Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just Stop It

Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning . . .
-- 1 Corinthians 15:34a
[T]he church phone in our house rang at some godforsaken hour when I'm not even a Christian, like 3:00 a.m. I answered it in a stupor, and on the other line was some college guy who was crying. I asked him what was wrong, and he said it was an emergency and he really needed to talk to me. Trying to muster up my inner pastor, I sat down and tried to pretend I was concerned. I asked him what was wrong, and he rambled for a while about nothing, which usually means that a guy has sinned and is wasting time with dumb chitchat because he's ashamed to just get to the point and confess. So I interrupted him blurting out, "It's three a.m., so stop jerking me around. What have you done?"

"I m*sturb*ted," he said.

"That's it?" I said.

"Yes," he replied. "Tonight I watched a p()rno and I m*sturb*ted."

"Is the p()rno over?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Was it a good p()rno?"

He did not reply.

"Well, you've already watched the whole p()rno and tugged your tool, so what am I supposed to do?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said. "You are my pastor, so I thought that maybe you could pray for me."

To be honest, I did not want to pray, so I just said the first thing that came to mind. "Jesus, thank you for not killing him for being a pervert. Amen," I prayed.
"Alright, well you should sleep good now, so go to bed and don't call me again tonight because I'm sleeping and you are making me angry," I said.

"Well, what am I supposed to do now?" he asked.

"You need to stop watching p()rno and crying like a baby afterward and grow up, man. I don't have time to be your accountability partner, so you need to be a man and nut up and take care of this yourself. A naked lady is good to look at, so get a job, get a wife, ask her to get naked, and look at her instead. Alright?" I said.

"Alright. Thanks, Pastor Mark . . ."

You may think I'm a jerk of a counselor, but I think deep down most other pastors think like I do and just don't say what they think because they lack whatever deep psychological problem I have that prevents me from filtering my words through a grid of propriety. The truth is that the guy actually did what I told him and today has a wife and some kids and no longer watches p()rno.

-- Mark Driscoll, Confessions of a Reformission Rev

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you."
-- John 5:14

Okay, okay, it's not very pastoral. :-)
We should restore sinners gently (Gal. 6:1). But I do think that sometimes, in our desires to bear burdens, extend grace, restore gently, counsel toward disciplines, we can inadvertently coddle some who best need stern rebuke.
Do pastors rebuke any more?

(HT for the video: Steve McCoy)


Anonymous said...

"A naked lady is good to look at, so get a job, get a wife, ask her to get naked, and look at her instead."

Heh. Good advice, actually. :-D

Love the clip too.

Knight's Disciple said...

Video says "no longer available".

Knight's Disciple said...

Scratch that.

Knight's Disciple said...

Hm. I think the example story swings too far against "coddling". Frankly, that's not a very Christian response. I'd have been even more shaken, had I been the troubled student. "Just stop it" doesn't always cut it. Sometimes people need help. More than that, maybe there are deeper issues than what he's looking at, and brushing past it by saying "get a wife, and have her get naked" seems rather shallow. I'm not trying to be hostile, but...I dunno. The example story feels hostile, to me at least.

Jared said...

KD, I'm with you. I hear you.

If one of my guys called me in the middle of the night to confess something like that, I'd be tired and probably irritated too, but I know I wouldn't be as harsh with him.

As I said in my conclusion, we should restore sinners gently and walk through repentance with them, bearing their burdens with them, counseling them toward disciplines that nurture the Spirit-filled life.

The excerpt is as much of a hyperbolic "illustration" of the point as the Newhart sketch is.

But I do think "just stop it" has its place in the art of pastoring. Certainly discernment is key.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

Knight's Disciple said...

Yeah, I guess more than anything, I got a bit reactive, and for that I apologize.
I do think "stop it" is a great principle, and should be the basic core of whatever effort to throw away sin someone undertakes.
And I think discernment is always key. :)