You recently asked Pastor Mark Driscoll an intimate question, I noticed because I like to keep up with all things Mars Hill related, and I read his response to you. I read it slow and I read it calm until I couldn’t anymore.
I thought about responding to Pastor Mark directly, but the truth is, he’s not the one I’m most concerned about. In fact, if I were to sit down, face to face with Mark, and tell him what I’m about to tell you, it would be chalked up to millennial relativism, lack of moral compass, etc.
So, I’m writing to you, Jessica, and it isn’t because I’m out to prove I know more than Pastor Mark (because I don’t) or because I have some sort of assurance from the Almighty that my thoughts and convictions about sexuality are without flaw, but it is because I will not be quiet and watch another woman be shamed.
You asked, “Where do you draw the line with intimacy in dating relationships?”
This is the kind of question that dresses in hushed tones between girlfriends, and hides itself around page 100 of Christian dating books. This is the question that youth groups discuss, and takes flight around college campuses. Lines are walked and stretched and erased, and sleep is lost over where it all ends and begins.
I’ve spent my share of time considering lines, but to be honest with you, I believe I neglected to really think about Jesus when it came to the black and the white and the grey in intimate areas. And, I don’t mean that in a creepy, peeping Tom kind of way because let’s be real, imagining Jesus in the room, as Pastor Mark suggests you do, never stopped anyone from making out, at least not anyone I know.
What I mean when I say that I never really thought about Jesus is that I couldn’t make room for Him when I was playing Tic Tac Toe: sin version.
John, Chapter 8, is famous for the phrase, “Go and sin no more,” and those are powerful, convicting words. However, I don’t think I ever paid close attention to what comes before those words.
If you back up a little bit, you see Jesus, sitting with people, speaking words of Truth, and then some concerned folks show up on the scene, aka the Pharisees. These people arrive, demanding the consequence of death for a woman’s act of adultery, and what does Jesus do? He begins drawing in the sand and whatever it was that he drew held the equivalent of, Stay out of it.
“Again, he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?
She replied, “No one, sir. Then Jesus said, neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more. ” (John 8:8-11)
A younger version of me read this and thought, Wait. What about the lines? This passage doesn’t do me any good because this is after the fact. I need the important verses about lust and not awakening love before its time and all of that. I need some parameters.
And this is where I might have been into some of the practical questions Mark gave you to consider:
“When Jesus was single and on earth, would he have done what you want to do?”
“Would you do what you want to do if Jesus were with you in the flesh watching?”
I might have been okay with these questions because shame is a powerful motivator. But Jessica, shame is not the way of Christ.
Now, I don’t mean to imply that sin doesn’t matter to God or it doesn’t impact other people around us; I believe it does. Yet, I’m not willing to step forward from the crowd, bend down in the sand and start drawing my own lines and comparing them with God’s. I’m not about to say, “Hey Jesus, I like what you’ve got going on there, BUT.”
Nope. Not gonna do that.
I do want to say that I did like Pastor Mark’s sixth question for you, “What has the Holy Spirit told you?”
I think that’s an excellent question to be mindful of when it comes to sexuality and intimacy of every kind.
And yet, I think it is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is not Mark Driscoll and neither is any other authority figure in your life. The Spirit may speak through other people, sure, but when they use shame-based tactics as a means to point to the way of Christ, run. Run as far and as fast as you can because if you don’t you might find yourself piling up your own stones to use against yourself and others.
All this to say, it does not matter how kind a tone is used, how much Truth is in the mix, or if a famous person says it; advice washed in shame is, exactly that, shaming. And that’s not the God of grace, of forgiveness and love.