Mark Driscoll has come up with another book it seems, Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship & Life Together. Tim Challies has posted a concern regarding one chapter whereby the Driscolls take a look at various sexual acts. (See also his part 2 and 3 on the issue). I think the main point however has not been well made yet.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.(Phil, 4:8)
This is the key verse that speaks of the Christian life. The Christian life is to be lived out by meditating on what is pure and lovely and honorable in everything. Sex is something ordained by God to be enjoyed by a properly married couple within the confines of marriage. In itself, it is a beautiful act of intimacy between husband and wife to be kept within the confidentiality of marriage. Within those bounds, there is nothing to be ashamed of.
The problem with Driscoll's message however is the titillating nature of all that he writes about on sex. Songs of Songs for example is certainly about the love between a man and his beloved, yet the love and emotion is expressed in a proper way such that it is a celebration of love and it elevates that love. Such a glorifying of love is lovely and honorable, with nothing banal about it.
Driscoll on the other hand takes what is lovely and debases it. It wasn't that long ago that I decided to hear one of Driscoll's sermon on the Song of Songs out of curiosity. My ears were red just listening to it. I most definitely wouldn't feel that way after reading the Song of Songs in my Bible! There is something pathologically wrong with such sexualized sermons. Just because the Song of Songs is a love poem does not make it erotic, neither is it speaking of sexual acts which I would never have known except through the scandal of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
There is nothing wrong with teaching about sex. In fact, I have just read some chapters in a book about Calvinism about marriage and family which deals with the issue. But such is done in a way which honors marriage and situates sex within that (and without any red ears).
The "based in Seattle" argument simply does not hold. Whoever uses it has no idea of the sexualized culture of the Greco-Roman world. In a time when homosexuality was promoted (especially by the Greeks) and temple prostitution as well as after dinner "pleasures" were common, the Apostle Paul did not resort to utilizing debased language to "contextualize" the Gospel message. In fact, nowhere is the word έρως (eros) ever used in the NT, which would be strange if we think Paul was overly eager to do "contextualization."
The Scriptures say that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mt. 12:34) and that we can recognize people by their fruits (Mt. 7:20). Driscoll's persistent infatuation with all things sexual speaks volumes about his priorities and his thought life. We can forget about his rant against biblical cessationism for a moment, for this is an even worse sin. And yes, it is a sin! Ever since the pornocracy of the early medieval period, who would ever have thought that debased notions of sex should be the focus of the church?
It is not true that churches should not deal with this issue. Such issues are to be dealt with in private however. The law of conscience should already tell us that many of these sexual deviations are wrong, and many or these do not have to be discussed EVEN in pre-marital counseling. For unless one of the spouses has been confused by looking at pornography, they would not even HAVE any of these questions in mind and even raising it up stumbles them by leading their thoughts in a way that is not pure.
May we therefore revert to the biblical manner of speaking of such private issues, and not debase it by public discussion of ungodly material and thus sinning against the Lord.