Bags of Bran

Why We’re Discussing It
January 14, 2014, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Biography, Destined to get me in trouble

There’s a popular preacher out there who garnered some evangelical credentials for himself when he publicly decried the old-skool liberal tendencies of the new-skool emergents he had been cavorting with for several years. He rebranded his gig as a sort of neo-Calvinist, but essentially brought the whole emergent ethos with him. His books sell like flyswatters, and even though it is coming to light that he likely didn’t write much of them, and those who likely did write the bulk of them weren’t very fastidious in their source citation, his branding will no doubt remain relatively unscathed.


I’m not a prophet, I’ve long since discovered, but I predict that the Driscoll brand will survive this.

A while back he wrote a book about marriage in which he spills lots of guts: we are to charitably assume that they are his guts, and his wife’s. Perhaps they are. If you’ve read it, alas for you: I can’t bring myself to read all of it for the same reasons that I can’t hardly bring myself to discuss it here. “From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh” is the way one ancient teacher put it: you can look at pp. 185-200 and decide for yourself. It’s not edifying reading, to put it mildly; read at your own risk.

Where does the Reformission Rev. get these notions about the act of marriage? I assure you that I have a pretty good idea, and you probably do as well, but let’s not make even the most obviously warranted assumptions. Why does his work appeal to his followers? Probably the same set of assumptions apply: some pictures simply do not fade over time, especially if you enshrine them in the secret places of your heart.

What Driscoll and his followers need to do is repent of their objectification of women, not try to get their women on board with their lusts through desperate expositions of esoteric sections of Scripture. I feel some compunctions for those wives who genuinely don’t “feel like it” when their pushy, insecure husbands wave Driscoll’s book in their faces. Perhaps if those husbands were  committed to doing husband things well to begin with, their husbandly fortunes would improve. But there’s a catch: that would involve the long, slow process of repentance and forsaking their long-treasured fantasies.

Lots of people on the foundering ship “Evangelicalism” have found themselves in Driscoll a guru to liberate their marital lives or aspirations. On the other hand, lots of similarly situated people have expressed outrage and called the guy a noxious pervert and a creeper. The difference is that the people who consider Driscoll to be a guru possess the same moral imagination as Driscoll.

How does a moral imagination work? If Driscoll’s fans were in charge of the world, the rules for right and wrong would look very similar to Driscoll’s rules. In the topic primarily discussed in Driscoll’s book, their thinking and affections have been furnished in such a way, and by such things, that they know all the terminology as well as the ethos that goes with the terminology, and they are comfortable with it. They haven’t had any pangs of conscience that would lead them to reject such thinking, or they have seen the guy’s book as sufficient reason to ignore such pangs of conscience altogether, or they have sinned with impunity for so long that objectifying women (a result of allowing pornography to shape their moral imagination) is as natural as driving on the appropriate side of the road. Driscoll’s book merely provides them an acceptable outlet: objectify your wife!

Since Driscoll is successful, profitable, and says “Gospel” a lot, he’s hard to oppose. Those benighted men who have been liberated by the book under consideration or others (which Driscoll may or may not have contributed to) will defend Driscoll vociferously. You can’t go letting your guru be questioned, especially with all those benefits.

I feel sorry for their wives.

I suggest that the same rubric could be used whenever evangelicals are making aesthetic, cultural, and yea, even moral judgments these days. Most times when an evangelical debases something important it is in the direction of the entertainment industry. Driscoll’s example is fairly easy to spot simply because sexual immorality is still a sin in most of evangelicalism. But any time you catch wind of a skirmish in, say, the worship wars, you can always tell that one party has been watching more movies than the other.

Incidentally, Augustine’s Confessions might help you to cleanse your palate after mucking about in Driscoll.


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