Friday, November 17, 2006

The Mark Driscoll Firestorm

Mark Driscoll has "apologized" for his insulting remarks about women made in the wake of the Ted Haggard scandal. The most offensive are these:
Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. 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. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.

I was first linked to these comments by a friend who is not an evangelical and who had never heard of Driscoll. I read them and dismissed them as the rantings of a self-indulgent up-and-coming pastor who liked to make wise-cracks as insider jokes to his buddies.

Alas, the Internet did not render the same verdict. All kinds of responses have been launched at Mark. TallSkinnyKiwi has a good summary of the varieties of reactions to the offending remarks.

Honestly, I hardly care any more what some guy in a church says about women, Christianity, or sex. What I found more intriguing was the way sincere requests for apologies within the emergent movement were first, dismissed and then side-stepped in that "poor excuse for an apology" letter, and more fascinating still, how many men rushed to Mark's defense. Had these comments been made about a race or ethnic group (blacks or Mexicans) or made by Muslims, I think Christians would consider them insulting and ignorant. Why Mark gets a pass is beyond me.

Humorous response: The People Against Fundamentalism are rallying the troops! Using their mad fundamentalist skill set, they will picket and protest Mark's "misogynist" remarks in front of his church on Sunday... you know, to show them the Truth and to Rescue women from not being smart enough to recognize how dangerous Mark really is to them.


anj said...

I find it amusing that MD's double-speak counts as an apology on our sound bite world.

selahV said...

Julie, like the way you state your position. How can we tell when you are mad? lol. selahV

Cheryl said...


I responded to your last post on JesusCreed. org, but wanted to point out something I'm sure you already know.

Even IF Driscoll apologizes, you know it won't be sincere. It will be only to avoid bad press (although he seems to thrive on it).

I don't believe for a second that Jerry Falwell believes any differently toward atheists, civil libertarians, feminists, and homosexuals today than he did after his apology in 2001. He caught so much flak from blaming them as the "real" cause of 9/11, that he felt he had no choice if he was to have any kind of voice.

I'm much more likely to accept the apology of someone like George Wallace who said he was wrong about segregation. He was no where on the public's radar when after years of reflection and maturity, he just up and offered an apology. Granted, the damage of his legacy had been done, but I felt his contrition was sincere.

Until Driscoll comes to the conclusion in his own mind, an apology will be hollow.

julieunplugged said...

Cheryl, great comment over on JC. I had thought a similar thought but was too lazy to go get the verse. Kudos!

The whole spirit of the discussion is what cracks me up. How men can not see that their "lesser view" of women leads them to flippant insensitive remarks is beyond me.

Thanks Selah and anj too. Oh, you'll know when I'm mad. :) This ain't it.

preacherruss said...

Just be grateful for guys like Driscoll. Without them reminding us of how good we have it, we wouldn't know little tidbits like these:

"After church tonight you will go home and you will eat chicken, not human, because of the spread of Christianity... go to a country where there hasn’t been the spread of Christianity and they’re having human for dinner."

Moronic doesn't even get close to it.

karen spears zacharias said...

Appreciated your comments about Driscoll on Scot's blog. You nailed it.

julieunplugged said...

Thanks Karen. I have always liked your writing. Nice to see you here.

Cheryl said...


You and I seem to have agree on lots of issues. I wonder if you read/what you thought about my post a couple of days ago when had the post of Rose Swetman's letter.

I'd like to know if you thought if I went in the right direction with the I see Driscoll's line of reasoning progressing. Here is what I wrote:

(This was in response to a man who said there probably a lot of people who would agree with Driscoll.)

I’m sure there is a very large contingent who would agree about a woman’s place in the church and in the home. But I have a hard time thinking that much of anyone (except men who need to have nice-looking wives to stay faithful) would agree with what he said here: A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.

Honestly, when I read Driscoll’s remarks the first time, the first thing that came to mind was the mullah in Australia who said that if a woman goes outside alone without full covering, she is basically asking to be raped. How did he say it? “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

And before you jump on my head, I’m NOT calling Driscoll a wacky mullah! I’m hoping he’s a well-meaning brother in Christ who has some views that are just VERY different than mine. But both his and the mullah’s comments were revolving around sexual sin and where partial weight of blame might belong in such cases. Their similar views regarding the inequality of men and women can easily get stretched to their logical conclusion and become distorted into a belief system that blames the woman for the lack of restraint in a man.

The natural progression of thought from Driscoll’s statement to the mullah’s statement does not take a large leap to get from one to the other.

Your thoughts?

julieunplugged said...

Yes, Cheryl your logic makes sense to me. One of the challenges that women face in Christianity is being heard and taken seriously for what they say. We're told how to behave, what influence our actions have on men, whether or not to be shocked or offended, and when we're misreading them. If you read any literature at all about power issues, these behaviors are primary means of retaining power over others.

Scot closed down comments. His final remarks are generous toward all points of view.

Still, the real issue to me is the inability of men (like Mark) to actually hear a viewpoint that differs with their own. Can't imagine being married to that guy.

Cheryl said...

Hahah, I know. I feel so badly for Driscoll's wife, but I figure 2) she either honestly believes as he does and is okay with it, or b) she has so repressed her own "self" in order to conform to her husband's view of her role (and thus, "earn" his love and fidelity), that she's merely a shadow of him anyway.

Just as Driscoll would probably think of you and me as "man-hating, ball-busting feminists" because we can think for ourselves, consider ourselves fully equal to men, and most disturbingly, actually EXPRESS those thoughts out loud (gasp), I think of him and his ilk as jerks... saved jerks, deserving-of-love jerks, but jerks, nonetheless. :)

Hope you have a great weekend!

Cheryl said...

oop! My 2) should have been an a).


Scott said...

As a guy and member of the clergy I have to say my wife is a marvel. Any person whose spouse is engaged in ministry is, by definition, giving, patient, and long-suffering, especially if they have young children. There is so much wrong on so many levels with Driscoll's remarks about wives of pastors that I do not know where to begin. I guess I'll begin with a series of questions: What about her needs? Why might a wife be holding herself back? Is she loved, is she cherished? Does she trust her husband enough to really be intimate? Is she romanced and pleasured in her own right? Is pastor/hubby the great lover from the Song of Songs himself, or just a demanding sexual adolescent?

Dave said...

From the looks of it, Mark Driscoll has positioned himself as a "guy's pastor" who willingly and strategically says some oafish sounding things from time to time to push some buttons and connect with the men in the audience who identify with his mindset. His blog (note the headline about Episcopalians and testosterone levels both declining) and even his picture (kind of a Ben Affleck-ish look) project an image of pop-culture virility that has just about had it with being all nice and genteel and mild-mannered. So I'm not surprised that he's tried to wiggle his way out of this jam without actually admitting any mistake on his part. That's standard M.O. for guys in similar circumstances. Driscoll is both a product of his culture and is shrewdly appealing right back to that same culture.

I give you credit for hanging in there with Driscoll's various defenders, admirers and apologists. Even scanning the comments on Jesus Creed was enough to remind me why I don't bother visiting there very often.

julieunplugged said...

Dave, I wasn't all that interested at first. But then I kept running into the phenom on other blogs and finally Jon told me that a friend of ours was helping organize the picket against the church.

That's when I had to know what the bru-ha-ha was all about.

I think what's more distressing to me is that I spend a lot of time in the university environment now and have unwittingly come under the delusion that people are changing the way they see women, identity, faith etc.... when in reality it's me who is changing.

Jesus Creed is a good place for me to keep in touch with that evangelical base (my history), but I get weary too after a time and take long breaks. Today I overdid it - partly because I got trapped into thinking that one more post would clarify my thoughts... That's usually a sign that I am out of touch. I should remember that.

Ish said...

"Today I overdid it - partly because I got trapped into thinking that one more post would clarify my thoughts..." I (despite what you may have thought from my posts)very much enjoyed your posts. I saw great pain and frustration trying to express itself. I saw where Driscoll's post could be offensive, but I guess I didn't see it as quite so offensive as you (and several other women) did.

What truly interested me was how many men (myself included) moved more and more to positions where we were actually defending the pig-headed chauvanist. I can't speak for the others, but I think I felt the criticsim, while justified, was too harsh.

But my real point here is two-fold. First, I wanted to reiterate how much I enjoyed your different perspective and civility in what rapidly became an aggressive venue.

And second, "Can't imagine being married to that guy." That was good.

Kansas Bob said...

Mark Driscoll has posted a response at:

julieunplugged said...

Bob, I linked to that response in the original post ("apology"). Thanks for giving it again.

Ish, thanks for your comments. Here's the rub. It isn't up to men to decide if the comment is offensive. It isn't insulting men. This is what I wish men would recognize. They aren't the arbiters of what is offensive to women; women are.

The reason Mark can get away with insulting women is that there are always men who will defend him because they weren't offended. What if the whole bunch of men said, "Whoa, Mark. Women are offended. Wonder why?"

Then there'd be some room for women to say the scale to which they are or aren't and what emphasis he gave that was out of line.

Anyway, good topic for me to write about some time. Listening to the ones not in power is really hard for the ones who have it. :)


Paul said...

Julie -- as one of the instigators behind People Against Fundamentalism, we're not trying to 'rescue' women.

We're just revoking the Free Pass Driscoll has gotten from the Good Ol' White Boy Club.

julieunplugged said...

Paul: Cool. I read a comment by one member who said that they hoped to help women who didn't realize how dangerous Mark was to discover that he was dangerous. Hence my rescue comment.

Always glad for men calling the good old white boy network out, however. :)

Kansas Bob said...

I just got over to the Jesus Creed post on this (Scot closed it down) and read your great comments Julie. So sad that so many guys don't get it. I don't understand why "I am sorry" is so hard to say for so many.

Scott said...

In the spirit of trying not to be too harsh, I read Thank You, Critics, which is Driscoll's response to the criticisms he's received since posting his original comments.

IMHO opinion, I can't see what good can possibly come from picketing Mars Hill Church.