Mark Driscoll has an entry on his blog about the Haggard situation, which Dave sent my way (thank you, sir). He also offers some advice (some of it not bad) for men in ministry. Men, mind you. Just men. No advice for how women should avoid temptation. And all the references to "flirtatious women" in his entry make you think the man is beset by floozies in dental floss-sized thongs and bustiers beating down his door most nights. At the risk of "being more widely despised" than he already is, he offers this nugget:
Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.
For those of you who aren't familiar with sports metaphors, leaning over the plate and taking one for the team is about getting hit with a pitch. It sounds a little ambiguous in the context of the Haggard debacle, so I thought I'd clear that up for you baseball haters. So here we are again: men have affairs because their wives are overweight or generally unattractive or lazy. I'd heard that misogyny had run amok at Mars Hill, but I had no idea that Driscoll was really this much of a 1950's evangelical pastor. Need I remind us that Haggard had a gay affair, so it wouldn't have mattered if he was married to Angelina Jolie or Rhona Mitra; the man is gay. Driscoll seems to be taking advantage of the situation to take another shot at women with his pre-feminist, testosterone-laden, fundamentalist, deutero-Pauline dogmas.
Are pastors supposed to have "liberties" with their wives? Aren't women equal partners in the sexual relationship such that liberties need never enter the conversation? He could have used words like mutuality and respect, but that doesn't suit Driscoll's view of you daughters of Eve. She was the one who was deceived, after all. Just ask Paul. And I'm not sure how available I want my wife to be in the context of the Song of Songs. Navels like goblets and breasts like two fawns (furry?) don't sound all that appealing... Never mind the fact that the Song of Songs is poetry, not an attempt by early Hebrew ethicists to develop a sexual ethic of marriage. And do we really want our sexual ethic of marriage coming from the Tanakh?
Is it possible that we run into these problems all the time because we don't have a healthy understanding of sexuality? Is it possible that we've created more guilt than grace where sex is concerned and now most of us are pathological? Is it possible that we're all susceptible to this sort of stuff and we need to be realistic about it, even if we're married to perfect physical specimens? Is it time for the church to own the word gay without talking about it like it's a disease? Seriously, folks, we're never going to have a good conversation about this stuff so long as True Love Waits mentalities govern how we think about sex in the church. This is not a plug for sexual license; I'm simply saying that heterosexual men who tend to read the sexual ethics in the Bible with a fundamentalist lens have been formulating sexual ethics for men and women in the church for 2000 years (and I'm including the Catholics at this point, and Driscoll has nothing on the Orthodox Churches where misogyny is concerned). Can we bring some other, less pathological, voices to the table, like feminists and gays and the intentionally celibate?