Response to Christianity Today’s “The Things We Do To Women”

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. –Hebrews 13:4

THE PRIVACY AND MODESTY OF BIBLICAL SEXUALITY

Biblical sexuality is meant to be something that is private. It is not something to be flaunted, or publicly displayed, or spoken about openly in detail, graphically displayed in a public church setting. There is no sense of this in the Word of God. We have things like the Song of Solomon in the Bible, but this is clearly a love poem, or a love letter written from a husband to a wife, and vice versa, but it is not something that is being preached in a public setting in a church. Neither do any of the Old Testament prophets, or Jesus, or the New Testament apostles preach at great length, about graphic, sexually explicit activities in a public setting. Anyone who thinks otherwise about sex talk is not familiar with reading Scripture.

Recently, pastor Mark Driscoll has come under criticism for pastoral abuse: he has a track record of this and I’m aware of it. He has incidentally been one of the official leaders of the New Calvinism movement; and has gotten a lot of Gen X and Millennial guys interested in studying theology and the Puritans. But unfortunately, there are some major flaws in Mark Driscoll’s ministry approach. He is one of the many leaders in a long sad history of what could be called spiritual abuse or pastoral abuse–usually marked by unquestioning authoritarianism, bullying, and even profanity in the pulpit. One of the most controversial and probably repulsive things that Driscoll ever did, was release a book called Real Marriage, in which he described graphic sexual activities as being part of the Christian life.

One of Driscoll’s critics, Jessica Johnson, put out a book on him called Biblical Porn, in which she was criticizing his outspoken and explicit sexuality. She says that in his sermons, he was often times very explicit, even making references to sex acts like blowjobs–joking and laughing about this in a group setting! This is shameful and anti-Biblical! Sexuality is meant to be something shared in private, in the privacy of a bedroom, between a husband and a wife; and is NOT meant to be publicly talked about! Definitely not in this way. The Bible refers to sexuality as something that is wholly undefiled within the marriage bed. That means this is something that is private, is not supposed to be outwardly proclaimed, imagined, visualized, or any other such thing in a public setting. The door is locked, the husband and the wife are in their marriage bed…end of story. That is Biblical sexual theology. This is all that is really revealed about sex in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation. It is referred to, but barely ever described–especially not in explicit detail. Even the Song of Solomon, although it is talking about sexuality, is using analogies, metaphors, and allegories to try to make the subject as watered down and non-explicit as possible. For more about Biblical sexuality, see Leland Ryken’s Worldly Saints, ch. 3: “Marriage and Sex.”

BIBLICAL MALE LEADERSHIP OR JUST PLAIN CHAUVINISM?

I want to be very clear here: I agree with some of Mark Driscoll’s views on manhood and womanhood. I agree with the complementarian academic book that was put out by John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Driscoll also subscribes to this view. It advances a complementary view of the Biblical relationship between Adam and Eve, between wives and husbands with distinctive gender roles, and between male church staff and female church staff. It shows that man is the leader; and woman is to submit, provided in a context of love and respect (Eph. 5:22-33). But the pervasiveness of love and respect is what’s missing in the story of Mark Driscoll’s ministry. Instead, we hear testimony after testimony of Mark acting like a rude jerk; a “muscular” Christian, a hyper-masculine football jock–even screaming at guys like a football coach or a drill sergeant. Frequently using war metaphors, provoking an authoritarian leadership model. Intimidating speeches and language, confrontational behavior, and even threats of violence coming from Driscoll towards other men in his church. On the one hand, its noble that Driscoll gets angry when he hears about men abandoning or abusing women in his church, leaving them alone as single moms. But he goes about correcting such problems by showing himself as the more violent and powerful man–displaying a mean-spirited ego trip, an attitude of male chauvinism–that of a macho man.

Men are to care for, provide for, and protect women, which is totally Biblical, but you have all of this John Wayne hypermasculinity mixed into Driscoll’s ministry as well…so it is reported. Women are looked at, first and foremost, as sex objects. Women are often self-conscious and ashamed of their bodies, because of all the open and shameless public talk about sexuality. Women are often shamed, disgraced, and pressured to think in terms of “pornographic ideals” of womanhood. In a sense, this creates an imaginary rape culture, a frat boy culture, a totally evil, spiritually abusive toxic influence that leads to some people even losing their Christian faith. This hyper-sexualized culture, toxic theology, and bullying–this is the sort of stuff that’s going on there, so they say: a hyper-masculinity, with way too much testosterone, straight out of the high school locker room.

CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S INADEQUATE RESPONSE
TO MARK DRISCOLL’S CHAUVINISM

Although the Christianity Today podcast does a good job at apparently painting a picture of how hyper-sexual, and frat-like Driscoll’s ministry really is–it offers no Bible verses or any sort of Scriptural correction to the problem. Mike Cosper even uses occasional cussing to explain everything, as if this were just how a Christian should respond to this, without any scruples except for bleeping himself out on the more extreme cuss words. Further, the use of melodramatic music, and people claiming knowledge about the “Cold War era,” being the source of all of Mark’s masculine views, was to me essentially their liberalized critique of this; and I say liberalized, because it’s clear that this Christianity Today podcast is coming from an egalitarian point of view–in which there are really no distinctive male and female roles in the decision-making process. “Partnering,” but definitely not submitting to the husband’s final decision–this is just un-Biblical feminism…the Jezebel spirit at work. Citing Mark Driscoll not as an extreme example–but as an actual representative of complementarianism–in order to drift people further away from the Bible’s vision of the genders, and into feminism, into emasculating and feminizing men even more. Feminism has always grown as an overreaction to male chauvinism. People like Mark Driscoll actually encourage feminism to thrive, develop, and grow! If these allegations are true and accurate, then he should definitely acknowledge his wrongs and publicly, clearly, and explicitly apologize to his fanbase in order to self-correct his extremes!

Titus 2:2-5: “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God.” None of this exists in this Christianity Today podcast. This magazine claims to be the main voice of evangelical, Biblical Christianity. In my opinion, Christianity Today is not a good representative of Biblical Christianity. If you want better representatives, then go to websites like wesleyanbooks.combanneroftruth.org, and heritagebooks.org. I think Christianity Today is likely overrun by Democrats and liberal Christians, which are merely claiming to believe in the Bible. I do not trust the opinions, assessments, and critiques that are drawn by Christianity Today anymore than I do by those of Charisma. Some of their observations about Mark Driscoll might be realistic, because I have personally seen pastoral abuse at work several times; and I know what it looks like, but I’m not saying that I think Christianity Today’s response to Mark Driscoll’s abuses are adequate.

TCM ROMANCE FILMS:
A PICTURE OF TRADITIONAL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS

In the 1950s and 1960s, there were a lot of classic romance movies that came out, as are shown on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). People like Jimmy Stewart, and eventually Tom Hanks, are perfect examples of the kind of men that I see being pictured in the Bible. A man should treat a woman with respect; and although he is the leader, he treats the woman with respect, earns her trust–sometimes he might even pull back; and want to be pursued by her. He’s joking around with her, he’s making her feel great about herself, he’s leading, he’s real, he apologizes when he messes up. This is the kind of man that should exist in Biblical Christianity. Such characters often communicate openly and freely with women, back and forth in two-way conversations, lots of communication, sometimes with levity, sometimes with seriousness–but there’s always a conversation going on between the man and the woman. She is extremely beautiful; and the man is extremely confident about who he is. Men are not questioning their looks: they’re merely having conversations about many things; and then they grow together, and do romantic activities with one another. This is a Biblical view of male-female relationships. Genesis 26:8: “Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah”; “Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife” (NIV; KJV).

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