Shock Isn’t The Same As Discipleship: A Review of “Porn Again Christian” by Mark Driscoll

To say that pastor Mark Driscoll is provocative might be the biggest understatement I make of the year. He is prone to push buttons, push the boundaries of comfort and appropriateness, and to just plain shock audiences. This works well for him on many fronts. It’s important to be honest, bold, and direct. But sometimes Mark goes beyond that and proves unhelpful. This is especially evident when he discusses the subject of sex. His newest book, co-authored with his wife, has already generated waves. Books and Culture may have explained the hype already. Justin Taylor has also addressed his concerns about it here. But prior to this publication Mark wrote a booklet for helping young men deal with pornography. Porn Again Christian is certainly a graphic, frank, and hard-hitting text on the reality, danger, and sin of pornography (and the importance of fighting against it with godliness), but there is more to discipleship than just shock.  What Porn Again Christian gains in honesty it loses in helpfulness.

Driscoll starts off with a disclaimer. This is, after all, a “frank discussion on pornography and masturbation.” He writes:

Because I am speaking to fellow men, my tone may not be well suited for some women and, therefore, I would request that they not read this booklet, unless they are a wife whose husband has read it first and he can discuss its contents with her in love. (3)

The truth is his tone is all that more honest, frank, etc. than other authors have been in the past. He almost borders more on simply being crass than on being frank.  It seems that nearly every paragraph ends with a snarky and obnoxious comment. So, for example, in an effort to get us to fear the God who calls pornography a sin Driscoll quotes 1 Corinthians 10:8 and then concludes by saying: However you go out, do you really wanna be the guy with a computer mouse in one hand scratching his itchy junk with his other hand standing before Jesus and scrambling to explain himself (8)? These recurring comments become so obnoxious over the course of the work that in reading through it with a counselee we eventually just skipped the last sentence of a number of paragraphs.

It is not, of course, that Driscoll’s goal is wrong. He is right to want to drive men to see the wickedness of their sin, its offensiveness to God, and the reality of what perpetual sin without repentance may mean for their relationship to that God. But his locker-room barbs actually end up undermining the seriousness of his whole point. You chuckle at the first few, but eventually you just roll your eyes and ignore the comments. His goal is good, but his approach is flawed. And it’s flawed in another way too.

The overall picture that Driscoll leaves us with in this booklet is one of a God who hates this sin, judges those who participate in it, and threatens us with hell if we don’t stop. Even the inclusion of the transcript from James Dobson’s conversation with Ted Bundy is meant to strike fear into the lust-filled heart. Of course Driscoll’s theology is right, the picture he paints of God is Biblical, and he uses the Scriptures well to support his case. But I agree with John Piper who said that the reality of hell is not enough to fight off this temptation. We need to fight “the fire of lust’s pleasures…withthe fire of God’s pleasures.” Piper wrote:

If we try to fight the fire of lust with prohibitions and threats alone – even the terrible warnings of Jesus – we will fail. We must fight it with a massive promise of superior happiness. (Future Grace, 336)

You see for all his frankness about the nature of this sin, the wrath of God, the infantile nature of the men who look at porn Driscoll fails to point us to a better promise of satisfaction.

That is what we all really need, whether we struggle with porn or not. Like so many of the young guys I talk to they know the threats, the know the nature of their sin, etc. What they need is a greater longing for Jesus. “The fight against lust is a fight to stay satisfied with God (Piper, 335).” You can’t shock people out of their sin. Discipleship is more than shock. You do have to issue the warnings of Scripture, after all they aren’t there just to meet a word quota. But discipleship is also taking people to the promises of the cross and telling them, “Jesus is the source of the greatest satisfaction you will ever have!”

Comments

  1. Well said!

  2. Amen, bro!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Read Full Article- Click Here Christian Spirituality Headlines Excerpts from Churchoutreachministry.net This entry was posted [...]

  2. [...] a book I should start my counseling sessions off with. I made the mistake earlier this year of using Porn Again Christian, and I won’t do it again. This is the book that starts us off on the right foot. The book [...]

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