So I was pointed to an article this morning on a “hip” Seattle pastor by the name of Mark Driscoll. The original article was from Huffington Post, in which a link is provided to his latest free e-book, “Porn-Again Christian: a Frank Discussion on Pornography and Masturbation”. I’m not going to link to the book because that’s just wrong, but in it are such gems as:
“…Masturbation can be a form of homosexuality because it is a sexual act that does not involve a woman. If a man were to masturbate while engaged in other forms of sexual intimacy with his wife then he would not be doing so in a homosexual way. However, any man who does so without his wife in the room is bordering on homosexuality activity, particularly if he’s watching himself in a mirror and being turned on by his own male body.“
Once again, I can thank a man of God for bringing up a particular twist on an aspect of human sexual behavior that never occurred to me before. While the sensory aides used to accomplish the aforementioned activity are many, varied, and thankfully private, I’m going to hazard a guess and say that “looking at myself in a mirror” is likely pretty damned low on the list for most people. It sure as hell is for me.
Even if I’m flat wrong and everyone else does it, I still can’t bring myself to care about whether this is a barometer of someone’s tendency toward homosexual behavior. This entire thing sounds like an attempt by yet another fundamentalist to reinforce the idea that human sexuality is one of – if not THE – core issues in the bible.
Not surprisingly, he has nothing of substance to offer on the topic of female masturbation.
Anyway, the HuffPo linked to a New York Times article, where I read more. This guy’s a trip:
Conservatives call Driscoll “the cussing pastor” and wish that he’d trade in his fashionably distressed jeans and taste for indie rock for a suit and tie and placid choral arrangements. Liberals wince at his hellfire theology and insistence that women submit to their husbands. But what is new about Driscoll is that he has resurrected a particular strain of fire and brimstone, one that most Americans assume died out with the Puritans: Calvinism, a theology that makes Pat Robertson seem warm and fuzzy.
Yet his message seems radically unfashionable, even un-American: you are not captain of your soul or master of your fate but a depraved worm whose hard work and good deeds will get you nowhere, because God marked you for heaven or condemned you to hell before the beginning of time. Yet a significant number of young people in Seattle — and nationwide — say this is exactly what they want to hear.
A long time ago I nicknamed Calvinism as the Eeyore of Christianity, with what I generally interpret to be its “I’m-fucked-anyway-so-why-should-I-bother” attitude toward spirituality and the afterlife. Then again, I may not be, but my current mind set certainly doesn’t indicate that I have a promising future after I shake the mortal coil.
Calvinism has somehow become cool, and just as startling, this generally bookish creed has fused with a macho ethos. At [Driscoll’s parish], members say their favorite movie isn’t “Amazing Grace” or “The Chronicles of Narnia” — it’s “Fight Club.”
So, a man who condemns the evils of pornography, masturbation, and homosexuality has no problem with “Fight Club”, with its savage violence, gratuitous pre-marital sex, lying for personal gain, forcible castration, recreational drug use and overdose, attempted suicide, and widespread domestic terrorism.
His cussing, tattoos / piercings, and “hip” modern clothes also make me chuckle, especially in light of his requirement that “new members can keep their taste in music, their retro T-shirts and their intimidating facial hair, but they had better abandon their feminism, premarital sex and any ‘modern’ interpretations of the Bible.” I guess by “modern” he means “stuff he won’t miss because he already has a submissive wife with five kids.”
I assume, by his appearance and demeanor, that a “traditional” interpretation of biblical law can ignore the following passages:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Colossians 3:8)
You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material. (Leviticus 19:19)
You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:28)
Which is weird, since the prohibition on EVIL UGLY SIN of homosexuality is only a chapter before the rules regarding clothing and tattoos:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)
… oh, and after …
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 20:13)
… so I assume we have to obey them all, right? But here’s my personal favorite in the whole article:
What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. […] The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that … would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”
Ahh, now it’s clear.
I remember going to school with a guy who was into drugs, heavy metal, NOT showering, and generally acting like an all-around asshole my freshman year. The following year, however, he came back all clean-shaven, got rid of his “evil” CD collection, and declared that he was born again. The problem was, he was still a complete asshole; he just used the bible as a new means to the same end.
In a nutshell, that’s basically what I see with Mark. This is a guy who tries to act “cool” by taking on some of the traits of his target audience, re-packages a brand of religious fundamentalism with a hefty dose of manly chest-beating, and ignores the biblically incongruous aspects of his behavior as long as they boost attendance in his church.
Yet in the end, his 18th-century attitudes toward homosexuality (icky!) and violence (movie night!) suggest that the true purpose of his interpretation of Christianity is to do nothing more than provide an excuse for acting like yet another bigoted, sanctimonious tool. We can only be thankful that he has found a place where such behaviors are not only accepted, but encouraged.
So just remember, men: get your wife to submit to you … because if you wank alone, you’re wanking with Richard Simmons.