Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mark Driscoll on Sex

Mark Driscoll is a pastor of a Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He wrote a book on sex and Christian marriage that has drawn a lot of reaction. He recently wrote a response to that reaction. Not surprisingly, he thinks everyone is very confused except him. There is something deeper there. Evangelicals are unsure about how to handle issues of sexual morality. He identifies the two extremes and the ideal in the middle. We can be too permissive, we can be too legalistic, or we can be just right. But just because one can describe these categories does not mean one can correctly put everything related to sex in the correct category.

This book and a few others have generated reaction more from the way they talk about sex than what they actually say. They are quite explicit in their style. They say those who react badly to that have bought into the mistaken idea that sex is gross. That might be true for some of his critics. He does not give examples so there is no way to know. But there is also the idea that sex is sacred. Sacred things are often veiled. That is why we wear cloths to veil the sacred sexuality of our bodies. But language has it's own form of veiling. By using less graphic and more poetic language around sex we respect the sacred nature of it. Modern man does not like that. We see sex as a biological function and tend to think more clinical language should be used. But we have trouble doing it. Something inside us wants to move to the higher language of love or the lower language of the barnyard. We know what we are doing and it isn't clinical. It is either love or lust. Our talk tends to reflect that.

Christians should not fight this. We should not tell couples to use more graphic language in their marriage. We should develop our own love language. Just because some people think of Christians as prudish is no reason to make ourselves talk dirty to our spouse. Just have good marriages with large families and people will figure out that their is a healthy sexuality. That is what the bible does. It talks about men being blessed with a beautiful wife and many children. We are left to fill in the blanks.

Speaking of large families. The other huge problem with this book and many protestant books is it does not see the link between sex and procreation. It is a huge blind spot. He rightly starts by asking what is the purpose of sex. But then he gets the answer wrong. Partly because he is in a bible-only mindset. He can't see that the biological connection between sex and procreation might imply a spiritual connection as well. He can't see it because it is not stated in the bible in explicit, clinical language.

Gen 4:1 says, "Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain." There are quite a few similar verses. Are they just giving us biological information or is there a deeper truth they are trying to communicate? Why are those verses not cited when looking for the biblical purpose of sex? Because protestants choose to ignore them. They have already embraced a contraceptive mentality before examining the scriptures. That is precisely what Driscoll says everyone else does wrong -bringing  their existing bias to their biblical interpretation. This is a problem but he is not immune from it either.

So everything he says about sexual morality is off. He is right that sex is a gift from God. That it is given for a purpose. We honor the Giver if we use it the way it was intended. But he gets the intent wrong. By missing procreation he has reduced sex to just binding two people together. Any two people for any reason? You can see how this would make his whole argument come off the rails.

As with many theological discussions, the inadequacy of the Sola Scriptura method has once again become clear. The bible is a wonderful book but it is not a sex manual. That is a good thing. But that does not mean there should be no authority in matters of sexual morals. But if you accept Sola Scriptura then it does mean that. So you have the typical scenario of everyone speaks for God so nobody does. Guys like Mark Driscoll thrive in that system because absent real authority people will look for someone who is personally compelling. Driscoll is that. Unfortunately that does not correlate at all with being theologically correct. If anything, the devil will have the better presentation.

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