More on Driscoll and Sex

Warning: probably not suitable for kids or singles.

Fan’s of Mark Driscoll don’t like what I wrote in 42: What Driscoll really said about God and hate.

That is fine. I don’t pretend that I am right on everything and I freely acknowledge that I have a bias which it is hard to fully put aside when reading/listening to Mark Driscoll.

However, two more things on the talk about sex that have bothered me as I have reflected on it.

First, Mark Driscoll takes a love poem and beautiful descriptions of what this couple in love think of each other and like to do and he turns it into commandments. The lady in Song of Solomon writes poetically about wanting oral sex with her husband. Great. No problem with shouting from the rooftops "The Bible says oral sex is ok". But Mark Driscoll is not happy with that. Instead he turns it into a command. Instead of giving freedom, such as saying "if you like oral sex then you are fine to have oral sex with your husband/wife". He gives a command. Ladies you must give your husbands oral sex. He talks of a woman whose husband started coming to church because Mark Driscoll told her she must give her husband oral sex and tell him that it was because the Bible said she should. Aaargghhh!!!

The Bible does not say wives must give their husbands oral sex! It absolutely does not. Making a huge leap from "It is ok to have oral sex if that is what you both want" to "Wives you must give your husbands oral sex, and if your husband is not a Christian consider this your duty to bring him to faith" is obscene.

Secondly, Mark talks of the things a wife should do so that her husband will not stray to stripper clubs or pornography. They include stripping for the husband and sex with the light on. Neither of these are bad things. If wives and husbands want to do these things because it pleases them then yippee. But to use Song of Solomon to say that wives should do these things in order to stop their husband straying is wrong.

Towards the beginning of the talk Mark explains that he understands the book of the Bible to be written by Solomon to his first wife. he is then building on what she does/says in the poem to encourage wives to do these things for their husbands to keep them. However he ignores the fact it did not work for Solomon’s wife! With Mark’s reading she clearly did what he describes as all the right things: oral sex, stripping etc BUT still Solomon went on to have hundreds of wives and concubines. So wives Mark has taken something that clearly did not work for the first wife of Solomon and he is telling you to do it to keep your husbands from straying. If it did not work for her why will it work for you?

Again I want to emphasise that I am not criticising Mark because I am a prude. I am all in favour of married couples enjoying sex, delighting in each others bodies. But Mark has turned freedom into commands (and I stumble for words at the total crassness and inappropriateness of a male pastor telling a woman in the Church that she must go and have oral sex with her husband) and presented those commands as if they are needed to stop your husband straying. Ugh!!!

Note that comments on this may be caught by the keywords that are in place to stop spam. But generally I will post comments if you email them to me.

30 thoughts on “More on Driscoll and Sex

  1. Peter Kirk

    Dave, now I understand better why you said that Driscoll’s talk is not suitable for single men! Should I really be listening or reading about these things? This gives a somewhat different and more inviting impression than your previous description of the same talk as “An interesting review of Church History”. But perhaps you should have put the same warning at the beginning of this post!

  2. Jon Sidnell

    Thanks for posting my comment on the other post and leaving it unedited – I want to honour the integrity it takes to do that!
    Having read this post, I am a little bit clearer on where you are at.
    Part of the difference of opinion we may have regarding this sermon is that I didn’t interpret any of what Mark said as commands to be obeyed. I heard more of a refrain of freedom – that husbands and wives can do such things if they desire – than a set of commands that “you *have* to go home and do these things.” I also didn’t interpret the story about the wife whose husband came into the kingdom as a result of applying Driscoll’s teaching to be “go and do this and your husband will be a Christian”, but I may be blind or mis-hearing on this point.
    Your second point is a very good one, and if the major point of Mark’s sermon were that these were acts a wife (or husband) could perform to keep their husband or wife from straying, it would indeed be crucial that Mark make the connection with Solomon’s later history. As it is, I think it would have detracted from the main point i.e. husbands and wives can enjoy each other and not just in a missionary position way!
    Personally, I still think that you are mis-understanding the intent behind Driscoll’s comments in the sermon. Although it is certainly a relatively explicit sermon it is one that I felt was, to quote Driscoll’s refrain about the SoS, “frank but never crass”.
    Thanks again for providing space for dissenting voices :)

  3. Dave Warnock

    I was starting to wonder if I needed an age certificate for this post. Rather steamier than I normally write :-)
    I am not worried about people disagreeing with me although I do find the “you are going to hell” comments rather boring.
    In many discussions in the past people with complementarian views do not notice or value the fact that many women are upset by them and that their views are ignored.
    What I mean by that is that it does not matter to me if a complementarian says “this is not about obeying”. On the other hand if a woman who is not complementarian thinks it is then I think that should carry.
    Given the position I know Mark Driscoll has about male headship then when he makes a joke that in the area of sex women should feel free to initiate, then that is offensive. It implies women cannot initiate in other areas and it implies they cannot decline in this area.
    Similarly when he tells a story (and if he has not got permission from the lady concerned then this is a huge confidentiality issue) about a lady who he tells to go and give oral sex to her husband then that is about male domination, not freedom. I am surprised that anyone feels that is acceptable,
    I am willing to agree that Mark’s main point was intended to be that husbands and wives can enjoy each other, but it was built on a whole range of assumptions and interpretations that I find offensive and which leak out all over the place.

  4. Jon Sidnell

    My theology may well have been showing more than I thought – I am broadly speaking a complementarian, which may well be I don’t spot or take objection to some of the things you’ve been highlighting.
    It may be that I need to try and see Driscoll’s thoughts and teachings in before going along with it completely. Thanks for helping me think a bit deeper about this.

  5. Alastair

    “I find this kind of preaching utterly nauseating, not to mention abusive and misogynistic.”
    Its worth mentioning that I was at this preach along with my wife and about 10 female friends of ours. Their response was certainly not nausea or a feeling of abuse. Many said it was an amazing sermon. I respect your right to feel the way you do, but its clear the many women I know who were at that preach in person feel differently.
    I never heard anything about people being commanded to give oral sex. Rather, I heard Mark encouraging men and women to consider every way they can pleasure their spouse, and to find freedom in the Lord.
    If I remember the story in question concerning the Christian women with her non-Christian husband, she believed oral sex to be dirty and wrong. Mark gently pointed out that this is not the case in the Song of Solomon. With that barrier removed, he then advised her to serve her husband in every way possible, in order to win him to faith. You may not link that verse, but its in our bibles. So I don’t see any problem with this. If the situation was reversed and Mark was telling a husband to pleasure his non Christian wife, would we all be up in arms?

  6. Dave Warnock

    Bang, right on the nose. Thank-you for making my point.
    Song of Solomon, can be understood to say it is ok to have oral sex. It does not say that all people must enjoy oral sex, it does not say that all wives must offer oral sex. All of those ideas are Mark Driscoll’s, they are not there in scripture.
    To then take a concept from a love poem in the old testament and turn it into a command to go and offer oral sex to your husband is outrageous. I just don’t understand how anyone could think it acceptable for a minister to demand this of a person.
    Didn’t he say that marriage is for mutual benefit and enjoyment? By all means tell the congregation that your understanding of Song of Solomon is that oral sex is OK, I don’t have a problem with that. But he did not stop there. He could have left it with the woman able to choose whether she was attracted to oral sex or not, but he didn’t. He turned it into a command. “The Bible says you must serve your husband and I am telling you that means you must offer him oral sex” NO NO NO NO.
    Song of Solomon cannot be subverted into saying that oral sex is a requirement in all marriages, it cannot be placed on all wives a way of “serving” their husbands. That is just as wrong as all the teaching that Mark Driscoll mocked from the past.
    I am stunned that the women in the audience did not rise up and storm the stage. This is utterly horrible.

  7. Alastair

    I am stunned that the women in the audience did not rise up and storm the stage. This is utterly horrible.
    Actually he was being cheered on by some of the girls with me. I think this may be a case of speck and plank. I accept that now and again Driscoll says something off-colour, distasteful, etc. He has repented and humbled himself publicly more than any leader I know here in my own city. But the overall thrust of his message was so positive about marital sexuality that it captured the hearts of the Edinburgh audience. That’s the bottom line to me, and to many other s I imagine.
    The way I see it is this. If I have this wrong let me know:
    - Song of Songs affirms oral sex
    - Women in congregation thinks oral sex is shameful in some way
    - Mark shows her song of songs
    - Mark assumes her husband would enjoy oral sex (fairly safe assumption)
    - Mark reminds wife that Jesus through scripture commands her to win over her husband with acts of kindness
    - connecting all the dots, he suggests oral sex as an act of kindness (with the assumption the woman in question is convicted of its holy nature within marriage and her conscience lets her perform said act)
    I really don’t see the foul play here. Did Mark really say the bible commands oral sex to all couples, right here, right now? I don’t remember that!

  8. Dave Warnock

    Connect the dots one or two steps further and tell me how anyone hearing that talk cannot be convinced that what was “right” for that woman is right for all others.
    In other words. Where does connecting the dots in your interpretation give any freedom to the wife to choose not to offer oral sex. It doesn’t.

  9. Alastair

    I can see what you are getting at. However, suppose the subject was back-rubs. Let us suppose my wife loves to receive back rubs. Now let us suppose I routinely refuse to perform a back-run, claiming I think its wrong. Then, I am shown that there is no moral absolute against back rubs. If I continue to refuse to provide my wife with back-rubs, I would be in sin, because I would be violating my marital covenant to love and serve her in every way possible. The only way I could not be in sin would be if I still considered it wrong for me for some reason to perform back-rubs.
    This may be the only point that Mark missed in his whistle-stop tour of the song of songs: that anything not done from faith is a sin, therefore if we feel something is wrong, or if we feel morally uncomfortable about something, then it is a sin for us.
    I consider biblical sexuality to be as sacrificial as the rest of our faith, and to be just as challenging. Paul tells us that our body belongs to our spouse — this is radical and is completely counter to the what the world would say. I believe Mark has grasped this, even if he is a little rough round the edges of his exegesis.

  10. Dave Warnock

    I hear you. But I think the analogy of a back rub is flawed.
    No minister should give the impression to any person that if their spouse wants oral sex they must give it. That is
    a) potentially abusive
    b) ignores very good reasons why it may not be appropriate (previous abuse, disease etc)
    c) changes marriage to be rule based and not about mutual love and respect
    d) ignores personal freedom: it is not and must not become a sin for me to say I have a headache tonight, if I do so then it has nothing whatsoever to do with my minister.
    If our body belongs to our spouse then what is the minister doing getting his grubby fingers in the way.
    So sorry Alastair but I do think the example and teaching of Mark Driscoll is not rough round the edges but wrong and based on a wrong exegesis of both Song of Solomon and Pauline literature.
    When Paul talks of serving, does he have Song of Solomon and oral sex in mind? No he is thinking of Christ washing the disciples feet. Christ is demonstrating self giving, not giving ordered by the Pastor.
    Biblical sexuality may well be sacrificial, but Discoll is taking away the couples right to choose how that is from them.
    In short I do not give up my position that this is bad theology and bad pastoral care. In fact the more I think about it and the more I hear arguments that Driscoll is ok on this the more I am convinced that this was totally unacceptable.

  11. Suzanne

    It is worth mentioning that Driscoll says that submission does not mean that a woman should not initiate sex. Sex is the one exception. So now you have an ethos which advises that men rule, women submit, but women are also to initiate sex.
    Does the phrase “power is an aphrodisiac” say anything here. How it the women supposed to suddenly go from a day of submission to a night of initiation. And isn’t this initiation only for something that the man can be guaranteed to want anyway. Isn’t this initiation only an extension of submission.
    It is not the activity or the position which bothers me, it is about the notion that authority of husband over wife exists in the first place. The wife is in the position of initiating sex with someone in an authority position over her.

  12. mike aubrey

    my wife listened to the sermon with me.
    she was rather (read: extremely) offended.
    but she also thought that he said some very good things too. – a bit of a mixed bag you could say.

  13. Dave Warnock

    I tried to get Jane to listen, she got bored, saying it was just what she expected.
    Still she and I agree there is good stuff in there, it is just the wrapping, assumptions and some bad theology and exegesis that spoil it.

  14. Alastair

    Dave, in principle I agree with your provisos on why any pastor cannot “command” anything, as the conscience is an important factor. I totally agree. At the end of the day I suppose we heard the same preach but walked away with a different impression. I’ll have to re-listen to the anecdote to make up my mind fully.

  15. Peter Kirk

    it is not and must not become a sin for me to say I have a headache tonight
    Paul implied that it was, 1 Corinthians 7:5. But he also said that it was a matter for the couple to decide between themselves by agreement.

  16. Dave Warnock

    I really think that to take 1 Corinthians 7:5 in such an extreme way would be to ignore everything about the life and teaching of Jesus.
    Can anyone really claim that the teaching of Jesus would condone a spouse forcing themselves upon their partner? Where is love in that?

  17. Clix

    What I’m hearing in the ‘oral sex’ anecdote – and this is just based on the post and the comments, btw, so feel free to clarify – is that Driscoll did not address the woman’s desires or concerns. First of all, it seems not to matter that she does not want to give oral sex. Now that may not be the case! I would have no problem with a counselor saying, “Look, I realize you don’t want to do this. Not liking something is OKAY. However, do remember that one of the most beautiful expressions of love is when we choose to sacrifice our own desires so that we can give something to someone we love.”
    However, for it to be truly meaningful, it’s gotta be her choice – if she’s doing it because she feels she SHOULD, it’s actually kinda squicky, IMO.
    Secondly, I got the idea that it was more than just a MORAL concern for her – that there was some repugnance to it. This is where it’d be important for the counselor to listen to the woman. Does it come from her own sense of shame? Or, well, is it just that her husband is one of the real-life reasons for the image of the grubby, sweaty, you’re-lucky-I-kiss-your-FACE male?
    Oh – and I also find it creepy that Driscoll was apparently the one talking to her about this. Are women not allowed to be counselors in that church or something?

  18. Peter Kirk

    Dave, I am not condoning a husband forcing himself on his wife, or vice versa. If the wife does use the “I have a headache” excuse, a loving husband should respect that.
    Nevertheless, this verse teaches us that a wife should not use an excuse like that to refuse her husband. If she really doesn’t want it, she should discuss it with him and get his agreement. And if she is using this as a weapon to manipulate and get her own way, that is downright sinful.
    And vice versa to all this.

  19. Dave Warnock

    If we were all on the same egalitarian page I’d have no problem. When someone like Mark Driscoll is saying all this with his complementarian views it is not a level playing field.
    Rape in marriage is a criminal offence and with good reason. I am confident that Paul did not intend his writing to justify such things.

  20. びっくり

    Wait, cart-ahead-of-horse… what is the scriptural reference? I note that this is supposedly a discussion thread about what scripture says, and yet I see no scripture.
    One reader mentioned 1 Cor 7:5, but the main topic of this conversation (not mentioned to avoid spam filters) is certainly not in that verse. At least not directly. If that verse is the basis of this conversation, the Driscoll is off his rocker. Please tell me there was something more to support all this discussion.

  21. brunettekoala

    I find this post quite profoundly disturbing, the idea that a woman must give oral sex to her husband? (or vice versa). I also seem to have glossed over this verse while reading song of songs?!
    But I would like to hear the sermon that was given so I can make my own discerning take on it?

  22. Ron S.

    Driscoll’s teaching on SS is fine if he confined it to a group of married men or couples. What he has done, however, is brought this before the entire public – his smirks and all. How many of you would appreciate your 10 year-old daugters or sons viewing this? Yet, Driscoll has sent this out over the entire internet – no warnings at all and apparently, does so in his own church, leaving parents to squirm and leave, or let their children’s childhood innocence (and their own) be robbed by staying. How is that promoting the gospel?

  23. David

    As a former Christian who is never going back to any church, I can say with authority that Mark and his cohorts (i.e. James Noriega) not only command women to have sex but actually cultivate a virgin community of women to lure professional men into their “cult”. He doesn’t even try to hide it. Just listen to his sermons and download them on iTunes. My fiancee, a woman I loved not for her beauty but for our very basic love of truth, was taken away from me because I did not earn enough and she was a beautiful virgin (the reason I nearly didn’t date her for, by the way). She considered herself a “prize” and a “good catch” (her words). I was disgusted. I still am. What a shame to break up two children of God for no better reason than one of them asks too many questions (me) and the other could be used to lure a more wealthy man into their church (her). If you doubt me just ask Elder Pastor James Noriega why he broke us up. How sad that she would go along with this and Mark would do nothing about it no matter how much I tried to reconcile with both Acts 29 and UGM. I will debate Mark or any other of his cronies any day of the week. Preferably in front of his ENTIRE congregation. His cult must be disintegrated.

  24. Dave Warnock

    I am sorry to hear your story and the impact it has had on your faith.
    As you will see if you search this blog I am unhappy with quite a lot of Mark Driscoll’s teaching.
    I hope that one day you will re-discover the Jesus who loves you and who suffers with you and desires wholeness and justice (and mercy and forgiveness) for you.


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