Having survived ‘Blizzard 2006′ in Seattle and another sign of the end times, I have a few moments to share some thoughts of the buzz surrounding Mark Driscoll in Seattle and bloggerworld. This is hopefully my last post regarding MD, the founding pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. There’s been much activity in light of his ’controversial’ comments about the aftermath of the Ted Haggard situation. To give you a glimpse of the frenzy:
- There was a pretty thorough and well written letter from a Seattle pastor. (I really enjoyed the spirit of the letter.) UPDATE: Rose Swetman shares some brief details of a meeting with Mark and others in her blog. Way to go folks.
- A blog post from another local pastor encouraging ex-MH women to share their stories of pain as a result of Mark.
- Did you know that there’s an actual myspace thingie for ‘people of faith against MH church?
- A protest organized by ‘People against Fundamentalism’:
People Against Fundamentalism, a grassroots organization based in Seattle, Washington, has chosen Sunday, December 3, from 10-11:30am to express public opposition to the persistent degrading remarks that Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll makes towards and about women.
So, as this protest draws near this upcoming Sunday, let me share some random thoughts in regard to the situation and in defense of Mark Driscoll. Yes, you read right…in defense of Mark Driscoll.
* Let’s be careful with our words. A misogynist is a very strong word. I think I’ve read this from a few other bloggers but the reference of hatred against women seems to be out of place. He’s got issues but misogyny isn’t the root of it. That’s my two cents.
* Do we really need to host a place for folks to share their stories of pain in leaving MH church because of Mark? Do we then need to create a space for folks who love MH to share their views? As adults – shouldn’t women and men make their own decisions to stay, leave, root, move, etc? Quest is a small church in comparison to the megachurch MH but if someone created blog real estate for folks to share their tiff with me, I’m sure there would be some interesting entries. Why? Because we all know that when someone leaves a church under difficult circumstances, it’s always the pastor’s fault. It just is. It doesn’t mean that MD isn’t at any fault (or I’m at fault) but what’s the point? Is it the appropriate venue? Not sure.
* I’m not dismissing Mark’s insensitivity when it comes to his words and thoughts of women. I can’t understand how it feels to be demeaned – again and again – as a woman by his preaching so I won’t even try. But frankly, was anyone surprised by the blog entry that sort of tipped this over the cliff? Had it not been the timing of the comment in the blogpost about Ted Haggard’s wife, the comment was your classic off the wall, flippant, Driscoll example of his biblical and cultural exegesis. The reason why I am defending Mark is that I believe he is simply being consistent with his theological views of women. He has always been consistent. Despite what Mars Hill may say or what he may say, I do not believe he is a complementarian; he does not hate women but he has a more hierachical view of women.. Folks who disagree with him can’t change his view nor is that in our place; people have the freedom to protest but why? Because we disagree? Or is it because he has influence and power in ways that dominate our own voices? Why aren’t we protesting other pastors in the area who have similar fundamentalist views of women? When I asked local pastors to join me in protesting against Abercrombie and Fitch for some of their racist (‘we thought it would be funny”) clothing line several years ago, why didn’t anyone respond?
* My constructive criticism of Mark wouldn’t be about his theological views; he has the right to have them and those that attend MH have the right to root or leave; my criticisms surround his oratory methodology: he tries way too hard to be funny, caustic, and sensational. People that try too hard to be witty and funny end up saying things that cause damage. This leads to damage control and the inevitable thoughts of, “why are y’all persecuting me?”
* It amazes me how much Mars Hill has grown. I’ve met with Mark several times before Quest got started; I’ve even preached there once; Quest is only 1/2 mile away from the MH Ballard campus, and I actually live 1/4 mile away. I am the first one to confess how shocked I am at how much and how fast they have grown – not only in numbers but in influence. And when I examine my heart and beef with MH/Mark, I have to confess it goes beyond views, hermeneutics or ecclesiology. I have to confront that I’m somewhat jealous and envious and these feelings cloud my thoughts of him.
* Last thoughts: while in strong disagreement with MH’s views, I have much respect for the larger eldership at Mars Hill; we can’t deny that much fruit has availed. In that, I ‘rejoice’ and I would hope that the larger body of Christ can attempt to share in that joy. Sadly, I know that there are some believers that are actually wanting – overtly or silently – for MH or Mark to fail and fall flat on their face. Please – let’s NOT go there. I hope that the MH elders help guard Mark so that Mars Hill Church remains Mars Hill Church and not Mar(k)’s Hill.
Over five years ago when my second daughter, was born, we were not pastoring or plugged into a Christian community. We had resigned from our former church and Quest was still a prayer in our hearts. During this time, Mark, the MH eldership and I were in some casual courtship about joining their team; we held hands for a couple of months but chose not to move beyond that. I discovered in our conversations what most know now that MH is a fundamentalist church and a good fundy church at that. I wouldn’t worship there and haven’t stepped foot in since five+ years ago but let’s be honest, it’s a solid, edgy, and hip Fundy Church and Mark is a solid bible teacher and second to none (in my opinion) urban cultural exegete. Anyway, despite not moving forward, I was compelled then by Mark’s love for his wife, his children, and the MH flock. When Trinity was born, we had no one to visit us at the hospital; no one to bring us meals or check up on us. One person (family) brought us a meal and it was Mark and his wife, Grace. To this day, my wife Minhee and I are very grateful for their kindness. It wasn’t tasty Korean food and I still strongly disagree with his views particularly his views of women and his manner of communicating his views, but I understand that we are part of the larger body of Christ and as such, I must seek to love him and to encourage him to love the larger body of Christ.
You can read my earlier post on this situation here.
PS UPDATE: How encouraging it is to read that several key leaders in the city had a good sit down chat with the co founders of MH, Mark and Lief Moi. In addition, Mark shared a little of his reflections, post meeting, on the MH Resurgence blog. All good news.
PSS: A post on another blog has really forced me to re-examine my own prejudice and thoughts on the matter. I’m not re-organizing a protest but the post alluded to what we would have done if MD’s insensitivity wasn’t with women or with gender issues but about racial issues. What if he was making fun of african americans, hispanics, or asians and constantly demeaning them? wow. things to make you go hmmm.