By now you've read some of the dust-up online about two prominent pastors and their presentations of intimacy and marriage. Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace have written what seems to be a very raw, personal book, Real Marriage. Ed Young Jr. is launching a new preaching series/book/media blitz in which he and his wife are broadcasting live from their bed for 24 hrs on their church roof (yes, you read that right).
I have not read Driscoll's book and don't intend to, though I highly respect Mark's ministry and feel that he has been a terrific leader in advancing the gospel through church planting and leadership development. I don't know Ed Young Jr. nor have I read his latest book. He is a gifted preacher who seems to be leading many to faith in Christ.
I have read some terrific commentary on both issues. I've also read some snarky, arrogant triumphalist commentary and some downright unfair commentary. In my view, the two best pieces on both issues were written by Mathew Lee Andersen and Ed Stetzer.
However, a critical point I think has been missing in the discussion of evangelicals and sex and marriage is the issue of maturity. Pastors serve a vital role in their churches and communities. Besides being the person tasked with clearly teaching and preaching the Word of God, pastors are also spiritual leaders. Fairly or unfairly we are held up as examples of propriety, maturity, and grace.
I don't know Ed Young Jr. personally nor do I know Mark Driscoll. They have ministries that far dwarf mine and likely have forgotten more about ministry and the Bible than I know. But I wonder if their actions reflect a church culture that seems to reward creativity without limits. A church culture that eschews maturity.
Maturity thinks things over and says, "I wonder if this is a good idea to put a bed on top of a roof?" or "I wonder if this is a good idea to do a provocative sex series that will intentionally offend some?" or "Is this the best idea?"
The pastor should be the adult in the room, not the juvenile. That doesn't mean we have to go back to leisure suits and legalism. That doesn't mean pastors have to be boring, dour, sad people (though some see this as their mission -- another post for another time). But it also means there has to be lines we won't cross with our creativity. Call me a square or a prude, but I'm pretty sure broadcasting from a bed on a roof crosses that.
I'm in favor of church change, innovation, and contextualization. But at my funeral and on my tombstone I'd like it to be said simply, "He preached the Word of God," not "He did crazy stunts that brought attention to his church."
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About Daniel Darling
Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of several books, including his latest, iFaith. His work has been featured in evangelical publications such as Relevant Magazine, Focus on the Family, Marriage Partnership, Pray!, Relevant, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley. He has guest-posted on leading blogs such as Michael Hyatt, The Gospel Coalition, OnFaith (Washington Post), and others. He has been profiled by The Chicago Tribune. Daniel is a contributing writer to Zondervan’s Couples Devotional Bible. Publisher’s Weekly called his writing style “substantive and punchy.” Dan is a contributing writer to Christian Today‘s online magazine, Kyria as well as Lifeway’s men’s devotional, Stand Firm. He also maintains a blog at patheos.com, entitled, The Friday Five, where he interviews leading evangelicals. Dan’s columns appear weekly at Crosswalk.com and monthly for the local Lake County Journals. Dan has been interviewed on TV and radio outlets across the country, including Moody Broadcasting Network, Harvest Television, The Sandy Rios Show, American Family Radio, the Salem Radio Network, and a host of drive time radio stations across the country. Daniel has a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry from Dayspring Bible College. He traveled extensively to India and the Middle East. He and his wife, Angela, have three daughters and a son and reside in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
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