Re-Victimizing the Victims: 1/3-1/4 of all women have been abused
THE FOLLOWING IS FROM MARS HILL’S SITE.
I apologize for the caps–I was just floored when I read this!
THIS IS WRITTEN AS IF IT IS A GREAT TESTIMONY—BUT I THINK ASPECTS OF THE MHC SYSTEM AND TEACHING ARE ACTUALLY KILLING THIS WOMAN’S SPIRIT AND HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO DO SO WITH EVERY OTHER WOMAN AT MHC. IN MY OPINION, THE FOLLOWING IS A “TESTIMONY” ABOUT A VICTIM BEING RE-VICTIMIZED, YET SADLY SHE APPEARS BRAINWASHED TO GLORY IN IT.
EPH 5:21 SAYS, “SUBMIT ONE TO ANOTHER” THEN IT GOES INTO HOW THAT IS LIVED OUT. DRISCOLL PREDOMINANTLY EMPHASIZES WOMEN SUBMITTING TO THEIR HUSBANDS, TO MALE LEADERSHIP, AND HE EMPHASIZES OBEDIENCE AND SUBMISSION BY ALL TO THE ELDERS AND TO HIMSELF AS SUPREME. TO WHOM DOES DRISCOLL SUBMIT?
I WONDER HOW DRISCOLL WOULD FEEL ABOUT “COMPLIMENTARIANISM” (or as another–a male– has dubbed it “Subjectivism”) IF HE WAS A WOMAN IN A CHURCH LIKE HIS, MARRIED TO A MAN LIKE HIM… 😉
Changed by Jesus
– by Mars Hill Church on Friday, March 27th, 2009
“Men sinned against me and abused their authority over me”
In the post on their site, a woman writes about having been sexually abused by her father and grandfather, then having been betrayed by two husbands prior to marrying her current husband. She states that she felt “so much resistance” to “allowing my husband to lead our home,” and that she was “unwilling to submit in any matter, from major financial decisions to simply where to put a lamp in the room.” This would be the epitome of a ‘sinful, rebellious woman’ at MHC.
Human beings are made in the image of God “male and female, he created them,” and in Galatians 3:28 we are told, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Meaning, among other things, ethnicity, gender and status are no longer to be issues of value or reasons for demeaning or lording it over one human by another. But at MHC, from what I can tell, gender (specifically, ‘woman submit!’) becomes the second primary biblical focus next to submission to the elders, especially to the lead elder, Mark Driscoll. Are those the two greatest teachings in all of Scripture? “Woman Submit” and “Obey Your Elders”? The two greatest commands in the New Testament? I remember Jesus saying that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second greatest is to love our neighbor as ourself…
People function best when not in bondage, slavery, or subservience to another. A survivor of abuse is especially vulnerable to the one down position, to having someone exercise, dictate, demand power over her. Victims, more than almost anything else, need to be empowered, to have their autonomy restored and properly respected. They need to know that their boundaries are their own, where they begin and end, what is inside their fence and what is outside. (See Dr. Henry Cloud’s excellent book, Boundaries). The last thing they need is to be strong-armed (under the guise of “loving leadership”) into a powerless position (in marriage no less) at the threat of losing their relationship with Jesus if they do not bow the knee to the men in their lives. I see this as revictimizing the victim. Oh, she may talk herself into buying it in order to reduce the cognitive and emotional dissonance she no doubt battles with… but I believe that inside, her spirit dies a little more each day, until the flicker goes out, and all that is left is a shell of who she could have been, of who God has created her to be.
The woman continues to describe “a long trail of men who abused me, used me, abandoned me, and betrayed me.” She states, ““By the time I began my new marriage, there was nothing in me that had the desire or ability to ‘submit.’ It went against my very being.” Yes, of course it did, and for good reason too. This was not the “sin and rebellion” MHC and Driscoll will no doubt convince her it is, rather it was a wounded human being coming to life again, saying, “Never again! I will never be rendered powerless by a human being again!” This is a victim becoming a survivor. This is not a woman rebelling against God and/or her husband. As she heals, she and her husband may learn to submit one to another, but she will never be forced, manipulated, coerced (no, not even by bad theology and the demand of the “Christian” men in her life) into an unhealthy, unbiblical form of submission.
“Although it looked like this marriage was different, and my husband was honorable, I maintained as much control as I could.” To feel safe, we need to have a certain measure of “self-efficacy,” a measure of power and confidence to make choices, to accomplish things, and to do what we need to do to create the right amount of safety in our lives. This is not sin, nor is it rebellion. Yes, as Christians we rely on God for this too, but even there, it’s a partnership. God never tells us to turn down all of our protective defense mechanisms. Self preservation is not sin. If you believe it is, walk down a dark alley in some dangerous part of town in the wee hours and let some gang approach you and do what they will.
She goes on, “Deep down, I truly desired to allow my husband to lead us and for the burden of leadership to be lifted off of me. I am very thankful that my husband did not allow me to manipulate him into doing my will, even though I tried. He influenced me in a loving way, and I never felt overpowered by him. Equally, God never overpowered me or forced me. It seemed there was always a gentle beckoning that was filled with grace, even in my stubbornness.”
I know she is sincere, but it breaks my heart to read this. MHC has made an entire theology out of “headship, leadership, wives’ submission, husbands’ rule.” If they took all of Scripture with all of Scripture instead of elevating a cherry-picked handful of their pet verses above everything else, the feel of the marriages they promote would be that of more Christ-like stuff. So for her to take any lead whatsoever is “the burden of leadership” and her “manipulating her husband into doing her will.” She then quotes the MHC party line regarding her being “influenced” to submit, not being “overpowered” and she then ties that into God’s work–who can then argue with that?
I’m sorry, dear woman, but Jesus’ “gentle beckoning, filled with grace” would be to lift you up to stand beside your husband and to exercise all of the gifts He put in you. Look at the way Jesus was with women—a scandal in those days for sure. He never lorded it over them or demanded submission from them. He doesn’t do that with any of us. He loves us and we surrender to Him out of love. Likewise, as Eph 5 states, husands love their wives, give up their lives for them in a sense, then the wife yields to him IN HIS GIVING UP HIMSELF FOR HER. The whole thing is predicated upon and preceded by, “SUBMIT ONE TO ANOTHER…”
I realize at times Driscoll appears to address this, but I think he does so in passing and misses the spirit of it because more often I pick up on his adamence about submission and obedience by women to men, and by laity to leadership. But who does Mark submit to? I ask this especially in light of the By-Laws of 2007.
This poor woman then goes on to say, “My new ability to submit to my husband comes from a supernatural power. It happens only when I submit to my heavenly Father.” Voila. It appears to me that this woman has been harangued into believing that the primary evidence of her submission to our loving God is her submission to another human being. If Driscoll and the other men in her life do not see what they consider to be the proper amount of submission in her, will they claim she is a sinful woman? What about when the members do not see submission in Mark?
“When I keep my eyes on Jesus, when my heart yearns for oneness with him, my heart willingly follows my husband.” Dear one, when your husband keeps HIS “eyes on Jesus” when HIS “heart yearns for oneness with Him” does HIS “heart willingly follow” you too? SUBMIT ONE TO ANOTHER. These men who insist on the lead, believing as Mark teaches that women are more easily deceived and that the men are rightfully in charge and have the final word, these men 1) do not seem to be encouraged to grow in humility and Christ-likeness (their leader on stage as their example appears to reveal this in: pride, arrogance, cruelty, abuse, control, mockery, offensive language, etc), and 2) they seem to miss out on the benefit of so much intuitonal wisdom along with various gifts of analytical assessment that women have. Also, when a husband engages in this process of soul-murder (killing another’s spirit, crushing their spirit, nullifying their true personality), he loses the woman he fell in love with and married. He is witness to the slow cooling of the light in her eyes, and the deadening of her heart.
And the grand finale–which I suspect is the goal of all of this– “I have learned that when I rebel against submission I am a hindrance to God’s glory and to my husband’s God-given responsibility to lead our family. It is not about some earthly man controlling me…it is about honoring God and his design for marriage and biblical womanhood.”
“When she rebels against submission she is a hindrance to God’s glory” ? Is all submission healthy, God ordained, and for his glory? Some submission is abusive, such as a wife submitting to an abusive husband. But barring that scenario, which tragically is not uncommon in the Christian community, the expectation that all of her desires, dreams, goals, asperations must be submitted to a man rather than to Christ, could very well leave the women at MHC in a catch 22: either be true to the God who calls you forth to freedom (Gal 5:1) and being who he made you to be (Ps 139) and therefore being considered a HINDRANCE TO GOD’S GLORY AS YOU REBEL, or submit to whatever a man dictates to you, a man whom you married as a companion not a god, and let this mandated role be your ball and chain, slowly killing your spirit, and receive the accolades of authoritarian leaders for being such a sweet, quiet spirited, gentle, submissive woman.
This is then followed on the Mars Hill Site by, “Learn more about biblical marriage. Listen to Pastor Mark’s recent sermons about Marriage and Women and Marriage and Men,” and THEY offer “physical or sexual abuse counseling.”
The quotes from the story above on the Mars Hill Site was from the full story they posted at:
I grieve for this woman. I grieve for such a system. I grieve for those who will innocently receive their method of “counseling.” I grieve for Mark and his wife, and I grieve for all the other women being wounded by this system and for their husbands being molded and shaped into something God most certainly did not design.
I am not arguing against Eph 5, but the mishandling of it, the abuse of it. I love my husband and give myself up for him, and he loves me and gives himself up for me. My husband submits to me (gasp!), and I submit to him (Eph 5:21), —we do THIS “out of reverence for Christ.” We have been married happily, joyfully, a long, long time. I thank God that in my 20s I did not get trapped in a controlling, legalistic, authoritarian church system when I was so vulnerable, fresh out of my own victimization, and trying to figure out who I was as a human being, a woman, a survivor, a new wife, and a new Christian. I wonder what the fall-out is going to be for these women at MHC when they reach their mid 30s and the emptiness held at bay by little children and full schedules and demanding church duties begins to engulf them when they realize: they never developed who they were really created to be, exercising all the gifts the Lord gave them for His glory and their pleasure.
If you have been spiritually abused, the site listed below is a clearing house for many internet sites covering spiritual abuse:
One site I’ve recently discovered (and am very impressed with) which has information and articles about Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse, Spiritual / Church / Pastor Abuse and more is:
If you have been victimized by a professional (therapist, priest/pastor, doctor, lawyer, instructor, etc), an excellent forum with TONS of resources is:
My next post will be an example of an MHC “wife/mother” who feels the emptiness now, while trying to talk herself out of it.
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