Jan 052012

Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together by Mark & Grace Driscoll

As a leading voice of the next generation with growing impact around the world, Pastor Mark Driscoll and wife Grace have authored an incredibly relevant book for our sexually-charged culture. The book comes with well-grounded biblical teaching to exhort married couples to live out the Gospel and what that looks like in everyday life. The Driscolls also reveals their personal and family histories to give a context for how they’ve worked at growing their marriage towards oneness as friends and lovers. An accompanying DVD set adds to this personal texture and makes it easier for small group discussions.

Pastor Mark is also unafraid to candidly address the sex questions today’s people have about whether they can or can’t do something. After all, if the church doesn’t have an answer, people are left to make up their own answers under the influence of a mainstream media-driven culture that knows no moral boundaries. The most valuable part of the book for this reviewer is the final chapter that maps out a comprehensive “reverse-engineering” framework of discussion questions that makes accessible the honest communication often advised for marriages but often incomplete in other Christian marriage books.

Addendum: Of course, Driscoll is a lightning-rod for conversation and controversy (though he’s not as edgy as he once was now that his popularity and influence has grown), so as the book releases, it is getting an energetic promotional and marketing effort, and a growing amount of blog and news buzz.

Washington Post observed how Christian leaders talk about marriage and sex with mention of  Tim Keller and Rick Warren — and I’d agree that it’s a bit late to the party, as this article noted how Joy of Sex was published back in 1972. Really, almost 40 years later? If the church and pastors don’t address the topic of sex, mainstream media and pop culture sure will and does and has for decades. Better late than never?

Rachel Held Evans has noted in Why Being a Pastor Doesn’t Automatically Make You a Sex Therapist her reactions to the book’s good, bad, and ugly. Tony Jones (A Complementarian Who Thinks Mark Driscoll Is a Misogynist) won’t review this book. David Moore blogged at The Burner that Mark Driscoll Thinks Wives Are Only Good for Sex. Raleigh Examiner stated the obvious: Mark Driscoll and Real Marriage spark controversy.

What these critiques have overlooked (or editorially left out due to length, or their emphasis on points of disagreement) is Driscoll’s emphasis on the crucial essentiality of friendship in a marriage, the value of genuine curiosity to cultivate a real relationship, and not that marriage for just sex; thought Pastor Mark freely uses the phrase, “friends with benefits.” One quote I found in the book, “The biblical pattern for Christian marriage is free and frequent sex” raised my eyebrows. Hadn’t heard that one before.

[disclosure: I received a review copy via booksneeze]

Sep 252009

In this video conversation with Becky Knight, a sexologist and sex educator in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, we breach an often uncomfortable topic, “Why talking about sex is so hard?” Her website is www.livingsexuality.com and she twitters at twitter.com/livingsexuality

There you have it. Sounded to me like just do it, and start the conversation. No magical how-to. How have you talked about this subject with your peers? Your children?

Jun 092009

It all unravels eventually. Whether it’s getting tired of hiding the indiscretion, telling a lie, living a lie. Or, getting caught red-handed.

Another pastor admits an emotional and physical affair. It’s wrong and there are tons of consequences. I think in the information age, with the openness of the Internet, more bad news is known and spreads faster. shattered livesMoral failures have been around before, easier to hide in some sense, though just as devastating. This past weekend, another pastor falls, even more in the public eye because of social media. And the online chatter perculating.

Scott Williams lists 4 Reasons Leaders FAIL, i.e. fake, attitude, integrity, lacking. Geoff Surratt warns pastors of how they’re already toast if they think they aren’t vulnerable. Ron Edmondson adds his thoughts and Todd Rhoades adds his prayer for another fallen servant.

To reiterate, from Why Pastors Fall Into Affairs: “What is it with pastors and affairs? I did a brief search through Google and found all kinds of stories about pastors having affairs with secretaries, the wives of other ministers, and who knows who else. … Curiously, many pastors fall into affairs when their ministries grow. Success has a way of turning on its master. … Of course we’re not big fans of learning from our mistakes. … I know if I started pastoring a church tomorrow I’d say to myself, “Those other guys fell, but not me. I’m going to be fine.”

Pastors know what they’re supposed to do. They teach it and preach it. And the inevitable stresses of ministry will come (or never goes away, in many cases). Pastoring the most stressful job I can think of. Sometimes the church is overly successful. The stresses of marriage and family life will show up too — nobody has a perfectly easy marriage. And there’s always someone of the opposite sex who is more attractive to the average red-blooded male. I’m one, so I know what I’m talking about (tongue in cheek.) Plus there’s the spiritual realm too. Pastors have a red bulls-eye on their back, constantly in the cross-hairs of Satan’s destructive schemes.

My own thinking is that keeping precautions and rules won’t guarantee moral & marital purity. Rules don’t change the heart. From my vantage point, I’m of the opinion that high-capacity leaders tend to be task-oriented, and not as relationally-oriented. Task-orientation is what makes them that much more effective, but it’s also is the achilles’ heel, because there’s going to be the tendency of not spending enough time in close relationships with a few trusted others — especially in transparent vulnerable friendships where they are fully known. If friends knew the struggles and temptations in the heart & soul of a leader, especially in this area of temptation, then a leader doesn’t have to bear it all by himself. It’s true that leadership is lonely at the top, and the higher you go, the lonelier it gets. No one will understand what the leader is going thru. Partly true. Others don’t have to understand, but others can know. At least get a professional counselor to relieve the stress that mere rest and sports will not.
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Mar 212009

Once in a while, I get a question via the contact page, and some of them are worth answering in the open for the benefit of all. Here’s one about why God made sex for marriage.

Question: I need some help. I am doing a talk to teens on sex and abstinence. I saw some stuff on your blog that was helpful. The question I never really see get answered by anyone is this: why is sex part of God’s plan for married people? I see lots of stuff on why we should wait, but not why God made it this way or when it became that way? Obviously Adam and Eve were the first 2 people around and so that was the only option for them, but when did it become only for married couples?

djchuang >> God’s plan for sex in marriage was right there from the beginning, in Genesis 2, i.e. the two shall become one flesh. While it may not have been spelled out as “thou shalt not” in Genesis, the sacredness of sex in marriage is repeatedly mentioned throughout Scriptures, e.g. Thou shalt not commit adultery (Ex 20), Jesus’ teaching on marriage (Mt 19), and Eph. 5‘s teaching on how marriage is the real-life example of how Christ loves the church.

That was my quick summary answer in a minute. What would you add?

Sep 062008

Some things I’ve found recently (and way back when that I hadn’t blogged):

I’m a huge advocate for cross-gender friendships, that men and women can be friends. But, I also know in the contexts I live and work in, I’m not as vocal about it as I’d like to be. Biggest value-add: un-objectifies women. I’ve not blogged volumes about it as my virtual friend Dan Brennan over at Faith Dance, and I really respect his thoughtful insights about how to navigate those sticky issues, especially in an oversexed society.

Compare and contrast the “10 commandments” for avoiding any hint of sexual immorality vs. this Eugene Peterson quote and follow-up reflections:

I’ve not lived cautiously. I have friendships with women. I touch them. I’ve been more careful in school than I was in the parish, where everyone knows me. It’s different now because someone can come to my office and we can have a deep talk and the next day I won’t know his or her name. That didn’t happen in a church setting. So I’m more careful now. But I’m not obsessive. These are my friends. Touch is a human thing, not just a sexual thing. It is dehumanizing to deny touch. Is sex a contagious disease? Sex is a danger, but money is a danger too. Do you refuse to take a salary because money is a danger?

And here’s the question, put forth by Dan Brennan,

Is it possible for cross-sex friendships to flourish in our church communities with more constructive meanings than the appearance of sexual immorality? You see if we are training church leaders with a socially constructed meaning of men and women with taken-for-granted conventional assumptions, I would argue that we may not be pursuing social justice at a fundamental relational level in our communities.

My answer is yes. Where, you ask? Well, that’s a tougher question. 1 qualifer: not everyone can do this.

Aug 022008

Why Saturday Surprises? I find more stuff than I can blog about. And, it’s sorta my version of Contextless Links [jordoncooper.com was 1st early adopter I know of], Friday Link List, Random Links, Links List, Mixed Links: Good Stuff for Nonprofit Marketers…. other places I share my finds: my public Google Notebooks, del.icio.us/djchuang, Digital @ Leadership Network