that Driscoll said Gayle Haggard let herself go was a volatile mixture of Mark Driscoll making generic comments, Dan Savage snarkily making comments about named women, and the cumulative affect of internet writing transforming that into an internet myth that has not died to this day.

I believe this is an important book about the history of Mark Driscoll as a public figure and about his activities at Mars Hill.  I recommend everyone who went to Mars Hill who wants to get some idea of how a non-Christian anthropologist can understand and discuss the history of the former church network to go out and read it.  Further disclosure, whatever my religious and political differences with Johnson I believe her work is important enough I gave her permission to quote me.  I believe that reducing the possibility that demagogues like Mark Driscoll can raise up their brands and influences depends on a genuinely ecumenical scholarly and historical enterprise.  I was also certain that absolutely no Christian scholars or historians seem interested in touching the subjects germane to Mark Driscoll’s rise and fall with a twenty foot pole with the possible exceptions of Warren Throckmorton and Carl Trueman.  Wenatchee The Hatchet can only do so much but I try to do what I can.

As strongly as I recommend people read the book I do believe there are some limitations to it and that there are risks of lazy readings.

For instance, Johnson describes Mark Driscoll peddling a fear that if Christians don’t win the young men the young dudely dudes will be won over to Islam.  That is something Driscoll has actually said.  For that matter, when Johnson appeals to Mark Driscoll’s stirring up paranoia she may have left out one of the more overtly paranoid overtures Mark Driscoll ever made in his writing career, something from Confessions of a Reformission Rev.

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

Page 178

Without sounding paranoid, I also believe that larger churches are some of the softest potential terrorist targets in America. …
Even back in 2006 when I first read that statement it seemed like a dubious assertion.  Now if Driscoll had clarified that he believed that African-American churches would become vulnerable to acts of racially motivated violence I would completely agree with that warning but, unfortunately, that’s not what he said at all.

Johnson manages to present Mark Driscoll’s statements from the 2000-2002 period wherein he claims that if the “we” of evangelicalism don’t get the young men “they”, the Muslims, will.  Yet there is an implication or inference in her writing that the othering process of assimilating spiritual warfare into narratives of neoliberal constant war in a post 9/11 setting can be read as a fusion of white dread at colored threats.  That’s certainly possible, since, after all, Mark Driscoll claimed in an interview with a journalist writing for Mother Jones that he, at one point, entertained political ideals to the right of Rush Limbaugh: 


Mars Hill is all about acceptance. Compared to the religious right’s favorite son Ralph Reed, a vision of fundamentalist zeal in a blue suit, Driscoll seems downright countercultural. He’s unabashed about using the pulpit to discuss sex. “I speak very frankly about the reasons God made our bodies to experience orgasm, the Bible’s approval of oral sex between a husband and wife,” he says. “Once you’re married and as long as you remain monogamous, God tells his children to be unblushingly erotic and passionate.”

He offers classes at church on topics such as “evangelical feminism” (“the Bible is clear that men and women are both created by God in His image and likeness and totally equal in every way,” he says) and disavows any link with conservative politics. “I used to think it was part of Christianity to be conservative,” he says. “I was further right than Falwell and Limbaugh.” Now he says he doesn’t even vote. What changed? “It got boring,” he says with a shrug. “And I realized that politics didn’t change anything, that in the meantime, people were still starving.” [emphasis added]

And yet by 2013, Driscoll had concluded in the intervening fifteen years that the demise of Christendom and associated nominalist Christianity was a bad thing. Johnson’s book is so laser-focused on Mark Driscoll on the topic of sex that his arguably more important and disastrous pivot on Western Christendom as something equivalent to the actual Christian faith itself in global historical terms is necessarily off the table.  That’s not a focus for Johnson’s book but it is a focus that historians of religion may want to explore in potential future books. 

But where these anecdotes are germane to Johnson’s book is in establishing that Driscoll’s appeals to paranoia and fear of terrorism was not very prominent in a pre-9/11 slice of his media life.  Nor, for that matter, had he settled into his masculinity polemics, yet.  As Driscoll steadily committed to his message that he wanted to compel young men to grow up he became more and more like the kinds of Religious Right figures he emphatically wanted to distance himself from in the earliest years of Mars Hill.  And, for that matter, as he began to escalate the detail and emphasis of his preaching and teaching about men, women, sex and marriage, the substance and style of his preaching and teaching arguably became the paradoxically pornographic anti-pornography chronicled in detail in Johnson’s book. 

For all that, a focus on Mark Driscoll and the predominantly white population of Mars Hill can miss that there were, in fact, people of color at Mars Hill working as pastors, even if they did not tend to rise to the higher levels of formal leadership.  Unless Latino people read as white James Noriega became prominent within Mars Hill as co-leader of the biblical living department.  The Andrew Lamb controversy was inextricably linked to Noriega and his family being at Mars Hill, and Noriega’s addition to the Mars Hill leadership roster is impossible to separate from the expansion of Mars Hill into multisite in the wake of its failed real estate expansion strategy of the 2005-2006 period. 

Even in so long a book review as this there’s not enough space to discuss WillieWilson, Cliff LowEd Choi and other people of color who played roles in campus leadership.  One of the many things I objected to about the centralizing paradigm of Mars Hill is how it functionally demoted campus leaders to playing the role of introducing the video of week-old Mark preaching when a variety of them were able to speak for themselves.  Polemics against Mark Driscoll as a misogynist and homophobe have their mountains of evidence but the temptation to impute to Driscoll a racist or white supremacist view that could be popular needs some more actual, direct evidence before it can be taken seriously.  A shortfall not so much in Johnson’s book as reception is that Seattle readers may be too apt to assume that if two vices are present the third has to be somewhere nearby.

Which gets to a shortcoming in the book in terms of discussing important patronage dynamics in the history of Mars Hill.  The Leadership Network, for instance, played a significant role in promoting and backing Driscoll and Mars Hill over the years.  There's a series of posts here about Mark Driscoll's history connected to Larry Osborne, for instance that reviews Driscoll's connection to Leadership Network. [index here, since tagging was incomplete] It’s not so much that Johnson’s book itself needed to get into these topics but a weakness in a conflation of fear of other with fear of non-white Islamic threat in reader response is to overlook that besides the Leadership Network there was also David Nicholas, who was either co-founder or founder of Acts 29 depending on which sources we consult. 

Tom Telford
copyright 2001 by Tom Telford
Published by Baker Books
ISBN 0-8010-6381-7

Spanish River Church has listed as its "Most valuable missions agency: Acts 29 Network"
from page 63

page 66 David Nicholas' "Acts 29: Churches planting Churches" gets a reference from Telford.  Most salient …

from page 69

Acts 29 Network. With things moving well with the network of church-planting pastors, Pastor Nicholas felt led of God to start a new network of churches that wasn't directly part of the denomination. He decided to call it the Acts 29 network and wrote up guidelines: the planted churches should be theologically Reformed, have a heart for church planting, and promise that when they become self-supporting, they will pay back the amount that was given to them to initially begin, and put 10 percent of their income into new church plants.

As he shared the idea with the church and others, almost right away, ten established churches responded enthusiastically and committed to the Acts 29 Network, agreeing to sponsor church plants. A Network agreement was drawn up to show the relationship between Spanish River Church and the church plant. The agreement requires reports for financial and leadership accountability.

In case people are wondering where and how on earth Mark Driscoll could have found a church in which his views on gays would be acceptable this gets us back to one of the most overlooked but important points of history about Mars Hill Church.  Mark Driscoll, Mike Gunn and Lief Moi all met each other at Ken Hutcherson’s Antioch Bible Church and on this particular point it seems necessary to cross reference to some material published by Rod Dreher at The American Conservative.
By Rod Dreher
September 5, 2017,
10:44 AM

I received the other day a very thoughtful letter from Ron Belgau, a founder of the Spiritual Friendship movement, which is for gay Christians living celibately, in obedience to the teachings of the faith. I print it here with his permission. My answer follows:

In the small Southern Baptist Church I grew up in, the youth group was served with James Dobson’s Preparing for Adolescence, where he recommended masturbation as a safety valve for adolescent hormones. The heterosexual youth fooled around at a rate that was not easily distinguishable from that of the unchurched boys and girls at the local schools, and the adults pretended not to notice. And, from the pulpit, we heard things like, “If America doesn’t bring back the death penalty for homosexuality, God will destroy us the way He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.”

When I was in college, I briefly attended Rev. Ken Hutcherson’s Antioch Bible Church in Seattle. Hutcherson cheerfully threw around epithets like “faggoty-assed” and made jokes in sermons like, “If I was in a drugstore and some guy opened the door for me, I’d rip his arm off and beat him with the wet end.” In 2004, Hutcherson organized the Mayday for Marriage rally in Washington, DC, and in 2010, he presided over Rush Limbaugh’s fourth marriage. When questioned, Hutcherson claimed, “The Buffalo Bills went to the Super Bowl and they lost a lot of times, but they never gave up. Rush Limbaugh never gave up on the institution of marriage.” For some reason, Christianity Today’s reporter didn’t ask for Hutcherson’s Scripture references for this answer. [emphasis added]

Driscoll, for his part, by 2004 had concluded that Hutcherson had “jacked up the Gospel” and had descended in to moralizing political games.  Yet the Mark Driscoll who would go on to write “Pussified Nation” had to start somewhere and, at least before he purged stories of Mars Hill and its history from his public biography, there was a time when he was really clear that Ken Hutcherson and the leaders at Antioch Bible Church were the ones who sent out people to plant what became Mars Hill.  One of the simplest reason people in Puget Sound need to be cautious about assuming that a Mark Driscoll might be a white nationalist simply on the basis of homophobic or misogynist remarks is simply that there’s a verifiable history of anti-gay sentiment in African American religious communities that can overlap with the views of a Mark Driscoll. 

This is worth mentioning because while Johnson herself does not really go so far as to say there was a white nationalist or white separatist element in the history of Mars Hill it seemed on the minds of at least some of those who attended her presentation at the Elliot Bay Book Company on May 23, 2018.  Johnson herself did admirably well but the audience questions she fielded tended to revolve around a set of assumptions about how uneducated literalist Bible thumpers had to be to have taken part in Mars Hill, let alone lead within it.  If the questions as to who would be so dumb as to participate for years in Mars Hill, I’ve been reading Theodore Adorno books over the last three years while juggling some books by Emil Brunner, Jacques Ellul, Richard Taruskin and studying polyphonic cycles for guitar.  I also spent nearly a decade at Mars Hill and even when I left I found the presence of Mars Hill people in my life so inescapable I had to learn how to live with them in spite of disagreeing with them about whether or not Mars Hill was a healthy religious institution.

Dan Savage once wrote that he wished that Mark Driscoll would have a fall similar to the fall of Ted Haggard.  What catalyzed Mark Driscoll’s public relations disaster was not exactly his sex life but the book he wrote discussing his sex life, how he was willing to have it promoted (by Result Source) and the degree to which the first print edition of the book failed to acknowledge the influence of authors like Dan Allender.  So, ironically, Mark Driscoll was brought low in the realm of sex but because of a plagiarism controversy and a controversy about the Result Source arrangement that was used to promote Real Marriage into a New York Times bestselling book.  That controversies surrounding the substance and promotion of Mark Driscoll’s 2012 played such a prominent role in the decline of his reputation might be an object lesson, and not just by way of “what you win them with is what you win them to.”  Mark Driscoll’s reputation arguably rose and fell on what Jessica Johnson aptly describes as Mark Driscoll’s “biblical porn”.

This rise and fall becomes all the more ironic in light of his 1992 polemic against pornography in general.  After all, the most talked about chapter of Real Marriage was obviously “Can We _____?”  By that point if anyone in 2012 knew of Mark Driscoll’s 1992 student op ed polemics against pornography it would be completely fair to ask whether Mark Driscoll’s entire career as a public figure preaching about sex hasn’t been the pot calling the kettle black.  Because, after all, within a decade of his 1992 op ed at The Evergreen about pornography Mark Driscoll, as William Wallace II was telling ladies that, since guys would never be able to get the dream out of their heads of the awesome porno experience, they as Christian ladies should be those porn stars for their men.

Even since Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill to make himself a Richard Nixon among megachurch pastors his Twitter feed features such gems as quoting Ecclesiastes to the effect that a wife is the reward God gives a man for his labor.
The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil. Eccl 9:9
5:09 AM - 5 Nov 2015

If that’s the new and improved Mark Driscoll there’s no reason to believe he’s improved or changed.  

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