Mark Driscoll, the Facebook status and the blogosphere fallout

Sunday, 10 July 2011

I thought I'd do some sort of post collating all the posts written over the past few days in response to the latest controversy involving Mark Driscoll and his interesting beliefs about gender roles and stereotypes. On Thursday he invited fans on his Facebook page to engage by telling him about some of their experiences of church. Namely, "So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?".

So this is the man responsible for gems such as:

"In Revelations, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up."


"Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourages liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them, pay for their own dates in the name of equality, spend an average of three-fourths of their childbearing years having sex but trying not to get pregnant, and abort 1/3 of all babies – and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality."


"After church tonight you will go home and you will eat chicken, not human, because of the spread of Christianity... go to a country where there hasn't been the spread of Christianity and they're having human for dinner."

And it aggrieves me, no matter what people say about his supposed skills with leadership and preaching and getting people, particularly young people, engaged with God. It makes me profoundly uncomfortable that he happily talks about vetting his wife's emails and the anger he has felt towards other men who so much as go near her or look at her. His entire approach towards gender aggrieves me and I know it gets a lot of other people wound up too. That's why it was so interesting to read the varying responses to that Facebook post, which ended up generating over 600 comments before it was eventually removed at some point yesterday.

It started with a fantastic post from Dianna Anderson for Jesus Needs New PR.

Do you think those archaic gender roles, which aren’t even clearly laid out in the Holy Scriptures of your religion, might just be wrong? Do you feel like who you are as a person is being ignored because of what you happen to have between your legs?

If you actually followed that thought process all the way through, you have just a little, tiny sliver of how it feels to be a woman in the church. When you say to the men in your congregation, “being womanly is wrong,” the men aren’t the only ones listening. Yes, be bold, preach the gospel (or what you think is the gospel), but be aware: there are others listening, and they are not liking what they hear.

I loved Dianna's post; she gets right to the heart of why Driscoll's schtick on men and women is so offensive - firstly because it relies on stereotypes very particular to his own culture and place in history rather than anything Biblical, and secondly because he consistently implies that anything 'feminine' or 'womanly' is a bad thing, something to be mocked. Of course, he would probably reply that that doesn't mean it's bad for A WOMAN to display 'feminine' characteristics, because that's what she's supposed to do. It's only bad if a MAN behaves like that. This doesn't make it any less offensive and negative about women and only serves to promote the extreme anxiety you see in many Christians about the word 'equality'. You know - "But equal means 'THE SAME'! And men and women are NOT 'the same'! Therefore equality is wrong."

Dianna Anderson - A Jesus I Can Beat Up

"If you are a mainstream Christian, then you assert that Jesus WAS beaten up. One whole hell of a lot (pun intended).

He was whipped. He was forced to carry the instrument of his own death. A crown of thorns was shoved onto his head, to the point that he bled.

While you may not like it, the fact remains: If you believe that Jesus died and rose again – in other words, if you profess the Christian faith – you ALSO must believe in a man who was beaten to a pulp, a man who took a massive beating and who did not praise the violence."

Dianna is now doing a series of follow-up posts about gender and the church which I'm very much looking forward to - the above is one of them.

Elizabeth Esther - God DOESN’T hate gays–but pastors mocking them is A-OK!

"Honestly, how can ANY pastor justify publicly inviting people to publicly humiliate other Christians? As a Christian I feel embarrassed and grieved by this kind of public display of graceless behavior."

Joy Bennett - Don’t Take Pot-Shots at Worship Leaders, er, I Mean, ANYONE

"Whether or not you believe that men should dress and act a certain way, you cannot dispute the clear commands to Christians to speak kind grace-filled words. We are to use our words to build up, not tear down. Romans 1:29 and 2 Corinthians 12:20 and 1 Timothy 5:13 all state that gossip is a sin, included in lists alongside envy, murder, deceit, jealousy, and anger."

Elizabeth and Joy talk about one of the other main points to have come out of all this - that the very act of a high profile megachurch pastor inviting other Christians, on a public social networking page, to tell mocking stories about the way other Christians look and behave purely because they don't measure up to his macho ideal of what a man should be, is spectacularly un-Christlike.

Brian Wooddell - A Letter To Mark Driscoll

"I’m a man, Mr. Driscoll. I’m a man because I do everything in my power to help the less fortunate and the downtrodden. I’m a man because I respect and love others. Most of all, I’m a man because I spend every day striving to be how God wants me to be.

And I refuse to let you or any other bully with a pulpit tell me otherwise."

Tyler L Clark - Mano-a-Mano: A Letter to Mark Driscoll

"When you put out a call on Facebook for people verbally attack “effeminate anatomically male” men, I find myself back in high school—shoved against a locker, with the bullies calling me a faggot."

Brian and Tyler write as Christian men who don't live up to Driscoll's stereotype of the ideal man - due to their interests, their clothing choices and their personalities. Both speak of feeling 'bullied' by other men and church leaders in the past about such issues - and the effect this has had on them.

Are Women Human? - Dianna Anderson: Dear Mr. Driscoll

"Try to see, just try, how this kind of daily, ceaseless attack on femininity makes the many, many people who don’t fit into the patriarchal model of gender feel. Try to see how it makes us feel like we have to embrace an identity of inferiority to be part of the church, or leave."

Grace says that Driscoll sends out a clear message that he believes anyone who does not place patriarchal masculinity above all else in their views on gender and the church is to be mocked and shunned - and how this impacts Christian women.

Rachel Held Eavns - Mark Driscoll is a bully. Stand up to him.

"Godly men imitate Christ — who praised the gentle and the peacemakers, who stood up for the exploited and abused, who showed compassion for the downtrodden, who valued women, and who loved his enemies to the point of death.

If this Facebook status were Pastor Mark Driscoll’s first offense, it might not warrant a strong response. But Mark has developed a pattern of immaturity and unkindness that has remained largely unchecked by his church. In evangelical circles, he’s like the kid from high school who makes crude jokes at every opportunity, uses the words “gay” and “queer” to describe the things he most detests, encourages his friends to subject the unpopular kids to ridicule, and belittles the guys who aren’t “macho” or “manly” enough to be in his club."

Rachel encourages readers to take direct action and contact Driscoll's church, talk to him and attempt to start some dialogue on why he continues to feel this sort of behaviour is acceptable. There has been some discussion over the weekend that 'open letter'-style blog posts, while often very articulate and important, are becoming an overdone form of indirect action which achieves little. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I will be emailing Mars Hill Church.

Picture of Mark Driscoll via jgordon13's Flickr. Screenshot of his Facebook page via HomeBrewed Theology.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I'm so glad that so many people have been able to uncomplicatedly say that Driscoll is a bully, and his church has a duty to hold him accountable for the needless hurt he has caused.


Anonymous said...


Anita Mathias said...

Hi Hannah, I find Mark Driscoll's aggressive masculinity and some of his teaching on women and sex rather weird and offensive, but here is a rather sweet tribute to his wife Grace

Hannah Mudge said...

Anita - I do agree that it is a sweet tribute and that he obviously loves her very much - I don't doubt that. Though I do get the impression with him, as I often do with some of the complementarian big-hitters, that women only get singled out for such love and praise if they exemplify a certain stereotype of womanhood and that if they don't, a much dimmer view is taken of them and they are even fair game for nastiness and mocking. Have you ever come across this? It's just an observation which I think I've written about in a blog post before :)

I have to say I find it very hard to deal with the following statements in the second part of his post about her:

Pray that people understand that she’s not preaching but rather practicing Titus 2...

Pray that people will understand that she is not an employee of the church, does not lead anything at the church, and as a mom with five young children is focused on her family in this season of life and cannot meet with all the women and deal with all the issues that some will want her to.

Quite heavy handed :S

Anita Mathias said...

Hi Hannah,
I've worshipped in a church in Oxford, Anglican, Charismatic for 6 years, in which there was constant turmoil and hurt feelings because the vicar's wife meddled in everything. As such, I think,
"she is not an employee of the church, does not lead anything at the church, and as a mom with five young children is focused on her family in this season of life and cannot meet with all the women and deal with all the issues that some will want her to"
iz the only sane way for a clergy wife to behave.
The wife of a Prime Minister, CEO, College President plays a mainly decorative role, and that's how people like it. I have seen much politics and confusion in churches in which clergy wives get involved in things they are neither elected or appointed to.
All my alarm bells go off however, whenever I hear talk of female submission and male headship. It must take a lot of insecurity to insist that someone else submit to you. Paul was a product of this time, and scholars say his cautions were to do with aggressive women, who I guess were not educated, hijacking meetings. I think mutual submission is a far better model. I was thinking of visiting a Newfrontiers church but I would have found their views on women too irritating at best, upsetting at worst, so did not.
Great blog, by the way. I like your perspective,

Hannah Mudge said...

This is a good point - I think I actually tend to forget that in many churches, just one of a couple might be in charge and the other might have no part in church life (at my own church there are a few couples in senior leadership, although not all spouses are involved). At your church, was this dealt with - did anyone say anything? Was it a major issue affecting a lot of people? In my mind that would obviously be cause for concern.

I agree with what you're saying about Paul and cultural context - I do often wonder about insecurity. Glad you like the blog :)


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