A digital solution to a physical problem

Andrew Lim

Mark Driscoll is using the Internet to attack a problem that the Internet is responsible for seriously aggravating - pornography. He has begun by making his new book on the subject as free online as the x-rated material at the centre of the problem.

It was in the late "80s, Christians were delighted to hear that rocker Billy Idol had become a believer after a near-fatal motorcycle accident. When asked was he "born again", Idol replied, "No, I'm into porn again."

Segue, segue, segue" into uber-cyber-Christian-wunderkind Mark Driscoll's latest (e-)book "Porn-Again Christian". Driscoll is releasing this challenging new publication in a most appropriate way for a web-based problem - serialised on the Internet. Week by week he reveals a chapter, a bit like a striptease I suppose… And the content even has a warning label on it:

"Because I am speaking to fellow men, my tone may not be well suited for some women and, therefore, I would request that they not read this booklet, unless they are a wife whose husband has read it first and he can discuss its contents with her in love." (1st chapter, 2nd par.)

The result?

Well, let's just say, your ears will burn and your eyes will water at the frank and direct language that Driscoll is famous for, and you'd better have an icepack or a cold shower running nearby, and at least for one chapter, a sick bucket"

He starts off promisingly enough, with the introduction and Chapter 1 addressing the need for his e-book:

"The church" largely fails to teach men masculinity in any area, particularly regarding sexuality."

A bold claim, and one with teeth, at least in my previous church experience.

Chapters 2-4 feature as warnings on how to live wisely as Christian men in a sensual world and outline his "theology of pornographic lust". Along the way, Driscoll makes some astute observations on the difficulty of defining pornography and the increasing sexualisation of our culture:

"It has taken forty years to go from one dirty magazine under the counter at the local convenience store to today where it is expected that junior high boys have at least one nude shot of their junior high girlfriend on their cell phone."

See, told you it was frank" His central argument is that "pornographic lust exists to elicit coveting and dissatisfaction that no woman can satisfy".

Chapters 5-7 feature a helpful discussion on a fairly taboo subject in Christian circles (with the exception of perhaps Phillip Jensen's "Love, Sex, & Marriage" CDs) " masturbation. He advances both practical and theological reasons for and against masturbation. A confronting Q&A follows with real "live" questions from Christian men on the issue.

Chapter 8 is a highlight / lowlight with its chilling interview of convicted US serial killer Ted Bundy by well-known Christian counsellor and author James Dobson. Bundy is frighteningly honest about the effects of pornography on his life, and how it contributed to his horrific beating, raping, and murdering of at least 30 girls and women between the ages of twelve and twenty-six. Grief gripped my heart.

An extended address to military men on prostitution and a painful analysis of the worldwide sex trade concludes the book. These chapters are graphic in their details and sickening in their brutal depiction of the treatment of many women.

"Porn-Again Christian" is more like a tour through the roughly ordered thoughts of Driscoll on the topics of sex, marriage, pornography, masturbation, prostitution, and the sex trade, than a publishable book in itself. Therefore, as an e-book, it works quite well, but do brace yourself before picking up your hard copy from the printer.

Helpful to young men at your church?

I'd recommend a PG rating (only with parental or big-brotherly guidance), some sections MA (mature adults), and a hardcore R (risky) for the remainder.

Now that you’ve read the warning, you will find that Mark Driscoll’s "Porn-Again Christian"  is, like the problems it seeks to combat, freely available at this web site.

Andrew is Sydneyanglicans.net's resident digital scholar and the pastor of the Asian Bible Church (ABC), a congregation of St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, and the organiser of the Australia Day Convention.