Wonky and CSPP.
I'm not terribly familiar with Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill beyond what one reads about him as a, you know, dangerously edgy and cool pastor (whoa, sweet idea! we've never had one of those!). But Justin Barnard takes him apart handily at Touchstone's Mere Comments. Driscoll is one of those sex pastors (it's hard to be cool without sex, after all), edgily talking about edgy specificities with edgy language, which makes SOME people edgy.
Barnard argues that Driscoll's message is far more problematic than his edgy presentation. That message is the one with which I think most contemporary Christian kids are brought up: Having sex before marriage is the worst sin ever. Once you're married though, oh boy, wink wink, nudge nudge. You made it! The rules are off! Have fun and be careful, ha ha ha!
Not be be the first girl ever to learn Hebrew (that was Mrs Stuckwisch), but the sixth commandment says "Lo tin'aph." We translate this, "You shall not commit adultery." What does this mean? Well, we should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do and husband and wife love and honor each other. But what does that mean? My Hebrew lexicon and my English dictionary tell me that n'ph and adultery both mean a married person having sex with someone other than the person to whom s/he is married.
But Scripture defines sexual immorality is more broadly. Fornication (premarital sex) is not ok. Homosexual acts are not ok. Prostitution is not ok. Rape is not ok. Provocative dress is not ok. Pornography is not ok. Polyamory is not ok. Lust is not ok. The Church also condemns what used to be called, before it became a societal joke, solitary vice. Uh oh--but old Onan wasn't quite solitary, was he? Maybe that's why the Church also universally saw, until almost ninety years ago (wow, has it really been that long?) more than one sin in that unpleasant Onan sitch.
Not all of these things are explicitly condemned in Scripture. The Church didn't need a commandment that said, "You shall not rape," or "You shall not offer sexual services for money" or "You shall not belong to the Hustler Club," or for that matter "You shall not pull legs off kittens" or "You shall not eat three tubs of Mission to Marzipan in one sitting." The Church understands that n'ph is a bigger word than it appears, and not subject to the etymological fallacy. (By the way, I believe one is also not supposed to covet his/her neighbor's husband, although the text is not so specific.)
Here is where Barnard's comments at Mere Comments get interesting. Barnard appears to believe that, as I read in a book on hermeneutics once, interpretation belongs to the Church. You know, that big catholic thing. That thing that confesses a husband to be his wife's loving lord, not her boytoy. That thing that confesses a wife to be her husband's helpmeet, not his whore. The rules are not off once you're married, because marital intimacy is too important to be abandoned to a closed system of anarchy. A wife or a husband can still be a direct victim of her/his spouse's lust. Chastity includes thoughts, words, and deeds within the marriage bed. Just because two people are willing to sin together does not make it ok. Kind of like one person's being willing to sin alone does not make it ok. Exactly like that, in fact.
I wonder what the seminary faculties, or the CTCR*, or Synodical bureaucrat X, or Pastor Joe LCMS down the road would have to say to all this. Is the LCMS effectively more Driscoll or Barnard when it comes to the less discussed aspects of the virtue of chastity (we know it's not "officially" anything)? If a person's spouse has problematic appetites, where do the theological sympathies of the LCMS lie? Does Spouse 2 need to repent and get his/her mind out of the brothel, or does Spouse 1 need to lighten up? Clearly we have begun to lose our way, but it is not clear to what extent. Those who usurp the Church's authority of interpretation and take the broader road of Bibliolatry become deaf to the voice of Natural Law and slaves to the perversity of their own flesh.
*I include the CTCR just to be polite.