The Harmful Teaching of Wives as their Husbands' Porn Stars

There is "a much healthier dynamic for both husbands and wives. The crushing expectations that accompany an addiction to pornography need to be dealt with separately from the marriage bed. . ." Practical Theology for Women

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

When I think about the ladies 'Bible studies' I attended, even before I was married, that were all about how to seduce one's husband with porn star behavior, I cringe. And I always wondered how wives with young children were supposed to meet their husbands at the door dressed in Saran Wrap. One lesson I remember was title "Dress for Sexcess" and was a rather long rant about flannel nightgowns as signals to one's husband that you weren't in the mood. How about the flannel nightgown as a signal that the furnace needs to be turned up higher than 64°? Wink

Bert Perry's picture

If indeed many men are either unaware or unwilling to act on the fact that treating one's wife as a prostitute will have some negative consequences, that says all kinds of things on how powerful pornography can be and how deceived we are as a society.  Agreed 100% that if one tries to resolve a pornography sin habit by treating one's wife as one of hundreds of women he's viewed in the altogether or in the act (whatever those might be), he is bound for failure.  He needs to repent, not transfer his sin to another.

(and yes, since a "pornographic actress" has sex for money, I use the term prostitute for this "profession" in its strict definition)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

and I asked myself the same thing I ask myself whenever Mark Driscoll comes up. That is, if what the quoted people says is true, how did Mark Driscoll become a "celebrity" pastor? This is just weird. But then I read Susan saying that a women's Bible study was about "dressing for sexcess". Wow. Apparently I am out of touch.

Mark_Smith's picture

the most important thing for a married couple is communication, especially when it comes to sexual intimacy. For most people it takes time to develop intimacy, despite what TV and movies of all types suggest. I know it is a cliche to say that communication is the key, but it really is. If you can talk about what you like/don't like, how you feel (uncomfortable, weird, good, etc) then you can grow together as a couple in trust. That will help in the entire marriage.

As for me, I want my wife to act like herself, not a porn star! And she can skip the Saran Wrap...

Ron Bean's picture

One one side you have Driscoll and Saran Wrap and on the other you have the woman I heard who called all lingerie sinful. Some of this comes from the need some spiritual leaders have to foist on others their opinions on things that are none of their business. I've grown weary of Bible teachers advising people on diet, finances, marital intimacy, fashion, and leisure activities.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

and I asked myself the same thing I ask myself whenever Mark Driscoll comes up. That is, if what the quoted people says is true, how did Mark Driscoll become a "celebrity" pastor? This is just weird. But then I read Susan saying that a women's Bible study was about "dressing for sexcess". Wow. Apparently I am out of touch.

Nothing wrong with being out of touch in certain ways.  :^)  

And how do many become celebrity pastors--well, I guess the same way as did Joel Osteen, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Pat Robertson, Robert Schuller, T.D. Jakes, and a host of other pastors with whom, shall we say, those on this forum have some significant differences.  A bit of itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3), a touch of showmanship, a fine looking mug on the TV screen, and you're off to the races.  Just maybe not on the narrow path.

Back to the topic, it strikes me that "dressing for s excess" would seem, per the comments on "how would a young mother do this?", be a great way to put the marriage bed into a deep freeze by humiliating the wife.  Those who would counsel a wife to emulate a whore in loving her husband need to be reminded that the kind of physique they're thinking of only happens with drugs, plastic surgery, and a lot of work, and that the acts they're thinking of often occur because the woman has been abused (rape, child sex abuse, etc..) or is on drugs.

Put bluntly, 'taint a real woman there, boys, and no matter how much you think you want that, you really, really, really don't.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

What I think is interesting and possibly even amusing is that I've heard the same kind of teaching for years in IFB circles, and yet those same circles would call Driscoll a heretic. If he's a heretic, how do they manage to be playing the same one-note tuba?

I've grown weary of Bible teachers advising people on diet, finances, marital intimacy, fashion, and leisure activities.

Ditto, ditto, and glory hallelujah. There's nothing wrong with teaching Biblical principles of moderation, modesty, healthy relationships, responsibility and priorities, and letting folks work out the details for themselves. 

Dan Miller's picture

From the article:

However, Mark’s distortion and perversion of the gospel, sex, and gender roles were almost a perfect support for enabling and justifying aspects of my selfishness while doing great damage to my marriage: 

I was still embroiled in my sin during the first years of our marriage which deeply injured my wife and almost ended our marriage. 
The expectation that my wife believed and I readily agreed to was that she was available to me for whatever, no matter what I did, whenever, and if she wasn’t I would probably end up doing worse. 
Sex was often empty and emotionally painful. So Mark’s recommendation and my sinful silent agreement with the concept of your wife being your personal porn star was apt. Dead, meaningless sex 
I did not take into account my wife’s opinions. I did not ask and she did not speak because she thought she should be silent and only encouraging like Mark taught.

There is a colon before this list of four things, so I guess the writer thinks these are supported by Mark’s teaching?

I’m going to respond to these 4 things by number.

1. There is no doubt that Mark would call this sin, a trap, and agree that this would injure your wife and possibly end your marriage. 

Mark would use language like this for your sin:

“When we disobey, we then continue to worship but do so as idolaters treating people and things as gods. His sin was not just sleeping with a different woman, but sleeping with another woman as a worship act to another god. Sex was his god, a bed was his altar, their bodies were their living sacrifices, and he was a pagan priest committing idolatry.”

Driscoll, Mark (2012-01-03). Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together (p. 111). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

 

2. This is NOT Mark’s teaching.

Could a man (or woman) use Paul’s teaching on “conjugal rights” as an excuse to have unrealistic expectations from his wife - yes, but Paul still taught that married people should not withhold sex, except for a short time by mutual consent.

3. Again, not Mark’s teaching. 

Is there anything similar to this in Real Marriage that an idiot could have construed this way?

It doesn’t make sense to use the term “porn” for marital sex. Using it this way almost makes it sound like a wife seeking to excite her husband visually is doing wrong. I don’t think anyone wants to say that. 

4. Again, not Mark’s teaching.

Ch. 4 of Real Marriage, for instance, encourages women to be “counselor to” their husbands and to “disagree respectfully” with them. Ch. 10 it says that anything that brings shame, harm, or (not a clear conscience) to either partner should not be done. 

“The biblical pattern for Christian marriage is free and frequent sex. The exception is when the couple agree that for valid reasons and a needed season they will abstain from free and frequent sexual activity to prayerfully devote themselves to a critical matter in the marriage. Examples include such things as spouses suffering from injuries or illnesses to such a degree that they cannot be intimate, or the tragic event of an adultery from which the couple is seeking to reconcile but are emotionally raw.”

Driscoll, Mark (2012-01-03). Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together (p. 161). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I didn't read this article as a review of the book Real Marriage, but rather the popularity of the book gave Driscoll a platform to teach about marriage. And your quote, Dan, is from a comment made by a man who was a porn addict reacting to Driscoll's teaching, not to the book specifically. "Here are testimonies from a few people particularly affected negatively by the crushing expectations presented by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill's teaching on sex. "

"There is obviously a mix of my family history, spiritual oppression, some deep emotional wounds, and my own self-enslavement to sin." The fact is, no matter how carefully we think we are phrasing our teachings, the folks who are listening bring their state of mind and personal baggage into their perception of what is being said. It just proves IMO that this subject is often not handled properly. 

Dan Miller's picture

Susan R wrote:
...

"There is obviously a mix of my family history, spiritual oppression, some deep emotional wounds, and my own self-enslavement to sin." The fact is, no matter how carefully we think we are phrasing our teachings, the folks who are listening bring their state of mind and personal baggage into their perception of what is being said. It just proves IMO that this subject is often not handled properly. 

I agree with you, Susan. It seemed clear to me that this guy was twisting Mark's teaching to his own desires.

But Wendy seems to blame Mark [and his "harmful teaching"] for this guy's improper handling. It also seems like we in this thread have been pretty happy to bash Mark on this guy's word.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I'm personally not blaming Driscoll for this kind of teaching, because I've experienced it all throughout my life in IFB circles - I'm talking as far back as 1980. Driscoll didn't invent the "wife as porn star" view of marital relations, but he seems to have become the new face of the topic through his own more visible and (IMO) outrageous actions.

Ron Bean's picture

Two words: Saran Wrap. Marabel Morgan's "The Total Woman" was published in 1973. Some things in the landfill never decompose.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jim's picture

A sister's brief review:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1LAXK48860BVR/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R1LAXK4...

Can't believe this is still around, December 30, 2013
By  AJ Red
This review is from: The Total Woman (Mass Market Paperback)

I got a copy of this back in 1976 when we engaged and we read parts of it out loud. My now DH of 37 yrs was horrified. He told me that if I even pulled any of those manipulative tricks on him to get my way, he would have a fit. Also, if he was wrong, he would rather hear it from me than someone who couldn't care less about him. We started our marriage based on being brother and sister in Christ first, then best friends, and then lovers. We have only once tried this King of the Castle stuff when our son was born and after a very brief time, we were miserable. We went back to a marriage of mutual submission and have been happy ever since.

If you are unable to be open and honest with your husband, you should not have married him. If you chucked your brains out when you stepped into that wedding dress, you are in for a frustrating existence, and not what God would want. I say this as a dedicated homemaker and Christian, as well as one happy wife with a happy hubby.
 

Bert Perry's picture

Thanks for the links--it strikes me that whether "wife as husband's porn star" is a central theme or not, it certainly is consistent with some of the content of "infamous chapter ten" and the transcript of the Scotland sermon I saw online.  Driscoll is, after all, more or less endorsing a certain number of things that one used to be able to see only in adult shops based on (MacArthur comments, Challies) some highly questionable exegesis, to put it politely.

It also strikes me that Driscoll's "lawful, helpful, enslaving" decision matrix misses a very obvious point; 1 Cor. 7 suggests mutual comfort from the marital relationship, and one can also note that certain behaviors are not exactly safe or private.  If we hold up nonmutual, unsafe, or non-private behaviors as models for marital joy, we're working against marriage and for prostitution.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

A danger of the Driscoll-type comments is that they are used to discredit the proper role of the husband in the home.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Dan Miller's picture

Bert Perry wrote:
...It also strikes me that Driscoll's "lawful, helpful, enslaving" decision matrix misses a very obvious point; 1 Cor. 7 suggests mutual comfort from the marital relationship, and one can also note that certain behaviors are not exactly safe or private.  If we hold up nonmutual, unsafe, or non-private behaviors as models for marital joy, we're working against marriage and for prostitution.
But if you read Real Marriage, you'd find that the ideas of "non-mutual" and unsafe are discussed and must be seen within the "helpful" question:

 

If a sex act includes humiliation, degradation, violation of conscience, pain, or harm, then it is not beneficial for the marriage. [Thus, it violates Question #2 of the grid and should not be done.]

Driscoll, Mark (2012-01-03). Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together (p. 178). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

Bert, I'm not trying to pick on you. The points you bring up are good. I'm just trying to point out that Mark already agrees with you.

Dan Miller's picture

Jim, you really should read Driscoll and then Challies on Driscoll. Take this, for instance:

In my last article I showed that [Driscoll's] grid does not do an adequate job of evaluating heart motives.

http://- http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/can-we-the-1-corinthians-612-grid

The only thing inadaquate about Driscoll's evaluation of heart motives 

What the Driscolls miss, at least in their teaching on this passage, is the wider gospel context. This grid is not meant to be taken on its own and it is not given as a grid we are use to evaluate what is acceptable or forbidden within marriage. The freedom to have is not the point; rather, it is the freedom to love by not having. You need to read more than this one verse to see this. We are not meant to read this verse and walk away with a list of ways a spouse might have his own sexual needs met. If anything spouse should read this and walk away with the determination to seek only the how he might serve his spouse. And this is where the gospel is truly lived out, not in celebrating the freedom to enjoy this or that sexual act, but in the freedom to deny yourself, trusting that not every desire or “need” actually needs to be met in order to be beautifully satisfied and fulfilled.

All of which is to say, this grid, drawn from 1 Corinthians 6, is just too simplistic, it is inadequate.

http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/can-we-the-1-corinthians-612-grid

Without getting into a big discussion of liberty and 1 Cor 6-10, of course Challies is right in how he's describing this passage. Paul gives the grid of 1 Cor 6:12 as a sort of "Step 1" in thinking about how to evaluate things. The remainder of 1 Cor 6-10 elaborates that very simplistic Step 1. So, "Is it helpful?" cannot be approached with whatever "help" standard we want. Paul gives examples and further develops what he means by "helpful." 

I bolded one line in Challies above. Challies is saying that even if the simplistic Step 1 grid questions allow something, it might still be wrong for reasons (for instance) of love. Now compare with Driscoll; he says in Real Marriage that his own conscience doesn't allow some of the things that someone else's might.

...we are explaining what a married couple may do, not what they must do. The Bible often gives more freedom than our consciences can accept, and we then choose not to use all our freedoms. This is true of us (Mark and Grace); we do not do everything that is mentioned in this book or the ensuing chapters, although we are free in Christ to do so if our consciences should ever change.

Driscoll, Mark (2012-01-03). Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together (p. 180). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The problem with Driscoll's idea of freedom of conscience is that our conscience is quite often defiled, especially in the area of sexual relations. One of the problems the OP describes is the idea of a husband using Driscoll's taxonomy as permission to use his wife as a sexual object. There are many young men who have viewed porn at some point, and want to use their wives to fulfill their fantasies. I've heard questions from many young women about acts that they were afraid/ashamed of, but their husbands wanted to try. Guess which verses these young men were using to manipulate their wives?

I don't recall Driscoll using Eph. 5 in his formula, nor does he address other consequences of some of the acts he encourages in his "Can We _______" chapter. For instance, there are serious health risks associated with some sexual acts which, regardless of one's conscience, should never EVER be done. 

Quite frankly, if one was going to tackle the topics that Driscoll has taken on in his "no holds barred, no cow too sacred" approach, it would require a much more mature person with a better grasp of Scripture and an deeper understanding of the far reaching implications of one's teachings.

Bert Perry's picture

Dan, the difference I've got with Driscoll is that he considers the logical implications of these behaviors to be "unhelpful". Biblically speaking, however, they are sinful.  To walk through some of his examples:

1. Can we really argue that "role playing" is anything but mental adultery?  The whole point is to pretend you're making love to someone besides your spouse, after all.  

2.  Sodomy?   No condom can stop the colon from tearing, and e coli is really, really nasty outside the colon. To make it even halfway safe, one makes it act more like....the proper orifice, which is only a couple of inches away.  Is there any reason to do this except for thrill-seeking?

3. Toys?  Self-pleasuring?  Are we to pretend that automated, guaranteed excitement will fail to erode the Bible's prescription for mutual comfort?  

4. Sexting?  In the age of the NSA and Paris Hilton, do we really need to go over why this is a really, really bad idea?   

5. Cosmetic surgery?  We should needlessly expose our spouse's secrets needlessly...exactly why?  And didn't we promise our wives "for better or for poorer, in sickness and in health", and all that?  But now we need her to have these features that either God didn't give her, or time took away?

So my take here is that Driscoll has more or less failed in his pastoral duty to warn people that these (and other) behaviors are not just "helpful" or "unhelpful", but are rather extremely likely to involve very real issues of sin.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

James K's picture

It is very difficult to have this discussion in this context due to the various backgrounds (theological and other).  While it is more or less agreed upon that the wife is not a porn star for the husband, there are those who react to the wife being sexually creative with her husband in a way that would seek to please him.  There were those who would object to lingerie altogether.  Their "consciences" wouldn't allow for it.

Pornography makes money for a variety of reasons such as no responsibility, easy access, etc.  The whole world of it though seeks to appeal to what men (and increasingly women now) want.  They wouldn't sell their product if it wasn't actually appealing.  The Song of Solomon has been reduced to allegory about God/Israel or Christ/Church.  It isn't allegory at all.  It is quite descriptive and graphic regarding sex between the man and woman.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Dan Miller's picture

Bert Perry wrote:
Dan, the difference I've got with Driscoll is that he considers the logical implications of these behaviors to be "unhelpful". Biblically speaking, however, they are sinful.  To walk through some of his examples:

1. Can we really argue that "role playing" is anything but mental adultery?  The whole point is to pretend you're making love to someone besides your spouse, after all.  

...

5. Cosmetic surgery?

Re: #1 - Yes, I agree. And I think that Mark agrees with you, if you read this section of the book. He presents it as a choice the couple has to make, but he's trying to guide toward the same position you're taking, I think.

Re: Cosmetic Surgery:

"Is plastic surgery bad because it's unnatural?"

 

Dan Miller's picture

I think James K does well to bring up the "personal porn star" question again. 

The biggest problem with Real Marriage, IMO, is the same as with books like 5 Love Languages. There is a sense in which saying, "Hey, X is a way to be loving to your spouse," can invite unrealistic expectations. In this way, books like 5LL can teach a selfish person how to be better at being selfish. In other words, 5LL can give you the tools to better ask your spouse to love you in ways you'll appreciate. That sounds great, but it can also make you FEEL like since you finally had the way to ask and you did ask, WHY ISN'T IT HAPPENING? 

Personally, I went through Tim Keller's The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness and Real Marriage with my small group last spring. While everyone found RM very helpful, we went back to Keller's book (and the GOSPEL!!) again and again. I think that the concepts of how Keller expresses the Gospel are all there in Real Marriage, the way the Gospel kills selfishness is so clear in FoSF that I always recommend it first and last as a marriage book. I don't think that our positive experience with Real Marriage would have been as good without FOSF.

Dan Miller's picture

Dave Doran wrote:
This is worth reading as well. http://www.dennyburk.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/2012-Denny-Burk-Revi...
That was actually a pretty good review. (I do disagree with the part where he says that Driscoll's three questions are reductionistic. Driscoll clearly elaborates and RM ends up having many questions within each of those questions.)

But it's still a good caution. When we did RM in our small group, we expanded and clarified the three questions process AND we skipped the rest of the chapter. We invited anyone in the group to talk about them privately, but we didn't want to have those discussions in our group. 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

always leads to the wrong answer. 

If a couple/spouse think they have a "lame sex life", then lessons on spicing things up or answering questions like "Can We _______" are not going to address the underlying problem. The very idea of the expression  "I have a lame sex life" reveals immaturity and desire for self gratification. Sexual intimacy is about loving, honoring, and pleasing YOUR spouse. The way you find out how to do that is by communicating and knowing each other, learning to be unselfish, honest, and vulnerable, and asking God how you can meet your spouse's emotional needs and physical desires in a way that honors God. If that is not happening, then any pursuit of sexual gratification is going to be rooted in sin and won't bear good fruit in your marriage. 

IMO, using a book like RM is like opening a soup can with a steak knife. You can do it, but why not just use a can opener? Plus, someone could lose an eye, or a pinky finger.

There are better tools out there to help couples working through relationship issues, so use those.

 

 

Bert Perry's picture

Dan, the trick here is that if Driscoll truly believes that these things are sin, as I do, then he would be calling them out as sin in his book.  The reviewers I've seen--MacArthur, Challies, Burke, and others--all have read the book, and all paint a very different picture than you do. They've gotten the mood of the book, and as many note of Driscoll, they note that Driscoll seems almost to revel in the acts he's painting as "left to the discretion of couples", in fact giving line by line descriptions of many rather deviant acts and how to perform them.

In other words, it's not the words of a guy who is astounded that people would actually do that, and who would call his congregation to repentance.  By leaving the door open, he's doing many of his members and readers a grave disservice.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

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