The following is from lollytruly’s blogspot. It highlights some of the specifics regarding Driscoll’s behavior and words which many, like myself, take to be abusive and non-representative of the character and heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. The following also fleshes out the sad reality that those who point out abuse in an abusive system become THE problem, while the issue of the abuse and the abuser are swept under the carpet.
Friday, February 20, 2009
…My head is beginning to feel peaceful again after the Mark Driscoll stuff a couple days ago. Crying painfully helps you heal if you process everything while you’re doing it. That’s another fun fact I’ve learned in therapy, that weeping mends you and you have to go there if you’re going to heal from it. I don’t mean for that to be TMI but I think being open can be really good. Makes me think of this quote – “It is important to tell our secrets too because … it makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about.” — Frederick Buechner
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Here is a letter from a little over two years ago, written by Shari MacDonald Strong whom I subsequently made friends with because of her character, insight and gentleness. In this she writes about the protest of Mars Hill in Seattle on Dec 3.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Why On Earth Would I Want to Picket a Church? More on the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill Seattle Action
To: Mark Driscoll
Mars Hill Elders and Deacons
Acts 29 Church Planting Network
As a Christian woman who is planning to participate in the planned December 3 protest at Mars Hill, I wanted to write to explain my reasons for wanting to do so and to share my concerns about some of Mr. Driscoll’s recent teachings and writings.
Let me start by saying, I appreciate Mr. Driscoll’s recent blog post, in which he amends his previous blog entry about the Ted Haggard affair and about the dangers of pastor’s wives “letting themselves go.” In particular, I am grateful for the gentle tone of the post. I believe that if this were the tone that he was known for, there would not be this current firestorm of emotion around his teachings.
It was the Ted Haggard post that brought Mr. Driscoll’s teachings most recently to my attention. However, I live on the West coast and have heard of him before. I know both that Mark Driscoll is a very powerful man and that many, many people – a large percentage of which are women – have left Mars Hill Church and sometimes the larger church as a result of Mr. Driscoll’s teachings. I also have heard that many people have sought therapy after leaving Mars Hill, as a result of the damage done by his teachings. That last statement, of course, is based on hearsay, so I went online to read some of Mr. Driscoll’s writings and to listen to some sermons. In addition to the comments about women “letting themselves go,” here is some of what I encountered (in random order):
• Derogatory comments made regularly and consistently about people who disagree with Mr. Driscoll’s theology, labeling them not only wrong or liberal, but “wussified,” “#######,” “chickified,” and “effeminate” (e.g., “if the Christ you serve is just a really nice guy – I hate to tell you, but you serve a weak, effeminate, ####### Christ”).
• Stating/implying that men are the only demographic that matters:
The question is: “If you want to be innovative, how do you get young men?” All this nonsense about how to grow the church – one issue: young men. That’s it – that’s the whole thing. They’re going to get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate; they’re going to make the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war – you get everything; you get the families, the women, the children, the money the business: you get everything. If you don’t get the young men you get nothing.
• Calling strong women who disagree with his interpretation of Scripture “godless” and saying the Bible has “a low opinion” of them:
If it’s a godly woman who has a godly agenda who has something godly to say, then she can speak. If she’s an ungodly woman with a godless feminist agenda that she borrowed from the serpent, like her mother Eve in Genesis 3, and she’s on some tirade mission to represent all women, which is what sometimes happens, women nominate themselves to represent all women…But there are women who will rise up like that, saying “I speak for all women. I champion women’s rights. I champion women’s causes” (sarcastically). We say, that’s not a problem if it’s in accordance with the rights and liberties and dignities that are afforded to a woman in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t have a low view of women. It just has a low view of some women.”
• “…women who don’t respect godly authority are demonic.”
• Rather than Mr. Driscoll simply saying that he disagrees with the lifestyles of young men who work in coffee shops and suggesting an alternative or challenging them, he makes fun of them. He uses shame to get men to do what he wants, calling them “chickified,” “limp-wristed,” “#####,” “#######.”
• More mocking of women who disagree with him, painting women who have opinions as “hot-headed” and “emotional,” and more implications that God doesn’t like these women:
“some women think they can do everything on their own” and that if men sit by idly like cowards because they don’t want to get into with with their hot-headed, emotional, wives, eventually the women will take over the church, and then the church will go to hell.”
• Undermining women’s efforts to hold him accountable for his words, implying that the raising of theological questions by a woman is the same thing as them calling the Bible “ridiculous,” and calling the squelching of a woman’s intellect and voice “sexy”:“Does it say, “Ladies, don’t have any questions”? Does it say that? No. Does it say, “Ladies, don’t disagree.” No. Does it say, “Ladies, don’t think for yourself.” When you disagree, when you’re super-theological, when you’re all fired up, the first thing you don’t do is start yellin’ at the pastor and yellin’ at the church, firin’ nasty e-mails, and declarin’ war and puttin’ together a, a, little group of, you know, feminist women with guns who are gonna make a difference.”
If you’re married, you go talk to who? Your husband. You say, “Sweetheart, I was readin’ The Bible, I think it’s ridiculous.” And he would say, “We should probably talk.” “Honey I was readin’ the Bible, I don’t understand.” He should say, “Let’s, let’s study that together. Let’s take some time, and study — together. Now some of you will protest and say, “THAT is SEXIST!” As a married man, I will tell you, it is sexy. That’s what it is. There is nothin’ hotter than a wife with a great new testament, commentaries, concordances, and questions. That is theological foreplay. It’s awesome. Because now you’re connecting at the level of then heart and the soul and god is honoring of that.”
There is more, but I believe I’ve more than made my point. Frankly, I am upset, I am concerned, I am angry, and I am embarrassed to belong to the same religion as Mark Driscoll. I am deeply offended – not by God, but by Mark Driscoll. If I believed that Mr. Driscoll’s words and attitude were reflective of the God of Christianity, I would walk away from Christianity altogether. I read at least one report of a former Mars Hill member who has. Unfortunately, as the Christian religion writer for the Seattle Times, in addition to his other roles, Mark does for many represent the face of Christianity. As that representative, he is showing the world a religion that is mean-spirited and unkind, one that depends upon mockery and shame, ######### and disrespect, smugness and name-calling to make its points.
…Again, I appreciate Mr. Driscoll’s clarifying blog post about the Haggard situation, although I wish he had said “I’m sorry, I was wrong” instead of simply saying he’d been “misconstrued.” Mr. Driscoll should apologize publicly for all the things referenced above, for the mean, flippant attitude with which he is attempting to deliver the gospel.
In the original, offending blog post, Mr. Driscoll wrote: “At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness…” If he realized that the post would make him “more despised,” then why say something he already has recognized as being despicable? …
Yet Mark Driscoll continues to deliver messages filled with meanness and sarcasm and mockery of those who have different opinions or theological positions, and the congregation laughs whenever he does this. Who is holding him accountable? Who, among the Acts 29 community and/or Mars Hill, is talking with him about this, saying: “Mark, you can’t be this mean. This has to stop”?
I realize that I am exactly the type of strong-willed, opinionated woman that Mark Driscoll believes to be “an ungodly woman with a godless feminist agenda that she borrowed from the serpent, like her mother Eve in Genesis 3.” I do have an opinion about this matter (though I don’t have that pushup bra he accused all feminists of having), and I feel it is my responsibility to stand up and say something. Mr. Driscoll will likely see this letter as fitting his example of those “super-theological,” “fired up” “feminist women with guns who are gonna make a difference.” I admit, I do hope to make some difference in this situation (no gun, though); unfortunately, I don’t really expect this letter to change his heart.
I am, however, appealing to those surrounding him: Please listen. Please understand that Mark Driscoll’s teachings and his harsh, unkind, mocking words are hurting women and hurting the church. Please set up some form of accountability (or, if one exists, a stronger form of accountability). Ask him to get some therapy. … Listen to his sermons with a discerning ear and hold him accountable for what he’s teaching; if the tone of the above comments continues, remove him from leadership. Ask him to apologize, publicly. Most importantly of all, please set up some kind of information-seeking group within the church to hear the stories of people who have been hurt by Mr. Driscoll and his teachings – and be willing to act upon what you learn.
You have the power to do something about this. All I have is the power to write this letter. And to stand outside the church, holding a sign. Which is why I still plan to attend the protest on December 3. This isn’t an attempt to be divisive and it isn’t an attempt to persecute anyone, as some Mars Hill members have claimed. It’s simply an attempt to say: “Somebody please do something. Please stop this.” The question is: Are you listening?
Shari MacDonald Strong
Comments to Shari’s letter:
February 17, 2009 1:05 PM
A. [to another commenter] This is not a matter of scriptural interpretation. It’s a matter of your fellow sister in Christ feeling spiritually abused. We can be skeptical and hard-headed (i.e. “Let’s not fight and argue about who killed who”–monty python), or we can honor the fact that Shari spoke passionately into the chaos while others sat idly by and accepted Marks words at face value because he has a degree and a pulpit.
February 17, 2009 1:31 PM
B. How sad that so few people feel safe enough within the evangelical church to stand up and say that something abusive or unkind is transpiring, and how sad that this is the nearly universal response when they do.
Powerful men never fail to have their defenders. Let me tell you how many Acts 29 folks, Driscoll fans, Christian leaders, or others contacted me after this letter was posted widely on the internet, to find out more about how Mark Driscoll was hurting women and whether or not something should be done about it: zero.
If Mark Driscoll (and pastors like him, and I’ve known many) hadn’t driven me away from the evangelical church, responses like this (and a widespread lack of caring about fair/respectful treatment of women within the church) would have.
The evangelical church is perfectly capable of greater kindness and understanding. But until people actually give a crap about the people who get hurt (women, in particular) and want to know more about how and why they’re hurting, it will remain the same sort of self-satisfied, lifeless social club that Jesus had hoped to transform.
February 17, 2009 6:25 PM
…C. Thanks so much for your words, L. The fact that anyone would read Driscoll’s words and would not only not renounce them, but would instead point the finger at someone who is raising a red flag of warning, utterly dumbfounds me. The fact that an entire city, and the larger evangelical community, has little concern about the damage Driscoll is doing in the name of Jesus, breaks my heart.
February 17, 2009 7:03 PM
D. Dear Shari MacD,
…I like what you said about addressing abusive behavior, and how so many people are afraid to stand up and fight against it. I believe that this because it’s been masked as being OK, simply because it’s being delivered by a man who’s been “called” to preach. (Or have been given a pulpit, like David said.)
We (read: women) are not brought up in our society to question men. I spent a lot of years letting male pastors tell me how to live, and it hasn’t done me much good.
If the percentages are anywhere near accurate, there are a shit ton of women who are living in abusive marriages, and sitting in his congregation every week, slowly going crazier and crazier, with no one to call out to that is stronger than the sadistic, mysogynistic God that Driscoll idealizes. The tragedy in all of this is that, while “young men” are given priority and cuts in line, women continue to live in the belief that what Driscoll says, goes.
But Driscoll’s god is a flimsy imitation of the one who honors the woman, the mother, the sister, as much as he wants to [supposedly] bestow all the power and glory upon the heads of young, middle class men.
February 17, 2009 9:45 PM
E. Thank you, M. I don’t think you wish me ill, and I appreciate you saying so. It just makes me incredibly sad and discouraged that the most common response in the church (in my experience, and in many others’) to those of us who point out areas or patterns of unhealthy/abusive/hurtful behavior, is to place the blame on us for speaking up.
The fact is, Mark Driscoll has harmed a lot of people, and he is delivering hate speech from one of the biggest and most influential pulpits on the west coast. (If you simply go online and listen to his podcasts, you’ll find evidence of this in abundance.) The reality is, a lot of people have gone to Mark Driscoll in exactly the scriptural manner you describe, and it hasn’t helped a bit, because he doesn’t listen, and he just keeps getting nastier. (I know one woman who went with her husband to talk with Mark Driscoll about some of his teachings. When she gently but firmly challenged him on a point, Mark Driscoll refused to speak with her, turned to her husband and said something to the effect of, “If you don’t shut your wife up, I will.” This is typical behavior for him.)
My letter was from two years ago. I believed then that a protest (which I wasn’t organizing, but did support) was the right thing to do because something needed to be done, and the Christians around Mark Driscoll weren’t doing anything to support those who had been hurt, to deal with Driscoll’s behavior, or even to find out more about what was happening and whether action of any kind needed to be taken. My letter was, as I explained at the time, not a personal attack; it was simply an attempt to get people to notice what has been happening at Mars Hill, to look into things more closely, and to hold Mark Driscoll accountable for his words and actions. Why did I think it was the Christian thing to do? Because Jesus was a defender of the harmed, the persecuted, the weak, the maligned, the attacked. Who has been more harmed, persecuted, weakened, maligned, or attacked in the church than women — and especially women who have tried to have a voice?
I honestly don’t care what Mark Driscoll believes, except to the degree that he thinks those beliefs give him the right to mock, disparage, shame, and humiliate people — including, but not limited to, people like me. Ideally, it would be the people around him who would be gently challenging him to be a loving person, and to be his best self. Sadly, I stopped holding my breath for that to happen a long time ago.
Again, I appreciate the clarification. And I just want you to please consider that, when someone stands up to authority — in the church, and elsewhere — it may just be for a good reason. And it is certainly fine to question that person’s position — but I would hope that you would question the other side just as much. As you said, you don’t know me and you don’t know Mark Driscoll. The question then is, why (of the two of us) is he the one who got the benefit of the doubt? I don’t suggest that you answer that question here, or for me. But it is a question that I wish all the people who’ve defended Mark Driscoll, and/or have turned a deaf ear to those of us who are concerned, would ask themselves.
February 18, 2009 9:44 AM
…F. Why can’t we just take a sermon at face value and agree to disagree? Is this Driscoll guy being any more chauvinistic than the apostle Paul? And who cares? Why can’t we just disagree and be independent thinkers? Why do we have to call it abuse and check ourselves into therapy? Maybe because we’re making our pastors out to be gods.
If you think Driscoll is a douche, than stop giving him your money and leave!!!
Self-victimization is a children’s tool. We need to grow up.
February 18, 2009 10:08 AM
G. P.S. Why can’t we take a sermon at face value and agree to disagree? Spoken like a middle-class privileged white man in a society ruled by middle-class privileged white men who never get made fun of from the pulpit by middle-class privileged white men in power. If you were the one being mocked, shamed, and disparaged by “spiritual authority” on a regular basis — or if you actually cared for a moment about someone who was — you might just feel differently.
February 18, 2009 11:15 AM
H. You’re far more brave than I am on confronting spiritual abuse. I don’t know what I told you about the church I grew up in, but there was a HUGE divide created by our (then) Pastor, Richard Frazier, similar to this Driscoll kerfuffle. My father was one of the first to speak out against Richard Frazier and because of that was alienated for a long time in the church community and even had his life threatened at gunpoint (true story) by one of Frazier’s supporters. God-like? No. Thug-like? Yes.
The long and the short of it was many people (including my family) believed Frazier was spiritually abusing the congregation, which, I think goes without saying, involved a lot of emotional abuse. And as emotional abuse goes, some yearn for it because it is all they know while others want better. (Plato’s allegory of The Cave?) My father is a very calm man and was wanting so much to ignite discussion and not the screaming mess that came about prior to Frazier finally being run out of town. We’re still healing as a spiritual family… I think it’s commendable that Shari speak up about Mars Hill. There’s a lot of abusive leaders in the church that need to be called out.
February 18, 2009 5:34 PM
…I. …All you did was position chauvinism as biblical and defend people who hurt others and who refuse to acknowledge that pain or change their behavior — yet you were more than happy to rail at me for raising a red flag and to, essentially, call me a childish whiner. You can’t bait people with comments like yours and then shame them for getting pissed off.
For the record, getting angry about people mistreating other people isn’t throwing a tantrum. It’s just being a decent human being.
May 30, 2009
I don’t know that anyone will follow a comment here this late in the game, but I just came upon this…
In abusive systems, or in the minds of those who are threatened by even acknowledging the reality of the abuse and thus the moral responsibility to actually DO something about it, the one who points out the red flag, the one who, like Shari, says, “Hey, the emperor has no clothes,” becomes THE problem, THE enemy, THE issue.
And Shari, you are so right, you, or anyone else who dares to speak out, becomes the target at a carnival (and it is a madhouse– like a carnival’s house of mirrors, that which is reflected back at you, that which comes at you–when you do speak out).
So, for what it’s worth, I have a site about Mars Hill and what I consider to be church/spiritual abuse coming from that system and from Driscoll.
I am copying part of Shari’s letter and some of the comments here to my blog, not using the commenter’s names. But since Shari’s letter is public, I am using her name.
For freedom, truth and love!