Driscoll: Who Would Jesus Dehumanize?

driscollI can’t remember if I’ve blogged about Driscoll before, and with our internet running at a snail pace I can’t look it up. I’ll just recap Driscoll from what I know.

Mark Driscoll is a pastor of a growing church in Seattle called Mars Hill. He’s a super trendy, cool dude (not to be confused with the other super cool, trendy dude from Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Rob Bell) who is the new face of the conservative calvinist church movement. If I were to take a guess, I’d say the old face was and has been John Piper, Minneapolis based pastor, whose sermons and books have been quite formative in my faith and theology.

Though as I’ve journeyed along in my faith I’ve come to find some of my views are in stark contrast to Pipers, he’s still very much a ‘mentor’ of mine and someone I respect deeply. That said, you’d think I’d feel similarly about Driscoll. Not the case.

Sometime last year Driscoll said some absolutely ridiculous things (apparently he says this sort of thing frequently, but this time it was youtubed [p.s. This video is terribly offensive, viewers beware]) and it stirred up quite the controversy in the blogosphere. Here’s my basic summary: Driscoll has a habit of trumping up the masculinity of Christ and demeaning women at the same time, people complained, a protest was planned for a coming Sunday, both sides agreed to meet on a Thursday and Driscoll both apologized and agreed to meet with someone who would ‘counsel’ him on why some of his language is inappropriate.

Needless to say, I was impressed by this move on Driscoll’s part and hoped to see some good come of it. Fast forward to this past week. I saw a link to a New York Times article on Driscoll, Who Would Jesus Smack Down? I clicked over and gave it a read, and through the first page I was quite impressed. I appreciate Driscoll’s candidness on issues, and I even dig his commitment to his theology. But, I was sadly disappointed when I started reading the same sort of language he’d been rebuked on coming up, and the remaining four pages had not a word about any change that he’s made. Now, it could be the author simply missed this, but you’d have to admit it’d be a hard change to miss.

Driscoll constantly rails against what he calls the “feminization” of Christ, continually using feminine and many other ‘female’ oriented terms in a negative way. He describes Protestant culture as “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists,” clearly not intended as a compliment.

Who does Driscoll think he is? With both a wife and five kids, how does he think it’s in any way appropriate to refer to women in such a condescending way? It absolutely blows me away. And what’s even more distrubing to me is that pastors like John Piper, who I truly admire and respect, seem to be silent or even supportive of Driscoll. I even found a video on a semi-related note by John Piper on why he invited Mark Driscoll to the Desiring God conference back in June of 2008.

Piper, someone who is brilliant and extremely intentional with his choice of language, seems to have blinders on to the dehumanizing and sexist attitude and choice of words that Driscoll seems to promote. It breaks my heart that Piper hasn’t spoke up on this (Piper, if your out there listening, I’d love to hear you speak up on this).

Mindy recommended an illustration to help the inappropriateness of Driscoll’s choice of language really sink in. Replace any other oppressed group title into the above quote and the offensiveness becomes quite clear. How would you feel if you heard a pastor saying this:
“The church is full of black people and black-acting dudes with limp wrists.”

I don’t think you need to go much further then that to see how obviously inappropriate Driscoll’s language is. I’m very open to Driscoll making a case for Jesus being a more hard-lined, Calvinist theology-like savior (not that I agree with him, but I’m fine with him saying it). But to do that at the expense of half our population? To promote a theology that calls for female submission in the church and at the same time degrades and dehumanizes our mothers, sisters and daughters; That’s not just un-Christ-like, it’s inhumane.

16 thoughts on “Driscoll: Who Would Jesus Dehumanize?”

  1. Mars Hill is (if I recall correctly) extremely traditional and oppressive in their ideas about the roles of women in the family and in the church. Women are expected to get married, stay at home with their babies – lots of them – and let their husband call all the shots. This kind of attitude absolutely disgusts me. If a woman chooses to marry, great. If she chooses to have children, many children, great. If she chooses to stay at home with her kids, wonderful. However, all of those choices are not, in my mind, any more Godly than choosing to remain unmarried and childfree, or to have a career outside the home. Why on earth would God gift women with certain abilities if his intention for them was to never use them?

    I read one interview with a woman from Mars Hill who was a wife and SAHM. She was clearly uncomfortable and unhappy in her role and had chosen it only because of her church's teaching and her husband's instruction. She missed her career and her life before Christ. What a sad, sad waste – and what a great way to further alienate non-Christians, by telling them that God hates the lives they've chosen and that a woman's only purpose in life is as a mindless baby factory.

    Again, to clarify: I know that many women choose to be SAHMs for a variety of reasons, and many women find fulfillment in that role. However, it is not the right choice for EVERY woman, and shame on any church leader who says it is.

  2. wow. no idea. thanks for sharing… i can not be how lame this guy is.. i've been sort of tempted to get into his stuff, but thankfully now will avoid him like the plague..

  3. Also, I meant for the phrase "mindless baby factory" to apply to women who relinquish all of their decision-making to their husbands. I know that many people believe that the truly Biblical family unit will have the husband as the head of the family and what he says, goes. I, personally, do NOT hold that belief (and no Scripture anyone can quote will convince me otherwise). If a woman chooses to submit herself completely to her husband – even to do things that go against her conscience, as some religious sects will advocate – I believe it's a waste of God's most precious resource, the heart and mind of a human being!

  4. I have read some of his stuff, including his blog…his good stuff is really good….but his bad stuff is really bad…he seems to be one of those guys who is extreme hit or miss

  5. Hi, Indie. I'm sorry that my comment offended you. Let me clarify – what I think is a waste is a woman choosing to be a SAHM, or a mother at all, simply because that's what's expected by her church or her family. If a woman wants to work outside of the home, and she believes she can best reflect and serve God in that way, who's to tell her differently? Likewise, if a woman wants to stay home with her children, anyone who snubs or shames her for that choice is way out of line in my book. I am offended by churches and Christians who think they know what God's will is for me just because I have two X chromosomes. I agree with you, women (and men) who choose to make raising their children a full-time job are often undervalued, and that's a darn shame.

  6. Driscoll has been around for a long time. He came to my college (Northwestern in Orange City, Iowa) in 1998 or 1999. His viewpoints often don't jive with mine, but I will tell you this. He talked in his Chapel speech about reaching out to the lost (prostitutes, drug addicts, pedophiles) in Seattle area and you should have seen the outrage by the students at lunch time. They couldn't believe he was talking about hanging out with "those" people and that he would witness to a pedophile in his own house with his daughters in the same room.

    I gained respect for him in that aspect and loved the challenge, but the "masculine vs. feminine" stuff is just off….

  7. Driscoll said: "All the innovative dudes are home watching football." Right. Sitting around on your lazy backside watching someone else do something is such a mark of innovation.

    Emily, I agree with what you are saying, but one line bothered me. By using the phrase "mindless baby factory" you imply that having and caring for children is not real or important work. I don't like Driscoll at all, but I feel like too many people swing to the other side and act like making sacrifices to be a full time mother for a time is "a sad, sad waste" to use your words. I'm a SAHM. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I think that I might be happier back at work, but I doubt this is true after talking to many, many women who are on the other side wishing they could be in my place. I have plans to transition back into work sometime soon. I find it pretty ironic that the job that has taught me the most and been the most challenging cannot be put on a resume. I would venture to say that we have more problems in this country with mothering work being undervalued (whether that is unpaid SAHMothering or poorly paid childcare, teaching, ect) than we do with Mark Driscoll types who would limit women to staying at home. Neither are good things in our culture and both are misogynistic.

  8. What wonderful conversation…I am touched by all these comments. I think stay-at-home parents are amazing…especially the one who wrote this post.
    : )
    Personally, not only do I find him offensive (as a woman) but I find Driscoll one of the most amazingly hypocritical figures of our current times. The language that he uses to project what he sees as an ineffective portrayal of Jesus directly calls the feminine ineffective and ungodly – which is totally out of line. I think it goes back to the fact that my G-d is not male or female…and to qualify only masculine traits as G-dly traits is totally ridiculous and heretical.

  9. Justin,

    Thanks for sharing that story. I agree, there are some things I appreciate about him. If you read the article, there are some things I found encouraging about his preaching and 'outreach'.
    That said, his sexism and dehumanizing of women is completely unacceptable and needs to be addressed.

  10. Ariah-

    I totally agree and would love to have a conversation with you some time when I might be up in the Twin Cities area. (Maybe a cup of coffee or something)

  11. The problem with many of these comments is that they are based on second hand information. Using the Wall Street Journal article as your affirmation that Driscoll remains unchanged seems a little silly to me. I'm not sure that article didn't have it's own spin on things and the things Driscoll is quoted as saying weren't placed within the timeline of his ministry, AKA they could be the same things he got in trouble for saying a long time ago.

    Furthermore, none of these comments mention scripture, they are all just opinions. This is one problem with blogs, they allow us to elevate our opinions to absolute truth. Many of these comments fall under the reasoning: "if it offends me then it must be wrong." I don't think we can react to Driscoll in this way. Instead, we must look to absolute truth as it is contained in scripture and then evaluate him on that basis. Specifically I am thinking of the comments made by Emily. Emily, rather than railing against his view of women and portraying him as a womanizer, you need to first listen to Driscoll speak about women and realize that he does so with the utmost love and care and the desire for them to live out their God given roles (as he interprets them), second you need to look at Scripture and see that He his drawing his views from Scripture, and third, you need to engage him at the scriptural level, reading each passage in its context and assessing whether or not he has interpreted it correctly.

    This takes a lot more work than just spouting off your opinion in a blog, but it is also much more beneficial for your soul. It is good to ground your beliefs in truth rather than assume that truth is in accordance with your opinions.

  12. I never accused Driscoll of being a "womanizer." I have no reason to believe that he's not a faithful husband. I do think he's sexist – though you make a good point that my opinion is based on a fair amount hearsay – and that some of his sexist opinions come from his interpretation of Scripture. I do not believe the Bible is infallible, or that it's the only source of "truth." For that reason, yes, many of my opinions will diverge from fundamental interpretations of the Bible, and I find sexist attitudes held by some Christians to be offensive.

  13. Hey Emily,
    Thanks for responding. I'm sorry for suggesting you called Driscoll a womanizer. I wasn't being as careful with my words as I should have been and so I wasn't using this term in its technical sense but rather was using it to refer to someone who is sexist, as you've already said you believe Driscoll is. I can see that we are coming at this issue from different angles as far as truth and scripture is concerned and this obviously will draw us to different conclusions. I am curious though where you believe truth can be found.

    As far as Driscoll goes, here is my honest opinion as someone who has been listening to his sermons via podcasts for the past 4-5 years. Driscoll is someone who is rough around the edges and whom I have found offensive at times, however, when you get to know him in his context some of these rough edges are easier to live with, although I may not agree with everything he says. Driscoll has explained in some of his books and sermons that he grew up an angry Irish Catholic who was always looking for the next brawl. He became a Christian in college and fell in love with God's word reading the Bible in its entirety in the next two weeks. God called him to plant a church in Seattle and it grew at an incredible rate. God has used him to bring literally thousands of people to Christ and because of his 'edginess' many of these people would never have set foot in a church ended up coming to hear the gospel from a pastor who used to be a brawler, occasionally cussed in his sermons, and told really funny stories, even if some found them offensive. All that to say, I think everyone should give Driscoll a try. His "Christ on the Cross" series is a good place to start. I've also enjoyed his series on Philippians a lot as well as on the "Song of Solomon."

  14. NOT a Driscoll fan, nor a Piper fan … Calvinists scare me a little bit. We are former minnesotans now only able to act as podrishoners at Woodland Hills Church – but with the internet as our main choice for English sermons while living abroad — we do check out a lot of the big names — but I find Driscoll to be far too cocky to draw me or anyone I know toward Christ. I always watch him with a "get off my side" feeling stirring.

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