Tuesday, February 17, 2009

it's not a dead horse and it's worth beating. let's not lose hope

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
Seattle Times

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").

• Mocking and undermining another denomination of the Christian church:
“The One God has kindly told us who He is—Father, Son, and Spirit. But some chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists and minors in 'womyn’s studies' are not happy because two persons of the Trinity have a dude-ish ring. So, in an effort to copy-edit God, some folks at the Presbyterian Church (USA) who have free time because no one is going to their church have decided to consider new names for God.”

• Comparing women in leadership to "fluffy baby bunnies":
“All of this [the Episcopal church appointing female and homosexual leaders] has led this blogger to speculate that if Christian males do not man up soon, the Episcopalians may vote a fluffy baby bunny rabbit as their next bishop to lead God’s men. When asked for their perspective, some bunny rabbits simply said that they have been discriminated against long enough and that people need to “Get over it.”

• 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… – I love it when the national organization for women, for example, comes out and says, ‘…and representing women…” What women? Did they take a vote? Did all the Christian women vote? Did the mothers vote? Did the wives vote? No. You don’t represent all women. You represent a liberal feminist constituency. Period. Not all women. Not 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."

• Making fun of strong women and mocking feminists:
"The question is not: Will someone be offended? The question is, who will it be? Will we offend God, saying, you know what? This is an old book, you’re kind of an idiot. I have some other opinions. I went to community college. I have a degree in women’s studies. I have a pushup bra and clear heels and opinions! [Congregation laughs.] The question is, who will be offended: God or us? And if we are offended do we really believe that God doesn’t know what he’s talking about or that this really isn’t God speaking to us? Those are the issues on the table. 'As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.' He’s speaking here about godless feminist women who are on an agenda, beatin’ a drum, plantin’ a flag in the ground, “We’re for women! We’re for women! We’re for women!” He says, 'You know what? We’re for Jesus.' Wrong mission. Women are great, as long as they’re for Jesus."

• More making fun of women and feminists:
"They [feminists] will say, “You need to treat me like a man!” None of you women want that. No woman wants a man to treat her like another man. Because if we do…you cry. That’s true. [laughter and applause in congregation] Also: " The problem with women, though, who want to be treated like men, is as soon as you do, they say, "You know what, you hurt my feelings. I'm a girl."

• Mr. Driscoll implies that Brian McLaren has sex with goats because he accepts gay people into his church.

• “…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."

• Mocking homosexuals:
"I am myself a devoted heterosexual male ####### who has been in a monogamous marriage with my high school sweetheart since I was 21 and personally know the pain of being a marginalized sexual minority as a male #######."


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.

I am sure that Mr. Driscoll has many fine points and I am not calling into question his love of God or Jesus or the Bible. I am, however, pointing out that his demonization of everyone who deviates from his absolutist claims is causing vast damage to individuals, to the community, and to the church. Perhaps he is trying to be hip and funny and provocative. But the price of this approach is far too high.

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? Mr. Driscoll has had to apologize publicly for his abuse before; on March 27, 2006, he apologized for comments made on the CT Leadership blog, in which he (among other abuses) implied that Brian McLaren had sex with goats because he accepted gay people in his church. John Piper also has censured him for being "clever."

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. Until he can control his words and his tone, please ask him to step down as the religion columnist representing Christianity for the Seattle Times. 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?

Sincerely,

Shari MacDonald Strong

46 comments:

Mike Edwards said...

Why, I wonder, does Shari think that picketing Mars Hill is the Christian thing to do?

It seems she is setting herself up to think that however SHE interprets scripture is the correct way, making Mark wrong about his view, all in the name of making him out to be narrow or closed minded. Unfortunately ironic.

stephy said...

Mike. It is entirely appropriate to picket a church that is preaching false doctrine in the name of Jesus. Do you agree with peaceful protest like Ghandi and MLK advocated? (not to mention how Jesus advocated it?)

And more profoundly, by saying what you have just said, YOU are setting yourself up to think that however YOU interpret scripture is the correct way.

stephy said...

And Mike...do you not know what Mars Hill teaches? I have to assume you don't if you think it would be wrong to find their views conflicting with scripture.

Mike Edwards said...

Steph

My how we always end up in these conversations ;-) And just to be extra sure...know that my tone is irenic!

--It is false doctrine according to?
--Jesus didn't peacefully protest in the same way did he?

--I'm just calling it like I see it from Sherry's comments. I'm not claiming to promote or defend anyone. I think it's sadly humorous that because someone thinks differently than Driscoll and that he is FOR SURE WRONG, that he is the narrow minded one.

That is all..

stephy said...

Mike.

It is indeed sadly humorous if someone thinks that because they think differently from someone (in this case, Mark Driscoll), then they are for sure wrong.

But did you READ the post? That is NOT what Shari is doing! I am absolutely baffled that you would have read the post and then come to the conclusion that Shari was just "thinking differently" than him.

Mike Edwards said...

I did read the post. I definitely said "seems." I don't know Shari.

My only point is that even if EVERY one of those snippets she shares is properly contextualized, she's not really addressing the issue, but making it more of a personal nature about Driscoll.

I also think the best form of critique is to create. That's why even if Mark's take on Scripture in this case is wrong, I'm not sure that picketing his church is appropriate for one Christian to do to a church (after all, she says she's not questioning his love for Jesus) nor do I think it has or will accomplish what she hopes it will.

The Bible seems to have a process for how to deal with those who have offended us, but did Mark personally offend Shari other than just having a biblical stance on something that differs from her own? Is organizing or participating in picketing a church the way to handle disputes between Christians?

Anyway, I guess I've said my peace.

On another note--thanks for passing along the link about the iPhone application. It was a huge help today as it was actually a potential issue where I was.

stephy said...

It was a large picketing event that had been organized by people who had suffered abuse under that particular church. It wasn't just one person going to picket...

David said...

Mike: 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.

ShariMacD said...

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.

ShariMacD said...

Thanks so much, Steph and David, both for engaging with this hard topic at a societal level, and for wanting to understand at a personal level.

Lauren said...

Mike, your unintentional (I hope) typo (irenic for ironic) is, in itself, ironic. Because you seem angry.

I understand that anger, though mine is directed in the opposite direction. As the child of a wonderful, functional, loving pastoral marriage, I am so angry about Driscoll's implication that the only reason their marriage is so is because my mother hasn't "let herself go." That statement is an affront on so many levels. I take it personally.

And know this: I am as ambivalent on the existence of God/Jesus as the day is long. But my understanding of Christianity is that Christians are not called to act in anger, but to speak the truth in love, which is exactly what Shari is doing. What Shari commented on was not a difference in doctrine. She commented on hate speech, which is what Driscoll is guilty of. And she commented on it with gentleness and respect. That's not petty. That's not a difference of doctrine. That's what God's people are called to do.

And for the freaking record, I DO have a push-up bra. And the God I teeter on the verge of believing in is just fine with that.

Mike Edwards said...

Lauren

Irenic was used on purpose. It is a word that means "peaceful". No typo there.

I am not angry at all.

Lauren said...

Thank you for pointing that out. It's not every day I get to learn a new word! Upon spending sometime on the OED website and delving into the definition of that word, I'm going to have to argue that while you may not be angry (and you may not be at all -- it's not my business to tell you how you feel, but I got a. lot. of anger from what you said) you're not irenic, either.

Irenic means producing peace. Moderation. Reconciliation.

I mean, I'm not irenic either. These are issues I don't talk about because I'm NOT CAPABLE of being peaceful about them. I have the utmost respect for people like Shari and Stephy and David who do. But I'd respectfully ask you not to claim that your intention here was to be conciliatory. Your intention was to talk about how Shari was wrong, and you were right. And you're allowed to do that. But you're not allowed to call it peace seeking. Sorry.

Mike Edwards said...

I wanted my tone to be irenic (if you go back and read how I used the word), though my opinions may not lead to peaceful resolutions on this matter.

Though I haven't gotten your permission to continue posting thoughts, Lauren, I respectfully disagree that my intention was to talk about how Shari was wrong.

I'll be done with this now, since we're not even talking about the point anymore.

ShariMacD said...

I believe Mike's point was that he found it ironic that I was accusing Mark Driscoll of being narrow-minded about scripture interpretation, when he (Mike) found me to be narrow-minded about scripture interpretation.

But since I was never talking about theology, and rather was talking about Mark Driscoll's treatment of people (making fun of people from the pulpit, name-calling from the pulpit, teaching his congregants to be dismissive and disparaging of entire people groups, including women who speak up about mistreatment in the church, feminists, and anyone who disagrees with Mark Driscoll), I don't see that there was ever a real, factual point of conversation that we've drifted away from.

ShariMacD said...

Thanks so much for your words, Lauren. 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.

It's people like you and Stephy and David who give me hope.

the nibbling marmot said...

Dear Shari MacD,

I think you are a bad ass.

Forgive me for being repetitive by writing after the great points from Lauren and David.

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.

And Stephy, thanks for posting this! I'm all the way across the world, feeling excited that you people are speaking out for women.

Beth

stephy said...

Mike. Your hubris is unbelievable. I see no love or grace or passion for truth or relationship in you, only devotion to your interests. If you're a Christian, let me never be one.

Lauren said...

Oh, Mike.

We are still talking about the point. The point is the importance of speaking the truth in love when you're convicted to do so, and, in tandem, the VITAL importance of making sure that that conviction comes out of a place that is full of grace and compassion. Full of Christ. You are condoning the actions of a man who acts on hatred. You are saying that his words are to be tolerated. You are saying that it is okay that he slanders my family, my gender, the people that I love. You are saying actions taken in the name of scripture that are predicated on hate are acceptable. I cannot let you do that. I wish that I could. My life would be easier if I could. Believe me.

Please note that I NEVER told you that you weren't allowed to express your opinions. You are. You are NOT allowed to claim you're speaking in peace without getting called out on it. I'm sorry, but you just aren't. Condoning hatred, no matter WHAT tone of voice you use, is not peaceful. Or moderate. Or reconciliatory. It just isn't.

You would be well within your rights to accuse me of being angry too. I sure as fuck am. But if you think I'm overreacting, imagine your mother being reduced to a sex object by someone in a position of authority and power and influence.

Congratulations: you've succeeded in reminding me that a strong reason why I walked away from Christianity was the futility of and rage caused by trying to change the minds of people who put God into a box of judgment and bigotry and hate, who stood by while people were marginalized, and then they called it love and called it truth.

Mike Edwards said...

in NO WAY do I want to condone hatred. in NO WAY!!!!! Sorry if you took me otherwise.

My comments about permission were tongue in cheek. Again, comment sections are horrible for TONE, which I was hoping to convey by saying up front my intention with that.

Shari, if you thought that I was in a cheering section happy that you've been hurt in some way, nothing could be further from the truth. I don't know Driscoll and I don't know you. I do know I want the best for both of you. That part is NOT tongue in cheek--but real.

David said...

So, Mike: A woman has felt abused by a church minister and named it. Are you able to hear it at face value?

She's not asking you to believe in the feminist bible. She's asking that you acknowledge she felt hurt, and pointing a finger at what hurt her.

I know it means taking a step of faith and letting her claim something that may not be black and white but has lots of shades of gray.

Not only did Jesus condone peaceful protest, his life was a peaceful protest. The cross was the ultimate peaceful protest because it demanded that even while the abuse was still hot in Driscoll's mouth, EVEN Driscoll was meant to be declared innocent. What the fuck?

Logical scripture interpretation isn't the scandal that drives the Gospel, MERCY is. Mercy isn't safe. Yes, the homeless man is going to take your change and buy cheap whiskey, but that is no excuse to deny him Mercy. Mercy doesn't ask questions of fairness. It was the filthy Samaritan who picked up the wounded Jew in the road. What have you or I done in the light of God's mercy? Mostly pissed on it.

I would hope in light of this, you would be able to extend a little personal mercy to someone who has asked for it, not because of their exegetical or hermeneutical prowess, not because of their faith or denominational leaning, but because they are fundamentally human.

Mike Edwards said...

David--

I think my sentiments are expressed in my previous comment. I don't even know the circumstances of how Shari was personally hurt or abused by anyone, but I do know that I do not wish that upon her and my heart goes out to her and desires that the gospel wins out in this situation for her in redemptive ways.

ShariMacD said...

Thank you, Mike. 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 hte 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.

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Trev said...

Firstly (in case anyone cares), I fully side with Mike in this matter.

I go to a church that challenges me. On a good day, I will -maybe- agree with 25% of what's said in the sermon. And I'm OK with that!

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 independant 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.

Sorry Steph, but Ghandi was NOT peaceful. His "passive" politics led to the death of thousands. Jesus' protest was anything BUT peaceful (flipping over the tables in the synygogue, calling Peter "satan", coming to bring "division").

ShariMacD said...

Right! Is Driscoll really more chauvenistic than Paul? Was Hitler really more evil than Charles Manson? Or Jim Jones? Or Pol Pot? Get over it people!

Please. There isn't one paragraph in Trevor's post that is actually driven by intelligent critical thinking -- or a shred of compassion. More importantly, it illustrates perfectly why people are leaving the evangelical church in emotional shreds, in huge numbers. Wow. Every word from people like this makes me run even further from the evangelical church, screaming. Thanks for reminding me why I left. If I ever thought I'd go back, you cured me.

ShariMacD said...

"You" being the oh-so-compassionate Trevor, of course.

ShariMacD said...

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.

Rye said...

Steph (and Shari),

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 and are still working to build a church community that is inclusive for all. Isn't that where you'd like to be?--somewhere where you're welcome and loved and safe?

My point?: You can always tell who's the scout of a wagon train--they're the ones with all the arrows in them. I think it's commendable that Shari speak up about Veronica Mars Hill. There's a lot of abusive leaders in the church that need to be called out.

Hugh said...

OK let’s start by saying that I am a white male Baptist from SE London (UK). I can feel the heat of anger coming off these posts and, to me, some of them, but not all, are not the type of anger displayed by Jesus (or Paul, who sometimes gets a higher rating). Let's get this straight from a scriptural point of view, there should be no doubt that Jesus placed women in an equal position before God to men. Why do I say that? Tom Wright, evangelical bishop of Durham (England – in case you missed where I live) explains it very well when he comments on the story of Martha and Mary in context! In 1st century Palestine women and men led separate lives (apart from the bedroom) and the only women who would go into a public room in a house with the men were prostitutes - hence Martha's panic at Mary being in there. Mary, by sitting at Jesus's feet, had taken the place alongside the apostles as a disciple of Jesus. Hear what Jesus said "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." If Jesus affirmed Mary as an Apostle any person, male or female, who denies the equality of men and women in the Christian Church is denying the teaching of the Trinity as revealed in the human Jesus.

P.S. I was led to this blog by the Rev Maggi Dawn who was my daughter’s chaplain at college. My sister-in-law is a Baptist minister and the church I attend has a husband and wife as ministers and I suspect it is the husband who is letting himself go!!!

P.P.S. Stephy, lots of hugs from an evangelical, depressive to you and all your friends who have been abused by those who call themselves Christians from one who wishes all Christians would live with, and work out, their doubts and let it strengthen their faith. (That sentence is nearly long enough to be Pauline!)

P.P.S What does “the money the business” have to do with the Christianity – to me that sounds like the opposite of what we are called to be.

P.P.P.S. Please try remember God has a sense of humour – if He (or She) doesn’t I’m in deep trouble!

P.P.P.P.S. Apologies for the number of Post Scripts :)

Trev said...

Hi Shari,

You said: "Right! Is Driscoll really more chauvenistic than Paul? Was Hitler really more evil than Charles Manson? Or Jim Jones? Or Pol Pot? Get over it people!"

I'm drawing a direct line between original/scriptural church representatives and current ones. Hence, fighting Driscoll's chauvinism = fighting scripture (Paul). I wasn't just comparing random people's offences to other random people's offences.

You said: "'You' being the oh-so-compassionate Trevor, of course.

Isn't this the very attitude/name-calling that your are combating? I am truly baffled by this.

You said: "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."

Yes, I AM what you say with one important element added; I'm agnostic (borderline atheist). Every Sunday I am told by the pastor that I am not good enough, destined for hell and lacking in morality/common sense. I know exactly what it's like to be the target of ridicule in the church. However, I still attend for two good reasons: It greatly pleases my wife and it challenges my thinking. I allow alternate doctrines to be spoken into my life while remaining an independent thinker WITHOUT throwing a tantrum or checking myself into therapy. He's just a pastor, NOT the freakin' president. Ergo, he has the exact amount of power that we give him.

You said: "..or if you actually cared for a moment about someone who was -- you might just feel differently."

Big assumptions to be made from one post. I can have compassion for an individual without having compassion for their cause. I.e. "lemmings are cute, but stupid for walking off cliffs". If we were living under a dictatorship in an Arab/Islamic-run country, I would support your intent to picket/protest.

However, we are in a free country. Mr. Driscoll is one man with one opinion (and a douche it would seem). And the only place he has power is within his tiny, insignificant building (meanwhile, the outside world has moved on).

So should you be upset with him, or the hundreds of idiots who are laughing along with his bronze-age bigotry? It seems to me like he's just a product of his own church body.

Explain something to me Shari. Why do so many abused women come running back, time and time again, to their abusive husbands? Who do you blame in this matter? The drunken husband who never cleans up his act, or the self-victimizing woman who never learns? And which one are you picketing against?

stephy said...

Trev, I know too much about this because I'm a survivor of it. Women go back to abusive relationships because they think they deserve to be treated like that. The statistics say that women in abusive relationships overwhelmingly had abusive or absentee fathers, and being treated so badly is all they know. Daddy issues are rooted in wanting your dad's approval that you didn't get and if you had a shitty dad, the rest of your life you are strongly attracted to men who will treat you badly because you want to win them over. (The bad boy attraction type of thing.) This is all part of my history, from past boyfriends to being emotionally and physically abused by church leaders. By some stroke of luck or act of grace, I married David who doesn't hit me or tell me I'm worthless. I struggle to believe it still (that I'm worthy of being liked by anyone, let alone loved) and when I see people who believe what Mark Driscoll says about what men's and women's roles are, my heart breaks because I remember what it was like for me when I was in a church community that believed the same things. It's so far away from being loved the way God commanded us to love each other. I don't attend the church or give them money, but that's not enough to help people who are hurting under its sway. I want those families to not be led astray by false doctrine. I want them to know what Jesus truly says about women and families (e.g., in Hugh's comment above about Martha and Mary). I want no one else to be hurt in Jesus's name and I can't sit idly by while it's happening. I just can't. I can't physically do much, if anything, but I can talk and write about it, and hopefully some compassion will begin to spread.

ShariMacD said...

Trevor, I obviously was infuriated by your post, and rightly so. Nothing in your post indicates a desire to understand or to help. All you did was position chauvenism 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.

And now that I feel completely depressed by the state of humanity and feel myself losing faith in people's ability to care, I think I'm done engaging about this.

Trev said...

Stephy,

I really do know where you're coming from. I'm not, however, comfortable talking about it in mixed company, but I do nonetheless.

This is what's difficult about these discussions. It gets personal...too personal. Please don't take what I have to say next as crass or abrasive (not my intention).

Sob stories have a way of being utilised to push one's agenda. I have a handful of them, but I refrain deliberately in danger of clouding the issue at hand. Again, I mean no offense here.

The whole point of my last question (directed at Shari) was to bring to light the fact that we are all guilty/victimized at some level. "It takes two to tango" as it were. Make sense? I find both Driscoll's and Shari's position to be un-justifiable. Religion is notorious for starting wars, even with itself. How much longer must this go on? Shari's letter was not one of a "let's dialogue about this" sentiment, but rather a "this is why I will be picketing in front of your church". The action's already been promised, so what is there left to discuss?

I fear that Shari is drawing a harsh line between black and white in this possible manner: "if he's (trev) not on board with MY cause, he must be all FOR mr. Driscoll." It can be extremely difficult for people that are emotional to see anything outside of two possible positions. Hence, keeping a discussion of "ideals", "rights" and "doctrines" impersonal is imperative.

Notice how personal you and Shari have taken my thoughts? One result was a personal attack and the other was a personal outrcry of experience. I shall condone neither.

We can't go around picking fights with everyone in America that holds different views than us, just because of deep-seeded issues and bad, past experiences. It's an irrational/unhealthy approach in my opinion. It just gives our past more power than it deserves.

I'm not trying to discredit the viability and relevance of your past Stephy, but I would be very hesitant to validate it in THIS particular discussion.

I hope I'm making sense.

Trev said...

Shari,

I'm truly sorry I've made you feel this way. I was honestly trying to have an open/rational dialogue.

I've obviously offended you, which I deeply regret.

Looking back, I came on too strong initially with little consideration. I don't have an excuse that would do me any justice, so again, I'm truly sorry.

the nibbling marmot said...

Trev,

If, as you said, the world outside of Mars Hill is moving on, then why do you continue to argue invalid points with people who are laying their hearts on the line in order to bring more people into the light?

By calling Stephy's experience a sob story used to make a point, you are proving that you are not coming from a place of compassion and openness. It is disturbing to me that you would use this place as your forum.

BUT- I do agree about not giving our pasts all the power, in theory. As with anything, it is up to us to give power to that which deserves it. In order to sort through abuse, though, Trev, it takes a lot of time, a lot of anger, a lot of hashing out. Let's be angry and open together, and let's share how confusing it all can be. We can't pretend it's not happening or hasn't happened. That's the only way that there can be true progress.

Beth

the nibbling marmot said...

And Rye, I agree with you- let's call these people out on their shit. Let's not keep sweeping it under the rug.

Kudos, Stephy.

Trev said...

Nibbling Marmot,

You said: "..then why do you continue to argue invalid points with people who are laying their hearts on the line in order to bring more people into the light?"

Can you please clarify as to which points of mine have been "invalid"? As you may expect, I personally feel that everything I've taken to time to write down so far has been a valid point. Validity is subjective, as I'm sure you would agree?

Can you define "light" please? You and I may have very different views on that word (which I'm assuming is your basis for "invalid points").

You said: "By calling Stephy's experience a sob story used to make a point, you are proving that you are not coming from a place of compassion and openness. It is disturbing to me that you would use this place as your forum."

The disclaimer I gave Stephy (as you may recall) was given out of compassion for her and her feelings. This could be argued I'm sure, however my conscience is clean. It's extremely difficult to make a firm point without offending people (particularily religous people I'm afraid), thus I give disclaimers as I see fit.

How is this a disturbing choice of forum on my behalf?

Concerning your last paragraph: I know all-too-well what it's like to deal with physical/verbal abuse I'm afraid. My point is, there's a time for everything. And not every discussion/debate is a good time to openly wrestle with one's past, no matter how relevant it may seem.

Nobody wants to feel like they're getting under someone's skin to the point of making enemies (in what otherwise is a rational discussion). It seems that the only points of mine that are getting a response are the one's being taken personally.

Why must a rebuttal be recieved as an attack? I don't even know any of you! I'm simply a human being who disagrees and wants to have a discussion. Can we do this, or am I just wasting everybody's time?

the nibbling marmot said...

I think it would be hard to keep you out from under my skin, Trev, seeing as how you introduced yourself into the comment thread by letting us know that you agreed with a previous poster, who was also under my skin. That said, I appreciate your willingness to dialogue with me. I'm allowed to be irritated, and so are you. Obviously. That's what this is all about, right? We're annoyed, so we're speaking up.

I would challenge you to examine the energy that you're putting off, though, which you apparently already have, evidenced by your apology to Shari. Kudos.

You're right, I'm incredibly sensitive to this stuff. But it's not because I'm religious. I'd love to sit and talk this all over, because, if what you seem to be saying beneath your pretentiousness is true, you really do have a desire to connect, although you only want to do so to a certain point here on this thread. That's fair. So you're telling me that you agree with the reality of the abuse of the church, and have experienced it yourself, and you mentioned before that you are not really even a Christian. Great! We have a lot in common.

I don't mind being personal with this: I don't believe in the Bible, I don't believe in a Christian god. Not at all. I'm totally comfortable talking about it with Christians, too, if they are, and get the feeling that Christians like Stephy would be alright to talk about it.

Therefore, when I say "light," I mean it as the opposite of darkness. My mom and many other women who I grew up knowing were in abusive marriages, on all different levels. That is darkness. Sitting in the congregation of a middle aged white man (great point, Shari), week after week, being inundated by the idea that, not only is divorce wrong, no matter how young or stupid you were when you got married, and that it is wrong to question your husband. "Submit. Submit. Submit." (Not to mention the filth that Driscoll feeds his smiling hipster congregation)--That, to me, is darkness. I got out of that stuff early enough to not get married into it, and I remember that and I'm happy about that every single day. That is the light- that freedom to express and explore outside of the umbrella of darkness. And I want to help bring more women into that.

I cannot speak for you, but I can speak for the stereotype of privilege, especially in what seems to be your demographic. It is very difficult to understand the perspective of any oppressed people group when you are not a part of them. This is where I think your argument against women needing to leave and take responsibility is "invalid," in my opinion. So, to be fair, I can't tell you your thoughts are invalid. So, yeah, subjectivity.

Best,
Beth

ShariMacD said...

Trevor, thanks for the apology. I'm sorry, too, for the "oh-so-compassionate" comment and for getting so angry. I'm just so, so tired of trying to stand up and help make things better for people, especially women in the church, only to wind up feeling like a target at a carnival shooting range while the original offense (in this case, Mark Driscoll's words about women) is condoned, or at the very least swept under the rug.

I think a calmer dialogue is possible, but I'm afraid I'm just too tired and worn down (not just this discussion, but the larger one) to participate any more. Before exiting, though, I did want to thank you (and Mike) for apologizing, and to thank Rye and Lauren and Beth and Hugh and Stephy and David for their support and kind words. I wish there was a way to bring overnight help and change to those who need it, but I suppose real change is more of a long-term goal, as painful as it is to wait.

Simone said...

I'm going to make a late contribution here after following this for past two days.

First of all, I will state that I whole heartedly agree with Steph and Shari that Mark Driscoll is despicable and abusive. Having said that, I think I see where Trev was coming from, though he might have made his point clearer had he taken a position on the matter. If I understand him correctly, he was asking why is one position right and one wrong, and with the Bible being the basis of the argument, I can see that point.

There is a difference, but as I see it, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Bible, whether or not Jesus was for or against protest or whether Driscoll is just like Paul or whatever. The fact is, while it seems Driscoll has taken great liberties in his interpretation, you can get away with nearly anything and have the Bible back you up, except gayness which just never seems to be okay in there.

So many people believe there would be no morality without the Bible, but I completely disagree. What I see to be happening here is that people on both sides are projecting their own ideas of right and wrong on it, not the other way around. I still think there is a right and wrong and that can be applied simply by "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Do I want to be murdered, stolen from, have my husband cheat on me or be kicked in the shin? No, no, no, no, no. So if I go to do any of those things to anyone else, I would be overcome with guilt knowing I wouldn't like it done to me. It's as simple as that. I'm guessing Driscoll would not like to be treated the way he suggests women be treated, but since he is a man, he's not concerning himself with that little "what if?". But that simple tool tells the rest of us reasonable people which is the right way and which is the wrong way to do something.

If a parents do a poor job of raising their child, who then becomes a juvenile delinquent, the parents could well be deemed unfit. What then does it say about the Bible, whose message is so easily skewed in all directions, that it can breed someone like Driscoll? Certainly it can breed love and compassion as easily as it can breed sexism and bigotry, but the fact that it can to the later is extremely alarming. I don't see the point of bickering over the interpreter when the base document allows for such to happen.

The innate sense of right and wrong, I believe, is naturally ocurring in all of us, as articulated in the golden rule. If we were all more willing to trust our own judgment, people like Driscoll would not have the power to manipulate people by contorting a book to suit his own agenda. It's people unable to trust themselves and then looking to people like him to lead which allows for spiritual abuse to take place.

I hope I've made my point properly and not upset anyone any further. I can say what I've said and am still able to say that Mark Driscoll is an evil fucker (and a prime candidate for a closet homosexual, I might add) and I support anyone who wants to wants to shut him down. Not everybody has the strength to free themselves from the abuse, which is why I applaud those willing to stand up to it.

Trev said...

Everyone:

Perhaps this is a good note on which to "wrap things up". If Shari is too exhausted to continue on in this (the very person that this discussion has revolved around) then this would be as good a'time as ever to gracefully bow out.

Shari, nibbling marmot, Simone: Thank you for your kind words.

Steph: I hope we're still cool. I really hope I haven't hurt you, seriously...you're awesome!

juls said...

Thanks Steph for posting Shari's letter. And thank you Shari for being so brave!

It seems so common now that I meet people who have been hurt, abused and dismissed from the "church." These occurrences burden me. Churches wonder why they lose people...it's because they think they can traffic and police people into loving God.

The reality is...it's a challenge in the church to keep ourselves and one another accountable appropriately. But I don't understand why anyone would resort to ridicule and complete disrespect. From what I've read and listened to of Mark Driscoll he is a police officer not a pastor.

Robin E. said...

More here:
Praying Heart - Seeking Justice & Reconciliation at Mars Hill
http://prayingheart.wordpress.com

freedom4captives said...

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.

freedom4captives.wordpress.com

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!
Freedom

Anonymous said...

Stumbled across this page by accident,

don't you Christians ever shut up?

You just rave on and on about trivial garbage