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Pastor Driscoll

© Lauren Greenfield

As Pastor Mark Driscoll says, he is not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal churches. Instead, clergy at the Mars Hill Church in Seattle’s hip Ballard District play rock ballads. Driscoll models his church, and himself, on his Jesus: macho, zealous, and a fire-brand in a temperate community of mainstream evangelicals.

He wears jeans, strides across a stage of flashy video, and talks about sex. While he denounces pre-marital sex with fire and brimstone, sermons titled “Biblical Oral Sex” are accented by explicit text-message questions from the congregation. Projected to an onstage screen, they ask “Is masturbation a valid form of birth control?” To this, Driscoll throws the question back, prompting "Can you masturbate with a clear conscience?"

Driscoll is as controversial among conservatives as he is popular among a mounting evangelical movement. 6500 visitors gather at seven locations (Driscoll‘s Mars Hill sermon is satellite broadcast) around Seattle every Sunday, and the megachurch’s blogs, and podcasts extend the reach.

At a recent sermon, he tells of his conversion from Catholicism: an undergrad, he met a sweet blond pastor’s daughter (“Oh no!‘ I thought. This will be tough!”). She gave him a Bible and God told him to marry her. Grace has been an integral part of Mars Church’s rise; 19 years later, they co-respond to congregant’s concerns via text-message and blog, such as “How long does it take the average woman to orgasm?” (Grace and Mark advise: “Ten to thirty minutes, though forty-five minutes is not unusual. A patient husband is unselfish and kind.”)

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