… so says Mark Driscoll
Let me track the logic for you. In the final chapters of his book Vintage Church, Mark recommends that pastors spend a concerted amount of time watching popular movies and television shows, with the exception of those he would consider pornographic (Vintage Church, p.225). He says that he owns multiple TiVo units so that he can watch everything while skipping through commercials to save time.
Dricoll seems to have a fairly liberal definition of pornography, at least in comparison to some. He accepts that there are acceptable depictions of the nude form in art (i.e. Michelangelo’s David), which many consider offensive. However, his concept of what constitutes as pornography has at least one interesting aspect. The definition of what Mark considers pornographic includes “along with sexual nudity and pornography, we also include women’s romance novels” (Real Marriage, p. 145).
I have heard this argument about these trashy novels before, and I think it holds merit. One of the distinct differences in the sexuality of men and women is that men are more visual in nature and women are more engaged by emotional content. The infamous Harlequin novels have graphic detail of sexual encounters according to the random interviews I have read with their authors. Their obvious appeal is the fantasy that it presents as these novels are consumed by a primarily female audience.
This kind of sinful lustful fantasizing extends to such things as the Twilight phenomenon, where older women, many of them mothers, openly fantasize about sexual desires they had for the young actors in the film (Real Marriage, p. 145).
I am in no way trying to defend the Twilight series (which implies that I think there is a defense for it). My curiosity lies in how Driscoll came to this conclusion. I see only 3 scenerios:
- Mark began to read the books/watch the first movie and at some point decided that they must be pornographic according to the above definition and then stopped.
- Mark did not read the books or watch the films, but instead made a preemptive judgement on their content based exclusively on media coverage and book jackets/previews for the films, which is irresponsible.
- Mark has a different standard for what is pornographic for men and what is pornographic for women, thus he can justly watch the films and read the books with a clear conscience, but forbid women to do likewise.
- Mark talked to a trusted someone who has read the books/watched the films and therefore has borrowed that opinion from that person and represented it in the book.
My suspicion is that Driscoll based his opinion on one of the first three options, or if the final one he got some bad information that he did not bother to further investigate. I feel safe to say this because this is only an example of this lack of integrity in all of Mark’s books I have read. In Vintage Jesus is was his reference to the movie Life of Brian, which he completely misrepresented not having seen the film.
My problem is that we have here a man who is so influential, representing our faith to thousands of people, who consistently neglects a foundational integrity in his writing.
Some of you are thinking, “Wait, Aaron! Are you advocating the idea that we cannot say anything about the sinful nature of an action without first experiencing that sin first hand?” Certainly not. Simply talk to a crack addict and they will tell you how terrible their life is because of the drug. I have to say that I have never read a Harlequin romance novel in my life and never plan to, but hearing about them from the author has been enough direct access to their content that I think I can make a fair judgment.
Instead, if the judgment is made on the media coverage of the series, what sets Twilight hype from the Harry Potter craze? What about wearing “Team Edward” shirts is different from people wearing capes and carrying around broomsticks?
The only real difference is the demographic and the fact that the Twilight series is primarily as story of romance. Therefore if romance is the problem then we should also ban Romeo and Juliet and Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities where passionate love lead to self-sacrifice and inspired many feminine romantic fantasies.
Only one of the above options leaves me without a sour taste in my mouth. The first implies, like in the third, that Mark has a different definition for pornography based on gender. Because of the observable difference between men and women and the way that they are stimulated sexually, Mark seems to have decided that there should be different standards for sin. Therefore what is perfectly moral and righteous for a man is not allowed for a woman. Should sin not be the same for men and women? Are we not all called to the same standards by God?
I would like to hear from you. What are your thoughts in terms of the supposed pornographic nature of the Twilight saga? Do you think the double standard is reasonable in this case?