Mark Driscoll’s deviant teachings and MANDATE 2010

MARK DRISCOLL My FACEBOOK post of 13 August 2014

On 16th January 2009 I posted an article to our website entitled ‘Mark Driscoll’s approach to preaching’ and it can be viewed on this link

Mark Driscoll’s approach to preaching

It had not been my intention to return so soon to this topic but as it has been announced on Mark Driscoll’s church website that he has been lined up as the guest speaker for the 2010 MANDATE (men’s) conference in Belfast from 13th-15th November 2010.

Details can be viewed on this link – 

http://calendar.marshillchurch.org/archives/mandate-2010?ec3_id=1169 

the Lord has impressed upon me the urgent need to write more on this issue.

In my earlier article I referred to a secular newspaper article that can be accessed on http://www.apologeticsindex.org/789-mark-driscoll and I quoted extracts from that newspaper article. Before doing so I also wrote this –

I am conscious that these extracts include language that God’s people would undoubtedly prefer not to be confronted with but for the sake of correctly addressing the concerns about ‘Mark Driscoll’s approach to preaching’ I do feel it is necessary to present the relevant “evidence”

Regrettably in this article I do need to address at some length one of the unsavoury topics mentioned in the article and I shall also make a few brief comments on another similarly unsavoury topic that was also mentioned. Let me now alert you to these unsavoury aspects. The first is the mention of ‘Biblical Oral Sex’ – in the remainder of this article I will refer to this simply as OS and I shall be endeavouring to make the case that this is certainly not biblically sanctioned. The second is the reference to ‘Masturbation’ and I shall simply refer to this as MB.

On this link http://vodpod.com/tag/mark+driscoll a number of short video presentations can be accessed showing Mark Driscoll addressing these issues mentioned in the newspaper article along with other issues of a similar sexual nature. Each of the videos has a brief introduction where Mark Driscoll explains the setting for [their evening church service where anyone in the congregation can anonymously text a question for him to try and answer on any subject] and nature of these presentations [the content is ‘adult’ and so should not be viewed by anyone under 17 years of age].  Whilst this last warning is commendable there is of course no way that Mark Driscoll and his church can ‘police’ who views these videos.

In relation to the video that lasts almost 6 minutes and that deals with OS Mark Driscoll in his introduction places it in what he terms the ‘really offensive’ category and in that he is quite right. The crucial statement in his answer to the question put to him is when he says ‘OS in marriage is fine’ but outside of marriage it is sinful. He states that the Song of Solomon teaches that this practice was engaged in between Solomon and his Shulamite bride and so on that basis it is quite ok for married couples to likewise engage in such behaviour.

Before I address the portions of the Song of Solomon that are cited by Mark Driscoll as justification for his views let me first comment on the practice itself. In the title to this article I have used the word ‘deviant’ and it is defined in the ‘Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus’ as ‘deviating from what is considered acceptable behaviour’.  In this context I am considering what I believe would be viewed as ‘acceptable behaviour’ by God, the Creator and not ‘acceptable behaviour’ advocated by Mark Driscoll or any other ‘creature’. God created the human bodies, male and female, so that they could be wonderfully united physically as each ‘cleaved’ to the other in the context of marriage and this intimacy would be so complete and perfect that they would be viewed as ‘one flesh’ – in Genesis 2:24-25 we read “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed”.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary has this to say on the usage of “cleave” – “This usage reflects the basic meaning of one person’s being joined to another…The figurative use of ‘cleave’ in the sense of ‘loyalty’ and ‘affection’ is based on the physical closeness of the persons involved, such as a husband’s closeness to his wife (Genesis 2:24)”.

By the very divine design of the human bodies it is or should be plain for all to recognise how this oneness of the flesh is perfectly consummated and that for me would constitute ‘acceptable behaviour’ in the sight of God, the Creator.  The human mouth is the channel through which the food we need to sustain us is introduced and prepared for ingestion. The lips are recognised in scripture as being designed to ‘implant’ a sign of affection from one person to another – ‘the kiss’. To introduce these portions of God’s body-creation to other ‘regions’ of His body-creation for purposes for which He clearly did not design them for, constitutes I believe, in the sight of God, the Creator, ‘deviant behaviour’ and any teaching to the contrary is I conclude ‘deviant teaching’. Considering further the ‘divine design’ of human bodies should likewise enable people to identify the unnatural practices engaged in by homosexuals and lesbians as also being in the ‘deviant behaviour’ category.

All around the world there has been and there is an ongoing explosion of sexually transmitted diseases and many cases in certain categories of STDs are attributed to the practice of OS. In this we can see an identification with the consequences of similar immoral deviant behaviour that Paul wrote of in Romans 1:24-27. For me it is the height of irresponsibility for any preacher to endorse practices that constitute ‘deviant behaviour’ in the light of God’s clearly intended design-purposes for the male and female bodies.

Turing now to Mark Driscoll’s claim for a supposed biblical basis for the practice of OS within marriage I sent the following email to his church on 2nd March 2009

Dear Mars Hill,

I watched the publicly-posted video clip of Pastor Mark speaking about ‘Biblical Oral Sex’ and he basically said that outside the confines of marriage such practice is sin but within the confines of marriage it is ok and he cited as justification for this view the bible book Song of Solomon.

Can you please give me the chapter and verse[s] in the Song of Solomon that he believes sanction such practice inside marriage?

Thanking you in anticipation

Cecil Andrews

Northern Ireland

I received the following reply on 3rd March 2009

Hi Cecil – The short answer is Song of Solomon 2:3, and 4:12-5:1. The sermons where Pastor Mark discusses there verses and expands on them here http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/the-peasant-princess/sweet-to-my-taste, and http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/the-peasant-princess/his-garden if you’d like to listen to them. Also the video Q&A that you’ll find on the site along with the sermons might be helpful. 

Chrisse 

Volunteer

The first verse quoted was Song of Solomon 2:3. It is generally believed by many commentators that in this verse the Shulamite maiden is speaking of her beloved, Solomon, and it reads as follows – “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste”.

Is it possible as Mark Driscoll claims to ‘make a case’ for legitimacy for the practice of OS within marriage based on this verse? Dr Thomas L Constable of Dallas Theological Seminary in his notes on this verse that can be accesssed on – 

http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/song.pdf 

does refer to another commentator who did posit a case for OS based on his understanding of this verse and this is how Dr Constable responded to that claim –

Dillow understood the phrase “his fruit was sweet to my taste” (v 3) as referring to the girl having OS with Solomon’s genitals (71). However “fruit” never appears elsewhere in the Old Testament as a euphemism for the genitals, and neither the Hebrew Bible nor the Egyptian love literature refer to OS (72). Probably simple kissing is what is in view.

71. Joseph Dillow, Solomon on Sex, p. 31.

72. The NET Bible note on 2:3.

In his outline for the Song of Solomon Dr Constable designates this verse as occurring during ‘The Courtship’ period and Pastor John MacArthur in his Study Bible likewise allocates this verse to the pre-marriage ‘courtship’ period. In his general notes on 4:1-5:1 Pastor MacArthur writes

‘Until 3:11 there has been no hint of a wedding or marriage; thus the scenario of events support the idea that 1:2 – 3:5 refers to premarital days, while 4:1ff rehearses the wedding and their love life that followed. Several reasons support this explanation (1) “wedding” is not mentioned before 3:11 (2) “bride” does not appear until 4:8 and then it is mentioned 6 times from 4:8 to 5:1 and (3) prior to 4:1 the beloved has a holy preoccupation with sexual restraint (cf. 2:7; 3:5) but not afterwards in the holt bonds of matrimony.”

I do concede that it is difficult to be dogmatic about time frames in the Song of Solomon but if these experienced Bible commentators are correct then whatever was referred to in this verse occurred prior to consummated marriage and so would not meet Mark Driscoll’s criteria for this practice.

My own view on this is that to believe that this verse somehow ‘identifies’ and ‘sanctifies’ a practice that I believe is ‘deviant behaviour’ has a ring of Romans 1:32 to it where Paul writes of those “who knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but have pleasure in them that do them”. This practice is a ‘learned behaviour’, it is not ‘natural’ and where does the tuition for it mostly come from – from the world of pornography and no child of God should be drinking from such poisonous wells. Matthew Henry in the ‘Introduction’ to his commentary on the Song of Solomon wrote

‘to those who come to the reading of it with carnal minds and corrupt affections, it is in danger of being made a savour of death unto death; it is a flower out of which they extract poison’

Then what of the other verses cited – Song of Solomon 4:12/16 – 5:1 – they read –

12 A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 13 Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, 14 Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: 15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. 16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits. 1 I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

I want to quote some mature and uplifting comments that Dr Constable quotes in his notes on these verses –

“These bold but tender scenes from Song of Solomon point up a major difference between the world’s concept of love to what was created and endorsed by God. In the former case the focus is on self-gratification. In the latter the emphasis is on the well-being of the loved one and the extolling of his or her virtues. No wonder Jewish and Christian interpreters alike have seen this kind of love as a type of God’s great love for His own dear ones.” (99)

(99) Eugene H. Merrill, in The Old Testament Explorer Merrill, p. 515.

Once more my own view on this is that to believe that these verses somehow ‘identify’ and ‘sanctify’ a practice that I believe is ‘deviant behaviour’ is to be guilty of simply willing to legitimize a practice that runs totally contrary to the Creator’s design, plan and purpose for His “good” [i.e. God glorifying] creation of male and female.

On the road to Emmaus the Lord Himself took the two downcast disciples on an extensive Old Testament bible study for the purpose of “expounding unto them, in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself” [Luke 24:27. I don’t know if the Lord took these disciples to the Song of Solomon but if He did I cannot for one moment countenance Him drawing out the same understanding and application as drawn out by Mark Driscoll. Is it possible to see Christ in these scriptures rather than the ‘deviant behaviour’ supposedly identified by Mark Driscoll?

On this link http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/song2-3.htm you can view the text of a sermon preached by C H Spurgeon entitled ‘Under The apple Tree’. The following are some of the Christ-honouring thoughts brought out by Mr. Spurgeon –

‘Now, when the spouse was sitting down, restful and delighted, she was overshadowed. She says, “I sat down under His shadow.” I do not know a more delightful state of mind than to feel quite overshadowed by our beloved Lord. Here is my black sin, but there is His precious blood overshadowing my sin, and hiding it forever. Here is my sinful condition by nature- an enemy to God. But He who reconciled me to God by His blood has overshadowed that also- so that I forget that I was once His enemy, in the joy of being now His friend. I am very weak; but He is strong, and His strength overshadows my feebleness. I am very poor; but He has all riches, and His riches overshadow my poverty. I am most unworthy; but He is so worthy that if I use His name I shall receive as much as if I were worthy: His worthiness overshadows my unworthiness…When I take my Bible, and want to feed on it for myself, I generally start thinking about preaching upon the text, and what I should say to you from it. This will not do at all. I must get away from that, and forget that there is a Tabernacle that I may sit personally at Jesus’ feet and feed upon Him for myself…”His fruit was sweet to my taste.” Here I will not enlarge, but give you thoughts in brief which you can beat out afterwards. She did not feast upon the fruit of the tree until first she was under the shadow of it…But as soon as ever she was under the shadow, then the fruit was all hers. “I sat down under His shadow,” she says, and then, “His fruit was sweet to my taste.” Do you believe in Jesus, friend? Then Jesus Christ Himself is yours; and if you own the tree, you may well eat the fruit. Since He Himself becomes yours altogether, then His redemption and the pardon that comes from it, His living power, His mighty intercession, the glories of His Second Coming, and all that belong to Him are given over to you for your personal and present use and enjoyment. All things are yours, since Christ is yours. Only be intent that you imitate the spouse: when she found that the fruit was hers, she ate it. Copy her closely in this. It is a great fault in many believers, that they do not appropriate the promises, and feed on them. Do not blunder as they do. Under the shadow you have a right to eat the fruit. Do not deny yourselves…What are the ‘fruits’ which come from Christ? Are they not peace with God, renewal of heart, joy in the Holy Spirit, love to the brethren? Are they not regeneration, justification, sanctification, adoption, and all the blessings of the covenant of grace? And aren’t these each and all sweet to our taste? As we have fed upon them, haven’t we said, “Yes, these things are pleasant indeed. There is none like them. Let us feast upon them forever!” Now, sit down- sit down and feed’.

On this link http://www.gracegems.org/SERMONS/4-16.htm is the text of some thoughts shared by Spurgeon at the Breaking of Bread on 2nd January 1887 and that were focussed on Song of Solomon 4:16 “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits”. Mr Spurgeon said –

‘The bride does not seek that the spices of her garden may become perceptible for her own enjoyment, nor for the delectation of strangers, nor even for the pleasure of the daughters of Jerusalem, but for her Beloved’s sake. He is to come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits. We are a garden for his delight. Our highest wish is that Jesus may have joy in us. I fear that we often come to the table of communion with the idea of enjoying ourselves; or, rather, of enjoying our Lord; but we do not rise to the thought of giving him joy… While he is hers she owns that she is wholly his… We are not our own. We do not bring forth fruit of ourselves. The Lord says, “From me is your fruit found.” The garden is of our Lord’s purchasing, enclosing, planting, and watering; and all its fruit belongs to him. This is a powerful reason for his visiting us. Should not a man come into his own garden, and eat his own fruits? Oh, that the Holy Spirit may put us into a fit condition to entertain our Lord!… The spouse further cries “Let him eat his pleasant fruits.” I have often felt myself overcome with the bare idea that anything I have ever done should give my Lord pleasure. Can it be that any offering I ever gave him should be thought worthy of his acceptance; or that anything I ever felt or said should be a joy to him? Can he perceive any perfume in my spices, or taste any flavor in my fruits? This is a joy worth worlds. It is one of the highest tokens of his condescension. It is wonderful that the King from the far country should come from the glory land, where all choice fruits are at their best, and enter this poor enclosure in the wilderness, and there eat such fruits as ours, and call them pleasant, too!… Though we are not content with ourselves, yet may our Lord be pleased with us!… Receive our love, our trust, our consecration. Delight yourself also in us, as we now delight ourselves in you. We are asking a great thing of you, but your love warrants large requests.

Can I envisage a great Saint of God like Mr Spurgeon or such others known personally to me ever for one moment drawing out the same understanding and application from these passages as those advocated by Mark Driscoll in his video? – In a word ‘Never’.

Early on in this article I wrote that I would make a brief comment on Mark Driscoll’s views on MB. In one of his videos as was cited in the secular newspaper report quoted in my first article he jokingly refers to the words of Ecclesiastes 9:10 to make a very worldly application on this subject. When interviewed shortly before 14th February this year by a local Seattle TV station he once more ‘played to the [unregenerate] gallery and quoted Ecclesiastes when dealing with this topic. If you go to this link http://theresurgence.com/md_blog and scroll down to ‘My interview on CNN’ you can see where this happened. In that interview he stated that the Bible was ‘silent’ on this subject of MB. Is that the case?

In 1st Corinthians 7 the Apostle Paul wrote “to avoid fornication let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband” (v 2) – it seems to me from this that the only legitimate means of having sexual desire gratified is in the context of marriage and later Paul goes on to say “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I [unmarried and celibate]. But if they cannot have self control, let them marry for it is better to marry than to burn” (v 8-9). It would appear that the only ‘remedy’ sanctioned by God for those who “burn” for sexual gratification is the sexual intimacy reserved for and experienced by those couples within the God-ordained state of matrimony. Understanding this would convey a reality that the Bible is not, as Mark Driscoll claimed, ‘silent’ on the subject of MB.

In conclusion I want to make some general comments about the question of ‘sex’ in the life of a believer and particularly as it has to be addressed when someone is truly converted out of a lifestyle that has prior to conversion included all kinds of sexual practices.

I do believe that such converts will have questions arising in their thinking very similar to those that Mark Driscoll has addressed in his videos. Should a pastor address these issues whether specifically or just generally in a public forum [church service] and then make the video of such occurrences available for anyone in the whole world to view via the Internet? I believe that in the privacy of personal counselling a pastor could address these issues and give as much biblical guidance as he can bearing in mind that the God who gave us His Word is the one described as being “of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity” [Habakkuk 1:13] and referred to Himself as “the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity whose name is Holy. I dwell in the high and holy place with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit” [Isaiah 57:15].

I think it is totally inappropriate and wrong to publicly address such issues in what is supposed to be a church service for reasons already explained in my first article when I referred to what Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:3-4 “But fornication and all uncleanness…let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness nor foolish jesting which are not fitting”. I believe there is also a great danger of stirring up unhealthy curiosity amongst listeners who might not otherwise have considered indulging in such ‘deviant behaviour’ and the principles of 1stCorinthians 8:9 & 13, whilst written to address a physical appetite issue could I believe also be applied to the matter of a sexual appetite – Paul wrote “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak…Wherefore if meat [first offered to idols – see verse 1] make my brother to offend, I will eat no meat [first offered to idols – see verse 1] while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend”. Such public discussion and what I believe in the light of God’s Word to be the totally incorrect direction given by Mark Driscoll on this matter could well encourage many to explore and experiment other ‘deviant behaviour’ such as a type he actually mentioned in his video. Somewhere along the lines I read an expression to the effect that  ‘Sin always takes someone further than they intended to go’ and I think this is one such very dangerous area. Fallen, but now redeemed Children of God, need to be very much on their guard against slipping back into old sinful ways and habits and this is particularly important when being back in the company of still unregenerate friends and acquaintances. I say this from personal experience when on a few occasions I sadly have needed to seek God’s gracious forgiveness and cleansing for taking the easy option of spontaneously ‘going with the flow’ in some such settings rather than ‘’going forth therefore unto him [Christ] outside the camp, bearing his reproach” [Hebrews 13:13]. We also need to be on our guard about the type of men Jude identified who can infiltrate the church – he wrote of “certain men crept in…ungodly men turning the grace of God into lasciviousness” (v 4). Matthew Henry commented

‘Those who speak of sacred things ought always to speak of them with the greatest reverence, care, and diligence… Ungodly men are the great enemies of the faith of Christ and the peace of the church… Those are the worst of ungodly men who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, who take encouragement to sin more boldly because the grace of God has abounded… and turn it into an occasion of working all uncleanness… Those who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness do in effect deny the Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ’

Earlier in this article I quoted the ‘Dictionary’ definition given for ‘deviant’ in the ‘Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus’. In the ‘Thesaurus’ section these are just a few of the ‘alternatives’ associated with this word ‘deviant’ – they are ‘abnormal, freaky, kinky, perverse, warped, sick’. I believe that anyone, such as Mark Driscoll, who advocates such behaviour and claims that it has a biblical sanction has failed to grasp even the following easily understood statement from the pen of the Apostle Peter “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” [1st Peter 2:11]. I shall conclude with the wise words of Matthew Henry as he commentates on this verse –

(In 1st Peter 2:11) he warns them to beware of fleshly lusts, Even the best of men, the chosen generation, the people of God, need an exhortation to abstain from the worst sins, which the apostle here proceeds most earnestly and affectionately to warn them against. Knowing the difficulty, and yet the importance of the duty, he uses his utmost interest in them: Dearly beloved, I beseech you. The duty is to abstain from, and to suppress, the first inclination or rise of fleshly lusts. Many of them proceed from the corruption of nature, and in their exercise depend upon the body, gratifying some sensual appetite or inordinate inclination of the flesh. These, Christians ought to avoid, considering, 1. The respect they have with God and good men: They are dearly beloved. 2. Their condition in the world: They are strangers and pilgrims, and should not impede their passage by giving into the wickedness and lusts of the country through which they pass. 3. The mischief and danger these sins do: They war against the soul; and therefore your souls ought to war against them. Learn, (1.) The grand mischief that sin does to man is this, it wars against the soul; it destroys the moral liberty of the soul; it weakens and debilitates the soul by impairing its faculties; it robs the soul of its comfort and peace; it debases and destroys the dignity of the soul, hinders its present prosperity, and plunges it into everlasting misery. (2.) Of all sorts of sin, none are more injurious to the soul than fleshly lusts. Carnal appetites, lewdness, and sensuality, are most odious to God, and destructive to man’s soul. It is a sore judgment to be given up to them.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 5th March 2009

 

APPENDIX

After sending this article to my Webmaster I received a further email from Mark Driscoll’s church, this time from someone called Justin, and these are some extracts

Cecil, Hi, my name is Justin and I serve on the Theological Response Team here at Mars Hill Church.  It is our job to answer questions that are sent in, as Pastor Mark cannot get to them all.  I want to thank you for you interest in Mars Hill Teaching and your courage to ask. To answer your question, yes we believe that Oral Sex is ok within the confines of marriage, however there is a lot more to consider than just this.  I would highly encourage you to watch the full sermon from which these verses come from to give you a full understanding of context.  I would also invite you to read the blog at the following website that is dedicated to answering questions such as yours…To summarize anytime one of these questions come up you should ask the following questions:

  1. Is it lawful? 2. Is it helpful to me and others? 3. Will I become enslaved to it?

The end goal, within marriage, should always be to bring you closer and experience new levels of intimacy so that you can love each other more fully, and Glorify God at the same time. Thanks again, hope this helped. Justin

In my article I dealt with the scriptures that are used in the sermon links etc provided by Justin to try and justify this practice from a biblical perspective. In this APPENDIX I want to briefly respond to the 3 ‘questions’ listed by Justin.

It’s very interesting that Paul, in 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, writing to professing Christians said “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God: Be not deceived neither fornicators…shall inherit the kingdom of God”. Geoffrey Wilson in his commentary writes‘the danger of their remaining under the spell of this delusion is underlined by the imperative “Be not deceived”. If they really thought that gospel liberty was to be equated with lawless licence, then they had better think again’.

Paul then goes on in verse 11 to say “And such were some of you but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified”. Geoffrey Wilson writes ‘All the Corinthians were sinners in need of salvation but only some of them had been guilty of such gross sins. The emphasis falls on the fact that all this now lies in the past’.

Then in verse 12 Paul writes, “All things are lawful unto me but not all things are expedient”. Geoffrey Wilson writes ‘Apparently while Paul was at Corinth he had asserted the freedom of believers from the restrictions of the ceremonial law in the maxim “All things are lawful for me”, to which some were now appealing to justify their moral laxity’. Paul adds, “I will not be brought under the power of any”. Geoffrey Wilson writes ‘The Christian has the duty of abstaining from those things which would deprive him of his liberty’.

These verses clearly refute the misguided self-centredness of the 3 ‘questions’ listed by Justin and highlight the absolute need for holy discernment within the lives of professing Christians and the dangers associated with believing that such “old things” [see 2nd Corinthians 5:17] can still be indulged in.

Can the practice of OS advocated by Mark Driscoll be categorised as ‘fornication’? I believe it certainly can – the Greek word means according to Vine’s Dictionary ‘illicit sexual intercourse’ and Collins English Dictionary says ‘Bible: sexual immorality in general’. The word ‘illicit’ means‘not allowed or approved by common custom, rule or standard’ and it is my earnest contention that, by His very design of male and female, it was not God the Creator’s intention for this type of deviant behaviour to be ‘common’ or ‘standard’ practice and so it does therefore constitute‘fornication’.

As a 28 year old, full-blooded, single but unregenerate man I was in Seattle in 1974. Whilst there [and now with the wisdom of hindsight, to my great shame and regret] I went to see a notorious X-rated movie that glamorised this ‘deviant’ practice that Mark Driscoll is seeking to justify from a pulpit in this same Seattle. How providentially ironic! How wonderful to know that Christ cleansed me from “all sin” [1st John 1:7] and may God be pleased to deliver Mark Driscoll, his office bearers and members from this ‘deviant’ delusion.

At the recently concluded ‘Shepherd’s Conference’ at John MacArthur’s church one of his elders, Phil Johnson, spoke on the topic of  ‘Sound Doctrine: Sound Words’ and he said this ‘So if you are someone who can fill your conversation or your sermons with filthy words, coarse joking and carnal subject matter without a single pang of conscience – get out of the ministry, please! The pulpit is a place where God’s Word is to be proclaimed and God’s truth is to be elevated in worship. It is the very last place where everything holy should be dragged into the gutter’. That sounds to me like very ‘Sound Advice’.

Cecil Andrews – Take Heed’ Ministries – 10th March 2009

 

APPENDIX 2

On 24th March I received the first of a series of emails from a correspondent whose full initials judging by his email address are STD but who during the exchanges that I now reproduce will be referred to in the headings to his emails as SD and then in the body text of my emails to him as either asMr D or S.  As for myself I shall be referred to by him in the body text of his emails to me either as Mr A or C. After reproducing these exchanges I will then make some final comments. Once more I do apologise for some of the expressions that do appear early on that were used by the correspondent but they do serve to show the type of language and terminology that some professing Christians do not appear to have any difficulty using. That said I did appreciate his willingness to moderate his language as our exchanges progressed.

First email from SD to Cecil on 24th March 2009 

Dear Mr A,

I am writing to express some concern at your online writings about Mark Driscoll; in particular with your assertion that oral sex is somehow unbiblical.  It is undoubtedly true that some Christians have argued that oral sex is sinful, even within the confines of marriage, but I am surprised to find this argument being made from someone moored in the Reformed tradition (as I must presume you are).  Official Catholic teaching maintains that oral sex is sinful because it disconnects sex from procreation, but this moral connection between sex and procreation has long been challenged by Reformed theology.  Are you seeking to advance that link in your writings?

It seems to me that Christian married couples should embrace the freedom into which they have been placed in Christ and enjoy all the fruits of godly marriage, which include the full exploration of physical love.  There is nothing sinful about a couple having oral sex (whether that is oral-oral, oral-genital, or oral-anal for that matter). Touching, exploring, exciting one another’s bodies is a perfectly “Christian” expression of lovemaking. 

I am left confused as to why you would wish to add any sense of guilt to those aspects of our full humanity. 

The biblical references you cite in order to make your case are at best torn out of context and the moral arguments you extract from them are forced beyond the bounds of legitimate hermeneutical analysis.  

This is regrettable because the church has come a long way since the kinds of arguments you made were taken seriously in Reformed circles.  Your comments are pastorally very dangerous.  I feel I should bring that t your attention, bluntly, in the hope that it may press you to adopt a more positive, life-affirming, and body-affirming approach.

Yours sincerely, SD

Reply from Cecil to SD on 24th March 2009

Dear Mr D,

I would confirm receipt of your email. The points you have made seeking to advocate this practice are dealt with fully in my article and in the light of God’s Word and Holiness I stand resolutely by what I have written. I would also add that my own spirit (and my wife’s also – my wife is a nurse who is often confronted with the reality of STD’s spread, amongst other things, by such behaviour) was deeply disturbed and troubled by the apparent ease with which you, without any apparent pangs of conscience, typed up in your email the distasteful technical terms associated with such behaviour.

As for me being, as you termed it, “moored”, I am certainly not “moored” to any ‘tradition’ but to sure hope in the One mentioned in Hebrews 6:19-20

Yours, a new creation in Christ Jesus

Cecil Andrews

O soul, consider this deeply: it is the life of a Christian that carries more conviction and persuasion than his words. Even if you, like an angel, talk of Christ, of the gospel, of the doctrines of grace, and of heaven, yet if you indulge devilish tempers, and live under the power of any sinful lusts and passions, you will hereby harden others against the things of God and prevent their setting out in the ways of God. Study and pray to be a consistent walker in the ways of holiness; otherwise, all is but windy profession and airy talk. O, how much harm is done to Christ’s cause by the unholy walk of many professors!

– John Bunyan

[Taken from Slice of Laodicea ‘Good Quotes’ on 24th March 2009 http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/ ]

 

Second email from SD to Cecil on 25th March 2009

Dear Mr A,

I must apologize most sincerely if my use of technical terms to describe the sexual practice you are writing about has caused you any distress.  This was certainly not my intention.  When making an argument about sexual ethics it is important to be clear about the issues at stake, and that was the intention of my letter. Those of us with a medical background use such language in order to express succinctly and clearly what we are talking about. If I have caused you any embarrassment, that was not deliberate and I regret it. 

My concern is that you are seeking to add unnecessary guilt to the lives of fellow believers by your articles attacking a brother in the Lord, Pastor Driscoll. He is clear that neither masturbation (hereafter, if you with, MB), nor oral sex (hereafter, OS) are sinful practices within the bonds of faithful marriage. I have read your articles carefully and they do seem to assume that the only proper function of sex is procreation. Please correct me if that assumption is incorrect.

You also rely heavily on an illogical argument from presumed natural function. You claim that the mouth was designed for eating food, not for sex. But we know from basic anatomy that various organs can play multiple roles. The male organ, for example, is designed for both sex and urination. The mouth has many functions, including eating, speaking, smiling, non-verbal gesturing, even (in the case of some disabled people) as a tool (e.g., for holding a pen).  It seems to me that the mouth may also function sexually.  I can find no biblical text to rule out the sexual use of the mouth.  You grant that kissing is a biblically permitted use of the mouth. Do you then argue that the mouth can only be used for those functions you can find a proof-text to support? 

OS is, according to major sex surveys, an extremely common sexual practice, even amongst Christians. I am glad that you have tried to address a very real issue in the lives of other believers by writing on this topic. But I wish you would avoid adding unnecessary stress, guilt, anxiety or distress to the lives of believers who have a less literalistic reading of the text of Scripture than yourself.

I do hope you can sense from this letter that my spirit is neither aggressive nor offensive.  I am perhaps more plain-speaking about sexual matters than yourself. This may be because I do not regard sex as dirty or embarrassing: our bodies are gifts from God and sexual expression within a covenanted relationship is a perfectly responsible and legitimate use of those bodies.  

There is, incidentally (contrary to what you have written), no significant body of medical evidence suggesting that OS is any more dangerous than ordinary vaginal sex (VS). The problem of STDs is a problem for those who do not maintain monogamy and safer-sex practices. If a Christian couple remain faithful in marriage, OS is just as safe as VS.  I hope this letter alleviates any fears you may have had about my tone or spirit. I write as a concerned brother in Christ. SA

Reply from Cecil to SD on 25th March 2009

Dear Mr D,

Thank you for your further gracious email on this matter including your apology, which is gladly received and accepted. By way of response I will extract just a few comments and respond to them in red.

You wrote –

‘I have read your articles carefully and they do seem to assume that the only proper function of sex is procreation. Please correct me if that assumption is incorrect’.

Your assumption is incorrect. Intimacy between husband and wife can be both pleasurable and/or procreational – it is a unique bonding of 2 people – something reserved only for such loving marital relationships and mirrors the great and unique love that Christ has for His bride, His Church. Sadly the pleasure aspect has throughout history been ‘disfigured’ by perverse practices many of which God’s people were warned against for instance prior to entering the Promised Land. The particular practices that we have been discussing are high on the ‘Richter scale’ of the pornography industry and that speaks volumes to the worldliness and perversity of such behaviour particularly as it applies within groups like lesbians and homosexuals as of course they are ‘not privy’ to the Creator’s intention for normal sexual intimacy.  I was 38 before the Lord graciously saved me and to my shame my ‘buddies’ and I knew much about such perversity and as a new creation in Christ Jesus my spirit is totally repulsed to think that so-called Christian pastors believe and teach that such deviant behaviour is acceptable in the sight of the Thrice-Holy God. I would not like to be so engaged if/when the Lord returns.

You wrote –

‘we know from basic anatomy that various organs can play multiple roles’

You are quite right but the multiple functions are clearly within the Creator’s design and intention – in this area I stand fully by what I wrote, namely

To introduce these portions of God’s body-creation to other ‘regions’ of His body-creation for purposes for which He clearly did not design them for, constitutes I believe, in the sight of God, the Creator, ‘deviant behaviour’ and any teaching to the contrary is I conclude ‘deviant teaching’.Considering further the ‘divine design’ of human bodies should likewise enable people to identify the unnatural practices engaged in by homosexuals and lesbians as also being in the ‘deviant behaviour’ category.

You wrote –

‘There is, incidentally (contrary to what you have written), no significant body of medical evidence suggesting that OS is any more dangerous than ordinary vaginal sex (VS)’.

I was not suggesting that within the confines of a monogamous marriage the possibility of contracting a STD was increased by the deviant practice under consideration but I was making the point that such a perverse and worldly practice is one of the contributors to STDs being spread around in promiscuous circles – rather like HIV is often linked [but not exclusively of course] to the abominable practices associated with homosexuality and I am persuaded that the latter part of Romans 1:27 has application in this scenario.

Your wrote –

‘I wish you would avoid adding unnecessary stress, guilt, anxiety or distress to the lives of believers who have a less literalistic reading of the text of Scripture than yourself’.

I desire only that God by the work of His Holy Spirit will bring clarity to this issue and that He will make clear what His Word actually says on these issues rather than as some pastors/teachers seem inclined to do and that is to ‘read into’ texts meanings that they perhaps wish to find to salve both their own consciences and those of the people to whom they speak. If what I have written does by the grace of God bring some professing believers away from engaging in such activity that I believe will bring glory to God who commands His people “Be ye holy as I am holy” [Leviticus 11:44; 1st Peter 1:16]

Your servant for Christ and His glory

Cecil Andrews

Third email from SD to Cecil on 26th March 2009

Dear Mr A,

I appreciate you taking the time to consider the issues I have raised. This kind of engagement can only hep theological understanding. In reply to your comments, it may help if I number my concerns:

You wrote: 

Your assumption is incorrect. Intimacy between husband and wife can be both pleasurable and/or procreational – it is a unique bonding of 2 people – something reserved only for such loving marital relationships and mirrors the great and unique love that Christ has for His bride, His Church. Sadly the pleasure aspect has throughout history been ‘disfigured’ by perverse practices many of which God’s people were warned against for instance prior to entering the Promised Land. The particular practices that we have been discussing are high on the ‘Richter scale’ of the pornography industry and that speaks volumes to the worldliness and perversity of such behaviour particularly as it applies within groups like lesbians and homosexuals as of course they are ‘not privy’ to the Creator’s intention for normal sexual intimacy.  I was 38 before the Lord graciously saved me and to my shame my ‘buddies’ and I knew much about such perversity and as a new creation in Christ Jesus my spirit is totally repulsed to think that so-called Christian pastors believe and teach that such deviant behaviour is acceptable in the sight of the Thrice-Holy God. I would not like to be so engaged if/when the Lord returns.

(1) The pornography industry may well feature practices such as OS. It also features other kinds of sex which, in the context of a faithful marriage, would not be considered immoral. The fact that the pornography industry features a particular sex act does not in itself mean that that sex act is illegitimate. Context is important in determining the morality of an action.

(2) Your spirit is repulsed by OS. I cannot argue with this. If that is how you feel, you may be advised to act in accordance with the feeling and avoid OS. But others are not repulsed by this act and they have no need to feel repulsed, I argue. Perhaps you are from a generation that considered such acts repulsive?  Perhaps your moral outrage is generational, and therefore cultural, rather than a plain reading of scripture. 

(3) The return of the Lord is an important consideration in evaluating a moral act. But there are many perfectly moral acts I would rather not be engaged in when the Lord returns. Ordinary sex, for example, is perfectly moral within faithful marriage, but I would rather not be found engaged in that, if I had the choice, when the Lord returns. This is not a moral consideration in this case, it is a consideration of personal taste.

You wrote:

To introduce these portions of God’s body-creation to other ‘regions’ of His body-creation for purposes for which He clearly did not design them for, constitutes I believe, in the sight of God, the Creator, ‘deviant behaviour’ and any teaching to the contrary is I conclude ‘deviant teaching’.Considering further the ‘divine design’ of human bodies should likewise enable people to identify the unnatural practices engaged in by homosexuals and lesbians as also being in the ‘deviant behaviour’ category.

(4) I do not believe you have established from the Scriptures any evidence that God did NOT intend the mouth to play a sexual function in addition to its other functions. It is dangerous to argue from the silence of scripture or to engage in guesswork about God’s intention on the basis of some distantly-related texts.

You wrote: 

I was not suggesting that within the confines of a monogamous marriage the possibility of contracting a STD was increased by the deviant practice under consideration but I was making the point that such a perverse and worldly practice is one of the contributors to STDs being spread around in promiscuous circles – rather like HIV is often linked [but not exclusively of course] to the abominable practices associated with homosexuality and I am persuaded that the latter part of Romans 1:27 has application in this scenario.

(5) Oral sex is certainly a possible vehicle for the spread of STDs when people are promiscuous. But I am not defending promiscuity. I am defending faithful, monogamous relationships of marriage. In that context, if a couple remain faithful, they cannot pass on STDs to each other by definition.  Oral sex is no more likely to spread STDs in the context of faithful marriage than vaginal sex. 

Your wrote:

I desire only that God by the work of His Holy Spirit will bring clarity to this issue and that He will make clear what His Word actually says on these issues rather than as some pastors/teachers seem inclined to do and that is to ‘read into’ texts meanings that they perhaps wish to find to salve both their own consciences and those of the people to whom they speak. If what I have written does by the grace of God bring some professing believers away from engaging in such activity that I believe will bring glory to God who commands His people “Be ye holy as I am holy” [Leviticus 11:44; 1st Peter 1:16]

(6) I share your commitment to the true meaning of Scripture. I also share your concern that pastors and teachers should not read into texts or give readings that say more about their own moral and personal views than the true meaning of the text itself. But this is my principal worry about what you have written about OS. I believe that you are in fact reading into the text; you are reading your own personal distaste for a certain practice into the text and using the Scriptures to give biblical authority to your own sense of revulsion.  This is a serious accusation, but I know you would be the first to argue that I, as a student of the Scriptures, should make that accusation, in defense of the Scriptures, if I believe it to be true. I make the claim in love and with respect. But I make the claim directly, and in an effort to encourage you away from reading your cultural and personal sensitivities into the text of the Bible.  

Christian couples have enough stress in life without a teacher of the Bible adding more distress to them by pushing his own moral agenda in the guise of scriptural interpretation. If you have clear biblical teaching on this matter, I will happily bend the knee to the Word of God and accept that your reading of the text is completely responsible. But you have no such teaching. Instead, from your own account, you appeal to your sense of personal revulsion at the act of oral sex. Your personal sense cannot be the test of whether a matter is the will of God or not. 

If I remain unconvinced by what you write, it is because I remain convinced that the Scriptures alone can be the arbiter of taste and decency. I encourage you, in love and with respect, to accept that these judgements you have made are not the clear teaching of Scripture; rather, they are aspects of your own personal discomfort.  I also appeal to you to retract your published statements on this matter, which are directed at the ministry of Pastor Driscoll, and apologise for misleading others. 

Yours for His sake, SD

Reply from Cecil to SD on 26th March 2009

Dear SD,

Thank you for your further considered email. I plan to just reproduce 2 related statements and comment on them.

You wrote –

‘I believe that you are in fact reading into the text; you are reading your own personal distaste for a certain practice into the text and using the Scriptures to give biblical authority to your own sense of revulsion… you appeal to your sense of personal revulsion at the act of oral sex. Your personal sense cannot be the test of whether a matter is the will of God or not’

In my article I reject the ‘legitimacy’ of this act on the basis of what God’s Word teaches – God’s Word indicates that such behaviour is both ‘deviant’ and ‘repulsive’ and as a believer who “has the mind of Christ” [1st Corinthians 2:16] it is reassuring to me that I am likewise repulsed by what God shows in His Word to be repulsive.

I realise S that you are not going to agree with me on this and in the circumstances I think we have taken this discussion as far as it can go. You will therefore also appreciate that I shall not be taking any of the actions you asked me to take in the closing line of your email.

Your servant for Christ

Cecil Andrews

Fourth email from SD to Cecil on 26th March 2009

Dear C (I’m glad we are on first name terms),

I appreciate, of course, that you are maintaining your ground. We have reached an impasse over what the Word of God teaches on the matter of OS and MB. You believe your sense of revulsion is a sign of your godliness, and I believe my lack of a sense of revulsion is a sign that I am not hung up about a matter that is permitted by God. The issue is how to read the Scripture (and this is a good place for us to find ourselves). You have not, I maintain, offered a single text of Scripture which clearly teaches that OS and MB are illegitimate within the confines of faithful marriage.  If you can present a text that has that effect ad meaning I will happily bow the knee to the text of God’s Word. 

Sincerely, SD

Reply from Cecil to SD on 26th March 2009

You have not, I maintain, offered a single text of Scripture which clearly teaches that OS and MB are illegitimate within the confines of faithful marriage.

Dear SD,

Just as you have asserted the above so I would assert that Mark Driscoll has not offered a single text of Scripture which clearly teaches the legitimacy of the practices under consideration. You also wrote ‘You believe your sense of revulsion is a sign of your godliness’ – I do seek to be Holy as commanded by the Holy God of heaven and certainly I would not have a clear God-given conscience if I were to indulge in something that I personally believe is not sanctioned by the Scriptures I have referred to in my article.

I think now this will have to be my last word on this and wish to thank you for your mannerly conduct during our exchanges.

Yours in the righteousness of Christ alone

Cecil

PS I only dealt with MB in my article as it applies in the lives of someone single but I don’t want us to open a further debate on this issue please.

Fifth email from SD to Cecil on 27th March 2009

Dear C,

I am surprised, I confess, that you have decided to end our dialogue at the very point at which we address the question of Holy Scripture. You seem to believe that OS and MB are illegitimate because scripture is silent on these behaviours. This is an extremely dangerous approach to the interpretation of Scripture. You are arguing a moral conclusion on the basis of the silence of the text itself. I appeal to you, in a spirit of humility before God’s Word, to recant from this irresponsible and theologically indefensible approach to exegesis. SD

 

Reply from Cecil to SD on 27th March 2009

Dear SD,

As you know I had intended my previous email to be my ‘last word’ on this subject but clearly it is necessary for me to pen one more – this one. You wrote –

‘You seem to believe that OS and MB are illegitimate because scripture is silent on these behaviours’

It is both disappointing and baffling to me that you have come to such a conclusion based on the scriptural content included in my articles – this is the very content upon which I base my own conclusions rather than on any ‘personal preferences’ even where and when my ‘personal preferences’ thankfully and reassuringly accord with those scriptures.

As our exchanges have progressed I have been moved to perceive with even greater appreciation the wise words of Matthew Henry in his introduction to the Song of Solomon that I quoted in my second article

‘to those who come to the reading of it [The Song of Solomon] with carnal minds and corrupt affections, it is in danger of being made a savour of death unto death; it is a flower out of which they extract poison’

Should you understandably wish to exercise the right to your own ‘last word’ to me that will be fine but please understand that from my perspective our exchanges are now at an end.

Your servant for Christ

Cecil

Sixth email from SD to Cecil on 28th March 2009

Dear C,

I have, of course, read your articles, but I do not regard your exegesis as accurate or reasonable.  I have shown your articles to four other people, all with a background in biblical studies, and they agree with me that your analysis of the Bible is completely mistaken. 

Instead of exploring these serious matters in a civil and thoughtful manner, you have decided to end our correspondence with a personal insult. You have accused me of reading the Song of Solomon with a carnal mind and a corrupt affection and extracting poison from the text. That is a deeply hurtful, and if I may say, quite vindictive attack, given that I have carefully avoided any personal attacks on you in any of our correspondence.  

It seems, Cecil, that you may regard anyone who disagrees with you as devil-inspired and shaped by sin. An attitude of humility before the text of Scripture and before the God of Scripture is perhaps a more godly attitude than the one you have evidenced. But I will refrain from trying to portray you as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, even if that is the impression your writings may give to some.

I suspect you will not be publishing this correspondence on your website, lest any of your readers see through your shoddy analysis of Scripture and are moved to aim Matthew Henry quotations in your direction.

With sincere regrets, SD

In relation to these exchanges I would like to make the following concluding points –

  • In all the exchanges, whilst on quite a number of occasions I was accused by SD of both inaccurate, unreasonable and shoddy exegesis and a mistaken analysis of Scripture, and the claim was made that the Scriptures I cited were torn out of context, not once did SD take the time to show me where he believed I had done all these things. He did not cite his view of Scripture to refute what I had written in my articles.
  • The accusation that I was basing my judgements purely upon either my personal “sense of revulsion” or the “silence of Scripture” was levelled several times and yet any fair reading of my articles shows exactly the opposite to be the case – in fact I would contend that the one who was arguing solely on the basis of ‘personal morality’ without any scriptural ‘back-up’ was SD. The Scriptures are not “silent” on these issues and thankfully the lessons to be learned from Scripture did accord with my own “sense of revulsion” on these matters. It is a true blessing to be able to identify personally with verses like Hebrews 10:22-23 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering”and Psalm 4:8 “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for thou Lord only makest me dwell in safety”.
  • In his fifth email SD expressed surprise that I had decided to end our exchanges yet in his fourth email he had written “We have reached an impasse over what the Word of God teaches” so from my perspective there didn’t seem to be much point in prolonging the exchanges.
  • My re-quoting of the words of Matthew Henry in his introduction to his commentary on the Song of Solomon were construed by SD as a “personal insult” – I’m sure that is how many view the words and actions of faithful believers as they seek to be the “salt and light” of Matthew 5:13-16that the Lord wants His people to be. It’s interesting that over the course of our exchanges Pastor John MacArthur in his devotional ‘Daily Readings from the Life of Christ’ was focussing on these very verses and these are just a few extracts from the thoughts he shared – ‘In these four verses the Lord summarises the functions of believers in the world – influence. This is a mandate for Christians to influence the world…By definition an influence must be different from that which it influences and Christians must be different from the world they are called to influence. We cannot influence the world for God if we are worldly ourselves, nor can we give light to it if we retreat to places and ways of darkness ourselves (24th March)…Because salt stings when placed on a wound, some interpreters believe Jesus meant to illustrate that Christians are to sting the world, prick its conscience and thus make it uncomfortable in the presence of God’s gospel…it’s likely Jesus was primarily referring to salt as a preservative. Christians are a preserving influence in the world; they retard moral and spiritual spoilage. As God’s children and as temples of His Holy Spirit, we represent God’s presence in the earth. We are the salt that prevents the entire earth from degenerating even faster than it already is (25th March)…By its nature light must be visible to illuminate…Just as God offers His light to the whole world, so must His church…As a true believer you are salt and light and you must fulfil that identity (26th March)…We can’t be an influence for purity in the world if we have compromised our own purity. We can’t sting the world’s conscience if we continually go against our own. We can’t be used of God to retard the corruption of sin in the world if our own lives become corrupted by sin. To lose our saltiness is not to lose our salvation but we will lose our effectiveness…Don’t hide your light for fear of offending others…If you do you demonstrate unfaithfulness to the Lord (27th March)…Letting our “light shine before men” allows them to see our “good works”, the beauty the Lord has worked in us. To see good works by us is to see Christ in us…We allow God’s light to shine through us so God will receive the praise…Our good works should magnify God’s grace and power. That is the supreme calling of life: glorifying God…The way we live ought to lead those around us to glorify our heavenly Father’ (28th March).
  • The third paragraph in SD’s second email to me begins as follows – ‘You also rely heavily on an illogical argument from presumed natural function’. In response to that I would say that under inspiration from the Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul used precisely the same ‘illogical argument’ [as it is referred to by SD] when he was referring to deviant and immoral practices in Romans 1:26-27 – there Paul wrote of both men and women engaging in sexual behaviour that constituted “exchanging” and “leaving” – what? – “the natural use” and according to Vine’s dictionary that word “natural” refers to what is ‘inborn; according to nature’. The practice of OS today plays a major role in the types of practices that Paul was referring to in these verses and so it is clearly not a “natural function” but is rather, as I wrote in my article, “a ‘learned behaviour’, it is not ‘natural”
  • If I myself was very thin-skinned I could also perhaps have construed SD’s words to me ‘But I will refrain from trying to portray you as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, even if that is the impression your writings may give to some’ as being a “personal insult”.

By way of conclusion to this appendix I want to reproduce 2 items that came across my desk just as my correspondence with SD was ending and in many ways they were like “ministering angels” to me and I hope they will be a blessing and an encouragement to all who are seeking to live a life that is pleasing to Almighty God. In a recent sermon a good friend of mine when speaking on the subject of ‘styles of worship’ stated that this maxim should perhaps govern all thinking on the issue – ‘God is the audience’ and perhaps this maxim could be equally applied to the matters that have been dealt with in this whole article.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 30th March 2009

 

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/

Better to Be Cold than to Warm Ourselves Where We Are Exposed to Temptation

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from “A Sermon for a Winter’s Evening,” a message on John 18:18, first published in 1910. The text describes a scene in the courtyard outside the High Priest’s house on the night of Jesus’ crucifixion: “And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals, for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.”

Though no doubt the motives which led both Peter and John into the high priest’s house were commendable, Peter’s position among the soldiers and hangers-on around the fire was extremely full of peril, and offered no corresponding advantages. Did he not know that”evil communications corrupt good manners”? Did he not know that the men who had taken his Lord prisoner were not fit associates for him? Should he not have felt that, though he might have his hands warmed, he would be likely to get his heart blackened by mixing with such company?

Brethren, I like to warm my hands; but if I cannot warm them without burning them, I would rather keep them cold.

Many things are in a measure desirable; but if you cannot obtain them without exposing yourself to the smut of sin, you had better let them alone. Has not our Lord called us to go without the camp? Are we not warned against being conformed to this world? Deny yourselves the warm place around society’s charcoal brazier, for its sulphurous vapor will do you more harm than the cold. Some tell us that we must keep abreast of the times; but if the times run the wrong way, I see no reason why we should run with them. Rather let us leave the times, and dwell in the eternities. If I must, in warming my hands, defile them—I will sooner let them become blue with cold 

Taken from a Devotional sent by email on a daily basis.

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the … king’s meat, nor the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. -Daniel 1:8 (KJV)

IN secondary school I learned about three types of pollution: water, air, and land. I want to elaborate on pollution of the land. My teacher said that pollutants defile our land and make it infertile. Polluted land causes crops not to yield because it prevents seeds from germinating.

In the same way that pollutants affect the growth of plants, sin affects the growth of Christians. Not only that; sin of any kind prevents us from seeing and reflecting the glory of God. Some of these pollutants are stealing, lying, fighting, committing sexual sin, and so forth.

For Daniel, defilement or pollution was eating the king’s meat or drinking his wine; so he “purposed in his heart” not to touch them. For Christians, defilement means getting involved in actions that God has forbidden. Like Daniel, we can purpose in our hearts to live in ways that honor God and give God a holy temple.

Michael Osei Frimpong (Greater Accra, Ghana)

APPENDIX 3

In the wake of the enlarged version of this article that included APPENDIX 2 being posted to the website I received a further email from SD and what I first want to do is to reproduce it and intersperse into it some comments in red by way of response.

Seventh email from SD to Cecil on 1st April 2009

Dear C

I know you have determined in your own mind to end our correspondence about what the Bible says on the subject of OS (SD used the ‘full title’ for this practice but my spirit is grieved by such terminology and so I am using just this abbreviation), but I also see that you have, contrary to my expectation, published our existing correspondence on your website. This is a surprise and I am writing to commend you for doing this, because it does introduce a measure of debate into this theological debate that is needed. (See other Pastoral and lay feedback comments later in this APPENDIX)

I note from your online comments about our correspondence that you are surprised that I was not able to identify biblical references in support of your anti-OS stance. That is not what I said – this is what I said in point 1 of my ‘concluding points’ in APPENDIX 2 – I wrote, ‘He (SD) did not cite his view of Scripture to refute what I had written in my articles’ – I was not asking SD to find biblical support for my views, as I had already supplied such support in my article, but rather I was asking him to supply scripture to support his rejection of my views.  

I have to say, I have now read through your original articles and I can still find not a single clear biblical statement against OS. The texts you quote emphasize the need to protect the marriage bed, to maintain faithfulness, to remain pure. I say, “Amen” to all of that. I just don’t believe OS is unclean within the context of a faithful marriage. You are simply assuming that when the text uses the word “impure”, it must mean that OS is illegitimate. I suggest you are reading your own views about OS in that text.  This all boils down to what God’s people, indwelt by His HOLY Spirit, can learn from His Word as to what clearly constitutes natural sexual behaviour and what constitutes unnatural or ‘deviant’ behaviour. My original article laid out a biblical framework for what is God the Creator’s norm for natural sexual behaviour as opposed to ‘fornication’ in some of its many guises and I dealt with that in the first APPENDIX. The matter of ‘natural’ v ‘unnatural’ behaviour was also covered in point 4 of my ‘concluding points’ in APPENDIX 2.

You claim that OS is deviant because it deviates from what is considered acceptable. Considered acceptable by whom? According to the British Sex Survey, and other international studies of sexual behaviour, OS is even more commonly practiced than VS (Again SD used the ‘full title’ for this but my spirit is again uncomfortable in using the terminology and so I am using just this abbreviation). Yet again SD has turned to a Secular Survey and not to Sacred Scripture to try and justify OS as being acceptable. A ‘majority view’ never determines whether something is right or legitimate in the sight of God. It was a ‘majority’ view’ that voted for Barabbas to be released and for the Lord Jesus Christ to be crucified. It was the ‘majority view’ of the spies not to enter the Promised Land. I’m sure a ‘Sex Survey’ amongst the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah would have produced a ‘majority view’ in favour of certain behaviour but that would not have made that behaviour legitimate as God clearly identifies it as being ‘abominable’.

The vast majority of society considers OS acceptable. As a rebellious child I use to sing with others a rather rude and repulsive couplet about ‘nasal behaviour’ – the first line went “Everybody’s doing it, doing it doing it …” – the implication was that if “everybody is doing it” then that made it acceptable which of course it wasn’t/isn’t and this seems to be SD’s line of argument here as far as OS is concerned.

The majority of Christians, too, I would argue regard this practice, within marriage, as acceptable. On what possible solid grounds could SD make such an assertion? As a result of having to deal with this issue I have spoken to a very small number of trusted and respected Christian people and NONE of them would support the view of SD that OS is a normal and acceptable practice under any circumstances. However I would emphasise again that their views and mine are not based on ‘personal preference’ but on our reading and understanding of God’s Word.  So who decides whether a practice deviates from the norm? Whose norm?  What Cecil Andrews and the people in his church regard is acceptable or unacceptable cannot be the judge of these matters.

I write this short note to answer the concerns you raise online. I would rather continue this correspondence and examine the biblical texts, one by one in detail. If you are prepared to do that, I think you will see that your interpretation is without exegetical support. (See other Pastoral feedback comments later in this APPENDIX)

At this point there was then a paragraph by SD about alleged personal ‘insults’ but I will not reproduce it, as I don’t want to detract attention away from what are the really important issues being dealt with.

Please feel free to publish this response online, whether or not you are prepared to continue our correspondence on how to read the Bible correctly.

Sincerely, SD

In my comments in red I put some comments in italics to draw attention to other Pastoral and lay feedback that I have received in the wake of the publication of my article and with permission I am now going to quote some extracts from this feedback.

A Baptist Pastor in England in an email to me on 1st April wrote as follows

 ‘I read your articles exposing the dangers of Mark Driscoll’s teaching on the aforementioned subjects! I was grieved at the fact that these issues need to be refuted in Evangelical circles. I can humbly say that I find your arguments scripturally and exegetically accurate, godly and Christ promoting. Perhaps the problem is that commentators today look for physical relationship in the Song of Solomon. The real issue as I see it is – is Song of Solomon at all to be used as a marriage manual on physical intimacy? Is the Holy Spirit using Solomon to teach on physical intimacy in marriage at all? I wonder is that a correct use of the Hebrew!  As I see it it is a mystery about Christ spiritual and about the Christian’s love for His Lord! I believe the older writers would have been horrified at what our generation now reads into the Song of Songs. Matthew Henry and his godly contemporaries would have baulked at this idea’.

An elderly Christian lady on the other side of the world wrote in a letter of 27th March

‘When I heard the CD’s [of Mark Driscoll] last September I wrote some “notes and thoughts” about what I had heard…[herewith some extracts from theses “notes and thoughts”] Male sexuality: Quote: “not enough sex – some of you need to have more sex”. Is this something for the speaker to decide or advocate? Sexual relations: Quote: “All positions are acceptable”.  Are they? Quote: “Does the Bible say anything about oral sex?” Does it? The speaker says “yes, it is spoken of in The Song of Solomon”. Stating that OS is permitted in God’s Holy Word would seem at the least to be impious and irreverent. To make such a statement is giving Christian men licence to ask this of their wives (A young Christian wife of a Christian husband just recently confided in me about the problem she has with this). The speaker says that in The Song of Solomon “she invites him to perform OS on her”. OS is perversion – ‘Perversion’ – ‘turning aside from truth or right; diversion to an improper use; a perverted form of something’ Oxford Dictionary. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” – we have a perfect designer who is the God of order – everything perfectly matched. The mouth is designed for eating and drinking, speaking and singing and kissing. The genitalia is designed for evacuation and reproduction by way of pleasure. Need one say more?

It was a personal encouragement to read the Pastoral endorsement of my exegesis. It was also quite remarkable to see how a mature [naturally and spiritually] sister in Christ, some 6 months before I wrote my article, was mirroring similar concerns in her “notes and thoughts” that I subsequently expressed in my own article. I’m thinking particularly about her identification of the perverse nature of OS and also her comments on the concerned young Christian wife that serve to demonstrate the real threat of a weaker vessel being coerced into sin by a spouse insisting on engaging in such a ‘stumbling block’ practice that they [the weaker vessel] would view as a sinful offence.

Pastor John MacArthur personally ‘entered the fray’ on this issue with a series of 4 short articles that can be located on these links –

http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4168

http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4169

http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4172

http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/posts.aspx?ID=4174

As well as the article you can also read a wide selection of ‘responses’ that are both supportive of Pastor MacArthur and also of Mark Driscoll. My own assessment of the various arguments pro and against is well summed up in my own posting following part 4 of the series [my posting is the fourth of well over a hundred postings].

As a result of an earlier posting I made following part 1 of Dr MacArthur’s series I received an email from a sister in Christ on 15th April and the following are some extracts from her email –

‘I wanted to thank you for your Godly comments to the ungodly teaching of Mark Driscoll.  I found your website thanks to your having responded in the Comments section of John MacArthur’s recent first article in his series on the deviant teaching we are seeing more and more here in America.  I read your most recent website article on Driscoll from beginning to end and found your remarks some of the best I have heard on this sad issue.  Thank you so much for speaking out and with bringing so much scripture to bear on your commentary…

Driscoll is getting cover from “celebrity” ministers … and others who seem to have no problem with his approach to ministry – at least they are not being public about it.  I am very troubled about that.  I believe it is one of the reasons why Driscoll gets by with so much.  When one thinks of all the Video porn messages of Driscoll going all over the world polluting minds and souls and giving false impressions of the Christian message, one can only weep and pray that God will have mercy upon us.

I am thankful that Pastors MacArthur and Johnson and now you have been willing to speak out.  I hope your writing on this subject gets broad attention…

Thank you again for your bold Christian witness in these times of trial as the Western world becomes more decadent… while much of the Christian church is taken up with vanities and are more than willing to listen to the type of depraved teaching that some ministers are just as willing to feed them.’

In a follow-up email this sister in Christ also wrote –

‘I have read MacArthur’s second item in his current series and the comments. It is obvious to me at least that many of Driscoll’s defenders are young and show evidence in what they say that…they have accepted many of the worst aspects of this pornified culture and its sexually deviant worldview’

I think that’s a very incisive assessment of the thinking of some of the supporters of Mark Driscoll and it reminds me of the underlying truth enshrined in 1st Corinthians 15:33 “Be not deceived; Evil company corrupts good morals”. Interestingly in his Bible Study notes Pastor John MacArthur notes this about ‘Evil Company’ – ‘The Greek term behind this word can also refer to a spoken message. By word or example evil friends are a corrupting influence’. Geoffrey Wilson in his commentary on this verse writes ‘False teaching not only poisons the mind but also demoralises the life’. Whilst Paul was of course writing in the context of false teachers who were denying resurrection the underlying principle contained in the verse of the consequences of false teaching does find suitable application in the matters being considered in this article.

I was recently gifted a copy of the 2004 book publication entitled ‘The Mutual Love of Christ and His People’ by Dr Peter Masters who since 1970 has served as Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London which was of course C H Spurgeon’s old church. In my article I wrote the following when addressing Song of Solomon 2:3 – ‘In his outline for the Song of Solomon Dr Constable designates this verse as occurring during ‘The Courtship’ period and Pastor John MacArthur in his Study Bible likewise allocates this verse to the pre-marriage ‘courtship’ period… I do concede that it is difficult to be dogmatic about time frames in the Song of Solomon but if these experienced Bible commentators are correct then whatever was referred to in this verse occurred prior to consummated marriage and so would not meet Mark Driscoll’s criteria for this practice.’

Keeping those comments in mind these extracts from Dr Masters’ introduction are most interesting –

‘Solomon’s Song of Songs is a very beautiful poem of tender love…And who are the two lovers…The answer and the “secret” to understanding this remarkable book is that the characters did not literally exist because this remarkable poem is an allegory…This is the oldest view of how we should understand the Song. The great majority of Bible-believing preachers and commentators throughout history have identified the groom as Christ and the bride as His Church…For generations the immense value of the Song has been recognized in setting out the “ingredients” of spiritual love…We greatly prefer the traditional view for a number of reasons…

1. The Title Points to Christ: …the original Hebrew title is Song of Songs…Such a title best refers to the love of the Son of God for His people and their responding love to Him.

2. Solomon is Not a Model for Marriage: …The life of the teacher must surely commend the message. If Solomon wrote about his own first courtship, how could this be described as the best song and put forward as a model when it quickly became a betrayed relationship…

3. There is No Wedding: …we must see the Song as an allegory of the love between Christ and His Church rather than a manual for married life (as) there is no wedding in it…the bride and groom are viewed throughout the book as not yet fully married…Modern writers tend to marry the couple off at an early stage…Throughout the Song the bride and groom are seen waiting for the day of the wedding  ceremony with its great marriage supper…providing a picture of the exceptionally close union between believers and their Lord as they wait for His coming at the end of the age and the great bridal supper of the Lamb…In the Song therefore the bride and groom never lie down in intimacy and it takes hugely imaginative and presumptuous exposition to see them doing so…If we miss this feature the Song becomes chaotic in its order of events and has nothing to say to our spiritual lives.

4. Love Terms Cannot be Real: …many expressions of admiration used in the Song are simply not credible for human love…If however the poem is an allegory of love between Christ and the church, these strange sentiments come to life, describing the privileges and characteristics of saved people…As the old saying goes: an allegory says one thing but means another. We must se the deeper meaning.

5. Great Prophecies are Here: …if we take the older view, that this book is a guide to spiritual love, then we see Christ and His work prophesied throughout its eight chapters.

6. Allegory is Solomon’s Speciality: …the Bible tells us that a parable style was the principal feature of Solomon’s writings…

All that follows is in line with the tradition of interpretation so loved by the Reformers, the English Puritans and the great eighteenth and nineteenth-century revival preachers. It is also line with the practice of the Jews who publicly read this book every year at the Passover, their greatest feast, commemorating Israel’s redemption from Egypt and typifying the redeeming work of Christ. Why ever would they have read a poem about marriage guidance at such a feast? The Song is clearly about the love of their expected Redeemer.’

I have made a start to reading his book and I would want to recommend it as already my thoughts have been lifted from the mundane all around us to the higher glories of Christ my Saviour. Dr Masters’ writings in the past have proved to me to be educational and edifying and he is once more on course to repeat that personally profitable spiritual experience. Should anyone reading this article wish to obtain a copy of this book it is listed as available for purchase on several websites such as

http://www.tabernaclebookshop.org/index.php/books/peter-masters

http://www.epbooks.org/author_details.html?aid=350

https://www.fpbookroom.org/acatalog/F_P_Bookroom_Proverbs__Ezekiel_30.html

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=pd_lpo_ix_dp_dn_us_uk_en_mutual.020love.020of.020christ.020and.020his.020people.020peter.020masters_gl_book?keywords=mutual%20love%20of%20christ%20and%20his%20people%20peter%20masters&tag=lpo%5Fixdpdnusukenmutual.020love.020of.020christ.020and.020his.020people.020peter.020mastersgl%5Fbook-21&index=blended

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 23rd April 2009

APPENDIX 4

On 24th May I received a further, final email from SD and in it he included a paragraph that he asked me to publish on the website. I confirmed that I would do so along with my response to it. 

Final email from SD to Cecil on 24th 2009

‘You ask for a biblical refutation of your position in respect of Pastor Driscoll.  I have tried to examine the arguments from the Scriptures that you present, and these amount to a few quotations warning believers about deviant behaviour.

To reduce the case/exegesis/exposition that I made to being merely “a few quotations warning believers about deviant behaviour” is to totally misrepresent and understate the content of my article.

The point I have repeatedly made is that what constitutes deviant behaviour has changed over time. You will note that once more there is no recourse here by SD to what Scripture does actually teach. Human understanding of what does or does not constitute ‘deviant behaviour’ has certainly changed over the centuries but unfortunately it has been and continues to be a change for the worse (this was the sort of situation that Paul was confronted with in Romans chapter 1) as people with each succeeding generation seek to ignore the Godly restraints ‘implanted’ in them by God through conscience and to sinfully break free from behavioural ‘norms’ that are clearly revealed by God in His Word

At one time, in some cultures, very intimate kissing might have been considered ‘deviant’; some people might even regard sleeping with the lights on as a deviant sexual act, for all I know. The Bible’s understanding of deviant sexual behaviour, I have suggested, does not encompass oral sex between faithful married partners.  This view of OS is based purely upon SD’s ‘personal preference’ or ‘taste’ and not on what God’s Word teaches. If he is in agreement with Mark Driscoll, as I believe him to be, then he is ‘guilty’ of reading into verses from the Song of Solomon the type of ‘deviant behaviour’ that he wishes to see ‘legitimised’. You believe the term ‘deviant’ does encompass that behaviour. The onus is with you to tell us why such behaviour meets the criteria for deviance within the Bible.  I have done so in my article.

In the absence of that argumentation, all I can see in your writing is an attempt to lift your own personal moral tastes and hold them up as a biblical guide.

This is precisely what SD has done in this latest email to me.

Much as I respect your very obvious Christian convictions, Cecil, what upsets or offends you personally cannot be placed on a par with biblical principles’.  I am offended because what Mark Driscoll is seeking to ‘legitimise’ he is doing so by giving a faulty exposition/exegesis of God’s Word.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 27th May 2009

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