"Real Marriage" review: 156-176, "Selfish Lovers and Servant Lovers"

[note: this post inspired some swearing]

This chapter seems to be laying all the necessary groundwork for the last chapter in the “Sex” section of the book, and from the title (“Can We ____?”) I’m guessing that’s the one that caused some of the firestorm around it. Honestly, unless he does something drastic in that last chapter, I’m going to be a little confused as to why people were so bothered, since he hasn’t said too much at this point that I haven’t heard echoed in plenty of other corners.

But, I think “Can We ___?” Is going to finally define what Mark means by “having sex freely,” since this chapter focuses on the “frequency” half of his definition of a healthy sex life. If you’re having sex a lot, and you’re having it “freely,” you’re golden in Mark’s book.

There are two over-arching problems with this chapter: he does not address communication in any form until he’s nine pages into the chapter, and then he only really talks about it for a single paragraph. The second problem is that while he’s couched most of the discussion in this chapter in gender-neutral terms (you, spouse, they, him or her, etc), the vast majority of the potential bars to a “healthy” sex life he address are typically considered female problems, and his attempt to make it seem as though he’s being “gender neutral” falls flat.

Obviously I don’t agree with the gendered way most evangelicals talk about sex. Women are just as visual as men. Women can want sex more often than their male partners. Gender and sex don’t matter anywhere near as much as the people in the relationship and what they want– which is a fantastic reason for why communication is so important. Evangelicals like to assume a lot of things based on nothing more than their Western, American, White Supremacist conceptualizations of gender.

However, while Mark is superficially trying to get away from that by using gender-neutral terms, he can’t get away from the fact that he really hates women:

She was a virgin on her wedding night and had grown up in a fairly religious home … She had some anxiety regarding their first night together that made her body tense up … As a result, they were unable to experience intercourse and without putting in too much effort to overcome their obstacle, she instead gave him a helping hand …

He felt embarrassed … that they had intercourse so infrequently that she usually experienced discomfort, as her body had not adjusted to being sexually active. (156)

See what happens? That she’s having problems overcoming the messages of purity culture is all her fault. It’s not “their” problem– it’s her problem. Also, Mark is working under one of the worst lies of our culture: that people with vaginas will experience pain during penetration until they get used to it, which is total bullshit.

The rest of the chapter has a similar focus; for example, in a list of “Ways we are Selfish Lovers,” six out of the nine ways are typically associated with women– like “letting ourselves go” (165-66). Considering that Mark blamed Gayle Haggard for her husband’s adultery because of this very reason, he’s made it clear that he thinks this is something that women struggle with.

So those are the two big over-arching problems of this chapter, so now I’d like to address some of the more particular ones.

On page 160, we run into yet another way that they minimize abuse:

Foxes in our vineyard for me (Grace [referring to Mark’s behavior]) include name-calling, strong language … using discouraging words …

This really breaks my heart for Grace. She’s been married to an abuser for so long and has been taught to see his abuse as normal. Not necessarily acceptable, but normal. Another problem with this whole section is that Grace gets six lines to talk about Mark’s verbal abuse while they dedicate twenty-two to Mark ranting about how he hates it that Grace isn’t as punctual as he is, and Grace acknowledging that this was a “sin issue.”

Because verbal abuse and different perspectives of “being on time” are totally the same thing. By the way, Mark has not once referred to any of his abuse as a “sin issue.” He’s exclusively talked about other people having sin issues, or Grace has talked about her own.

Another big problem is when Mark uses I Corinthians 7:3-5 (the “you don’t have authority over your own body” passage) to support the argument of this chapter. I don’t have the space to talk about why this way of thinking is a problem, so instead I’ll direct you to these resources:

A World Without Consent” by Jeff Eaton.
I Belong to Me: Learning Agency and Consent Outside Christianity” by Dani Kelley
Sarah Moon‘s series You Are not Your Own.

Honestly, passages like that one are the biggest reasons why I have problems with the “high view of Scripture” perspective, because I read things like “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” and everything inside of me starts screaming run away. Also fuck this bullshit starts repeating on an endless loop. I’ve read the arguments that this is a passage about mutuality and such, but I don’t find that a compelling enough explanation to get around “you do not have authority over your own body.” Because to me, there’s no way for this not to be incredibly harmful and dangerous.

Anyway, I’d appreciate all ya’ll thoughts on that passage, cause I got nothin.

The last and most glaring problem with this chapter is that there is not a single word about consent. Not a single one. In fact, he does something worse than not talking about it:

People have explained this [referring to putting in “too little effort”] as a gross feeling, where their spouses simply lie there, looking away disinterested and disconnected, making them feel as if they are basically using their spouses’ bodies.

Aish. I’m writing this in a Starbucks, or the book would have gone flying. Instead I just sat and stared into space while the red faded from my vision.

People: if you are having sex with someone and this is their reaction, you are probably having sex with someone who is disassociating. There are many reasons why someone might respond that way, but the biggest one would be you are raping them. And these people fucking know that— they feel “gross” and like they’re doing something wrong. Because they are. Because we know that having sex with an unresponsive person is a fucking bad idea.

Anyway. This chapter was bad. I don’t have high hopes for the next one.

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  • Wow, that was a really bad chapter. Thanks for your response to it.

    I would like to comment briefly about the disassociating that got brought up at the end. First, I 100% agree with you that having sex with someone who is disassociating is always a sign of something negative. Usually rape. This is always a red light, and always a sign that the activity needs to stop.

    I have been involved with at least two partners who disassociated. This was due to past trauma – not because of anything we were doing at the time. And at first, it was really confusing for us because (at least with the first partner) neither of us knew what was going on. It was a little scary and there were initial negative feelings of shame and wrong-doing on both of our parts. For me, I remember distinctly being freaked out – what did I do that made them “go away”? Was I an abuser?

    You know what brought healing? Communication. Consent. Both partners made different decisions on how they wanted to proceed, but that’s because everyone is different. It was thanks to blogs like this one that I could learn about these things and the best way to handle it.

    I just wanted to say something, because I think it helps underscore the vast chasm of difference between a healthy sexual ethics and what this book teaches. And again, I wanted to express gratitude to everyone out there that speaks up against this kind of filth.

  • I would say in context that the 1 Corinthians passage is one of radical mutuality. I also definitely get how in our context it is easy to miss that entirely, especially if a church is teaching otherwise. As with the household codes elsewhere, the people reading at the time would have simply assumed that of course a man can do whatever he wants to his wife, without her consent. The shocking part by far is including the other direction. Men shouldn’t be forced to do what their wives wanted, plus I think the cultural context would have been like evangelicalism where it is assumed that women don’t want sex anyway.

    Now I want to go research the Greek word translated “authority” there. There are a few words along those lines that get translated poorly when we consider that any model of authority for Christians is Jesus. If I have authority over my wife’s body, and she over mine, then that authority will involve consent. It has to. If it doesn’t, then we’ve completely missed the radical nature of Jesus’ life and teachings and what authority means from God’s perspective. The authority demonstrated by Jesus was one of strong communication, of treating people like equals (even though he was God), and of inviting people into a radical love but respecting them when they chose no. He didn’t even force his authority on people he invited to follow him with some walking away; if that doesn’t justify coercion, one person’s pleasure or one person’s desire for a child (a big one in the ancient context) definitely doesn’t. I would take a similar approach to having “dominion” over the Earth in the creation story: a call to take care of others the same way God does us.

    • Actually, I think the Greeks assumed that women were horndogs, based on the idea that women were less rational and therefore more bestial. Which still has nothing to do with the idea of consent.

      • That’s correct, notleia. It was one of my major areas of study in my history program. In the Greek and Roman worldview, women had the higher sex drives than men. Women were seen as actively pursuing sex, needing sex in order to function, and in some cases, thought that if they didn’t receive sex frequently enough, they would get sick and die. Men, on the other hand, were seen as being more cold and methodical, in control of their base impulses and needs – the more “perfect” being.

        It’s also worthy to note that having mistresses on the side was widely practiced and encouraged – both by men and women. Roman citizens were required to produce two offspring, and once they were done, wives advised each other to get their men a mistress and shove off the dangerous (and often deadly) birthing process to someone else.

        I’m a little rusty in my Jewish lore, but I do remember distinctly that sexual union was a marital right given to the woman upon marriage. As in, if a husband wanted to take a long trip that would take him away from his home for an extended period of time, he was required to get his wife’s permission because he would be depriving her of sex during that time.

        Not to say any of the above is “correct” or good. But it makes any attempt to look at the New Testament writings on sexuality and marriage more complicated. Part of the problem with translations is it takes a foreign world and puts it into OUR language, which then invites us to assume that we understand it because we believe we understand the words used. But we don’t. Paul (and anyone else in the New Testament) was writing from a Jewish/Greek/Roman (and more!) worldview and that’s very different from the one we know today.

        • That’s really interesting information, most of which I didn’t know–thanks Erik! So I now have a few questions–when did the idea that women were innately too “pure” and “sensitive” to want and enjoy sex begin to take hold in our culture? I know that this idea was foundational to the Victorian (mostly upper-class) idealization of woman as wife and mother, but was this when it originated? At any rate, how did this particular view of women’s sexual proclivities begin, who or what agency was responsible for its genesis? Why did the idea gain such a firm hold in the popular imagination? It it all the product of centuries of male-centric religious belief and social construction?

          • Re my above comment: the last sentence should begin, “Is it . . . . “

          • I’d call it a result of the Madonna-whore dichotomy, which more or less became established in the Middle Ages, though you can trace the literary roots back further (BA in English, I see everything literarily). And from there I feel comfortable blaming society for assuming innate nature is responsible for something that is actually a construction nurtured from birth (hello, gender essentialism).

          • I, too have a BA in English and I very definitely view the world through the prism of literature. I agree with you about the Madonna-whore thing. In fact, I think that the Adam and Eve story is the product of the extremely sexist cultural context of the ancient Israelites. A sexist attitude in some parts of the world also may have been a reaction to the matriarchal structure and beliefs of some pagan religions, especially those of some Celtic tribes, who worshiped a Mother-Goddess.

          • I’m glad you found the information helpful and interesting, Peggy!

            I’m going to preface this next bit with a few disclaimers: 1) This comes from a faulty memory recall, so anyone who can update my information is more than welcome; 2) I’m not attempting to blame anything or anyone.

            To my understanding, the western (and keep in mind that we are blatantly ignoring most of the world in these discussions) world saw a paradigm shift and part of that was the rise of the Holy Roman Empire and the adoption of the doctrine of Original Sin. Where before, the power dynamics kept women in their place by making them Other (more animalistic, unable to control their base urges) and thus needing a protective and guiding hand to control them, Original Sin began to teach that all humans deserved disgust for their depravity. But, because of the power dynamics at play, it’s easy to call back to the Creation story to justify blaming women more. It was Eve that tempted Adam, Eve that was the weaker partner, Eve that brought down the garden, and Eve whose sexuality was cursed when God threw them out of Eden.

            So, if one accepts that Eve’s femininity was cursed at the Garden, and that she is to be placed under Adam’s guidance and protection, then the next step is to say that just as Christ is the new Adam, Mary is the new Eve. As Notleia pointed out, there’s the Madonna/Whore dichotomy which plays into this. Either women are the virgin Mary (whose virginity swiftly becomes a sign and symbol of her purity), or they’re the fallen Jezebel (or any other “fallen” woman symbol you’d like to call forth).

            In America, this got more complicated when the family and gender dynamics became linked with slavery. In certain passages from Paul, the relationship between a husband and wife is directly compared to the relationship between a master and his slave. Which were literal slaves. Which was a massive global economy. Since the whole Fundamental way of looking at the Bible (the inerrant directly inspired word of God, where every word is breathed and protected by the Holy Spirit) was brought about as a way to justify the slave trade, this link became a Big Deal.

            Slavery has fallen (at least in that form) but the philosophical structure that helped support it is still in place.

            I hope that was somewhat helpful!

          • Very helpful indeed, Erik–thank you!!

  • Crystal

    Is this “Can We ___?” the chapter where Mark said about God commanding women to perform certain acts we will leave unnamed for the sake of decency on their husbands? Because, if it is, Mark has REAL SEXUAL PROBLEMS and (I don’t want to annoy you but I have to say it) does not know how to be a gentleman.

    Also, in regards to asking after our thoughts on the Corinthians passage about husbands having authority over wives’ bodies and vice versa, well, I’d have to agree with Ryan Robinson’s definition (I couldn’t have said it better myself, you see), plus his definition of dominion over the earth (I like that definition – it’s so much nicer than “the earth is there so I can use it for my benefit”). If Ryan Robinson will come back, could he please expound on his interpretation of the dominion passage? I’d like to hear his definitions on both these passages expounded on as they sound very interesting.

    • Crystal

      Oh, and there’s another thing. Do any of you people notice how CONTROLLED Grace is? She can’t get a word in edgewise. She seems to be made to say only what Dear Mark wants her to say, and if she says something out of the party line – to hell with that. What I mean by “hell”, by the way, is that since the thought must be from what Mark calls “hell” – ie diabolical rebellion against him as God’s representative – it’s not going in. So anything negative against Mark is never said – never spoken. There are things in that marriage that are hush-hushed, and Mark will never let Grace say what she really needs and wants to say. Grace, if you’re reading this, I’d advise you to get out of your horrid, abusive marriage; and we will try to help you and the children escape this horrible monster you married. He is controlling and won’t let her say anything that contradicts his vision. This really upsets me – I can’t say how much because it’s too deep for words.

    • Indeed Crystal–the observation that Mark Driscoll is no gentleman is probably the understatement of the millennium, if not the geologic era.

  • I think that mutuality only works in a perfect world; in the real world, despite loving my husband deeply, I’m not able to put aside my own needs and wants and be completely selfless, so he needs to retain autonomy over himself as we work together in a partnership.

    Also, consent SHOULD be something both spouses want, especially if their goal is to be Christlike. Why would I want to engage in an act my husband finds repugnant or uncomfortable? Why would I want to foster an environment where he feels guilty saying ‘no’? Because I love him (not because I have authority over him and his body), I want him to fully enjoy every sex act we do.

    My husband is somewhere between atheist and agnostic, and he understands this so perfectly that it *blows my freaking mind* when Christians miss this really obvious point since their whole religion is centered around putting others first. (but religion getting in the way of morality is a different conversation)

  • David

    As always, I really appreciate the insights you bring and your ability to succinctly lay out the issues you see in each chapter. I was struck by your comment that it was tragic that Grace would view verbal abuse as normal. I agree completely, but I would just add that, while it shouldn’t be normalized, I do think it is shockingly common. I spent about five years handling divorce cases — which, admittedly, showcases people at their worst — and I could probably count on one hand the number of cases I had that didn’t involve years of that sort thing, particularly name calling and vicious criticism. I find that once you’re aware of it, it becomes something you see all the time. I’ve overheard really awful things many times in public places. Anyway, I’m not disagreeing with your point at all, but, because I think that sort of behavior is so common, I’m glad that Grace at least called it out as a problem, even if she may have understated it and even if Mark never acknowledged his culpability. I think I will always be amazed at how people seem perfectly willing to treat the people they “love” so much worse than they would ever treat a stranger.
    On a different note, is “foxes in the vineyard” a common phrase in fundamentalist circles? I had to look it up because it was completely new to me. If it is common, has it developed specialized meanings? I’m curious whether there might be layers of associations that I might be missing.

    • “Foxes in the vineyard” is a reference to Solomon 2:15, and in the book Mark explains that he talked to someone who owns a vineyard, and he said that foxes are bad things in vineyards because they eat the roots of the vines instead of the fruit, destroying the entire plant. It’s a reference I’ve heard occasionally, but it’s not very common.

  • Mark seems to think that the Apostle Paul condones demanding or taking pleasure from the woman instead of giving pleasure to the woman. Not even wishing to read this book, but what has been gleaned from Samantha’s deconstruction it seems mutual satisfaction, passion, pleasure, giving and receiving (Agape/Eros) don’t figure into the equation. Then he gets pissed off about a women who go numb and escape mentally.
    Has this guy ever considered that the authority of the woman over his body would be for him wait until she consents?
    This is counter to Talmud, as explained to me by a Jewish woman in my writing group: Friday morning all linens are changed because on the afternoon before the sabbath (starts on Friday at sundown) the husband is to perform his duty to the wife and he must satisfy her. A man in a regular occupation must perform his duty at least twice a month, but a rabbi need perform his duty once a month. The emphasis here is on giving and receiving, not demanding and taking. The difference between making love and rape.

  • Hi Samantha, I’ve been reading these reviews with interest.

    Here’s how I see 1 Corinthians 7:4

    The Greek word used here for “authority” (exousia) can also be translated as “right” or even “freedom”. I liken the meaning of exousia to having a driver’s licence. When you have a driver’s licence you have the authority, right and freedom to drive a vehicle on public roads.

    In the context of 1 Corinthians 7:4, I take this verse to mean that a wife and a husband cannot have sex with whoever they want as their spouse has the *exclusive right* of having sexual relations with them.

    There is no love when someone uses this verse to guilt their spouse into having sex, so it cannot be used legitimately to bully a reluctant or unwilling spouse into having sex. Love is the ultimate law, and love is the yardstick for interpreting all biblical instructions.

  • Not to nitpick, but isn’t there some truth to experiencing pain the first few times you have sex? I’m speaking from my own experience here, but I’ve heard similar sentiments from other married and/or sexually active friends. It may not be the norm for everyone, but isn’t it fairly common?

    Myy heart breaks for Grace too the more of these reviews I read.

    • Common: yes.

      But it’s common because it’s acceptable to hurt women even though it could be avoided. If there was enough foreplay happening, and a slow enough build up, the MOST a woman should feel is a stretching sensation. If there’s pain you need to either slow down and go back to foreplay, or you need to see a doctor.

  • I found you about 2 weeks ago and really enjoy your style and your voice. I can unfortunately relate to the issue of disassociating during sex because that was my experience. Not every time, but a lot of the time. My attitude was “just get it over with.” I was in a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage for over 20 years and did not ever experience any intentionality on the part of my soon to be ex-husband in helping to bring me pleasure during sex.
    Although I disassociated I would not consider what happened as rape because I did consent to sex with him. I felt at the time that it was part of my duty and that sex wasn’t necessarily for my pleasure (I know that sounds NUTS). My thinking was if I’m pleasured, great, but if not….(shoulder shrugs).
    My thinking has definitely changed!! If I ever marry again, the book, “She Comes First” will be required reading for my future spouse. 😉 Of course, I will be a student of the companion text, “Passionista.”

  • Heyo, I’ve been really enjoying (or should I say groaning in sympathy with you on) this series. I came across this academic paper that compares Christian dating/marriage books (recommended by Dianne E. Anderson in one of her articles. I haven’t got the chance to read through it yet, but definitely seemed like something you might be interested in: file:///Users/hannah/Documents/JISS%202014%204(1)%2055-74%20Christian%20Dating%20Books.pdf

  • PJB

    The mutuality in the Corinthians passage comes across to me as, to put it in overly concrete terms: both people’s bodies are now under joint ‘ownership’. They “belong to each other.” In the context of a culture where many people (male and female) actually were owned by other people, I think the metaphor has good traction. The wife would already be considered among the people that her husband owned, but now she too is illustrated to be the owner of a person: specifically, she is the owner of the person who owns her. This provides some very helpful circular logic that eventually leads to actions of mutuality.

    Both ‘owners’ of each body are required to consent to every sexual act of both bodies. Think of it as consent being ‘squared’ (mathematically) — not consent being reduced.

    A man can not consent on behalf of his member, and also on behalf of hers. That’s only *two* of the required *FOUR* consents that are now required for having sex. In order to be consensual, she also must consent that her body will be involved, AND that his member may be used in that way. This understanding can be applied very strongly against anyone who might grasp after their so-called authority over their spouse’s body.

    A person who commits spousal rape has not only violated their partner’s consent and body, but has also thrown away their supposed “Biblical defense” by denying the non-consenting spouse the authority to say “No, by MY Biblical authority over your body, you may not use your body in that way.” — The requirement of ‘consent squared’ in marriage has increased the level of offense involved in spousal rape to ‘rape plus vow-breaking.’

    In the same way that domestic violence (spousal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse) is ‘assault plus something that makes it even more horrible because they were supposed to be a family’… There is something about spousal rape (and rape within the context of other committed relationships) that has a particular angle of horrble-ness because of what intimate partners were “supposed to be” to each other. It’s something that matters, and I think that Paul is trying to bring it to light… he speaks to mutual intimate “giving” as being normal and healthy, but he also draws absolute walls around any person that thinks “taking” or “obligation” is a normal part of intimacy in marriage. It’s not. It’s a sin: it’s a sin *twice*.

    {Note: I’m not saying spousal rape is “more” horrible than other forms of rape and sexual assault. I’m far to sheltered, naive and immature to really know the horror of what I’m talking about, but at least I’m smart enough to know that you don’t rank and compare exactly how horrible various people’s traumas are. They are not quantifiable, and I don’t want to give that impression… even thought I can see where I might have done so? If so, I’m sorry. That isn’t what I mean. I mean that every trauma has various contributing factors to how horrible it was. In the case of spousal rape, I’ve identified one factor that applies, and matters. Other factors apply to other traumas. They matter too.}

  • Tim

    I like this post. I think the point that communication is really critical to a mutually satisfying sex life is so important. A good education is really helpful as well, and I think there’s even something to Driscoll’s point which seems to be that the attitude with which you approach your lover (i.e. servant vs selfish). But a good attitude, by itself, is insufficient. Communication is far and away the most important thing.

    I think it would have been helpful, if you had listed briefly the nine behaviors Driscoll cites as common to selfish lovers to illustrate your point that the predominance of them are considered typical of women vice men.

    The more thought-provoking part of your post was your cite of I Cor 7:3-5. I think there’s something to what some other commenters have said (i.e. that a radical equality is the main point of the passage, that the definition of authority is key to practical interpretation, that the command to love can’t be divorced from the broader context, etc.) but you related this to, for example, Dani Kelley’s post, and I think there is a cognitive dissonance that is much larger than just that one passage. Although I can totally see how that one passage, “the woman doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband does,” sets off alarm bells all by itself.

    But to address in some way the larger cognitive dissonance: I had read Dani’s post on Christianity and the concept of consent awhile ago, and it mostly caused me to think about autonomy, consent, agency, ownership and belonging in a larger context that includes sexual activity as a subset. When I was in seventh grade I read Ayn Rand’s Anthem which posed agency and consent as the antithesis of community, which I had been introduced to the previous year in Ursula LeGuin’s The Disposessed. There were two options: either your mind and your body belong exclusively to you, and you alone get to decide exactly how you spend your time and energy and what activities in your opinion are in your best interest, or else you actually are simply a member of your society; there is no “I,” there is only “we,” and “we” choose how to spend our time, our bodies and minds, in doing those things that are in the best interest of “us.” Do I belong to myself, or do I belong to my community? Or is there some middle way where I belong partially to myself and partially to my community? Or to look at this another way, are taxes moral or immoral? If it is immoral to ever violate my consent, then clearly no tax could ever be moral. But Jesus clearly identified paying taxes as a moral obligation. Is that just Jesus piling on further? Is that just another example of Christianity’s consent problem?

    I think the biblical answer to this question of whether I belong to me or to my community is frustratingly a seemingly paradoxical both. Entirely, completely both; not some compromise between the two. Seeming paradoxes arise from the nature of definitions. Aristotelian logic works well as long as every concept can be fully defined in a contiguous but non-overlapping mapping. Unfortunately the complexity of the physical and intellectual reality we inhabit confounds us. Is light a particle or a wave? Apparently flawless logic based on simple observations and apparently reasonable assumptions leads rapidly to contradictory conclusions. It’s that way about everything if you dig deep enough.

    Dani’s post identifies perhaps fifty examples of Christianity telling us that we “belong” to our communities (although, in context, belonging usually does not mean ownership in the sense that I own an object. My four-year-old daughter says, “You are my Daddy,” using the possessive. But she is not objectifying me so much as she is identifying a relationship. She has firm beliefs about what my responsibilities to her are, because of that relationship, but she does not really imagine that she can or should violate my consent.) But a post could easily be written providing fifty examples of the way Christianity asserts each individual’s inherent agency and our moral imperative, as citizens, as political or religious leaders, as parents, as spouses, as neighors, to seek and respect each others consent as we interact with each other, whether that’s sexually or in many of the larger ways in which we must broadly cooperate.

    How can these two things work together? Very carefully. With a not inconsiderable amount of wisdom, growing out of much study and extensive experience. In constructing a digital camera, the lens designer uses wave equations, while the electonics designer focuses on counting photons. Both concepts are required. It’s necessary to discern the context and use the right concept in the right place. It took more than two centuries to get from a workable (but incomplete in many ways) understanding of the wave/particle duality of light to digital cameras.

    This is the framework of an answer rather than an answer (which would probably require a book), but it may be of some help in pointing to additional helpful questions or areas of research, and, I hope, at least in suggesting that the cognitive dissonance may not be as completely unresolvable as it appears on its face.

  • I would like to make two comments on this, which I should have made before but put off because I was on my Kindle and also because I was lazy.

    My first comment is in regard to the ending comment – the number one reason your partner may be dissociating is because you are raping them. Full disclosure, I am one of Erik’s (in the comments) partners so I’m adding to what he has said but from my perspective.

    Dissociation has been a huge part of most of my life, particularly when it involves sexuality. Absolutely it is tied to abuse, of course it is. But it doesn’t happen necessarily because the person who I am CURRENTLY WITH is abusing me. In fact, especially now, that is almost never ever the case. Because if I am comfortable enough with you to get to the point where we will be having sexytimes, I’m not feeling like you’re abusing me. That’s just a given. However, sometimes things happen. My brain still has trauma to work through. Something might remind me of something or I may just get scared. None of these things are the fault of the partner I’m with. In fact, a huge reason why I almost never DO dissociate with Erik anymore is because he was patient and allowed me to be safe in that space, to work through it, to not have it be a world-ending event.

    I think it is dangerous to jump straight to “this is the number one reason that could be happening.” I feel like it varies SO MUCH from situation to situation, from relationship to relationship and dissociation is not necessarily the fault of the other partner or something they are doing wrong. It doesn’t even necessarily mean they should stop, that depends on what you’ve talked about and agreed on beforehand. Does that apply in Mark and Grace’s case? I have no idea but I think that it is wise to be cautious about generalizing experiences like that as I know at least for me it made me flinch.

    That brings me to my second point. I have seen this in various blogs and it really makes me extraordinarily uncomfortable so I would just like to bring it forward. I am not really okay with declaring Grace Driscoll an abuse victim. Grace has not applied this label to herself (which is a vital part of the healing process that I think the larger blogger and internet is taking away from her, should it be a necessary thing for her to do, by making a lot of assertions) and frankly there is a lot we DO NOT KNOW about the relationship between Grace and Mark Driscoll. Grace is a quiet person, she has spoken up very little, as you yourself have pointed up. In my younger days I listened to thousands of hours of Mars Hill things and I heard Grace speak on two different occasions, once in a Women’s Study thing and once as part of a series on marriage. Is their relationship unhealthy? That seems probable. But I think it is taking away her agency to assume that she is afraid, to assume that she is miserable, to assume that she is being abused. I think often we superimpose our OWN experiences of being abused (and I’ve been guilty of this as well) over these relationships that we don’t actually know that much about. No one will really contradict us after all, and it’s easy to do.

    Mark and Grace were essentially children when they got together. Mark was a 17 year old idiot kid, who has been reinforced in many of these despicable ideas for literally his entire life. They became millionaires from these ideas. Grace was able to have five children and provide for them from these ideas. Who among us was awesome at 17? If you had married your 17 year old boyfriend and grown with him in the same way, would that have worked out well or would things have gone horribly and you would regret your life? Surely I’m not the only one who can say the latter. I feel like we ignore how young they were, how they were essentially kids, how Mark is ALSO part of a system that has taught him terrible things. This does not take away from his decisions because he also deserves his agency. But I think we do them both a tremendous disservice if we assume that Grace is the passive victim and Mark is the villain. I don’t think we have enough evidence to know that is true.

    Erik and I were discussing this and we were talking about The Good Wife, for those of you who’ve seen it. How Alicia would get so frustrated by all the people who had opinions about her marriage, about WHO SHE WAS as a person, why she stayed with her husband, what those things meant. And none of those assumptions were true. She was more complex than that. She had reasons, many of which were very good reasons, maybe some of which weren’t. I feel like the least we can do is extend the same possibility to Grace. She, to all appearances, has a personality type well suited to the gospel preached by her husband. It is not impossible she has chosen her life freely and is proud of her choices. That doesn’t make their relationship healthy, it doesn’t make what Mark says or does okay. I just feel she has the right to that agency and unless she ever comes out and says otherwise (which I feel the hubbub of opinions has frankly made it harder for her to do) or one of their children ever writes a tell-all (which yes, I’d love to read) there is a tremendous amount we just don’t know about this house or the people in it and it’s worth holding back on.

    So! Those are my probably significantly more than two cents. I really love the blog, and I’ve been really, really enjoying reading through it. Just these two things came to mind so I wanted to bring them up. Thank you so much for your passion and everything you do, Samantha. <3