The Ted Haggard story is shocking and sobering and gritty and sad. It reminds me of how broken I am; that just because my weaknesses are not specifically the same as Haggards’, I am still broken nonetheless. I’m glad that that I moved quickly to a consideration of my own struggle first…a couple of years ago, this wouldn’t have occurred. I’ve worked hard on hypocrisy, and still have a long ways to go. I’ve actually included some thoughts on the issue in two messages with my local church community. The first is here. The second is here.
In the last two weeks, as I’ve sorted through various people’s thoughts on the fallout from the issue, I’ve seen a quote from Mark Driscoll (pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle) that many have absolutely ripped to shreds…He said:
“Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.“
And the lions attacked…I mean serious feeding frenzy. People all saying “How could you say this!” or “That’s just simply not true,” or “You’re oversimplifying a complex issue,” or whatever. And I must admit, seeing the comment by itself caused me to think the same things…mostly because Driscoll has a reputation for speaking his mind that often gets in the way of his calling as a Christian leader…So I went to his Resurgence page to see it from the horse’s mouth and give Driscoll a fair hearing. The first thing I find is that the quote most folks yanked out to rip into was a small part of a sizable chunk of thinking he put together for his blog post. Thus, when I read his quote in context, it makes a whole lot more sense, and is a whole lot more healthy. The second thing I find is that Driscoll handles the issue with care from beginning to end, isn’t afraid to face the controversy, and gives some time-tested wisdom for pastors and others that is incredible to see. I highly recommend you reading his thoughts here.
And I’ll say right off the bat that he should have balanced his “It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness” with the just-as-true “It is not uncommon to meet pastors (or male Christfollowers) who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their wife is a Christfollower, she is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness.” What Mark said is true…it becomes skewed, however, when he doesn’t apply the same thinking to the other side of the equation. And that, my friends, is why Driscoll carries the reputation he carries. He’s a firebrand who speaks his mind; often without considering the twin concerns of how he might be heard and the need to balance his strong opinions with consistent logic.
I hope I stand up for what I think is true more and more, but I hope that in the standing up process I do not forget that
1)I am flawed and subjective as a person, and thus incomplete in my grasping at truth,
2)I should carefully watch my words, because once they exit my mouth, they can take on a completely different personality than I intended, and
3)I need to roll with the punches. Sometimes, like Driscoll, someone needs to acknowledge the elephant in the room that everyone else is pretending isn’t there. It’s true that once wives enter into a marital relationship, they often are tempted to let themselves go. But the same is true for men, and I think his thinking would’ve carried more impact if he had acknowledged that simple truth.
I mentioned a couple of months back in this post some great thinking David Fitch offered on obesity and pastors. It may be true that more pastors are obese than their wives…who knows?