Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, is no stranger to controversy.
His hip, 21st century approach to leading his megachurch -- where the New York Times notes most members claim "Fight Club" is their favorite movie and the band plays Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run" to warm up for the hymns they'll perform during the service -- has had people talking -- and protesting -- since he founded the church in 1996 at the age of 25.
Though Driscoll and his congregation may come across as surprisingly liberal in some ways -- tattoos and nose rings are a common sight at Mars Hill -- their approach to Biblical teachings is less so. They rail against premarital sex, feminism, modern interpretations of the Bible, and viewing Jesus as "a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ... a neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell."
And they're not huge fans of homosexuality -- a fact not lost on a group of protestors that showed up to picket a satellite branch of Mars Hill in Portland earlier this week. But while a church having an anti-gay stance won't turn many heads, a new claim by Driscoll that masturbating can be a form of homosexuality might.
In a new free online eBook entitled "Porn-Again Christian: A Frank Discussion On Pornography and Masturbation," Driscoll writes:
"...Masturbation can be a form of homosexuality because it is a sexual act that does not involve a woman. If a man were to masturbate while engaged in other forms of sexual intimacy with his wife then he would not be doing so in a homosexual way. However, any man who does so without his wife in the room is bordering on homosexuality activity, particularly if he's watching himself in a mirror and being turned on by his own male body."
According to Driscoll, masturbation is permitted if a (straight) couple is doing it together or if a man traveling for business does it while looking at naked pictures of his wife, but otherwise, it's a no-go. If you're a woman (or heaven help you a lesbian!), Driscoll doesn't have much to say to you because "masturbation is more widely practiced among men... In fact, no survey seems to have discovered any culture in which more women masturbate than men... This may, in part, be explained by the more convenient and visible external nature of male genitalia."
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