On Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll is pastor of a big church, famous for saying things like Jesus wasn't wimpy, it's only worth serving a God who can kick some ass, and men should just be men and fight each other in cages. I'm paraphrasing (although not much), but he's said lots of things that get my blood boiling and make me want to scream. How do I react?

The trouble with statements like those Driscoll makes are that they are meant to get people riled up. They are meant to make people write angry comments on his articles or make people chant "hell yeah!" in favor of machismo ruling in God's name.

I have been challenged of late to reach out to brothers and sisters in an effort to understand views that are different than mine. If I stumble on a blog or run into someone from my past who believes very differently than I do about gender, equality, and the Bible's teachings on each, I want to see why they believe what they do rather than engage a heated argument. Usually that involves taking several deep breaths, some prayer, and some reminders from my husband that God defines us--not Christian fads that are simply reinventions of patriarchal dominance in a hip, trendy package--before I can proceed.

As one friend, from whom I hold diametrically opposing views on women and submission, put it, "It is not for us to convince each other; that is the Spirit's work." I can spout off Scripture and science and behavioral studies and cultural critiques all day long, but I have to trust the Spirit to work for the liberation of His people first and foremost.

Don't get me wrong, I do think there is a time and place to channel righteous anger into articulating a heartfelt response to such assaults on women and men as posed by Driscoll. But my struggle right now is to pursue peace, and I believe part of pursuing peace is pursuing understanding, even when I can't for the life of me understand why someone could say "fat lazy men" (read: not athletic or violent) are the root cause of all the problems in the world.

But then I start to understand. I read this interview on Relevant Magazine a few months ago with Mark Driscoll, in which he was asked if he regretted any of his statements. He responded:

If I could hit control-alt-delete and go back and do like they used to in Men in Black and just hit a button to make certain people forget certain things, that would be awesome. My hope, my prayer, my goal is to do better, by God’s grace, to learn, to grow, to be sanctified and mature—to be less shock-jock and more Jesus-centered. I’m turning 40 this fall, so I can’t get away with, “Oh, he’s young.” I’ve got five kids, I’m not young anymore, I’m a tired old man. But I’m hoping God gives me enough years, maybe 30, 40 more years of service, that when it’s all said and done, I will have had enough time to correct some mistakes I’ve made and learn how to more clearly articulate some things I believe. So I’m trying to learn as I go.
The bottom line is, I generally conclude that people like Driscoll are deeply hurting. That does not explain away his statements or his approaches. But enforcement of this sort of hyper-masculinity often covers up severe struggle with gender identity. (I would argue gender identity is a struggle for all, but that's another post.) I would also assume, given some of what I've read by him, that he has a heart for female abuse victims and in an effort to curb domestic violence and protect women, he has a scarily reactionary approach. 

So right now I pray for peace, pray that God would soften Driscoll's heart and use his pastoral position to truly minister to people he wants to help. And I pray that our lives are examples of how men and women following God instead of trying to be cage fighters and protected creatures can be an answer to all the things he's afraid of.

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