Now that Mark Driscoll has been suspended by his church organization and asked to step down as head pastor of Mars Hill, I guess I need to write one final post on this subject.
It started for me when somebody shared Rachel Held Evans’ diatribe about the “shocking” and “disturbing” things Mark Driscoll said 15 years ago. But, when I read the quotes and felt neither shock nor disturbance, I wrote about it here.
I genuinely wanted to hear from people who are upset by Driscoll’s opinions so they can answer for me: Is it what he said, or how he said it?
So far, nobody has explained; which actually concerns me even more…
I’ll be honest, the whole controversy makes me uneasy because it’s not hard to imagine myself saying things very similar to what Mark Driscoll has been lambasted for saying. It’s a bit terrifying to wonder what would happen to me, if I had a bigger circle of influence and suddenly said something my readers found distasteful…
Would they accuse ME of “hurting people”?
Demand I get counseling?
Take my job and my community and my family, because I don’t conform to their idea of Church?
Some people are okay with Mark Driscoll’s beliefs, but they think his delivery is all wrong.
On the other hand, some people find his very basic principles to be hateful and dangerous. (Rachel Held Evans said: “…[Driscoll’s controversial] words were written nearly 14 years ago… but what they reveal is the ugly heart behind Driscoll’s continued teachings — the workings of his troubled mind…”)
What concerns me is the fact that Driscoll’s “continued teachings” (his principle ideas) are part of the same foundation that most conservatives have. He talks about the different strengths and roles of men and women. The unnaturalness of homosexual activity, etc. etc.
It matters whether Americans are angry about Driscoll’s methods or his beliefs, because his beliefs are more-or-less the same as mine.
I started reading what people are saying, now that Driscoll’s entire life is crumbling under the weight of social disapproval. And here are some of the things I found…
Underneath this HuffPo article:
“Now the government should label [Mars Hill] a cult. Yes, all religion is a cult, but Driscoll and his bunch are beyond the regular religious cult. He is a dangerous man, his ‘truth’ is dangerous to those that follow him.”
“So [the church] booted him out of the club for saying mean things about them under a false name…? Certainly reason to remove him from the club, but I am not sure why all the fuss. It isn’t like any of them is particularly nice…”
“I wouldn’t be welcome to serve in Driscoll’s church. I’m openly gay and in a longterm gay relationship. Guys like him frighten me. He perverts the gospel to protect a power and privilege God didn’t necessarily affirm… I think we’ve seen this situation play out before. Powerful ‘CEO’-style religious man surrounds himself with yes-men, neuters systemic boundaries that would check abusive behaviors and — hurts people. Often women and children. Most often using sexual assault and coercion…Repent, Mr. Driscoll. Publicly and effusively. I’m weary of your kind, hurting people in the name of petty power politics wrapped in a pumped-up warrior Jesus.”
“Ultimately, I am an atheist because I am a feminist. I rejected religion, and eventually God, because there was no way to be religious and equal. There isn’t unless, of course, you ignore some key bits of the Bible, including the origin myth of Adam and Eve.”
There were huuuuuundreds of comments like this.
The vocal critics everywhere absolutely insist that Mark Driscoll has “hurt people” with his extreme, unfair teaching about leadership/submission and same-sex marriage. They call it abuse and compare him with sexual abusers.
And still, the Christian community believes we need to reprimand Driscoll publicly, so the world can see that we don’t tolerate “abuse” in our ranks? It’s silliness.
I promise, the world would believe Driscoll is “misogynistic” and “homophobic” and “abusive” no matter how he shared his views. Our culture basically hates everything in the Bible except two words: judge not.
There are lots of people (even some who call themselves Christian) who believe Driscoll deserves to be fired due to his very basic beliefs about God, men/women, and sexuality. There is no way he could have expressed himself “nicely” enough to get Atheist Liberals to listen.
In summary, there are lots of people who have a problem with Driscoll’s church discipline system, and with all the authority he holds at Mars Hill church. So let me just clarify there’s NO ARGUMENT HERE, on that point…
Except, I think all “lead pastors” have too much authority.
Have you read my post about the role of the professional ministers? I believe ALL churches have been misguided, to give the pulpit to the same individual week after week after week. If we’re all priests, we should stop electing special front-men to do the ministering and decision-making for us…
So, technically, I agree that Mark Driscoll has too much power. Perhaps it really did travel to his head.
But, if we’re going to criticize him now, we have a whole lot more churches to fix in the next few years, once we’re finished deconstructing Mars Hill. (Like, basically all of our churches.)
Furthermore, (and most importantly) I’m not convinced Mark Driscoll “hates women” or “hates gays.” So, I certainly don’t agree he has abused people for decades. (By the way, I think “abuse” might be the most abused word in the English language.)
If Jesus were in Dricoll’s shoes 14 years ago, I don’t know how he would have talked to that group of angry feminists, in the anonymous chat room. But, I am NOT prepared to say, “He’d be kind and gentle the whole time.” Maybe he would shock people with His terms and analogies?
Either way, I’m very concerned with how much the Church is being influenced by its easily-offended culture. It’s possible Driscoll really did lose his marbles. Maybe he really DOES need to spend a few months, talking it out with a gentle-voiced woman in an over-stuffed chair, because he really DOES need to repent of hurting people with his sermons.
Or maybe we’re exaggerating a little.
I’m just saying that our culture makes it’s very difficult to tell the difference between a hate-filled nut-case who needs help…and just a guy with traditional, Christian values who refuses to apologize for it.
The World refers to both groups as hateful and harmful.