A good friend of mine sent me this article. I've posted it as well as my responses in italics at the bottom. Let me know what you think?
Draws Media Attention
EDITOR'S NOTE: The story contains references to sexual matters that Baptist Press tried to veil somewhat in order to lessen the possibility of offending readers. However, Baptist Press needed to include a reference to these adult elements so that readers might fully grasp the importance of this news item.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--An in-depth New York Times Magazine feature on a controversial Seattle pastor has generated a new wave of debate about vulgarity in the pulpit.
"Who Would Jesus Smack Down," a 3,200-word profile of Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., focused on Driscoll's Calvinist theology but, like most secular reporting on the Seattle pastor, began with a vignette on his "racy" sermon topics and casual clothes.
Critics like pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., however take Driscoll to task over his use of sexually explicit language and "purely gratuitous humor" they say degrades the Gospel and the pulpit.
In a December 2006 issue of Pulpit magazine, MacArthur, a renowned Calvinist himself, complimented Driscoll's theology but said the young pastor suffers from an "infatuation with the vulgar aspects of contemporary society" and models a lifestyle "especially his easygoing familiarity with all this world's filthy fads -- [that] practically guarantees that [his disciples] will make little progress toward authentic sanctification."
On the heels of the New York Times profile, Christian talk show personality Ingrid Schleuter criticized Driscoll for a series of explicit "sex advice" posts on the Mars Hill Church blog -- material appropriate only for married couples but available to any visitor, including children. Schleuter also castigated Driscoll for linking the blog to a website, christiannymphos.org, "which features articles on how a Christian wife can turn herself into a dominatrix, the glories of an-l and or-l sex, and the use of sex toys."
"At a time when American young people are hit in the face with graphic sexuality in every facet of our culture, the church should be a safe haven where the sacredness and privacy of the act of marriage is respected by pastors," Schleuter said in a press release. "Those with sexual issues need to receive private counseling -- not sex seminars in a church auditorium.
"For generations, Christian pastors have managed to convey the Scripture's teachings on fornication, adultery and the beauty of sexuality within marriage without sullying and cheapening it" Schleuter added. "Mark Driscoll is a sad product of our times. While waving his orthodox doctrinal credentials, he has simultaneously embraced the spirit of the age when it comes to his treatment of sex. In the process, he is pornifying the church and only adding to the moral squalor of our culture."
Coarse language has no place in the pulpit, said David Tolliver, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
"I am distressed to hear about what some misguided men call preaching," Tolliver said. "Vulgarity has no place in the speech of Christians -- certainly not in Christian preaching. How can Christian preachers expect to 'speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel' unless they vow never to 'let any unwholesome word come out of [their] mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen'?"
Pastors must commit themselves to engage the culture without endorsing it, Tolliver added.
"It is important that pastors address issues like sexuality, but they must address those topics biblically and reverently -- not in a way that titillates or entices," he said.
Addressing sensitive topics like sexuality is important because both church members and unchurched people struggle with those issues, said Bret Robbe, a longtime pastor who now directs leadership and adult publishing for LifeWay Christian Resources.
"We need to learn how to address sensitive topics in appropriate ways because they are real issues in our culture and they present real dangers for people's lives and their relationships with God," Robbe said. "They aren't just issues in the culture; our church members are wrestling with these issues too.
"When we debate issues like these, it helps us get better perspective of what is acceptable and not acceptable," Robbe added. "How do we best address sensitive subjects in a way that both helps people and glorifies God?"
Giving God the honor He deserves must not take a back seat to promoting a sermon series, Robbe said.
"If a pastor is preaching or teaching on an edgy topic just to get the attention of people in the community, and not to glorify God, then he has stepped over a line," Robbe said. "I would never endorse unwholesome speech from the pulpit or anywhere else.
"It's a two-fold issue. We need to remind ourselves what unwholesome talk is, and we need to make sure we are addressing in a biblical way the issues people face."
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.
I think Mark speaks the way he does to engage the culture where he is.
Is he blunt? Yes. I think he’s blunt in ways that no one else has been in a long time.
He’s not afraid to skirt around the issues and flat out tell you what scripture says about a certain topic.
How do you address the issues of sex without talking about them flat out?
It’s hard stuff to talk about. As the pastor of his church he must have felt the need to discuss these things with his people.
In a largely college aged crowd it’s no surprise he’s focusing on these topics.
I agree with having tact and letting no unwholesome talk come from our mouth (How can I argue with the truth of scripture?)
I’d also like to know how speaking against a topic is endorsing it...
I guess whenever we speak out against anything we unintentionally endorse it.
Case and point, The Golden Compass. When news of the movie hit IMDB and the church suddenly quickly took a stance against the movie and the book series, and rightly so, millions of people who had never even heard of or cared about the Golden Compass suddenly cared and wanted to know more about it. I know more people who saw that movie because of the controversy surrounding it than who were planning to see it from the get go. So one way or another we’re always drawing attention to the things we speak against. The choice is in the hands of the listening congregant. What will they do next?
I would want to make sure the article really is concerned more about unwholesome talk than simply turning red and shying away from hard issues.
Just my initial (not too thought out) remarks on the article.
What are you thoughts?