Thursday, January 5, 2012

Breaking: Confession Still Dangerous, Real Marriage Shows

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
-- Romans 8:1

I have not read the bulk of the new book from Mark and Grace Driscoll, Real Marriage, including the portions provoking the most controversy and criticism, so I can't comment on that (except to say I would probably share some of the less hyperbolic cautions). Here are some thoughtful reviews from varying perspectives by Tim Challies, Denny Burk, and Aaron Armstrong. (Aaron also has a more general review of the book at TGC.)

But I have read the sample chapters that have provoked the second most controversy and criticism, the ones featuring Mark's and Grace's recounting of sins personal and marital. And I have to confess I'm a little disturbed. But not by the Driscolls. As a pastor who has heard plenty of confessions, as a friend to some spectacular sinners, and as a first-class expert sinner myself, I'm pretty immune to the sin shock factor. No, it's some of the reactions that worry me.

Mark and Grace have done us the discomforting service of admitting their failures. And admitting them as sin. And what a lot of the criticism about them on these matters suggests is that the church still has a long way to go with this whole grace thing. I wonder if the people concerned about what young people might be warped by in the "Can We ______?" section of the book are also concerned that young people might be warped by realizing "Evangelicals are not safe people to confess sin to."

What too much of the criticism communicates is that if you will be faithful to confess your sins publicly, church culture will be faithful to throw them back in your face. Brothers and sisters, this should not be. Sin should not be safe in the church, but sinners should.

Mark and Grace, I doubt you're reading this, but may God's grace and peace multiply to you. Thank you for your courage in confession and know that this guy who once wrecked his own marriage appreciates it.

This man receives sinners and eats with them.
-- Luke 15:2


chrisblackstone said...


But aren't confession to your local church and confession in a mass-published book two completely different things? It could be argued that confession to the "anonymity" of the general public is much easier than actual confession to the people in your local congregation with whom you have covenanted together and then actually have to live with. It's likely much easier for me to talk about being short with my wife and kids to a guy at work vs. a brother in Christ at my local church with whom I meet weekly. It's much harder to confess and be vulnerable with someone who I've already in a sense submitted to vs. regular passers-by and on-lookers.

Jared said...

Yes, they're two different things with a different set of consequences (depending on the covenant community, of course). But I think the principle remains. In fact, since Mark and Grace owe those of us who are strangers nothing in terms of their private sins, we ought to be more gracious in response to their transparency, not less. We are not in a place to forgive them, because they didn't wrong us. Yet many are treating them like they have, simply by saying what we all say we wish people would say but apparently really don't want them to say: I have messed up.

If they wrote the book without admitting their own failures and not putting themselves in this vulnerable position they would be lambasted for acting arrogant and perfect and having it all figured out. So instead we lambaste them for admitting they aren't perfect.

This doesn't mean everybody ought to confess everything to everybody. It just means that when somebody does dare to be honest publicly about their private failures we are given the opportunity to respond the way Jesus did to known sinners.

Anonymous said...

Another Driscoll apologist that overlooks the glaring theological errors of this book only to stumble over himself praising Driscoll in order to maintain his place in the good ole boys club and keep his place in the celebrity, idol making conference circuit.

Too afraid to critique Driscoll's book and label criticisms as a dismissive "hyperbolic".

Any bold thoughts on Driscoll AGAIN claiming DIRECT revelation from God in a dream about his wife's sexual sin? Isnt thatworrisome that Driscoll continually claims to have pornographic visions from God?

Jared said...

Good ole boys' club? Are there jackets? I hope there's jackets. With patches on the elbows.

Anonymous -- and, oh, how I love anonymous insults and accusations; they're my favorites -- I have criticized Driscoll on more than a few things in the past. Anybody who thinks I'm in the "he can do no wrong" club doesn't know me or hasn't read me.

To get back to this specific post, I will help you read it. I didn't say all criticisms were hyperbolic. I said some were -- and that was in a sentence in which I said I probably share the same cautions about the book, for goodness' sake!. I also commended 3 reviews with criticisms, including Challies' which is nearly entirely negative.

Lastly, I have no comments on the vast majority of the book for the reason I stated in the very first paragraph -- I haven't read it.

For the time being, I will simply say you're welcome to think I posted this to keep a place as some kind of celebrity -- me? really? -- but I've never blogged for that reason. If that was my goal, the first paragraph of this post would read entirely differently.

It's strange for you to claim to know my heart when I don't even know your name. If you'd like to come back and make more accusations of me, please do me the fairness of including your name just as mine is available to you.

BrianB. said...

I have not read the book or the sample chapters so I will restain from commenting on the book. But I feel very impressed to express this thought - any negative or positive opinions regarding the Discrolls need to be bound by, oh lets pick Ephesians 4:31-32.

Brian Ladd said...

The REAL good ole boys club is the one where they all wear suits and conspire to knock down anybody who won't do ministry like John McArthur would do it.

I like Driscoll overall, and I am glad for his ministry. I will say that I am going to read Keller's marriage book before I get to Driscoll, but that's just a preference.

Anonymous, you're a coward.

Wyeth Duncan said...

I believe in (and get plenty of practice) confessing my sins to God, but common sense tells me to be very cautious about confessing some sins to my fellow evangelicals.