09 January 2012

Evangelical Exhibitionists

by Phil Johnson

After hours of writing and half a dozen drafts, I've decided not to review or link to Mark Driscoll's latest book, Real Marriage. Over the past two weeks or so, lots of our readers have written via e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook to ask for a TeamPyro review of the book. Last week I said I'd go ahead and do it. But after trying for most of the weekend to write a review without breaching the boundaries of propriety and chaste conversation, I'm throwing in the towel.

The book is the umpteenth incarnation of Driscoll's infamous homilies on sex and the Song of Solomon. It is by no means the first book in which he has dealt with supposedly taboo sexual topics in graphic ways that are calculated to shock. (Now that I think of it: Has he ever written a book that doesn't somehow get around to the same themes that make up the table of contents of Porn-Again Christian?)

For several years, one of Driscoll's websites has featured a lot of the same kind of explicit material that recent reviewers have found so offensive. (The website actually includes some links and recommendations that point readers to even more outlandish and sex-saturated websites, such as "Christian Nymphos" and XXXChurch.) So the current controversy about the book's second half is literally years late. I'm quite amazed so many influential bloggers and Christian leaders seem totally unaware that Driscoll has been teaching this same stuff for years.

Furthermore, this latest book is somewhat toned down compared to Driscoll's earlier, totally uncensored material on the Song of Solomon, so I am frankly a little surprised that it has been so controversial.

But that's not to say the controversy is unwarranted.

For at least four years I've been expressing concern about Driscoll's obsession with erotica and explicit sex-talk. Does anyone who has heard me speak or read my material really need to hear a detailed account of my thoughts about this latest book? Is there anyone who knows me who can't guess what I thought of it?

Yes, I did read the whole book. I was given a set of page proofs several weeks before the book was published. There wasn't anything particularly new or stunning in the book—other than the details Driscoll reveals about his wife's personal history and the admission that his own marriage was dysfunctional for more than a decade. Those are facts I didn't need (or want) to know, and I am not interested in analyzing them further.

If I understand Driscoll's timeline, his marriage was unhealthy for many more years than it has been "healthy." I don't know why he didn't wait and at least balance the scales (and mature a bit more) before writing a book telling his disciples how to fix their marriages and liven up their sex lives.

(And while we're on the subject of maturity and the lack thereof, there's something extremely ironic and annoying about Mark Driscoll lecturing men—as he does at the start of chapter 3—on the dangers of perpetual adolescence.)

Anyway, the book really doesn't merit a full review, in my judgment. I'm sorry it has already received so much attention.1 It's a bad book, full stop. The good things in Driscoll's book (and there are some) are like the leftover bits of half-eaten Egg McMuffins at the bottom of a McDonald's dumpster: potentially nutritious, but not worth the effort.

So rather than a review, here are some random comments about the controversy the book has stirred; about the recent history of evangelicalism's growing obsession with seamy subjects; and about the current state of evangelical thinking on sex, holiness, propriety, and prudishness. Some of these comments will parallel what I said on Wretched Radio last week when Todd Friel asked me to comment on Driscoll's book. And if you want more, watch THIS. Sadly, I think the state of evangelical churches in general today is far worse than it was three years ago when that message was taped at the Shepherds' Conference.

he notion that evangelicals are naïve and squeamish about sex and don't discuss it openly enough is a myth. Evangelical sex manuals have been all the rage as long as I have been a believer, going back to the early 1970s. You had Marabel Morgan's The Total Woman in 1972, which generated tons of evangelical sex-talk. (Marabel was known for—among other things—a kinky suggestion involving the use of Saran Wrap as a dressing gown.) You had Ed Wheat's book Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment just five years later. It has sold multiple millions of copies. Even Tim Lahaye wrote a surprisingly candid sex manual, The Act of Marriage in the mid-1970s. Having sold more than two and a half million copies, that book is still in print.

Yet evangelicals have been complaining for decades that we don't talk enough or hear enough teaching about sex. From the point of view of many non-evangelicals, sex is about the only thing evangelicals have demonstrated a serious and sustained interest in for the past 40 years. As early as 1977, Martin Marty, a liberal religious scholar, referred to the trend as "Fundies in their Undies."

So the premise that evangelical churches are in desperate need of more and more explicit instruction on sex techniques is a risible falsehood.

But evangelical leaders who aspire to be at the vanguard in this trend have to keep looking for even kinkier ways to contextualize their Kama Sutras and spice up their "sexperimentation." Ed Young, Jr., for instance, announced this weekend that he and his wife "will spend 24 hours in bed on the church roof next week and stream themselves live on the Internet to encourage married couples to see firsthand the power of a healthy sex life."

I doubt any regular TeamPyro reader (including some of our longtime critics) would think us too censorious for saying that's a profane and shameful way to deal with a sacred subject.

But aside from the different ways they contextualize their sex-talks for their respective audiences, how is Young's preoccupation with sex as a sermon topic substantially different from Driscoll's? Both men have done multiple sermon series on the subject. Both have suggested that evangelicals' opinions on sex are shot full of taboos and naïveté that need to be demolished, while showing little respect for any of the classic principles of propriety, protocol, and decorum that are worth safeguarding. Both have a puerile obsession with lurid terms and topics. Both have at times used off-color, bawdy, indelicate words and anecdotes in their public presentations. Both like to give details of their own sex lives.

In short, both Young and Driscoll come across as exhibitionists. In one of Young's earlier sex series, he famously taught from a bed on the church platform. In order to top that, he's now moving the bed to the church roof, where he'll teach by webcam. What could be more exhibitionistic than that?

But if Driscoll's exhibitionism is less ambitious than Young's, Driscoll's approach nevertheless seems darker. He reveals dishonorable and scandalous details about private aspects of his relationship with his wife, her sin, and their sex lives. He does this in a way that elevates him to new heights of mysticism and authority, portraying himself as a prophet and seer entrusted with the ability to see others' sin as if on a movie screen—or so he claims. (Why do his revelatory dreams always feature sexual sin or some violent act involving physical abuse of women? Why do Driscoll's dreams and visions never seem to expose white-collar criminals—tax cheats, embezzlers, or religious hypocrites?)

If you ask me (and some readers have), Mark Driscoll fails to safeguard his wife's honor and reputation. He uncovers her sin for all the world to analyze, giving intimate details that should have been kept between husband and wife. In the process, Driscoll portrays himself first as victim, then as hero. In the words of Todd Friel: "Not a manly thing to do." Oh, sure: he admits a personal fault of his own here and there—but readers are left with the distinct impression that the problems that plagued the Driscolls' marriage for more than a decade stemmed mainly from Grace Driscoll's sin and subsequent cover-up.

Driscoll and his book's endorsers refer to Driscoll's tell-all approach as "transparency"—as if it were an utterly benign and wonderfully humble thing. But given Driscoll's history and swagger, it's hard to see it as anything other than carnal exhibitionism. And someday the Driscoll children will grow up and read their father's account of their mother's fornication.

I know some will dismiss my scruples about such things as outmoded Victorian values. But when it comes to the intimacy of the marriage bed, a strong sense of biblical propriety has governed Christian discourse about these matters from the time of the apostles till now. Name one Christian leader from Pentecost until 2005 who ever made public as much detail about his sex life as we have heard in the past three years from Mark Driscoll and Ed Young, Jr. about theirs.

This trend toward increasingly explicit sex-talk and more deviant practices is a bad one for the church. The ease and speed with which evangelicals have embraced the trend is troubling. Just a couple of decades ago (and in every era of church history prior to that), shenanigans like Ed Young's rooftop exhibition would have been roundly and universally condemned by evangelical leaders. The silence (or weak, accommodating response) of most Christian leaders today in the face of such an obvious sea-change is deeply troubling.

It's yet another sign of evangelicalism's growing conformity to worldly values and worldly behavior. The various evangelical coalitions and young Reformed movements that looked so encouraging five years ago have done more to encourage and enable this kind of exhibitionism than to challenge it. These things ought not to be.

How bad will it have to get before true leaders in the church and in the various gospel-centered movements find their voices and start calling the church—and some of these out-of-control exhibitionist preachers—to repentance? I for one hope we get an answer to that question before very long. I pray for it every day.

Phil's signature

PS: Read Carl Trueman on Ephesians 5:12 for a helpful addendum to this post.

1. Speaking as a member of TeamPyro, it's especially annoying that The World-Tilting Gospel, has been deliberately ignored in some of the very same venues where Driscoll's book has been treated as hugely important.


David McKay said...

Some folk make a lot of Driscoll's orthodoxy on many aspects of theology. They like him being Reformed and Complementarian, for example. So they cut him heaps of slack. I note others like him because he says things that put him in their Pentecostal camp.

But it seems to me that when you endorse perverted practices, it pollutes the whole message, like adding poison to milk, resulting in it being no longer milk.

The explicit and ugly picture of marriage that results destroys the way marriage is meant to portray the relationship between Christ and the church.

Jane Parrish said...

I add my amen to Frank Turk's.

Tom Chantry said...

How bad will it have to get before true leaders in the church and in the various gospel-centered movements find their voices and start calling the church—and some of these out-of-control exhibitionist preachers—to repentance?


The problem is, the gospel is defined as narrowly as possible in order to allow the largest possible number of big name celebrities to be counted as "in" the movement. The gospel is more than a set of two or three propositions about Jesus. It has implications, and primary among those is holiness. Any movement that can't find the eyes to perceive that, the heart to care about it, or the voice to speak about it is not "gospel-centered."

Ron Van Brenk said...

Am largely in agreement with Phil.
Yet also see redeeming aspects here.

As regards the Ephesians 5:12 of Trueman-

I don't see how sex between spouses qualifies as the "unfruitful deeds of darkness" (v.11). Or the "immorality" or "impurity" back-referenced in verse 3.

Yet, I do see how this exhibitionism might incite others to "immorality and impurity"- through "coveting" (v.5) of an illicit intimacy.

And I see the building of an idol here.

But I also see the 'giving of thanks'. A giving that non-Christians have no object for. And an object (not subject) that they are being directed to in this age of unprecedented atheism.

mrsdkmiller said...

They appear to be middle school boys on the playground upping the shock value of their exploits to guarantee a larger crowd next time the recess bell rings. Soap sandwiches worked well for decades, but other than Phil and Carl, no one seems willing to play the principal here.

Robert Warren said...

John & Yoko Young? I hope it rains. (But no lightning, please; he's already staring down the barrel of James 3:1 judgment.)

Tom Chantry said...


Having been spared the necessity of reading Driscol's book, I'll just have to say that if Phil is accurate in his assessment, Driscol went into excessive detail on his wife's sexual sin. That is at least "deeds done in darkness." It's also about the most outrageously crass, the most hatefully cruel, and the most adolescently stupid thing I've heard of from so-called evangelicals, and that's saying something.

FX Turk said...

Ron -

I'm sure that Prof. Trueman can speak for himself (he doesn't comment on this blog, so you'll have to contact him directly), but from that article, specifically the quotation of Peter O'Brien, not everything done in a marriage is virtuous. And just because some act is sexualized, that doesn't mean it's fine by God because he didn't list a specific "thou shalt not" for it.

And here's the problem: your obvious retort must be, "well, name one." To say this out loud means one of a couple of things:

1. You can't think of any yourself, which says to me that you're not equipped even to start asking these questions (meaning: not that you're not sufficiently-deviant, but that you are simply too innocent to start this conversation; you have no idea what sort of things people might do to each other, which leaves in you in no place to criticize those who have sadly been there either pastorally or personally).

2. You do know what these things are and do not find them objectionable (which speaks to your formation on this topic, and again makes your criticism not compelling because your opinion doesn't start where it ought to).

3. You are seeking to cause "the other side" to violate its own principles in order to engage your alleged innocence or ignorance -- which is the least-flattering possibility. It means you want others to sin in order to engage on this topic, and that's simply ugly.

Now, that said, I can think of one which is not salacious: hitting. It's dishonorable for married people to use physical violence as a form of sexual engagement. The Bible never expressly forbids it, but there's no way that beating each other up for pleasure's sake is right-minded or right-hearted. That would be one example that would fit into what Trueman was talking about which you can lay your hands on and start to rethink your position.

Robert said...

I think Driscoll just figures he has to push the envelope a little further each time to keep people coming back. It is like thrill-seeking junkies looking for their next adrenaline rush and each time they have to push the bounds further and further...same type of thing that people do with drugs, too.

Fred Butler said...

I'll just have to say that if Phil is accurate in his assessment, Driscol went into excessive detail on his wife's sexual sin.

And what amazes me is she gave her permission to allow that stuff to be put into a book for everyone to read! What self-respecting woman does such a thing?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for standing up and calling it shameful. I hope more men with the platform to do so will sound the alarm.
Can we now stop defending these guys as orthodox just different? They are immature and harmful. This sounds like "itching-ears" stuff and the end of that kind of teaching is not good.

Solameanie said...

I was going to email both Driscoll and Ed Young to ask if they were going to give away old Andrea True Connection albums as part of this current campaign. Then I thought better of if.

Why give them ideas?

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I find it odd that Mark and his wife were both Christian's for all of their married lives, but it wasn't UNTIL their sexual dysfunctions were addressed, and those needs fulfilled, that their marriage became markedly better.

So is sex their God, or is the Holy Spirit? Did sex perform the miraculous turn around in their lives, or should it have been by the power of the Holy Spirit (all along) in the darkest days of their minute-by-minute, all too mundane, existence?

You’re right, Phil, there is an inordinate amount of obsessiveness with the subject of sex that MD displays in his books and ministry. A reverence for God’s purity and holiness should be our hermeneutic for all we say and do. The bedroom isn’t a total aside to our lives, but it needs to be put properly and functionally in the order according to God’s will. It has its place and purpose but does not take preeminence in all things. Mark seems to have missed this fact.

BTW, I mentioned the fact that Mark was exposing their private sex acts in the book over at The Gospel Coalition, and the author who did the review told me he did no such thing. Even though I have not read the book (except for the first chapter), I got that impression from others who reviewed the book. I still hold to my views that this leads to voyeurism.

I hope people also take a look at Doug Wilson’s review(s) at dougwils.com. He is asking for a hermeneutic for the way our culture deals with having impure thoughts about sex: specifically men towards women. Well, I would be asking if there is a hermeneutic for the way men should view a wife’s fragileness. I think there is. And I’m still thinking about it.

Your entire article has so many excellent points, but to address them all would be impossible. And I still say Carl Trueman has Pyro blood flowing through his veins. Amen! :)

Andy Chance said...

One commenter pointed that Driscoll gets slack for being Reformed and Complementarian. And sometimes Charismatic.

Something else to consider is that most leaders don't want to openly rebuke him because he appeals to younger men. And evangelical leadership follows the rest of culture in seeking to please the young.

DJP said...

Driscoll is looking more and more to me like a case-study in the Law of Diminishing Returns. Any addict is familiar with it.

What's even more dismaying, if possible, is the array of apparently unaware ongoing enablers.

Tom Chantry said...

What's even more dismaying, if possible, is the array of apparently unaware ongoing enablers.

So true.

The list of endorsers for this latest sexploitation novel includes Daniel Akin (too bad, no?), Perry Noble (no surprise there), Wayne Grudem (I suppose anything to support a fellow Spirit-filled visionary), and of course everyone's famous elephant trainer - James MacDonald.

It cannot be said enough - this shameful behavior is wholly antithetical to the gospel - which has consequences.

FX Turk said...


At least they are well-documented on the question of self-promotion.

Bob Edwards said...

The whole concept of he is orthodox on important issues so we cut him some slack does not play. James 2:19 says that the demons are orthodox on a very important issue. Does that mean we should cut them some slack?

Orthodoxy is necessary for being a leader in the church it is not however sufficient as the lists of qualifications in 1 Tim and Titus show. Items regarding their CHARACTER are the focus of these passages not orthodoxy.

Perhaps we ought to just agree with Scripture on this and move past men like Driscoll and Young.

John Dunn said...

So sad to see celeb pastors forsaking the narrow way for the broad road in these matters, for the sake of ratings. Ratings = dollars. They are peddaling the Gospel through racy sensationalism.

And it's just as sad to see the lack of evangelical outcry against such pastoral indecency. This issue is a good litmus test of where the church is at spiritually. Where is the mind of the Spirit in all of this?? It may well be the new "down-grade controversy" of our time.

Eric said...

Father of eleven,

"Perhaps we ought to just agree with Scripture on this and move past men like Driscoll and Young."

If by "move past" I correctly understand you to be saying that it is better to ignore these men now and moving forward, then I'd have to disagree. That's a nice idea, but unfortunately these men have huge amounts of influence and sway and so ignoring them is really not an option.

Bob Edwards said...

Sorry I may not have been clear. The point is that, based on Scripture, they are unfit to be leaders. Let's move past them and go on to men who are qualified.

And yes that means pointing them out to the broader flock and saying "don't follow them." Follow ones like Scripture says.

Eric said...


Thanks for the clarification. I fully concur that men such as Driscoll and Young are disqualified from leadership. How exactly the church "moves past" them is a difficult question given their influence and the infatuation that much of the visible church has with celebrity.

stranger.strange.land said...

The most inspiring and Christ honoring treatments of the Song of Songs that I have read are Spurgeon's sermons and Matthew Henry's commentary. I'll stick with those.

Craig Boyd

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ Freb Butler,

It does not surprise me one bit, Fred, that she gave her consent in these matters. Mark's personality is obsessive and possessive. There is a correct view of complementarianism (John MacArthur having a right understanding of it), but Mark misses the mark here.

Case in point from chapter one, page 11: He is upset with her when she cuts off her long hair. She does it for her convenience because she is busy raising FIVE children, and he thinks it is selfish because she put her needs of convenience before being a wife. And so she weeps over this.

I am all for complimenterian views, but Mark steps well OVER the line to the point of possessiveness and selfishness. He is controlling her mind to the point where she will do anything to please him. But, she bares responsibility also.

~Mark said...

Thanks for another well-thought out and Christ centered post Phil. Conversations about the titillation of the crowds from the pulpit have been coming at a fevered pitch lately, even from some of my Roman Catholic friends (!!), and this is a good reminder that every thing has its proper place.

Also, it's IMPROPER place.

Eric said...

"But, she bares responsibility also."

Freudian slip?

Jamie said...

@ Bob,

I must agree with Eric, these men have followers, they are therefore leaders by biblical standards; just not very good.

Here’s the thing, while they may not be very Godly leaders they nonetheless influence a great number of people and for their sake we can not just move past them.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Actually, Eric, if I understand you correctly, it is not a Freudian slip.

The Bible tells us that we will be judged by our *OWN* deeds. She is totally responsible for what she has done. She may even have found some sort of sick joy in it. That is not to say that an overpowering personality *do it my way or the highway, * isn't capable of putting people under bondage to them.

Women are just as sinful and can be just as overpowering as men. I hope that is not a newsflash to anyone!

JG said...

Late to the conversation, but:

"Mark Driscoll fails to safeguard his wife's honor and reputation."

Yes! This is one of the things that bugged me most about what I've heard. (No, haven't read the book, but considering so much of it has been either quoted or paraphrased, I don't feel the need.) Some blogger friends and I were talking just before the new year about the importance of protecting your family online (i.e. being judicious about what you "vent" about your spouse or kids) because once it's out there, it's there forever. We are supposed to protect our families in the public eye. Now, I'm sure none of this got published without Grace Driscoll's knowledge and permission, but still, it's now out there forever.

Larry Geiger said...

Thank you. Once more discernment is practiced at Pyro.

At least two reviewers that I saw attempted to handle the issues delicately, but then the comments went way south.

Eric said...


Surely you do misunderstand me. I was referring simply to the fact that you used the word "bare" instead of (properly) using the word "bear" in a discussion broadly about sex and language. It was an attempt at humor, not an attempt to say anything deeper.


To be clear, I agree with Bob that these men are disqualified from leadership when applying Biblical standards. In recognizing that there are many that are influenced by them I understand them to be leaders in the purely practical, wordly sense, not in the qualified Biblical sense.

Solameanie said...

I realize my earlier quip on Andrea True might have raised a few eyebrows, but this issue does really concern me. These guys ought to know better, and that in and of itself is disturbing.

I've been doing a lot of introspection of late as to my own presuppositions and expectations. We know that the last days are prophesied to be a time of growing deception, where people accumulate for themselves teachers to tickle their ears. Even knowing this and expecting theological deception to rear its head, I never expected to see someone trying to be a modern-day Fran├žois Rabelais within evangelicalism. Maybe that's too harsh a comparison, but then again, maybe not. And it's only likely to get worse.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

No problem, Eric, I use the word your in the place of you're all the time. I know better, but you get typing so fast you just forget about editing it. But you have to admit *bare* fit the mood and the flavor of things. :)

Kerry James Allen said...

Thanks, Phil. "The sins of others leave some kind of stain upon the conscience. I question whether you can read a newspaper and scan the story of a murder or a robbery, or survey with more distant glance in any book of history the sin of your fellow men, without being in a degree injured therewith." CHS

Rich Barcellos said...

I agree with Frank Turk.

Robert Warren said...

@Kerry James Allen:

I've not seen that quote before, but I have found it lately to ring true; I'm better off skipping many news items after glancing at the headlines. (Much easier to skip them on web editions.)

Pam said...

Oh, my. everytime I think there is nothing left to shock me, well, Mark Driscol and Ed Young's names come to inform me that I am still "shockable." Thanks, Phil, for the update and could we lose any more respect for the men who endorsed this book?? Would it be so hard for them to preach the Gospel and do some sound Biblical teaching instead of writing such horrid books or doing such shocking things in public in the name of Christ??? Everyone, pray, pray, pray. Do we not fear for our grandchildren?

Mark said...

Thanks, Phil.

Rhology said...

Good stuff, Phil.

I am also amazed that anyone takes Ed Young the Less seriously. Thankfully it would seem fewer and fewer do.

donsands said...

"The book is the umpteenth incarnation of Driscoll's infamous homilies on sex and the Song of Solomon. It is by no means the first book in which he has dealt with supposedly taboo sexual topics in graphic ways that are calculated to shock."-Phil Johnson

I love the way you speak the truth in love. May Mark hear it, and repent, and may our Lord's grace bring him to see his grievious error in communicating the holy Word of God in an ungodly manner. Amen.

There is so much incredible, exciting, and amazingly edifying truth from Genesis to Revelation, that these kinds of books and teachings are broing and humanistic.

Rededicate yourself to the Gospel, and the Bible in all its glory Mark; or repent of your lack of godliness in expositing the holy Truth of our Lord.

Get out of the pulpit my friend, and fear our Father, who is holy and righteous, as He certainly is loving and forgiving.

Thanks Phil for the well spoken post.

Karen said...

Books composed mainly of narrative about one's self/family, sprinkled with occasional Scripture verses to back up the accompanying anecdotal storyline can't really be expected to be helpful, can they? --Oh wait; I accidentally described 90% of "Christian" topical books, not merely those about marriage.

Please, I wish those that wrote well would choose to thoughtfully explain Scripture instead of talking about themselves and making broad generalizations based on their experiences.

I feel so bad for Mrs. Driscoll and pray that she is able to find her fulfillment in Christ and not in her marriage.

FX Turk said...


Love to love ya, baby.

trogdor said...

"Mark Driscoll fails to safeguard his wife's honor and reputation. He uncovers her sin for all the world to analyze, giving intimate details that should have been kept between husband and wife. In the process, Driscoll portrays himself first as victim, then as hero."

We're told that we need to heed Driscoll's sexual messages because he's such a staunch complementarian, but this would seem to indicate that his complementarianism is theoretical at best. What man could even consider flaunting his wife's past sin, dragging her name through the mud, for the sake of making himself look like the big strong hero?

Is that what Peter had in mind when he commanded us to "live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered"?

And I don't care if she was willing to go along with it. If he was a man, it never would have been an option, period. Instead of being the warrior looking to protect his family, he's their exploiter. He's practically as solid on complementarianism as Harold Camping is solid on eschatology.

trogdor said...

Meanwhile, it can't be a good thing when you hear of a church pulling a stunt and their only Biblical model seems to be Absalom.

Eric said...

I love this parenthetical observation:

"(Why do his revelatory dreams always feature sexual sin or some violent act involving physical abuse of women? Why do Driscoll's dreams and visions never seem to expose white-collar criminals—tax cheats, embezzlers, or religious hypocrites?)"

These questions have sufficient impact as rhetorical questions, but I would really like to see a Driscoll apologist make an honest and straightforward attempt to answer those questions.

Mizz Harpy said...

Erma Bombeck published an excellent review of The Total Woman in Aunt Erma's Copebook. I warn you, don't drink coke or any beverage while reading it.

I haven't read Driscoll's book, I'm not married and don't need to read it but the reviews I”ve read are consistent about what he has written. What Driscoll writes about his wife in his book and what Young is planning to do with his wife on a roof top is little better than what I read this morning in II Samuel 16:20-23.

Elaine Bittencourt said...

"Speaking as a member of TeamPyro, it's especially annoying that The World-Tilting Gospel, has been deliberately ignored in some of the very same venues where Driscoll's book has been treated as hugely important."

I couldn't agree more with you Phil.

threegirldad said...

Does anyone have a direct link to the Wretched Radio interview?

James Scott Bell said...

Driscoll and Young are the Madonna and Lady Gaga of hipster pastors. You gotta keep after that edginess for the rep. Sex is the place to find it, as the aforementioned song mistresses well know.

I can understand MacDonald lending his name, but not Grudem. That's too bad.

Phil Johnson said...

threegirldad: Does anyone have a direct link to the Wretched Radio interview?


Deb said...

"These things ought not to be" - Amen!

Solameanie said...


I feel like I'm being dragged back to Funkytown.

eidoha1 said...

Unfortunately I can understand why people fall for Pastors like Driscoll. I was just over at the Fox news website and they had an Opinion piece written by him. If I didn't have this website and had never read anything about him I might have gone out and bought his book.
Thank you Team Pyro and Mr. Johnson for exposing the truth about this book, so that I didn't waste my money.

Drew Rankin said...

Phil, Frank, et al;

I enjoy reading your mostly daily missives via RSS feeds. Team Pyro is always thought provoking and many days I agree with you.

I see the emergent church as a phenomenon that is a reaction to decades of men being masticated by the Church. All too often Christian leaders run back to the comfort of the Pharisaical liturgy of restrictions when what a man needs is Grace. It is by Grace that we have been rescued for His purposes. It is by Grace that we should focus on Him, for our enemy seeks to destroy us by any means. It is by Grace that I realize that I am lower than pond scum; everything I was before Grace is the worst kind of refuse in the garbage dump and it is only by His Grace and Purpose that I live.

Realistically, Mr. Driscoll's success is measured by whatever measure he expects it to be. If Mr. Driscoll's reward is a 10,000 member church, then that is all the reward he will get. Unfortunately, for those in this very large church will hear a false gospel. However, if Christ is preached at Mr. Driscoll's church, then the Good News is heard. If those who oppose Mr. Driscoll _outside_ the Church see him as without integrity than he will surely be ruined by his own actions. Those who oppose him from within the Church may be guilty of cutting off their nose despite their toe, or however, that phrase goes.

Personally, if my pastor is more John Wayne than Fred Rogers, I will probably identify more with John Wayne; sorry Fred, though you were one of my childhood heroes, the world is a violent, evil place.

"[F]rom the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" Matt 11:12 Literally -- desperate, violent men are rushing Heaven. If you are desperate for God, earnestly seek His face and turn from your wicked ways, He is faithful to hear and forgive. That is what we all need, especially me. in XR

Steve Talas said...

Unfortunately as has been already observed,say whatever you want Driscoll and 'Team Mars Hill' aren't listening. The brake is off the pedal to the floor and it's full speed ahead. with driver and passengers deafened by whatever the grunge worship band happen to be playing.Any questioning of authority or issues of accountability swept aside.

What tragedy will unfold unless the Lord somehow mercifully intervenes. How many will leave disillusioned and shell shocked, their world shattered as yet another 'celebrity pastor' crashes and burns.

May the Lord yet graciously intervene and uphold the honour of His name. I know that on a 'good day' Driscoll when focused purely upon Christ and his finished work could be a powerful proclaimer of the glorious gospel, that is what makes this all the more tragic.

It is also sobering to consider where I or any of us for that matter, would be without that same gracious divine intervention.

Sonja said...

@Steve Talas, I share your concerns. I have recently resigned my membership at MHC because of these concerns. While the pastors at my campus gave me great care and I had wonderful fellowship, I had to turn tail and run for my life. But then, I don't fit the paradigm. Please pray for those there, people who DO love the Lord.

I really want to thank Team Pyro. It took a long time, too long, but you helped open my eyes.

I was blind, now I see.

Jackie said...

Amen!! Thank you for this post.

donsands said...

"Those who oppose him from within the Church may be guilty of cutting off their nose despite their toe, or however, that phrase goes."-Drew

Would you explain this a little more my friend?
I'm a bit bewildered with your meaning, but I can be a numb-skull for sure. Thanks.

I am actually watching the Bama vs LSU game, and it's Half-time. Great Game! Go Bama!

Aaron Snell said...

There is a marked difference between the way Driscoll's book is characterized here by Phil (and on his WR interview) and over here at TGC.

Phil advises us not to read the book, and I certainly think he has the track record (with me at least) to have the greatest weight on his side. I'm probably not going to read it. But it does make it difficult to evaluate things like this:

"they are generally careful about avoiding unnecessarily sensational language. Instead, we find transparent confessions and honest answers to honest questions and concerns"


"you would be wrong to write off the entire book. The objective good far outweighs the questionable content." (from the Armstrong review)

David McKay said...

I was really amazed that the book would be given any recommendation at TGC and am further astounded that Wayne Grudem could endorse it.

Does anyone have a link to what he said about it, please?

I appreciate the reports we have been given about it, confirming that I don't need to read it when there is plenty of reliable Christian material available which doesn't endorse bizarre and perverted practices.

Looking forward to receiving and reading Tim and Kathy Kellers' book at the end of the month.

David McKay said...

Answering my own question:
Peter Lumpkins cites curious endorsees for Driscolls' Real Marriage

one busy mom said...

How tragic that Driscoll so dishonors his wife in the name of "transparency". That type of "transparency" undermines trust - the foundation of love, which is the very foundation of marriage - regardless of what transpires between the sheets. Sex does not require love, but a healthy marriage does.

It's sad there is such an obsession about this in the church....could we even become more worldly?

Tom Chantry said...

Holy Cow! A Peter Lumpkins link at TeamPyro! Poor Peter may have a heart attack if he finds out! But yes, those are a few of the endorsements.

Tom Chantry said...

@Aaron Snell,

Don't recall if this was here, in the Wretched interview, or both, but Phil has said that the book is written rather clinically and not with a salacious tone. That isn't the point he's making at all.

peter lumpkins said...

@Tom Chantry

No heart-attack here (gasp, gasp:). Though I cannot say with the same confidence that some of my acquaintances will not double over when they discover Akin's name on the list of endorsers.

With that, I am...

Tom Chantry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Chantry said...

Glad you're still breathing! I found the endorsements tragic, too.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Perhaps Mr, Driscoll simply misread Paul's words in Galatians 6:2 as "Bare one another's burdens..."

Steve Talas said...

I think you'll find that Amazon have a 'look inside' preview of the book available on their site.

Just the opening pages, nothing too graphic, and the list of endorsers is included. Don't get confused with the participants guide, the mind boggles as to what that might include!

Anonymous said...

I hope Ed Young gets the weather forecast right otherwise his followers will see some one elctrocute himself in bed (with a live webcam). Iwonder if it make good viewing for the pagans to see a supposed pastor being consumed by worms on a church roof in a depraved experiment gone awry. Grrr!

pentamom said...

"What self-respecting woman does such a thing? "

One who has been harangued and brainwashed by pop evangelical teaching into believing that her duty is to be "open and honest" about such things, and induced to forget biblical standards of virtue, modesty, and protection of the minds of others.

Before reading this thread, I hadn't thought about the aspect of what a colossal failure of husbandly duty this is for Driscoll. But that may, in some ways, be the largest problem with this book (not making light of other problems with it.)

Linda said...

It’s a flagrant act of turpitude to do such obvious shameful things and to wear the name of Christian-- simply because you teach theology and are a Pastor?
Come on, when did being a Pastor or knowing your theology ever change a man’s nature? When in the world did we reduce such wickedness to such low levels and 4 years later it's still going on?

what should be considered most sacred and kept in the privacy of their bedroom as honorable and respectable is smeared in the public’s eye and made filthy laundry.Why? Because since he rolls in the sewer he wants everyone else to do the same. And he just can't stand the idea that everyone else won't go down the tubes so he's going to gather as many as he can anyway.
Why does Driscoll try to downplay SHAME as if we are depriving ourselves of some sense of enjoying some kind of good in a salutary way to have more freedom as Christians?<<that’s just like Satan in Genesis tempting Eve to me. We should have shame and a sense of infinite value because of Jesus Christ especially when it keeps us from such depraved sordid acts. It is very biblical and healthy to have shame because we have the freedom NOW to say NO to wrong all because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Jude 4 They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality,,,
He's foaming up his shame, bound by sensuality and carouses in broad daylight.
As far as praying, that's fine-we certainly should with compassion and sincere love for one another. However, there comes a time-- Like with Caleb God would say ---"Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?"-Joshua 7:10
Do something about the sin in your camp. Honestly I don't think God is too impressed with our nonchalant attitude of just brushing everything off with prayers 4 years later...Sad

I'm a woman and I'm angry-righteously---

Daniel said...

Perhaps Mr, Driscoll simply misread Paul's words in Galatians 6:2 as "Bare one another's burdens..."

That's rich... I giggled.

Rich Barcellos said...

good stuff at Denny Burk's site http://www.dennyburk.com/jeremy-pierre-reviews-real-marriage/

Joe said...

Do really think that culture has not changed in 30 years & there is nothing more that needs to be addressed in regards to sex? Seems like that is one of the point you are making. Hoping you can clarify.

Mark said...

Does anyone really think that early Christians living in the hyper-sexualized Greek culture did not have to deal with sexual issues?

Tom Chantry said...


Not sure how Phil would answer, but here's a thought. When the New Testament was written, Greco-Roman culture was far more sexually confused than our own. Every perversion imaginable was not only common, but actually legal - up to and including pedophilia and sado-masochistic rape of slaves. It's pretty hard to argue that American pastors in 2012 need to be more frank and open about sexual details than was Paul.

Rich Barcellos said...

I agree with Tom. It is bad logic, history, and theology to argue that culture has so changed that we need to wake up and pull up our skirts a little and talk about things because these are the questions being asked. The believers of the NT era lived in a sex-crazed culture – with fornication, adultery, rape, sodomy, temple prostitution, abortion, exposure, etc., yet when God published His mind on these issues he did not capitulate to the tastes, desires, nomenclature, and questions of the sin-crazed culture. When the apostle Paul, for instance, discussed these things, he hit them head-on, yet with a wholesome reserve. Our problem is not that we need to think and talk about these things because we don’t; our problem is that we think and talk about things that we shouldn’t.

Joe said...

@Mark, @Tom, @Rich,

I understand the historical context of the Greco-Roman culture, but would not argue that America is any better. It would seem that where Greco-Roman society had everything out in the open, American culture has a pretty thin veil keeping things in the dark. In the same way Paul needed to address these issues, so do Pastors today need to with discernment & wisdom. It's seems like Phil is saying these issues do not need to be addressed. That is where my question lies.

Rich Barcellos said...

Joe, I will let others discuss this with you. I don't like interacting on the internet with folks who don't identify themselves.

Tom Chantry said...


Quite the contrary. Phil is saying (I think) two things: that Paul addressed these matters with a certain degree of discretion which is lacking in the open discussion of specific acts and specific people, and also that he answered many of the questions quite differently than do today's sex prophets, who, quite frankly, more resemble the oversexed culture than they do the apostle.

Or so I read him, don't let me put words in Phil's mouth.

The Seeking Disciple said...

Amen as well. Good job.

Gideon's faith said...

Mr. Johnson,
As I am late to this discussion, I really hope it is not too late for you to read what I have to say. I really hope you read this.

Let me tell you something: I am a Christian single, around the same age as Mark Driscoll. For a period of 2 1/2 years, I struggled with pornography. I did it because I lost hope that God would provide a spouse though I'd tried hard to find one. So I turned to porn as an outlet. Sinful, it was no doubt.

As the Spirit of God began to call me to repentance, one of the resources I read for help was the Driscoll e-book, "Porn-Again Christian" . Let me tell you plainly that its frank, candid talk helped me.

I'll say it again: the book helped me tackle and overcome this demonic habit that grips so many of God's men. Yes, Driscoll and his frank talk that you cannot seem to understand nor handle helped struggling men like me overcome porn.

Mr. Johnson, maybe you have never battled something like this, but many of us Christians who grew up with things like MTV, BET, hip hop and such do. Just last week, a fellow member of my church's men's ministry pointed out how one of the weaknesses of today's church is this lack of transparency, realness and trust that keeps men struggling w/ sexual sin in the dark, because there's no open talk of things that we know men battle everyday. So when folks like you pounce on pastors who are open enough to deal with these very real things--look, I appreciate your concern, but its like you're doing the enemy's work when you hinder a man of God while he deals with a subject that's already blatantly in our faces as it is. So why not let any man of God be less than subtle as well when dealing with it? We need pastors who will not pussy-foot around but instead "keep it real".

All I am saying is, there are people like me who are being helped by Driscoll's work. So just keep that in mind. God bless.

Mark said...

Gideon's faith,

Is it your position then, that because some approach to ministry "worked" for you, that it is permissible regardless of what the Bible may say about it?

Victoria said...

All I can say is thank you.

I am so grateful that there are some godly voices left to call the Church back from the brink of madness as we seem so unable to exercise discernment and understand that the rot of our culture needs to be avoided and not celebrated and imitated.

May God save young Christian men and women from these disgraceful leaders and Pastors.

Christopher Barnette said...

Thank you for the straightforward and honest assessment Phil. I really appreciate the opportunity to read reviews of popular books by my favorite bloggers and ministers to see whether or not I’d be interested them, so I am disappointed that I don’t get a full review from Pyro, but I totally understand why.

One thing that has bothered me is the meta on reviews like this. I’m not trying to call anyone out, but if a person’s comment needs to be prefixed with “I haven’t read it, but I think that …” or “If what you’re saying is true then I think …” then they need to stop typing and reflect on whether or not your comment is an informed, qualified, and helpful criticism, or a gossipy-bandwagon criticism. I can respect “Phil said it’s bad, so I don’t plan on reading it”, but “Phil said its bad, and based on his opinion and other criticisms I’ve read, I think Driscoll is a bad man” feels like gossiping to me. Is it Christian to parrot criticism without a first-hand critique?

That’s just my opinion though; I guess I had better put my famesuit on.

David McKay said...

Christopher, some folk say that we must experience things for ourselves before we can make an informed comment.

I've never been a heroin addict, but i think that I can have an informed opinion on the drug by reading reliable literature by those who have experienced heroin addiction and by those who have studied it.

I trust what Phil, Denny, Tim and Aaron have said and can glean from their reading and research that this book pollutes the Bible's teaching on marriage by introducing and promoting perverted practices.

But, because I haven't read it, I must say that, based on what reliable men have written, this book is dangerous and distorts the intended beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church we were intended to see in Christian marriage.

Christopher Barnette said...

I get that, I really do. And I can relate with taking a respected opinion at face value, but why repeat it back like some echo chamber?

But what if, instead of the detailed analysis above, Phil’s post had of read like this:
“None of the Pyro Team has read Real Marriage, but Tim Challies said it wasn’t good, and that’s good enough for us. Thank God that Tim is so wise and knowledgable.”

Now, is that helpful and worthy of posting? Is that a valid criticism?

David J. Dunbar said...

So he has some right doctrine. Great. But when warning about false teachers in Matthew 7 (v15-20), Jesus didn't talk about doctrine. He said (twice), "You will know them by their fruits."

The perversions from guys like this speak for themselves. There is no place for course jesting. Some things ought not even be mentioned. Explicit and foul language has no place in the household of God. Holiness has been abandoned, and has been replaced by capitulation to the culture.

Should we discuss sensitive subjects? Yes, because the Bible does. But we must do so as the Bible does, with care, with grace, and using (preferably) biblical terms.

Darlene said...

It seems there is an increasing number of evangelicals who are enthralled with the cult of personality. Pastors with struggling parishes must find it difficult to contend with that element of people under their care who are taken to such notions as being impressed with the likes of Driscoll.

Eric said...

Hello Gideon,

I'm not Phil, but I have a couple of comments that might have some bearing.

First, I am pleased to hear that you have sought to fight the sin that you identified and that you have received help in that endeavor. However, do caution yourself that you do not fall into the trap of pragmatism and fool yourself into thinking that the Biblical test that must be applied to ministry in the kingdom of God is "can it achieve any desirable outcome?".

Second, I'd note that Phil is himself being transparent, real, and trustworthy in his assessment. So if those are qualities that you seek for the betterment of your own walk and the greater church, please take time to appreciate that one can be transparent, real, and trustworthy without simultaneously being titillating, salacious, lewd, graphic, or lacking in honor. In fact, I would submit to you that such an approach will be even more effective than the approach that you beneffited from because it models the approach of all Biblical admonition and discipling.

Third, I would caution you not to fall into a dualistic thinking that either sex is spoken about graphically with specific acts, complete descriptions of specific sins, and public exposure of a spouse's sexual sin or it is not talked about at all.

Fourth, if you read Phil as at all hinting that sex and sexual sin is a taboo topic for pastors or the church, then I believe you miss his point entirely.

Fifth, I think you undersell Driscoll's language and descriptions when you use the words "frank" and "candid". I've had many frank and candid discussions with my children, including teenage boys, and never once did I have to resort to the type of language used by Driscoll, nor did I find it necessary to illustrate sexual sin from the life of my wife.

There is a proper time, place, and manner for addressing such things. I urge you to consider again whether Phil is "hampering" anyone's ministry or rather seeking to benefit the ministry of the church at large by advocating for the highest standard: the Biblical standard.

Tom Chantry said...

@ Christopher Barnett,

I appreciate your concern, truly. For what it's worth I picked up a copy that was lent to me and glanced through a bit to confirm what I knew already - Phil was spot on. And his analysis did not require the conclusion that there is nothing worthwhile in the book, so a thorough reading is hardly necessary to confirm his thoughts - certain language, certain disclosures, and certain conclusions of the book are unsupportable from a biblical point of view.

But let me ask you this: If someone was scandalized by any of Driscoll's other books on sex, would he need to read this book in order to comment? If someone was scandalized by Driscoll's pornographic take on Song of Solomon, would he need to read this book in order to comment?

From where I sit reading this meta, it looks like this: Most of the commenters here know that Driscoll has a reputation based on many salacious sermons/series on sex, based on his frequent reference to graphic sexual detail in much of his teaching, and based on several (I keep reading three) previous books on sex. He has been confronted on this. And He wrote a fourth book! On Sex! I mean, how many sex books need to be written, let alone by one man? I find it odd when one man writes four separate books on prophecy, or on child rearing, but sex? When he has this reputation already?

See, part of the scandal is that the book was written at all. Sooner or later it's legitimate to ask if the guy just can't think of anything else to write about, and to ask that it isn't necessary to familiarize oneself with all the allegedly seamy details.

Eric said...

Interesting note in light of this post and comment stream: On the Pyro homepage is the fairly conspicuous ad/link for a conference featuring Frank Turk and Tim Challies talking about sexual confusion and the gospel. The purpose of the conference is noted at the linked site as this: "To joyfully celebrate and uphold the beauty, goodness, and wisdom of God’s standards for human sexuality against the folly of our age."

I would bet my next paycheck that neither of these men will find it necessary to resort to debased language and examples. And I'd be equally willing to bet that the searching, hurting, struggling Christian would benefit much from the content.

Darlene said...

If one takes a gander at the book promo where Mark and Grace discuss some of the content, you'd think - how sweet. Such a nice couple willing to put themselves out there to help save others' marriages.

Rich Barcellos said...

I wonder if John Piper is going to say anything about RM. He spoke up against the Scotalnd SS sermon.

Rich Barcellos said...

now a RM tour and FB page :-(

Gideon's faith said...

Appreciate the reply, but I wish Mr. Johnson would have replied. Let me address each point.

#1. Pragmatism has absolutely nothing to do with this.

#2. I would submit to you that I benefitted from the "Porn-Again Christian" e-book because its approach was in fact no less biblical than anything Mr Johnson would have written but b/c folks feel it was 'salacious', they dismissed it, even though thousands of copies were given away, necessitating the e-book. ( I wonder if Mr. Johnson would have included Gen. 38 w/ its account of Onan had he been able to help determine the canon b/c that's about as explicit as it gets)

#3. It's not me but folks like Mr. Johnson who are making this type of dualistic thinking of "speak about sex in a puritanical manner or not at all." They're the one's saying you can't even use common colloquialisms, which they wrongly deem as lewd.
Also, I know from having watched the SOS series that the main reason for discussing sex acts so plainly is b/c it was the PEOPLE who ASKED him if such and such act is/is not biblical. So how is Driscoll being titillating just for the heck of it??

#4. Mr. Johnson, even by way of this post's title, insinuates his approach to discussing sex is holier than Driscoll's.

#5. The reason why I investigated Driscoll is b/c folks tagged him as the "cussing pastor". Well after listening to his stuff for over 3 years, that charge is total hogwash. There is a difference between vulgarity and SLANG. Maybe you don't like slang, but it's not in the same category as four-letter words. This whole thing is partially about generation gaps and folks who aren't comfortable w/ a subject that either perks up our ears or makes us blush.

My final thought is you'll recall in the Gospels how the disciples forbid another group of Jesus' followers from doing the work of God because they were 'not one of us.' I don't doubt for a second there are many who take a similar position when it comes to this issue of Mark Driscoll.

jennifer said...


Actually, I found the promo video rather troubling. While Mark seemed confident and in control of everything, Grace seemed to me to be uncomfortable on some level - I got the feeling she didn't really want to be there.

Jennifer said...

Mark Driscoll causes uproar with the manner of his presentation.

Team Pyro is disgusted by Mark Driscoll.

In other breaking news stories: The Pope wears a funny hat and John MacArthur preaches an expository sermon.


Aaron said...

I've remained out of the fray up to this point. I can't take it anymore.

I have no doubt that Driscoll has helped many a person such as Gideon. So what? So have Montel Williams, Oprah, and for that matter, the Mormons. Success with external compliance of God's laws is not the standard by which we measure.

I have yet to see any reference by Driscoll to the fact that the Bible says we are to be conformed to Christ and that we are not only to take our actions captive, but every thought. Sure he helps some people escape porn by rightfully telling them to avoid lustful thoughts. But he doesn't address the issue at its root. And what does he do for those of us with sordid sexual histories that have fought so hard to have marriages, sex life included, that are commendable before God? How does he help those of us who fought to escape the thoughts and ideas that originate from the deviancy that the culture foists on us in the guise of sexual liberation? He doesn't help us. Instead he drags us through the very slog from which we fought so hard to escape by telling us that the Song of Solomon encourages such things to spice up our marital relations.

And it is possible to be candid about sex without being graphic. See Every Man's Battle.

And I'm not done yet. What type of mature Christian tells his wife that he wouldn't have married her if she revealed some sin in her past. Let me tell you something. There is nothing I can imagine that my wife could confess that would cause me to think such a thing, much less say it aloud. A Pastor's first thought should have been of forgiveness and reconciliation, especially for something that happened so long ago, prior to their marriage. It doesn't matter what she did before marriage. You're married now and the Bible is clear on how you should handle the situation. Mark is no hero for finally doing what the Bible commands us to do from the start.

Dan also told me that Dricoll's wife has made a statement that the only reason they are still married is because God told Driscoll to marry her. My charismatic objections aside, such a revelation is jaw droppingly antithetical to everything the Bible teaches about marriage. This reveals much about Driscoll's maturity and outright disqualifies him from leadership, any leadership. I don't need a vision from God to love my wife. God already spoke to me and every other man through Scripture. And God says unequivocally that men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. That is why we honor and love our wives, not because our sex lives are so awesome.

Darlene said...

Sir Aaron: Your post resonates with me more than any other here. Thank you for your wise and candid words.

Oh...I gave that book to my husband (Every Man's Battle) and he greatly appreciated/s it. I used to listen to the author and his colleagues on the radio. (forget the name of the program off-hand) They dealt with all sorts of problems (sexual and otherwise) and were always tactful, sensitive, and discerning in their responses to callers. That is, the opposite of Driscoll - crude, distasteful, and uncouth.

Gideon's faith said...

@Sir Aaron,

You'd actually compare Driscoll to folks who are anti-Christ? Amazing.

And since when is repentance from the sin of porn just another example of "Success with external compliance of God's laws is not the standard by which we measure." What? So what you're saying is that I didn't truly repent. Silliness.

If you can't handle the way Driscoll ministers, then go with Johnson, MacArthur or whomever you like. But don't hinder those of us who can relate to Driscoll and are therefore helped by him.

When Mark Driscoll begins to deny our Lord and his all sufficient work on the Cross, his deity and his Second advent, then I'll personally lead the parade to have him defrocked. Until then, enough of with silly criticisms.

If no pastor is to ever communicate like this then why don't you all just endorse Joel Osteen's saccharine-filled sermons? I mean, after all, he doesn't use 'lewd' or 'salacious' language and he never titillates. Are his "messages" not seasoned with salt? I'm sure some of you would prefer his "sound speech" to Driscoll's lurid talk. So why not just join in on the "Live your Best Life" train, since all that's necessary for a preacher to minister the gospel is to speak "nice"?

Tom said...

For the record, I am a young, unmarried, undergraduate college student

@Gideon's faith:

1."It's not me but folks like Mr. Johnson who are making this type of dualistic thinking of "speak about sex in a puritanical manner or not at all." They're the one's saying you can't even use common colloquialisms, which they wrongly deem as lewd."

What sort of "common colloquialisms" are you discussing here? Depending on the group, that term could cover everything from language not out of place in a medical textbook to language that would not be acceptable on prime-time television. Also, the Puritans were not averse to discussing sex--frankly, if someone accused me of talking about sex like a Puritan, I'd be inclined to keep speaking of it in the way I had been.

2. "This whole thing is partially about generation gaps and folks who aren't comfortable w/ a subject that either perks up our ears or makes us blush."

Let me turn that around for a minute and make a statement that is just as true: This whole thing is partially about generation gaps and folks who aren't willing to be charitable towards those who are more sensitive on this topic.

Fact of the matter is, I think the church could use a discussion on what is in-bounds and out-of-bounds within marriage; however, I would contend that that discussion need not get into specifics, i.e., "don't do this particular act, but this one is okay," but should rather focus on what it means for a husband and wife to take proper enjoyment in the marriage bed. If such a discussion were to occur, it is probable that there would be neither need nor desire for more...detailed accounts.

An example of the kind of language I have in mind here, see the next-to-last paragraph of this review of Driscoll's book: http://www.credomag.com/issues/in%20christ%20alone.pdf#page=66
I also think the last paragraph offers some perspective on the "generation gap" referred to earlier.

Tom said...

So, let me get this straight. Based on the post above my first one (my apologies for the double post), if I think Mark Driscoll goes too far sometimes I'm a would-be Joel Osteen sympathizer.
If that was not the meaning of that post, I'd like to hear what the meaning was.

Darlene said...

Whether or not Driscoll is a genuine-real-deal Christian, Clairol Christian, fake Christian, or fill-in-the-blank Christian, I can't say. What I do think of the man is that he is:
a. over-focused on sex
b. misogynistic personified
c. narcissistic
d. chauvinistic
e. and just plain crass

And such a person should not be writing a book on marriage, or for that matter counseling anyone.

Tom Chantry said...

@Gideon's Faith

Pragmatism has absolutely nothing to do with this. (6:08 PM, January 10, 2012)

But don't hinder those of us who can relate to Driscoll and are therefore helped by him. (9:00 PM, January 10, 2012)

Uh, I don't know how this doesn't already seem obvious to you, GF, but everyone here is saying, "Driscoll's approach is counter-biblical," and you're replying, "but I can relate to him and so I'm helped by him." That is all about pragmatism, my friend.

katie bennett said...

I do not express myself as intelligently as some of you on here, but I have much to say about this subject, so I'll give it a whirl. The behavior and action of Mr. Driscoll are as one person mentioned, like Satan lying to Eve, twisting the words, to confuse and try to make wrong seem right. I have been associated with an organization in which confessed porn addicts were helped to over come their addiction. As the person said above, Driscol and anyone who promotes his ways are a huge hindrance to those who are struggling with such issues. The man is trying to convince people that which is sin is not sin, thus he can continue to practice his own perversions by justifying himself. I don't know what the book says. I only know of its contents from what I have read here, but the mere fact that he is going to the roof of his church to perform sexual acts with his wife in bed is enough to convince me that the man is as carnal as anyone who is involved in the porn world. It is just like a cult leader who mixes a bit of truth with lies and lures ignorant/naive people into his net, into his stronghold. The wife is probably insecure and afraid of losing her husband if she doesn't go along with his wishes. This is a classic element of the battered wife syndrome. He displays sociopathic behavior in that he only seems to care about his own desires and finds fault with his wife so that he can justify, and lift himself up. When men abuse their wives, they try to convince them that they have caused the abuse,(the disrespect, the devaluation.) I used to know a person who was involved in all kinds of immoral activity, and only used the parts of the Bible, or twisted parts of the Bible to justify himself. . . reminds me of Mr. Driscol. Thank you.

Redeemed Canuck said...

When I attempted to post a link to your blog on Facebook, this is what I got:
"Sorry, this post contains a blocked URL
The content you're trying to share includes a link that's been blocked for being spammy or unsafe:


Tom Chantry said...

LOL - that's got to be the Pyro name - computers think this is a site promoting arson.

Aaron said...

@Katie: I think you did great and look forward to reading more comments from you in the future.

@Gideon: I don't question your repentance. I praise God for your rescue from the chains of pornography. What I'm telling you is that suppression of sin wont give you the victory you seek.

I want you to pay attention to this. Sanctification is not merely a process of suppressing one's lustful thoughts by avoiding pornography. That's a good start but not even close to the goal. Suppressing bad behavior does nothing to quench the desire. And that desire will eventually infect your marriage bed. You see the ideas and concepts we learned in sin don't stop because we stopped watching pornography or engaging in fornication. Instead, they continue to defile us by shaping our thoughts and deeds in our marriage bed. So the goal must be to hold every thought captive to Christ. We must change our thoughts and conform our thoughts so that we end the sin at the source.

I don't hear that from Driscoll. I hear him saying...ok, you can let all your desires out now because you are married and such acts are now permissible. And while certain things may technically be permissible within the context of marriage that is not a message of continuing sanctification.

Lastly, I noticed you said nothing of my attack against Driscoll for acting like a child when his wife painfully confess some old sin and then glorifying himself for eventually doing what Scripture commanded us to do from the get go. If everything else were ok, this would be enough to disqualify him from leadership. Not from being a Christian...but from being a leader.

GrammaMack said...

Katie Bennett:

"Mr. Driscoll...the mere fact that he is going to the roof of his church to perform sexual acts with his wife in bed"

Hi, Katie. Just wanted to let you know that it is Ed Young Jr., not Mark Driscoll, who is going to the roof of his church, and he is going to discuss sex with his wife, not perform sexual acts. I don't think anyone would try to defend him if that was his plan, but you never know these days.

Kaj Ballantyne said...

Don't want to derail the comments here but Sir Aaron I gotta disagree with your recommendation of "Every Man's Battle". I understand that it may have helped you out so I don't want to critique your experience ... but ...

This book is almost completely devoid of the gospel in it's approach as it deals with this issue by using nothing more than behavioural modification ... "bounce your eyes" is just another working of the old, 'when you think bad thoughts snap the rubber band on your wrist" kind of stuff.

There are much better resources out there with a biblical approach.

Maybe a good post idea for Team Pyro?

Jared T. Baergen said...

What a great post on what real marriage should be like. Of course not to the exclusion of everything else said, but the open portrayal of your own wife's sin to the world is what I find most degrading, dishonoring, and crass about this new book from Driscoll.

@Sir Aaron,
I have to say that the third paragraph of your last comment is probably one of the most helpful contributions to the discussion here. What I find just as distasteful as openly portraying your wife's sin is using your wife to fulfill your own sinful lusts that you brought into the marriage instead of dealing with that sin.

This is seen in the first link from Phil in the post under the line "by no means the first book." It's a review by Tim Challies of another book by Driscoll. Challies quotes from the book near the end of the post. A college guy called Driscoll about his porn problem. Driscoll's solution was to man up, get married, and use her to satisfy your lusts. Really?

You, Sir Aaron, pointed out in your post that we need to deal with our lusts, not just suppress them. I'll quote you because what you said was so perfect.

" I want you to pay attention to this. Sanctification is not merely a process of suppressing one's lustful thoughts by avoiding pornography. That's a good start but not even close to the goal. Suppressing bad behavior does nothing to quench the desire. And that desire will eventually infect your marriage bed. You see the ideas and concepts we learned in sin don't stop because we stopped watching pornography or engaging in fornication. Instead, they continue to defile us by shaping our thoughts and deeds in our marriage bed. So the goal must be to hold every thought captive to Christ. We must change our thoughts and conform our thoughts so that we end the sin at the source."

We desperately need to mortify our sin, not simply suppress it. Furthermore, the option for dealing with that sin is not to get married and take that sin out on your wife. Using your own wife to fulfill your own sinful, lustful desires is not really mortifying that sin. Your sin is not mortified when it is merely covered up.

The only lesson to be learned from this recent Driscoll escapade, in my opinion, is learning what not to do. As men of the next generation, we need to mortify our own sin and rely on Christ and the Scriptures to see it through; we need to cultivate a fear for the Lord and live lives that glorify and honor Him; we need to be discerning in the speech that comes out of our mouth, and we need to take care of our wife's purity at all costs, without openly displaying her sin and bringing a reproach on her and on Christ.

I guess that's a fair assessment, yes? Thanks Teampyro for clarifying, upholding, and preaching the Gospel as often as possible. And by calling out those who distort the truth and bring shame to Christ when necessary.

Eric said...

Hello Gideon,

In addition to what Tom pointed out as your obvious use of pragmatic principles, your whole first post here was a pragmatic appeal. Boiled down, you said "don't criticize it because it helped". Noticeabley absent was any attempt to deal head-on with the truth claims made by Phil. Rather you deflected and redirected by attempting to focus on the potential good impact. Think on this: There is absolutely no method or material that you can dream up, no matter how heinous, that I could not produce a potentially beneficial outcome, whether direct or tangential. Having said that, does it seem reasonable that we use the test of outcomes to determine suitability?

Gideon's faith said...

OK, I'll try to answer all who replied and then I'm done with this.

Firstly, the Osteen comparison was sarcasm. On 'common colloquialisms', I'm speaking of what some call "slanguage" which isn't necessarily profanity or vulgarity.

As for the generation gap, I looked at that next-to-last paragraph and yes, there's no question about the wisdom to be gleaned from older saints but in dealing w/ a generation that's bombarded daily with hardcore sexuality, I find it refreshing that a pastor can engage the average Joe by saying, "you wanna talk oral sex? Ok, well let me show you what the Bible says about it" and that opens the door to present the gospel. That's what seems to be going over folks' heads in this discussion. If nothing else, you can count on Driscoll to deliver the gospel. Since folks on this thread don't see that tells me they haven't truly investigated how he operates.

@Tom Chantry,
You assume pragmatism on my part b/c you assume Driscoll is counter-biblical when I know that's not the case after listening/reading his stuff for 3 1/2 years plus.

@Sir Aaron,
I can't comment on Grace Driscoll's part in this new book since I haven't read it. And I'm confused about how you first praise God for my repentance, then turn around and call it merely a "suppression of sin'?
My issue wasn't turning to porn for porn's sake, rather using it as an outlet for satisfaction when I should have turned to the Lord for contentment. And what I want people to know is the Driscoll book on porn helped deal with that and it could've helped anyone because it is biblically sound. I didn't modify behavior as the other commenter charges the Arterburn book teaches but rather I repented and trusted the Holy Ghost would initiate a heart change.

My whole reason for commenting is the overall thrashing of Driscoll by evangelicals, particularly those in the Reformed camp, is amazing to me and I hope folks will stop and take a better, objective look.

I'm done. God bless you all.

Tom Chantry said...

Gideon's Faith,

Oh mercy!

You have still made no attempt to refute anything Phil or anyone else said. You merely assert that it Driscoll is not counter-biblical. An assertion is neither an argument nor a refutation. Moreover, you base this on your experience, which you explained in your very first comment as "candid talk helped me."

If you're done here, I understand, but please at least go look up "pragmatism" somewhere.

James Scott Bell said...

Tom C, do you sometimes feel you're talking to this fellow behind the desk?

Tom Chantry said...

Oh my, Johnny, and I was trying to remember where I'd heard this all before.

Gideon's faith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sonja said...

PAC was never taught to the congretation at MHC. Songs was, in all it's explicit extrabiblical glory including unfiltered, unedited text questions. This book, written by a man with a smattering of Scripture, will also be taught to the congregation at MHC.

That, to me, is a huge difference. The gospel is for everyone, from children to old timers. This is not the gospel. And the purpose is to teach me what? The gospel teaches, not a now-to book.

I'm happy that PAC helped you Gideon. But applies to oranges.

StannyboyC said...

I am a pentecostal up here in Canada and read the Ed Wheaton and Tim Lahaye books when first married, which is now going on 20yrs. I don't think that a book like this Driscoll guy who I have never heard of is needed.The Bible has alot of instructiions in and of itself, the only thing I will say that is for the fuffilment of husband and wife within marriage and agreeable between the two of them and not to be publicised and NOT JUST TO BE FUITFUL AND MULTIPLY though the Bible says to do so if it be God's will.

Aaron said...

@Kaj: I don't know that I recommended the book per se. I simply noted that it is possible to deal with the same topics in a direct way without being inappropriate in language or detail. That book is an example of that. I did not mean to offer an opinion on it's value otherwise. I would need to reread the book and offer full review before saying yea or nay to it.

Aaron said...

@Gideon: I'm not in a position to argue with what's going in your heart and mind. I praise God for you and say to you "go in peace, brother." (not meaning you have to leave this thread but meaning between you and I).

Anonymous said...

Phil thank God you guys are the dam that holds these sunamis back.
I am not qualified by the new testament guidelines to teach / preach I wish i were I would burn out like Spurgeon fighting these attacks on Gods precious gift the scriptures...it's a temptation because I could do a better job than the twisters and women.I read ken silva some is he on track? sometimes it hard to believe his account.Not to get off track I like so many of his "old dead guys" plus sometimes John MacArthur who I pray regularly God will let him stay with us a very long time in perfect health.

Dave said...

Jude 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

-There's nothing new under the sun.

Job said...

It's about the third time I visit this blog, but I am quite shocked at the loveless reactions in the comments. I do not find them very Christlike or uplifting and even seem hatefull to me . I have listened to a dozen of Marks sermons and was very encouraged.
Job (Netherlands - Europe)

Kamilla said...

A most excellent response. So many things are worrisome without having to make referrence to the prurient.

The video which you link towards the end should have been enough to sink his credibility as a teacher of the Gospel. By his own words, he condemns himself as a false prophet.

Joe said...


You said Driscoll "wrote a fourth book! On Sex!" Could you count those books out for me?

Last I checked he wrote an ebook Porn Again Christian on pornography & sex then Real Marriage on sex, friendship & life together. Not sure how your counting works.

Tom Chantry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Chantry said...

@ Joe

You said Driscoll "wrote a fourth book! On Sex!" Could you count those books out for me?

Last I checked he wrote an ebook Porn Again Christian on pornography & sex then Real Marriage on sex, friendship & life together. Not sure how your counting works.

Well, let's look at what I actually said in context, OK?

Most of the commenters here know that Driscoll has a reputation based on many salacious sermons/series on sex, based on his frequent reference to graphic sexual detail in much of his teaching, and based on several (I keep reading three) previous books on sex. He has been confronted on this. And He wrote a fourth book! On Sex! I mean, how many sex books need to be written, let alone by one man? I find it odd when one man writes four separate books on prophecy, or on child rearing, but sex? When he has this reputation already?

Now, what I said there was that Driscoll's reputation was based on repeated salacious series of sermons and on several books on sex. The parenthetical "I keep reading three" was meant to communicate "here's what I keep hearing - is that accurate?" So, no, you didn't catch me in a counting error; I indicated in my comment that I knew that this was the latest in a series of books on sex, and I heard that maybe it was the fourth.

But you say there were only the two. OK, so we'll discount the sex talk in his other books, which was in and of itself graphic and offensive. Is that the defense? "Don't accuse Driscoll of writing four books on sex; that might be obsessive. No, in addition to his longstanding reputation of talking about sex in every imaginable context, of preaching multiple series to mixed congregations filled with graphic detail, of repeatedly recounting the graphic sex visions that God has supposedly sent to him - in addition to all this, he has only written a couple of books about sex, which is, you know, normal."

That's your defense? OK. I'll bite.

The dude has can't quit talking about sex. Multiple sermons! Whole series! And now two books! ON SEX!!!!

Drew Rankin said...

@donsands: Sorry to be so late in reply. In reference to my poor analogy; I am fearful for my bretheren in Christ when we engage in gossip and slander against each other. We are meant to be united together as the Bride of Christ. We tend to be more like the divisions between the Pharises and the Sanhedron where the denominational fractures are concerned, ready to tear each other apart. Each camp is conviced it is right and that their doctrine is the "Real Truth of the Gospel." Several years ago I spoke with John Cooper of Skillet and he made an interesting statement that resistance to the Gospel was most prevalent in the church where false teachings and teachers have been accepted at face value because th Body of Christ is largely ignorant of God's Word. I have heard some teachings from one or two Mars Hill pastors and found them to be intriguing; however, they tend to play fast and loose with Scriptures and their interpretation of them can be questionable. As a follower of Christ we have to gaurd our own hearts against false teachings. If we are not deeply rooted in God's Word, we are easily deceived and led astray.

I may not necessarily agree with everything TeamPyro produces on this blog, but I know that each one of them loves Christ and is doing their best for Him in everything they do. Besides book reveiws of highly controversial topics can set off a pretty good firestorm as we have seen here.

Kamilla said...

Thank you so much for the link to the sermon/talk at the Shepherd's Conference. I finally had a chance to get comfy and watch it early this morning.