[Warning:  The content of this post is sexually and verbally explicit in places. Please proceed with caution.]

For the past several weeks, my wife and I have been spending Sunday nights watching Seatle pastor Mark Driscoll’s sermon series on the Song of Solomon. My interest was piqued by all the controversy over Driscoll’s supposedly graphic commentary on this book, and I wanted to see for myself whether the hubbub was a big deal.

It wasn’t. Driscoll’s preaching seemed pretty uncontroversial, in fact. He did talk a lot about sex, but that was because the Song of Solomon talks a lot about sex. He did mention details about different sexual activities, but not in a grossly graphic way. He mentioned oral sex, a wife dancing for her husband’s enjoyment, and even referred to the vagina (gasp!) with some sort of phrase like “a woman’s most intimate part.” Here’s the thing, though:  Song of Solomon talks about all these things, and last I checked, the preacher’s job is to preach the Bible. Some have objected that Driscoll should not have explained the euphemisms that are sprinkled throughout the book, but to do so would be to leave everyone in the dark as to what the two lovers of Solomon’s Song are saying to each other. Three thousand years or so separate our culture from the Hebrews’, and unless someone explains what is meant, we probably won’t understand it. Again, this is what the preacher is supposed to do.

Perhaps the umbrage that many people have taken in response to Mark Driscoll’s sermon series has helped expose some of our own sins. We have taken our own morality and made it God’s. We have elevated our own cultural etiquette to the status of the Ten Commandments–Thou shalt not talk about sex openly with other Christians, thou shalt not ask questions about oral sex in marriage, and whatsoever thou doeth, thou shalt not utter the accursed four-letter words that start with d, h, s, and f.

Driscoll also exposes a common sin of the pulpit–the failure to preach the whole word of God. If the Bible talks about sex, then preachers should preach about it. Good grief, this country, with its non-Christians and its Christians, is saturated with a twisted view of sex. Preach the truth about sex. Set people free to have pure fun in their bedrooms with their spouses.

Last, I think Driscoll helps expose a sin among translators. If the Bible is the word of God, then should we censor it so that it won’t offend our sensibilities? If the Bible is explicit or offensive, what gives anyone the right to soften it. If a verse is meant to shock, why would we take away its shock value? Take a look at Philippians 3:8:

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (KJV)

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (NIV)

At least twice, I have heard a pastor (R. C. Sproul was one) explain that this word is actually an obscenity. In other words the verse should read:

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them shit, that I may gain Christ. (NIV)

If these preachers are right, then that’s what Paul said, and that’s how it should be translated. Consider the shock value that has for us. The best that we have to offer isn’t just rubbish, it’s utter shit. Wow. Pretty shocking.

I do not think that Driscoll’s series of the Song was perfect by any means. I think he was way off on a comment he (reluctantly) made, in response to a question he kept getting, about how often a married couple should have sex. He said that the average couple does it twice a week, and the average married man masturbates five times a week on the sly. Therefore, the couple should probably have sex every day so that the man can have his sexual needs met. The reason why I strongly disagree with him is that I know that masturbation is not meeting a sexual need most of the time. When guys get lonely, feel sad, are bored, or feel a lot of different things, they often meet those emotional needs by masturbating. As far as actual sexual needs go, twice or three times a week is plenty for me, but that’s just speaking for myself.

Last, I was not convinced that the things Driscoll said about relationships (which were in and of themselves, right on) were in fact a good exposition of the actual text. I am not saying that he wasn’t right in how he interpreted this or that euphemism. I am just not sure that his interpretation of the flow of events or historocity of the Song’s relationship were correct. That’s just a suspicion, though. I have yet to do an actual study of the book.

In summary, Driscoll’s sermon on SoS was a helpful series and one that the church needs to hear. Driscoll is a gifted pastor who loves his wife, family, and church very much, but like the rest of us, he has his problems.

Feel free to leave your take on this series, but please, be civil.