"When you've got guys in dresses, you know, preaching to grandmas and young men won't show up as a nation, you've gotta ask yourself, you know, have we picked a course that really fits the past but isn't gonna work for the future?"
So Mark Driscoll truly believes he has established a course of action that will advance Christendom? Poppycock! (which means unbelievable) Yep, "Unbelievable?" is also the British radio program hosted by Justin Brierley on Premier Christian Radio.
Before we take a look at some of the most controversial exchanges between Justin Brierley and Mark Driscoll, I believe it is important to point out that not everything Driscoll states is correct. Here is a case in point. During the interview, Driscoll tells Brierley that Seattle is "the most educated city in America."
Wrong! Here's the most recent ranking in Men's Health.
Most educated cities in America, along with their grades.
1. Madison, WI A+
2. Plano, TX A+
3. Raleigh, NC A
4. Burlington, VT A
5. Seattle, WA A-
By the way, Dee and I are very proud of where our city placed in this ranking – Number Three!
For those who haven't had the opportunity to listen to the interview, here are the transcribed segments that we will be discussing in upcoming posts.
WARNING: The first segment is extremely graphic!
Brierley: Perhaps most controversially in the book you directly address what Christian partners should and shouldn't be doing in the bedroom. You cover masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, I mean I can imagine some people disagreeing with you when you say, for instance, anal sex is not off limits; it is lawful you say. I mean, are you in a position to be able to say that Mark?
Driscoll: I'm a Bible teacher and if anybody wants to disagree with me they can argue Biblically, and I'll be glad to do so, but I cannot allow the people of God to be governed by sort of prudish, Victorian culture; they have to be governed by the Word of God.
Brierley: But isn't this whole, I don't know, the very idea of anal sex probably kinda exists largely in culture today because of this pornography issue that you've been talking about, so is there not a sense in which you are somehow buying into the culture — the overly sexualized culture — when you approve the use of sex toys and role play and that kind of thing?
Driscoll: What I say is, and you're not being fair, in fact, you're being sort of scandalous and you're being immature about the issue, so I don't really appreciate that. Um, you're going for one or two pages in the book where we answer a very common question that Christian couples have, and you're trying to put a little shock around that for the radio and as a pastor I'm trying to answer the questions that people have according to the Bible. And the Bible doesn't forbid certain things, and so then we can't forbid certain things. What I do say in 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul lays out: Is it lawful? Is it profitable? Is it enslaving? He gives us three questions to ask. Number one if it's not illegal and it's not against the Bible, then number two we go to is it profitable? And we say in the book there are many reasons it might not be profitable — health risks, lack of conscience, doing something just because you saw it in pornography and becoming obsessed by it. And if you can say well it's not for any of those kind of reasons, so it's not necessarily a bad thing for us according to conscience, then you move on to is it enslaving? Is it something that makes one person feel defiled or harmed or dirty or taken advantage of, then we would say no. So what we say in the book is we would never encourage a couple to do such an act, but if they do there's no Biblical case that says it's a sin. An so they have to operate according to conscience on that issue, just as Christians do with many issues. The Bible doesn't say anything about smoking, so you can't say that smoking is a sin. But you know there are health reasons why it may not be a good idea. There may be conscience reasons why it may not be a good idea, and we would never recommend that as an activity, but you can't bring someone up for church discipline and kick them out of the church for the activity because the Bible doesn't expressly forbid it. This is exactly why we wrote the book. Most Christians do not think Biblically when it comes to cultural issues. They think emotionally, they think in a way that is culturally governed, and we want to bring 'em back to the Word of God.
Brierley: I mean, maybe it's our sense of British reserve or something Mark, I don't know but…
Driscoll: Yeah, but, you've gotta know this too. I've been to London, I've been to Northern Ireland, I've been around the U.K., even fairly recently. What appears to be a British conservatism is only public. In private Brits are just as dirty as Americans.
Brierley: Something that you said that was perceived as being slightly controversial, it was on the back of the Ted Haggard scandal, um you talked about the fact that a wife who lets herself go and isn't sexually available to her husband in the way that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband's sin but she may not be helping him either. You got quite criticized for that statement. I mean, what are you trying to express when you say that? I mean, are you saying that a woman in some sense has a duty to look after herself, make herself sexually available to her husband? As it were, a Biblical mandate for that in some sense.
Driscoll: I didn't say anything about the Haggards, and I regret what happened in their marriage, and I grieve for that woman in the kind of horrific situation she was placed into. My position, the Bible's position is that a husband and wife should make an effort to be attractive and available to one another in the context of marriage. (Mark then gives examples of men and women who do not do this well). Brierley encouraged Grace to respond to this topic, which she did.
Brierley: What have been some of the major things that you've had to learn to live with, to kinda get around when it comes to your relationship with Mark in the course of the years you've been married?
Grace Driscoll: Well, I think we've had to learn how to communicate differently. We both communicated sinfully often out of ways that we knew how to communicate that weren't right, weren't kind. And so we've had to learn to speak into each others lives in an honoring way and in a way that builds each other up in the Lord and encourages each others walk with the Lord. So while he's had to deal with some silence and lack of encouragement from my side, I've had to deal with other issues of criticism or ways of saying things that are frank, and I wasn't used to that, and so we've had to be gracious in learning how to re-communicate our ideas in a better way to each other. (Grace did not speak after this response.)
Brierley: Coming back to you, Mark, it sounds like your wife has kinda had up it close and personal what many people see you like as a personality in the context of the church, etc. You quite often cause controversy let's say with some of the statements you make, the way you put the message across. Um, I mean some have accused you of kind of bringing across a very macho, kind of muscular form of Christianity where you've got to be a real kind of man's man if you're gonna be a good Christian. Um, do you think the church has become too feminized in some sense? Is this why you kinda talk about these kinds of issues quite a lot?
Driscoll: Well, men are not going to church. Young men are the least likely to go to church. I mean, and you've got a, you've got a crisis in Great Britain. You have got a full blown crisis to where young men are not coming to the church, they're not committed to the church, and they're not rising up as leaders in the church. They're just not. And so you can say Mark I think you' re a little intense; I think you're a little masculine. You say, well, what are you not doing? I mean, when you've got guys in dresses, you know, preaching to grandmas and young men won't show up as a nation, you've gotta ask yourself, you know, have we picked a course that really fits the past but isn't gonna work for the future? And why are young men going to places, I mean I was in London not long ago, I mean when there's a UFC fight that pulls into town, it's packed. At night the bars are packed. Once those bars close the clubs are packed, um but the churches are not packed. Why is that?
Brierley: I mean, that said, um is it right then to kind of, as it were, look at the culture and say that's what's attracting men, we need to be more like that? Because there is a danger is there not of simply blindly following culture in some sense.
Driscoll: Well, what happens is most men, many men did not have a father, so they don't know what a responsible male looks like. Um, as well, when men hit a certain age, they don't have any authority. They've got money, they've got disposable time, they've got you know sexual sins, but nobody has any authority over them, so what I do is I speak to men more like a father or a drill seargent would, I give them very direct orders, I teach and preach the Word of God for an hour plus, um and I speak to them very directly. Men tend to respond very well to that. I don't speak the same way to women. I would never counsel a woman the same way I counsel a man. In my conversations with Grace they are very different than they are with men, particularly men who are in sin and rebellion and folly, and so I think the problem in the church has been a one size fits all. We speak to you know nice godly growing women the same way we speak to immature, rebellious, date raper men, and it's not working.
Brierley: Is there a danger you're only appealing to a certain type of man? I mean you caused a lot of controversy with a statement you made on Facebook where you said so what story do you have of the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you've personally witnessed? And [eople said it was a bullying thing to say. Others said you know that's the kind of thinking that got me called a faggot and bullied at school. I mean do you regret some of the things you say in this kind of area?
Driscoll: I do but I go too far sometimes. Almost every other pastor I know doesn't go far enough and that's O.K. cause the church tends to be led by people who are timid and fearful of going too far. I mean let's just say this . . . right now, name for me the one young, good Bible teacher that's known across Great Britain. You don’t have one – that is a problem. There's a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth. You don't have one. You don't have one young guy who can preach the Bible that anybody's listening to on the whole earth.
Brierley: Do you think that we need in the U.K. here then to model your approach more a bit?
Driscoll: You don't have to do what I'm doing. I'm just telling you what you're doing ain't working, so you need to do something else.
Brierley: Let me give you another quote of yours Mark, and I hope you appreciate that I'm just bringing up some of the issues here that often come up in this area. You talk about often some emergent types have recast Jesus as a limp wrist hippie in a dress, and you say I cannot worship a hippie diaper halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat us. I mean that's strong words.
Driscoll: Yes, that's very clear. See, and this is the deal for me. You've gotta break through the cultural noise. If I get on and I say Jesus is nice, blah, blah, blah; Jesus is sweet, blah, blah, blah; Jesus takes care of people, blah, blah blah, nobody cares, nobody listens because there's nothing interesting around it. The whole reason you've got me on the radio is because I will say things that are interesting.
Brierley: Yeah, you do, but is there not a danger that you kind of turn into the shock jock of the pulpit in a way? That you're saying things to create a reaction to make people go "Mark Driscoll said something controversial."
During the remainder of the interview, Brierley and Driscoll discussed the success of Mars Hill Church, Calvinist theology, the Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement, John MacArthur's criticism, and female pastors. Perhaps we will discuss those aspects of the interview in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for TWW's analysis of this portion of the Brierley / Driscoll interview.
Lydia's Corner: Isaiah 10:1-11:16 2 Corinthians 12:11-21 Psalm 56:1-13 Proverbs 23:6-8