Axiom: If you want to get conservative church folk really riled up, talk about s-e-x…out loud...on Sunday morning…in the sermon…and skip the metaphors. That’s the reaction pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle is getting from many prominent Christians in the evangelical world. In the latest iterations of protest against Driscoll, Bott Radio Network interrupted one of its programs midway and cancelled another program’s scheduled radio interview at the behest of the network’s founder, Dick Bott, just for featuring Driscoll. According to conservative publications and commentators, like the Baptist Press and others, Mark Driscoll is on a Christian no-no list for saying no-no things, if you get my drift. Among the adjectives used for his language are “vulgar”, “unwholesome,” “coarse,” “filthiness,” and so forth.
It is a fact that Driscoll offends conservative Christian sensibilities concerning sex talk with non-PG language. Now here’s a question that I have: Since when is sex ever rated PG? Sex is for the married. You can be married only if you are 18 (in most states). And, if you are over 18, what about talking about sex should really offend? Why should the fact that he says “sex” out loud and not “s-e-x” give adults with mature attitudes trouble, except if they are not so mature after all?
After reviewing several blog rants and even a four-part article dedicated to criticizing Driscoll’s sermons on the Song of Solomon (which quickly boil down to criticisms about his person and faith), I cannot help but become aware of the river of problems under the church running far deeper than the issue of Mark Driscoll’s mouth. For example, sex is almost always discussed negatively. Driscoll himself observes that the primary message sent to most church youth is that “sex is gross…it’s dirty, nasty, vile, and wrong, so save it for the one you love.” How many Christian couples suffer in silence over sexual issues because they’ve been conditioned to think that sex is too taboo to discuss at church and among believers? In response, some believers might consider the wisdom of the secular world and then struggle over appealing to a source that is so maligned within the church as well. Church, which should be the safest place on earth to talk about healthy sexuality, is sadly the most unsafe and the last place anyone dares talk about it.
I listened to a fair share of Driscoll’s sermons, especially the ones that relate to this topic. There could be the rare occasion that he gets graphic in such a way that might offend (but in listening to three+ hours--and counting--of sermons, I have yet to hear anything even close). I’ve come to the opinion that the messages he delivers are far more important to the listener than the concerns of his critics. He is neither vulgar nor treats sex in marriage as a joke. Vulgarity demeans and degrades people or actions. Driscoll is doing the opposite. He is trying to save marriages and relationships. Not only that, he is trying to save wedded bliss from being the stuff of fairytales and/or the first two weeks of marriage.
Marriage is sacred, which is exactly why Driscoll’s sex talk is badly needed in the evangelical world. Our churchgoers no longer know what the body is used for and how to enjoy it in the way we were created. We have allowed the ungodly secular world determine what is impermissible and "dirty" for believers instead of believers charging the world with its perversion and taking back sexual pleasure under the dominion of the kingdom of God.
Mark Driscoll in general makes people with conservative sensibilities uneasy and takes the fun out of being a liberal. I gotta say that I kind of like that.