Eugene Cho

in defense of mark driscoll

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.

Filed under: emerging church, seattle

21 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Blake says:

    Amen, P.E.!!! Thank you for your words. I could not agree with you more.

    Interestingly, I just read a posting over at Resurgence (MH’s blog site) and a reader had this comment to make that I believe is very appropriate in this context:

    ” ‘We [Christians] are in a battle between the Church and Satan. Let’s not waste time shooting arrows into our brothers in arms.’ These are our family, not our enemies.”

  2. steve says:

    Eugene,
    We’ve never met, but I also work in the ministry field of Seattle. Your words are fair and loving. I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, but in the same spirit as you don’t agree with Mark/MH, I applaud your heart. The Church of greater Seattle needs some healing, and your words represent what we need to be saying to one another.

    Peace

  3. suj'n says:

    thanks for these thoughts, pe. on the whole, i am of similar mind.

    on a different but related note: misogyny is an oft misused word. many believe it means “the hatred of women”. yes, it can mean that. it also means “the mistrust of women”. so when people speak of women being flirts, predators, emotionally needy, weak in integrity, needing to be protected – that is misogyny. or when someone is suspicious of a woman’s character simply because of her gender, that is also misogyny. it speaks to the belief that women cannot be trusted in their own right. so, in one area of disagreement, i do believe that mark discroll has preached (repeatedly) misogynistic messages.

    misogyny is common, as is racism. we tend to characterize both only in their most extreme forms, but both are pervasive. so is androgyny, “the hatred, dislike or mistrust of males”. and i claim no higher ground than MD; i am often guilty of androgynistic thinking. it is, in fact, the one of the main areas i’ve been working through in counseling. i’m a social worker; i devote nearly all my waking hours and all my “free” income to social justice causes. yet i am internally critical and distrustful of men. this is one of my fundamental paradoxes; i am a deep contradiction – only saved by the grace of God.

    we live in a broken world. we are all so terribly far from loving others as Christ loves. amazing grace, indeed.

  4. suj'n says:

    oops, i used the wrong word: androgyny = misandry. misandry is the hatred or mistrust of males. androgyny is well, you know. 😉

    tired on a friday night… bleuhmph

  5. eugenecho says:

    sj

    it’s not a good thing but the longer i live, the more i engage in ministry, the more i see the depths of my own wickedness and that of others, and i grow in temptation of that ‘mistrust’ you speak of others. and how tempting it is to hide and want to live in isolation. i envy my children. i love the way they see God, life, and people and pray regularly that God would daily renew my heart, soul, body, and mind to see beauty once more as He intended.

  6. Thanks for the thoughts Eugene. I appreciate your desire to bring some fair and thoughtful perspective even in the midst of your own disagreement.

  7. BK says:

    Wow, thanks for your vulnerability and honesty in this..

  8. Jennifer says:

    P.E.

    I really appreciate much in this post.

    The only place where we differ is that I think people who leave a church (any church) really DO need a place they can talk through that.

    You know the story Jeff and I went through at Mars Hill, and it has helped very much when I’ve been able to tell my story and have others help me process what happened. It seems like sometimes people go through really painful things like that, and when they have no place to process it, they end up leaving Church completly.

  9. eugenecho says:

    Jennifer
    thanks for visiting.
    i agree with you completely. it was not my intent – whether it be at MH, Quest, or anywhere else that a person who leaves or who experiences pain should simply withold their thoughts and feelings. i agree that it’s healthy to process; i just disagree with the issue of a ‘public venue’ such as a blog to process those feelings.

    and yes, i’m thankful for you and jeff, for your story, for always being the first to show up for the 10am service :), for your leadership and servitude at quest, and for our ongoing partnership in life and ministry.

  10. Mark says:

    Eugene,

    Great post. I too have often wondered what the posts on the “pastor Mark is a evil pastor” web blog would look like (I think I just gave them their name 🙂 Anyway, I appreciated the reality check of being able to live out a theology or choosing not to live such a theology without it becoming a protest. I too agree that there are lots of people that have been deeply wounded by churches and leadership associated with those churches. My prayer is that there will be more places of hope and peace and grace like quest that help people rekindle faith, community and discipleship among friends. Keep up the good work friend!

  11. djchuang says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts from being on the ground there in Seattle. I believe it does honor Christ when we can serve and love those who differ from ourselves theologically, and particularly touched by the story of your gracious visitors to your baby’s birth at the hospital. Love in action speaks louder than words.

  12. Teresa says:

    Thanks for disagreeing agreeably and attempting to speak to the bigger picture…one body, one faith, one King, one kingdom….
    Teresa

  13. eugenecho says:

    i edited or added a postscript to the post…
    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.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Eugene,

    At this point, my thought is that Mark has said he will change his language in the future. All we can do is wait and see if that happens. If he doesn’t, he should have much to account for. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at this point.

    The confusing part to me at this point is that Mark is taking cues from Ted Haggard on how to get people to hear him by hiring a PR person. Haggard has to be one of the most dysfunctional pastors in the country (I dont think many others have secret lives of drugs and prostitutes. I could be wrong…) And instead of dealing with his issues, he hired a PR person. I’m afraid that instead of maturing and changing his tone, Mark is just going to hire a PR person and remain unchanged. We all know how this played out for Haggard.

    p.s. You gonna apply for the open spot at the Times? 🙂

  15. eugenecho says:

    jennifer:

    honestly, i don’t think he’s going to change much. the pr firm will help but his theology ultimately impacts his worldview. this is the way he thinks.

    as for the times, it’s kinda funny because there were some conversations a while ago. like others, i ‘lost’ out to the driscoll momentum.

    who knows, maybe they’ll ask me this time. i promise i won’t hire a PR firm.

  16. jose says:

    Good insight. I appreciate your balance on these issues. We are moving to Berkeley CA in January. Let me know when you want to protest Abercrombie and Fitch. I have been wanting to do this for sometime. Organize a mob protest with people shopping and wearing white paper masks in the store would be awesome. Peace, Jose

  17. chrismarlow says:

    Nice thoughts Eugene,

    The future will be interesting, how this plays out and the impact it will have on Seattle and Evangelicalism in general.

    What drives me batty, is how much press Mark/MH get…When so may other churches are doing great things in Seattle.

    Shalom,

  18. geneswanson says:

    The misandry permeating the blogs of the organizers of the protest, especially those whose web names include “Helen” and “Rachel,” the Urban Abbess who fancies herself as some sort of a priestess and asked for women who were “hurt” by Mark to come forward and post their stories on her website. She didn’t have any takers.

  19. […] controversy.  While I don’t agree with him on stuff, I usually find myself somewhat defending him.  In an earlier post, I shared: My constructive criticism of Mark wouldn’t be about his […]

  20. Clint says:

    What’s your definition of “fundy”? It seems everyone throws that word around. Even MD uses that word in a negative way. If male leadership in the church is wrong then Jesus did us a disservice by laying the foundation of the church with 12 men when he had many close female friends to pull from.

  21. Reality says:

    Driscoll is stupid ex-jock who couldn’t make it as a baseball player, so now he gets his jollies by mocking women. What a dork.

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Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

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