As I research Mars Hill, I find all kinds of interesting and enlightening “testimonies” of those who are either currently locked into the MHC system, or by those who have escaped or by those who have bumped up against it and are repulsed for various reasons. I, of course, do not always agree with the web site’s authors’ main premise and/or belief systems, but I will use what they have found or interviews they have conducted.
I fully support and celebrate women who CHOOSE to stay home to raise their children (I chose this for myself when my children were younger), but I shudder at the apparent ENFORCEMENT of this lifestyle by a leader and a system which seem misogynistic, if not, then at minimum chauvinistic, and I cringe at what I consider to be the COERCED SUBMISSION of women at MHC.
The following is written by Lauren Sandler and found on a blogspot listed below:
For Judy Abolafya, a young mother in her early thirties, it was harder to come around to Driscoll’s version of what a woman should be. As she sets out coffee cake on the kitchen table in her Seattle apartment, straining to be heard over her infant daughter’s cries, Abolafya tells me without apology that she never wanted to have children. She shudders as her daughter wails, shaking her auburn ponytail. “Listening to her like that just grates on me.” She grimaces. In a high chair at the table, her toddler, Asher, glumly pokes at blocks of cheese with grubby fingers, periodically mashing them into a paste he rubs into his black Metallica T-shirt. “Let’s face it. Asher is whiny and clingy and talks back. It’s dull and tedious here — there are myriad things I don’t enjoy about being at home, but it’s a responsibility.”
This life of homebound wifely submission is the opposite of what Abolafya thought she wanted, and the opposite of what she had. Before she met her husband, Ari, Abolafya toured all over the world with bands like Bush and Candlebox, staying at four-star hotels, living life on her own terms. She made a great income heading up merchandising on tours, managed it well, enjoyed her freedom, and was confident and outspoken. Now she defines that behavior as prideful, even if she misses it. “Everything was great when my conversion happened. I was making money, I was about to take a trip to Mexico, I was totally in control of my life,” she tells me. “My life is much harder, not easier, now that I’m a Christian,” she says, clenching her teeth against Asher’s droning whine. “We had originally planned not to have kids, but now we have to do our best to repopulate our city with Christians.”
Abolafya’s conversion was a total surprise to her. She was a nonbeliever who accompanied her husband, Ari, to a service at Mars Hill — he was curious to check out the “tattooed punk-rock church” he had heard about. That Sunday, one of the church’s worship bands was playing an electric version of “Amazing Grace” toward the end of the service, its loud and powerful sound filling the giant space. Suddenly Abolafya realized she was sobbing and couldn’t stop. That night she gave her heart to Jesus. “It wasn’t like I was looking for a solution, or that my life was a problem in any way,” she explains. In fact, the problems were just beginning.
At a weekly Bible study class at a Mars Hill pastor’s home, Abolafya first heard about the doctrine of wifely submission. The pastor’s wife gave Abolafya a book to study called “The Fruit of Her Hands,” which can essentially be summed up in Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.” When Abolafya stretched out on her couch one evening to read the first chapter of the book, she screamed and threw it across the room. But she prayed to God and was led back to the Bible, to understand Wilson’s perspective. In the Bible, Abolafya found story after story about women being willfully deceived, following their own desires, wreaking travesty in their relationships and homes. In these stories she saw signs of her own past, her mother’s behavior, her friends’ actions. She began to submit to Ari about purchases and plans she wanted to make.
Abolafya no longer reads secular books or speaks to her old friends, She is now a deacon at Mars Hill and is responsible for planning the weddings held there, which always include a biblical explanation of marriage and gender roles; each year Mars Hill averages about one hundred marriages between couples within the congregation, all of whom must agree with this doctrine. Between her marriage ministry, the women’s Bible study she runs, her two small children, and taking care of her husband and her home, Abolafya says she doesn’t have time for many relationships anyway, and when she starts to home-school her kids soon, her time will be even tighter. “It’s not what I ever imagined,” she tells me, “or even what I ever wanted, but it’s my duty now, and I have to learn to live with that.”
About the writer:
Lauren Sandler is Salon’s Life editor. She is the author of “Righteous : Dispatches From the Evangelical Youth Movement,” published this week by Viking. This article has been adapted from her book.
Comment by Soul January 15, 2009