Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mark Driscoll and "Pornifying" Marriage

I don't post regularly to this blog anymore - mostly because Facebook has become my medium of choice and time - but I decided to post this in a "more public" forum in the hope that this may be edifying to a broader group than just my circle of friends.

I, like many of the Internet generation, have had a fairly extensive exposure to pornography. Its ubiquity and influence cannot be over emphasized, from the development and introduction of innovative technology to the shaping of popular worldviews and general acceptance and, in fact, promotion in the current "hook-up" culture.

First off, let me be explicitly clear - pornography is the graphic depiction and perversion of the physical component of the God given method of reproduction and marital relationship. It strips away the intimacy, beauty and even mystery of this component of marriage and reduces it to the basest hedonistic and God-dishonoring elements. Nothing about the depiction of pornography or associated types is redeemable or useful to a child of God in Jesus Christ.

This fact is why I wanted to join in with other much more prominent and influential voices (Tim Challies, in particular) on the Interwebs around the consistent "porning" of the marriage relationship by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill church in Seattle, in hopes that he will acknowledge his error and turn from it (repent).

One cannot be a person aware of the "New Calvinism" movement and not know of or be influenced by Mark Driscoll. His adoption of the basics of the doctrine and promotion of it has been monumental to the resurgence of the theology and worldview that can be broadly characterized as "reformed".

Mark's doctrinal alignment, straightforward style and unapologetic, "no holds barred" approach has proven enormously effective and has led to tremendous membership growth at Mars Hill and the associated Acts 29 church network.

With all the success surrounding his brand and the positives of much of his teaching, there is another, darker aspect that threatens to overshadow and corrupt the beneficial components of his work-that is, the hyper-sexualized and graphic approach he has taken and promoted in his teaching ministry.

In the interest of brevity, I am not going to try and reference all of the content Driscoll has produced in this vein, as there are plenty of sources and resources that have identified and commented on them. I will however, attempt to shed some light on why his approach misses the more important foundational issue and ministers to the symptoms and not the disease.

As I have already identified, the intimate and physical component of the marriage relationship is God-given and beautiful. There is no sweeter co-joining of man and wife within this context and I rejoice with my fellow married-folk for the gift and responsibility.

I also am not against variety, within the proper context  - there are options that facilitate mutual pleasure in the act of intimacy and I encourage the Biblical, responsible and mutually respectful exploration of them. I am, however, much more skeptical about the origin of the activities Driscoll examines and even promotes in his teaching.

If Driscoll could somehow come to the realization that the interest and popularity of sex in the culture is as a result of worldly as opposed to Godly influence, then he could focus more precisely on topics and explication that combats the root of the problem as opposed to grooming the branches.

Instead of lending respectability to things that come from sources of dishonor, he should instead focus the inquirer on why they are seeking to play out these acts and peel back the influences that they are betraying by focusing on the more carnal aspects of a relationship that should be primarily spiritual. As it is, he is lending an aura of credence and credibility to the wrong area, as opposed to areas his influence could be better leveraged.

I pray that Mark Driscoll will examine himself and his motivations for focusing on the more sensationalistic aspects of relationships and instead encourage husbands and wives to explore how they can make Jesus more and more central to their lives in every aspect.



  1. Just another sort of "bait and switch" seeker-sensitive technique. Robert Reymond points out what lies behind this sort of approach.

    1.) We've lost confidence in the power of the gospel itself to change lives.

    2.) We've lost confidence in preaching as the method by which this gospel is spread.

    May Mark Driscoll and others like him begin to conduct their services in a manner consistent with the theology they claim to hold.