Tag Archive | Mark Driscoll

When Church Leaders Plagiarize

By Mars Hill Church (Mark Driscoll) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (See what I did there, Pastor Mark? Proper citation, dude. Learn it.)

I had it all set to post something completely different today, but it will have to wait because darnit, someone is wrong on the Internet.  Okay, a lot of someones.

If anyone has been following church-related news, you may have heard about Mark Driscoll’s latest problem with plagiarism.  Of course, if you have little to no interest in fundamentalist church politics or the behavior of Pastor Mark, then you won’t have heard about it and probably don’t care.  I admit that I almost didn’t care; when isn’t Mark Driscoll doing or saying something at least minimally awful?

I started reading about Janet Mefferd’s accusations of plagiarism and the resultant fallout over at Jonathan Merritt’s site. (Go read through it for a good synopsis of the events and the timeline; also read this.)  In no way am I slamming Jonathan for writing about it.  I’m glad people are continuing to point out this man’s repeated offenses against the Church, the Christian faith, and humanity in general.  My problem is with all the people who are then sharing Jonathan’s posts (and other posts) as though Mark Driscoll being a Supreme Ass-hat is something New and Different.

I’m concerned that people are upset and crying out for justice about the wrong one of Pastor Mark’s transgressions.  Have we so quickly forgotten that this is the same man who thinks oral sex is a good evangelism tool?  He’s obsessed with male sexual pleasure, but in an incredibly misogynistic and homophobic way.   He’s also the guy who regularly shuns people who try to leave the electric fence of his “ministry”;  attempted to “reach out” to a section of Seattle known to have a large gay population under the pretense of AIDS ministry (dear God, I should not have to explain how bigoted that is); and tweeted about “effeminate anatomically male worship leaders.”  And those are just the tip of the iceberg–outlets such as Wartburg Watch, Stuff Christian Culture Likes, and Mars Hill Refuge have been pointing these things out for ages.

Every time I (or someone with more direct experience than I have) tries to talk about the damage being done, someone is quick to rush to his defense and explain how “some of what he says is beneficial!”  Whether or not that’s true is debatable, but at the very least, that’s a truly ridiculous statement.  Do you mean to tell me that there are no other people less brutish than Pastor Mark saying some of the same things only without the hateful overlay?  If that’s the case, I question your judgment.

I’m not much on name-calling because I don’t think it’s helpful most of the time.  But in this case, I’m gonna go ahead and do it (heck, even Jesus did it when the situation required it): Mark Driscoll is a complete douche.  He teaches and encourages the most vile things and seems to have not one iota of compassion for actual human beings.  All you people retweeting and sharing and forwarding the latest kerfuffle over his alleged plagiarism–where were you when real people told their stories of being harmed by Pastor Mark and his ministry?

Now that he’s been caught with his hand in the textual cookie jar, some of the same people eager to defend his ministry are suddenly rushing to judge him for violating the law of the land.  Others–who previously apparently didn’t give a damn one way or another–are repeating the story like it’s Church Scandal of the Year.  While you’re at it looking for some legal consequences, please take a few minutes to review the notes of the people who left his church.  Consider those who are still deep within his cult-like ministry, desperate to escape but unsure how to do it without facing his brand of church “discipline.”

I’m tired of the influence this man has on American Christianity.  It’s time we saw him for the bully he is and started looking to someone else for spiritual guidance.

Healing, forgiveness, and redemption

Joseph Forgives His Brothers, by the Providence Lithograph Company (http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart/1907/gen45.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I recently had the privilege of connecting with Stephanie Drury (of Stuff Christian Culture Likes) through an online community we both belong to.  I’ve long appreciated what she has to say because even though I don’t agree 100% with everything she says, she’s one of the people who comes closest to expressing more or less where my own faith is right now.  I don’t have the history of spiritual (and other) abuse she’s endured; my stay in the conservative evangelical world was comparatively short and uneventful.  My leaving was mostly for the sake of my children.  I saw enough to know that even in the best-intentioned evangelical spheres, abuse is a natural outflow of certain teachings.  It wasn’t something I wanted my children to have long-term exposure to.  Trust me when I say I’d have been happy to foot the therapy bill knowing I could have prevented the damage and didn’t.

That said, yesterday, I read Stephanie’s post, hugo schwyzer’s suicide attempt, the feminist response, and the tension of holding horrible things alongside possiblity.  While again, I don’t agree 100% with everything she says, it resonated with me.  Bear with me as I attempt to explain why, keeping two things in mind:

  1. Stephanie writes from a place of having been harmed.  No one should accuse her of failing to understand what it’s like to be victimized.
  2. I am not writing from that place.  I’m writing from the place of one who has both done the harm and seen the harm.

A lot of people were pretty angry about what Stephanie said in her post.  I understand that.  There was a time when I would have readily jumped on that train.  I have my own experiences with being told to forgive someone who had wronged me–to the point of not being able to express my anger because both Christianity and “psychology” told me that the burden was on me to “own” my reactions.  I wasn’t supposed to hold past misdeeds against people who continued to hurt me.  All of those things are lies; it’s not on me to do anything, and a person’s history does inform his or her present actions.  So believe me when I say I get it that some of what Stephanie said could trigger a lot of feelings.

On the other hand, her post did make me consider two things that are very important for me.  I emphasize that last part because I recognize myself to be pretty near the top of the privilege food chain.  I’m white, I’m cisgender, and I’m straight.  I’m a married stay-at-home-mom (to me, that’s like the height of economic privilege, that I can choose to do what I want).  I’ve never been spiritually abused, though I have a long history of other forms of bullying, and there were certainly abuses in my family.  What Stephanie’s post made me think about wasn’t how I treat those who have wronged me but how I, as a person who has wronged others, have had my own redemption story.

First, I have to really, truly, deeply own my history of fundamentalist ideas.  When I was 15 or 16, I was in the car with a couple of family members.  I cheerfully told them that “sin is sin,” a line I was repeating from church.  They already knew that my church had taught me that gay = sin.  The conversation went like this:

Me: Sin is sin.  One sin is no better or worse than any other.

Family member 1: So, lying and murder are equal.

Me: Yep.

Family member 2: You believe it’s wrong to be gay.

Me: Yes.

Family member 1: So, being gay is as bad as being a rapist.

Me [now very uncomfortable]: Yeah, I guess, but it’s just because all sin keeps us from God.

Family member 2: So I’m as bad as a rapist.

Me: I don’t know. I guess so.

And that’s the most mild and printable of the ways I hurt this person.

Ten years.  It took me ten years to get to a point where I didn’t still believe that.  I have no idea how that particular family member stuck it out with me.  All I can say is that from the time I was old enough to remember, she’s been one of my favorite people in the whole world.  She’s been one of my biggest advocates.  Because she (and other family members, who have also been wonderful) loved me and waited patiently for me, we made it past all that.  I changed.

It’s that belief that people can–and do–change that keeps me blogging.  It keeps me searching for new ways to be an ally and it keeps me reading on Twitter to see where my privilege is showing and what I can do to make it right.  It keeps me searching for justice and my part in it.  It keeps me pointing to the voices of others and asking people to listen.  I express all that in different ways.  Sometimes I’m angry and bold; sometimes I use Scripture; sometimes I write about how deeply I love the people in my life.  I keep going, though, because someone, somewhere may be reading and might just find the spark to change.

The second thing that occurred to me is that I’m a harsh critic of people.  I don’t actually like people very much.  Perhaps that’s the result of my history with peers at school or with some of my family.  It could be because I’m pretty introverted.  I don’t really know.  The problem is that I often have trouble separating what people say and do from who they are.  This is particularly true when those people are public figures.

I have little difficulty accepting and loving ordinary people, even when they aren’t perfect.  The real people in my everyday life get the benefit of my ongoing forgiveness.  My two closest friends (other than my husband) are very different women, but I love them both so, so much.  Have we ever hurt each other?  Sure.  Do we do things the others think are probably bad ideas?  Of course.  But there is a lot of good history that none of us are willing to throw away.  We make things right and we move on.

That can’t be done with these big-name “celebrity” bloggers, pastors, and speakers.  I’m not at all condoning what any of them say or do.  We need to keep calling them out on their behavior because they are doing these big, public things and using their fame to gain followers who will then turn around and do the same things.  We need to stop them.  We need to be angry, we need to be pushy, we need to be bold.  We also need to be gentle and persuasive and kind–not because that’s the “best” way to do it but because our natural personalities make us respond in our own ways.  I cannot imagine some of my fellow bloggers being polite about Mark Driscoll or Hugo Schwyzer’s latest pile of poo.  On the other hand, there are many bloggers I can’t imagine writing a scathingly funny take-down or an angry rant; they normally write very differently than that.

Where we may be able to agree is that we can say what a person is actually doing without assigning motive or making assumptions about who that person is or whether there is any hope for change.  We can say with certainty that Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Hugo Schwyzer, and others have said and continue to say terrible things.  We can worry about their families.  We can tell anyone who will listen in whatever way we need to that their words are damaging.  What we can’t do is know why they do those things or whether they will ever change.

I also feel uncomfortable with name-calling, as that speaks to who or what we think someone is at their core.  I admit to having done this; I imagine that I learned to do it as a child.  My mother used to call me names when she was angry, and I was bullied mostly with name-calling for years.  Whether or not anyone else agrees, I believe no matter what abuse someone has committed or appears to have committed, it is, in fact, bullying to call people steaming piles of shit or assholes or fucktards or douchebags.  I don’t really care that you think it’s not hurting them because they hurt you first or that you’re just expressing your anger.  It’s still not right.  They are humans, not poo or body parts–regardless of the evil things they’ve done.*

There is one place where I strongly disagree with Stephanie (and I hope this does not hurt her, in the same way that I hope not to have hurt others with my words above).  In the specific case of Hugo Schwyzer, his past is applicable.  He may have apologized for what he did, but the fact that he keeps on doing it says volumes more than his apology.  Perhaps he wouldn’t try to kill an intimate partner now, but he isn’t demonstrating respect for women.  This is the same man who penned an article (which I will not link to) about removing a tampon from his soon-to-be ex-wife.  If that’s not a violation of her privacy and her womanhood, I don’t know what is.  If he wants people to stop bringing up his past, then he needs to stop behaving that way in the present.

I know this post is already too long; I hope you’ve stuck with me.  I honestly don’t want to hurt anyone with my words.  As I said near the beginning, this was mostly about the things I believe I’ve done wrong and now wish to amend.  It won’t change the fact that I’m going to continue to use my words to fight injustice.  It does mean that I want to be careful not to conflate actions with unknown motives or words with people.

I’d love to know what you think; leave me a comment and tell me what’s on your mind.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

*I maintain that name-calling can be ok for institutions (which are not thinking/feeling beings) or in certain humorous contexts, such as the post I linked in my News last Friday about being a better douchebag (it wasn’t connected with a specific individual).

Notable News: Week of April 27-May 3, 2013

It’s been a busy week in my world, with a busy weekend ahead.  I’m pausing the chaos long enough to highlight some of my favorites this week.

1. A little encouragement for my friends who are “actively dating”

It’s been a long time since I had need of language for dating, but I remember being in college and finding it strange how many of my classmates seemed to be there for the purpose of finding a husband (yes, women–because let’s face it, this is not how men talk about their college education).  I enjoyed Dianna Anderson’s post about changing the way we frame dating and marriage.  I hope this brings encouragement to those who need it.

2. Progressives, conservatives, and the abortion debate

I have nothing to add to what Rachel Held Evans has said.  For me, it’s been a discomfort in aligning myself with an aspect of feminism with which I don’t agree.  I’ve had to step away from the conversation for the sake of friendships, because when I’ve voiced an opinion–on either side–I’ve gotten some pretty hateful responses.  And that’s just my actual, real-life friends!  As a person with a lot of education and experience in health-related fields, I come down squarely on the side of “this can largely be prevented.”  Unfortunately, that’s a pretty unpopular stance on both ends of the spectrum.  My Christian friends often think I’m advocating rampant, consequence-free, sinful sexuality; my feminist friends have repeatedly said nasty things about “What if she didn’t consent? What if her birth control failed? What then?”  And I’m just left shaking my head.

3. A little more of Jennifer Knapp

Jennifer Knapp is my Christian music crush.  I loved her longing lyrics and unusual sound from the first moment I heard her beautiful voice.  Have a listen to this song, then go read her responses to “Ask a…” at Rachel Held Evans’ site.

4. Another round of the “Christian vs. Gay” debate–now with 83% more racism

I was morbidly fascinated by the ridiculous meme going around about how “hated” Tim Tebow is for his faith, while Jason Collins gets a virtual party thrown for his coming out.  This is my news recap, so I’m not going to repeat myself here about the magnitude of Suck in that belief.  You should just go read this piece on how Collins’ faith was ignored and the erasure of non-white Christians from public consciousness.  The article highlights the way black athletes are marginalized until they express something that fits into white politics.  I would take that further to say that it not only fits into white faith politics but also upholds white beliefs about black faith culture.  This isn’t limited to black people of faith, either–the same holds true for any non-white people who don’t fit neatly into the expectations of white evangelical culture.  It’s more important to fix that problem than to argue over whether the media likes Tebow or Collins better.

5. No more body shaming!

I should really write about this, but I’m so often appalled at the way Christians, who claim to be “in the world but not of the world,” really like to body shame people.  Thinliness is next to godliness, of course.  Well, no.  And if you’re not feeling good about yourself today, then you need to go read this wonderful post full of affirming, honoring truths.  And while you’re at it, skip the stupid Dove ads.  Your body/looks/”beauty” do not affect your ability to live, love, laugh, and be happy.

6. And while we’re on the subject…

I laughed so hard I almost peed myself at this parody of the Dove ad.  Warning: NSFW, because, you know, balls.  You probably don’t want to watch with your kids around, either, though I don’t think I’d care if my almost 10-year-old saw it (the little one wouldn’t understand it).  Before you ask, NO, he hasn’t seen it, and NO, I’m not going to show it to him.  I’m just saying that I think he knows what they are and what they look like at this point.

7. My latest story

Inspired by Mark Driscoll.  That man is a never-ending stream of blog fodder, including short stories.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you all on Smut-Shaming Monday (AKA Amy reads yet another chapter of Fifty Shades).

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Sermons

This story was inspired both by something a rather infamous Seattle-based pastor said about nagging wives and by these two cartoons by Naked Pastor.  Please don’t blame NP; he’s a really nice guy, and it’s not his fault his artwork made my mind go there.

Terrie snagged the mail on her way into the house. She threw it on the table and grabbed herself a glass of water before returning to the dining room to sift through the pile of magazine offers and take-out menus. The postcard halfway into the pile caught her attention and she set it aside to show Bill when he came home from work.

At dinner, Terrie passed her husband the postcard. He examined it thoughtfully. “Well,” he said before pausing to take a bite of his chicken. “We haven’t found a church since we moved here. Maybe we should give this one a try.”

“Any church that doesn’t shy away from sensitive subjects can’t be all bad, right?” Terrie grinned at Bill.

“Definitely. We’ll keep it in mind. If we don’t find someplace else we’d prefer to try, this will probably give us the best impression of what they’re all about.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Terrie agreed.

O_o

The postcard had given Terrie the impression that there was no need to dress up, so, clad in their jeans and casual button-down shirts, she and Bill entered the angular brick building that Sunday. A well-coiffed man in khakis and an ocean blue polo greeted them at the door.

“Welcome! Glad you could join us today,” he said. When he smiled, Terrie half expected the light to glint charmingly off his very white teeth.

“Um, thanks,” Bill said, attempting a manly grin.

Terrie and Bill were swept into the sanctuary with the rest of the crowd. Apparently, a whole lot of people were just as curious as they were about love, sex, and marriage. Terrie took that as a good sign; at least they didn’t stick out as the creepy new people who just came for a lecture on keeping their private parts in check. They found seats and settled in for the service to begin.

There wasn’t anything particularly new or different about the church service.  That didn’t bother Terrie—she figured that as long as the message was good, the rest didn’t matter all that much. She’d never had any special attachment to a style of music or a form of liturgy. She relaxed, enjoying the familiarity of singing contemporary praise songs along with the rest of the congregation.

When the pastor began to speak, Terrie concentrated on his words. He was explaining that although many women did not intend to expose too much of their bodies, most did so inadvertently anyway.

The pastor said, “Ladies, when you dress like that, it’s distracting. All we can see is your body!”

Terrie squirmed a little. She had never considered the possibility that her body might be a source of struggle for anyone else. After all, wasn’t it her body? She glanced over at Bill, wondering what he was thinking. She was surprised to see that he was looking at her, a puzzled expression on his face.

She leaned in and whispered, “What’s wrong?”

He shook his head. “Uh…nothing.” He averted his gaze.

Terrie sat back in her seat. Something felt a little off to her. She shifted uncomfortably, and as she did so, she noticed that she had forgotten to fasten the top button of her shirt.  That must have been what had thrown Bill off. Discreetly, she reached her hand up to slide the button back into place. It wouldn’t budge. She risked a glance downward and saw that it was because the fabric wouldn’t draw together. Since when had this shirt been too tight? It hadn’t felt that way when she’d put it on, had it? She frowned. The shirt was brand-new; it must have shrunk in the wash. She sighed. Obviously she would have to be more careful when she washed her clothes. She turned her attention back to the pastor, who was concluding with some advice for women that they should be careful about maintaining modesty.

After one last song, everyone was dismissed. Terrie stood up and looked around. Being in a new church was always a little awkward. She never felt quite comfortable enough to introduce herself, but she also didn’t care for the feeling of being stalked for recruitment, either. It was usually better to make the first move.

Just as Terrie was about to mingle, Bill grabbed her arm. “Let’s just go,” he said.

Confused, Terrie nodded. Strangely, it seemed like a fair number of other couples were feeling the same way. Terrie followed Bill out of the sanctuary. She remembered that she was a little exposed, due to her button mishap. She felt a tingle of embarrassment creep down her scalp.

She was momentarily distracted by the people walking past her. She realized she needn’t have worried; it looked like it was the official Sunday for wearing slightly-too-tight blouses. Terrie shrugged and let Bill lead her out to their car.

Once they were home, Terrie asked Bill what had him so riled up. He coughed.

“It’s just—that outfit you’re wearing. You look really good.”

Terrie laughed. “That’s all? Hm.” She leaned in. “Maybe I should take it off.”

“Maybe you should,” Bill agreed. “I don’t know what you did differently, but I just can’t take my eyes off you.”

Still laughing, Terrie grabbed Bill’s hand and led him upstairs.

O_o

The following week, they decided to give the church another try. Terrie hadn’t been sure, but Bill had suggested they give it a few weeks before making their decision.

“I don’t know,” Terrie said. “There’s just something a little…odd, I guess, about that church.”

“Come on. Let’s just wait and see.” He thought for a moment. “It’s probably just that we feel uncomfortable with the topic. It doesn’t come up in church that often, you know?”

“Maybe you’re right. Fine, I’ll give it another shot.”

Once again, Terrie and Bill were caught up in the crowd and funneled into the sanctuary. After the worship set concluded, the pastor took his place to preach. Apparently, having addressed the women the previous week, this time the pastor was giving the men their due. He was discussing the problem of lust and explaining how it could destroy a man and his marriage.

“Guys, you are letting your thoughts control you. You need to get a handle on your lust.” The pastor thumped his fist on the lectern.

Terrie smirked a little. Apparently, men were prone to thinking about sex all the time—including in church. She was just suppressing a snicker when she caught a look at Bill out of the corner of her eye. He was shifting in his seat and looking distinctly uncomfortable. Terrie raised her eyebrows, but she said nothing. As she turned her eyes back to the pastor, she noticed that quite a lot of the men were adjusting their bodies. She felt her cheeks heat up. It was one thing to know that her own husband was finding it hard to suppress his reactions; it was entirely different to feel like she’d suddenly been deposited in a room full of thirteen-year-old boys. She concentrated harder on listening to the rest of the sermon.

By the time the band started playing, Bill was begging Terrie to leave a little early. She took in his flushed face and, with a quick peek southward, she decided it was probably for the best. The good news was that they would probably barely be in the door before they would be all over each other. Regardless of whatever else the church had to offer, attendance certainly had its perks.

O_o

When the third week rolled around, Terrie was certain Bill wouldn’t want to return to that particular church. He proved her wrong, however, by suggesting that they stick it out until the end of the series. He thought the pastor had some “interesting points,” as he put it. Terrie shrugged. She didn’t really care. The pastor wasn’t actually saying anything she hadn’t heard before; he was just doing it in a way that made people significantly more embarrassed. Or turned on; whatever.

The message was different that week. The official sex talk over with, the pastor had turned to marriage. Terrie was a little bored; it wasn’t anything new. According to this week’s sermon, men were experiencing leadership failure in their homes. They were either lax, allowing their wives to pick up the slack, or they were obsessively controlling. Terrie made a face. She and Bill didn’t seem to have any difficulty with that. As far as she could recall, they’d never even discussed it.

“Men, you lead your homes like cavemen!” the pastor shouted.

Terrie snorted. That was a decidedly silly image. She wasn’t even sure what it meant. Her mind wandered to an image of Bill dragging her by her hair and thumping things with a giant club. She stifled a giggle.

After the previous two weeks, Terrie had hoped they might stay for a bit after church. Everyone (Terrie and Bill included) always seemed to be in such a rush to escape after the service ended. Terrie was beginning to wonder if they even bothered with coffee hour. At least this time everyone’s hormones seemed to be under wraps. Terrie blamed the previous weeks on the topic; frank discussions about sex were bound to lead to at least some frantic groping, right?

As they stood around making small talk, Terrie became aware that there was something subtly off about the men. The lighting was rather dim, so she couldn’t be sure, but they all appeared to be hunched over a bit. And their faces—they just looked, well, strange, for lack of a better word. She wasn’t having any trouble carrying on a conversation with the other women, but the men were just standing around. Every now and again, one of them would grunt something she didn’t quite catch. Oddly, none of the other women seemed bothered by this.

By the time they made their way out to the parking lot, Terrie was glad to be out of there. She waited for Bill to unlock the car, but he was just standing there, seemingly incapable of figuring out what to do. Terrie huffed.

“Bill, can you open the door? I’d like to go home.”

He turned toward her, and she saw that he, too, looked wrong somehow. He said, “Huh?”

“Never mind,” she replied. “Just give me the keys. I’ll drive.” She snatched the keys out of his hands and propelled him toward the passenger side. With a shake of her head, she opened his door and waved at him to get in. She hoped whatever was wrong with Bill would wear off by the time they got home.

O_o

Terrie and Bill had agreed to stick it out at church until the end of the series. Even so, she wasn’t quite sure she wanted to. She knew Bill was having second thoughts as well, but he thought they should give it one last chance. By that point, Terrie didn’t care one way or another.

They were halfway through the sermon on wives being submissive to their husbands before the realization hit Terrie. She inhaled sharply and looked over at Bill. The same thought must have occurred to him simultaneously.

The pastor had just said, “I was listening to a fellow pastor speaking this week. He was just saying how irritating it can be when a wife constantly nags her husband, a lot like a …”

Terrie and Bill looked at each other. “We need to leave now,” she said.

Bill didn’t even question it. Quietly, they stood from their seats and slipped out of the sanctuary. When the doors had closed on whatever it was the pastor had been about to say, they both sighed with relief. They took a moment to lean against a wall and collect themselves.

“You know, Bill,” Terrie said, closing her eyes briefly, “I don’t think this is the church for us after all.”

“I think you may be right. Next week, let’s try to find one that doesn’t take everything so literally.”

He laced his fingers with hers and, swinging their joined hands between them, they left the church building.

©May 3, 2013 by ABMitchell

Why we need to speak up

By Adamantios, via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, this post received a lot of attention.  The author, Lore Ferguson, urges Christians to focus more on their local congregations and less on what big-name pastors like Mark Driscoll are saying or doing:

I don’t go to Mark Driscoll’s church. I don’t have to concern myself with how he teaches the book of Esther or how Mars Hill handles church discipline or how threadbare his tshirt is.

I don’t go to Rob Bell’s former church. I don’t need to worry about how progressive the service or teaching is there or how cool his glasses are.

I don’t go to John Piper’s church. His hand motions don’t affect me and the size of his congregation doesn’t bear on me.

I don’t go to Rick Warren’s church. I’ve never read The Purpose Driven Life and the main purpose of my life is drink more coffee, so that’s good enough for me.

I go to my church. I am covenanted in there. I am knit there. I seek theology first in the Word and second from my pastors. I trust there. I am trusted there. They rightly have the most influence on me and I trust that even with all the influence I might have elsewhere, the most influence I have is there. At my church.

To a point, she is correct.  We absolutely need to make sure that our primary connection (if we attend a church) is to the one in which we serve locally.  However, she is wrong that we don’t need to concern ourselves with what well-known leaders are doing or teaching.

The first thing that it’s important to note is that Lore attends a church that is part of the Acts 29 Network.  I believe she should have put a disclaimer on her post stating such.  While Mark Driscoll is not the president of the Network, he is still affiliated with it and it was originally his baby.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the theology of an individual church within the Network differs significantly from that of the Mother Ship.  One would hope that the abusive practices of Mars Hill have not trickled down, but there are definitely some teachings that are concerning.

The other problem that I have is that Lore seems to be unaware of the influence Pastor Mark has on church leaders across the country.  The practices at Mars Hill are indeed being implemented at smaller, local churches.  People are looking to Pastor Mark for guidance and reading his books.  This is not a good thing.  I would not suggest that every word he’s ever written is terrible, but the overarching themes in his books, sermons, and comments are all of the same variety.  If we want to stop the poison from spreading, it is absolutely our responsibility to inform people before they walk into a book store to purchase one of his texts.  Local pastors need to be aware of the underlying hostility and abuse.

I am distinctly uncomfortable with Lore’s assertion that “God has this, He’s on His throne, His eyes on His children. He’s got this.”  It sounds to me like a bit of magical thinking.  I’ve heard this one before–we don’t have to do anything except pray, because God will take care of it.  Now why does that sound so familiar?  Oh, yes.  It can be found in James:

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? [James 2:14-17, The Message]

It most certainly is our job to do something.  Anything else is merely an attempt to assuage our discomfort and avoid getting our hands dirty.

The fact is, real, live people are being hurt and abused directly and indirectly by Mark Driscoll and his teachings.  Speaking out is not “gossip” any more than speaking about rape or child abuse or domestic violence or hate crimes is “gossip.”  The only way to prevent more people from suffering is to name the abuse and affirm that it is wrong.  We need to ask ourselves why there is an entire web site devoted to people sharing the ways they have been harmed by leaders at Mars Hill.  We need to read the stories of abuse and shame and we need to get angry that someone who claims to be speaking God’s truth is getting away with actively harming people.

There are two other things we must do.  First, we need to examine why we feel uncomfortable when we hear stories of deep hurt coming out of churches.  If we conclude that it’s because we don’t like “bad-mouthing” leaders, then we need to go back and read Jesus’ words to the Pharisees–and lather, rinse, repeat until we understand that it is not the hurting that Jesus called out, it was those who claimed to speak for God. If we conclude it’s because those people must have “wrong” theology or that the abuse they suffered was somehow their fault, then there are bigger problems we need to work out about victim blaming and our own personal doctrine.

Second, we need to stop defending Pastor Mark (and others like him).  We need to stop saying things like, “Well, he’s just cashing in on his shock value–it’s what he does” and start realizing that this is not a healthy way to spread the Gospel.  I’m not going to stop pushing back on this.  I refuse to sit here in silence, even though I don’t attend a church remotely related to Acts 29 and even though I can’t fathom a reason our pastor would ever pick up one of his books.  There are people I know personally (including myself) who have been deeply wounded in one way or another by the implementation of Mark Driscoll’s abusive teaching.  I will not sit idly by and watch more people’s lives be destroyed.

If I sound angry, it’s because I am.  I am angry that we have let this go on too long.  If I can do anything–anything at all–to stop this from continuing, then I will.  I will speak until I have no voice and write until I run out of words, but I won’t stop or back down as long as anyone is allowed to continue to spiritually abuse people in the name of my God.

Notable News: Week of December 1-7, 2012

I hope everyone is having a good week.  Advent started last Sunday, so our family has been lighting our candle and reading the Scripture each night.  Our tree is up and we have lights everywhere (inside, at least—we have no outside electricity).  What holiday traditions are you enjoying?

Here’s the stuff this week.  I know it’s the holidays and all, so my apologies for all the rage-inducing links.  I guess a lot of people aren’t in the holiday spirit.

1. A boatload of modesty culture

It didn’t exactly start with this piece by Emily Maynard, since The Official Church Rules for Modesty™ have been around since forever.  But her article highlights the worst parts of it.  I would tell you to skip the comments, but you might need to read them to have a good idea what rape apology looks like.

For a good response to Emily’s original post, read this one by Luke Harms.  Emily herself has a great follow-up here, and Danielle over at From Two to One has written a wonderful, gracious response as well.

2. Because we all need more of Mark Driscoll

Ah, yes.  Pastor Mark, sinking to new lows of classism, sexism, and self-righteousness.  I’m happy for him that he hasn’t ever smoked pot or, apparently, taken public transportation.  You know, two highlights of immaturity.  ‘Cause Pastor Mark is never immature about anything (*ahem*sex*cough,cough*).  Good gravy.  You know, he used to make me kinda mad.  Now I just laugh whenever I see something he’s written.

3. WTH, New York Post?

The Post is also sinking to new lows.  I’m only putting this on here because I feel the need to help some of my readers understand exactly what bias looks like and why this is a shameful piece of—no other word for it—shit.

First of all, this is clearly written for a cis gawker audience, as evidenced by the obsession with whether or not she’s had surgery and the unnecessary descriptions of her body.  Second, the writer makes it clear that she doesn’t think the victim is a “real” woman, particularly when emphasizing which body parts are artificially enhanced and by quoting her “measurements.”  Third, there is far more information about the victim than the perpetrator.  Finally, there is undue attention paid to this woman’s profession and whether or not she is still in business, as though being a sex worker makes her somehow less likely to be honest about whether or not her ex-boyfriend choked her so hard her contact popped out.  Yuck.  If you must report on a court case, stick to the actual events of the case, please.

And there you have it.  Have a great weekend, everyone, and come on back Monday for some more Fifty Shades “fun.”

Notable News, Week of September 8-15, 2012

Just a couple of things to note today.

1. Attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

By now, most people are well aware of Tuesday’s events.  My condolences to the families of those who died.  I also deeply regret the circumstances surrounding their deaths.  It is so very sad that we cannot peacefully coexist, despite our differences.  It disturbs me, too, that the situation has become yet another way to fuel politics here in the States.  We need to stop being childish about this, using it to point fingers and shift blame.  It’s time we took seriously the call to “live at peace with one another.”  This does not just mean among nations or religions.  It means right here in our own country and among people of the same religion.

2. More on Mark Driscoll’s view of Esther

Some great stuff from some of my favorite bloggers:

Rachel Held Evans

Naked Pastor

Sarah Moon

My biggest problem with Mark Driscoll is not what he says.  Lots of people say stupid shit all the time; we just ignore them and move on.  I mean, surely every person reading this has heard someone say rage-inducing things at some point, right?  The problem with Driscoll is that his words reach a wide audience, he preaches it from the pulpit as a supposedly Christian pastor, and people actually listen to what he says.  So when he writes tripe like his Esther blog post, people who like what he says on other subjects are more likely to read it and agree.  Unfortunately, his low view of woman and the fact that he (whether he believes it or not) repeatedly speaks of us as though we are all man-baiting whores, is very dangerous.  It’s exactly his kind of anti-woman hate speech that leads to acceptance of rape culture.  A piece of advice:  Please, please don’t listen to anything this man has to say about anything.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

The Godless, Sinful Esther?

So, yesterday, I was just thinking to myself, Gosh, I haven’t seen anything cringe-worthy from Mark Driscoll in about a week.  I hope he writes something I can use in a blog post.*  Lo and behold, he read my mind and did just that.  Please go read it before you read this, because what I say won’t otherwise make nearly as much sense.  Warning: Contains things that may make you reach for large, breakable objects.

Driscoll’s assertion that Esther was engaging in “sinful” behavior and likening her to a contestant on The Bachelor is rather horrifying.  It displays his gross lack of knowledge about the time period during which Esther is set.  He makes it sound as though Esther heard King Xerxes was looking for a wife and took the opportunity to put herself out there for him.  Did Driscoll even read the text?  It is apparent from both the text and the context that this is not the case.  There is no mention that Esther wanted any of this.  In fact, she was likely forced into participation.  At the beginning of Esther 2, we see that the King’s officials are rounding up pretty virgins to parade in front of their King for his own entertainment.  It is possible that Esther enjoyed this star treatment, but the Bible never actually says this.

Second, Driscoll’s claim that Esther was unconcerned until “her own neck was on the line” is also patently false.  If he’d carefully read the text of Esther 4, he would have quickly seen that Esther herself was greatly troubled over the edict to annihilate her people.  Her own neck was not at risk at that point, since no one in the royal court even knew she was a Jew.

Third, I have no idea where Driscoll gets the idea that Esther has been avoided.  I suppose that some evangelical communities might avoid it, since it shows a wife standing up to her husband (two of them, in fact, if we count Vashti).  Other than that, I think Driscoll may just have been hanging around with the wrong people.  I’ve loved Esther since the first time I read it.  I have heard great sermons preached on it.  Then again, Driscoll seems content to believe that he holds the market on “real, true” Biblical teaching.  In fact, the preachers and teachers who avoid or discount the book of Esther are often anti-Semitic.  So, there’s that.

Fourth, I am unclear as to why Driscoll believes Esther has been “misinterpreted.”  (Unless, of course, one wants to lump him in with the anti-Semites…)  For one thing, that’s illogical.  He says it’s not often taught, yet it’s grossly misinterpreted?  By whom?  If no one is teaching on it, then it isn’t being misinterpreted.  Except by Jews.  Well, then.  That’s certainly telling, isn’t it?  What he’s saying is that for thousands of years, Jews have been misreading a sacred text.  Um.

Fifth, if Driscoll wants to maintain that Esther is a “godless” book, he can do that.  But he also has to give up both of his other favorites—Ruth and Song of Solomon.  Ruth only ever mentions God in passing, and only in the sense that Ruth has decided to convert for Naomi’s sake.  Otherwise, it follows Esther down the “God is not present” path.  There are no miracles in Ruth.  Not only that, he seems unaware that Ruth catches her man by uncovering his “feet”—a frequent euphemism for a body part somewhat higher up than the actual feet.  Song of Solomon is short on both God and miracles as well, and that one is about hot sex between people who may or may not be married (depending on one’s interpretation).  Dude, please just read your Bible.

I’m sure someone else will have something more to say about this.  I’m out of words.  I gave up on making sense out of Mark Driscoll a long time ago.  All I can say is that I am grateful I’m not a member of his church or one of its offshoots.  Of course, if I were, it would keep me blogging for a long, long time—or at least until others figure out the kind of pastor he really is.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

*Not really

I need something good to read…hm…how about my wife’s email?

I’m going to go on record, right here and now, saying that my husband does not read my email unless I ask him to do so.  I mean, why would he?  I don’t check his either.

Honestly, we’re pretty boring people.  The emails I receive are only from a few sources.  There are emails from church (newsletter articles, notes about the ministries with which I serve); family; my daughter’s Girl Scout leader; tracking information on things I order online at Christmastime; and spam (which GMail kindly removes for me).  That’s it.  If my husband were to peruse it, he would soon find himself nodding off, it’s so dull.

Of course, there is the little matter of getting me to play the part of the dutiful wife and keep my mouth shut about my opinions.  But I guess my husband has learned by now to keep his place and let me have my say.  He’s never concerned himself with preventing me from doing what I do best: Giving my opinion.  I mean, he probably won’t find a lot of that in my email anyway, and he already reads my blog.  So I guess he’s got his bases covered there.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m very much in favor of husbands and wives sharing things with each other, being honest with each other.  I don’t bother to share most of what’s in my emails with my husband because it’s boring and irrelevant to him.  But I’m not hiding anything in there.  Everything he needs to know, he does.  Keeping my email to myself isn’t a matter of secrets and lies.  It’s a matter of respect.  Just as I would never dream of opening up my husband’s email and just going through it, he wouldn’t do that to me.

I’m not saying there would never be occasion to check a spouse’s email.  If I ever needed to, I do have my husband’s password, and he has mine.  But doing so on a regular basis smacks of paranoia and control issues.

Recently, a fired Mars Hill pastor and his wife came forward with their story of spiritual abuse at the hands of the church leadership.  I highly recommend reading the story as written by Jonna Petry, which can be found here.  While nearly everything in there is heartbreaking and disturbing, I was particularly upset by this (emphasis mine):

Shortly after this meeting, in my praying for the church that God’s will would be done in the
upcoming changes, I sent a letter to the elders’ wives inviting them to join me in prayer, along
with Scriptures I had been meditating on. Mark, who reads Grace’s emails, was livid about it and
verbally lambasted the elders at their next meeting for not keeping their wives in line.

Wait…did she just say Mark Driscoll reads his wife’s emails?

Don’t get all uppity about whether or not a husband has a “right” to check up on his wife.  No, actually, he doesn’t.  He doesn’t have the right to act suspicious to the point of violating the respect spouses should have for each other.  He certainly doesn’t have the right to violate the privacy of the people who email his wife.  This is especially true when he uses the information to control his wife or attempts to use it to control the others in their circles.  In fact, that’s abusive.

Demanding that a wife allow her husband free access to her emails isn’t a sign that they are open and honest in their relationship.  It’s a sign that she fears him, or she would just change her password and refuse to tell him. I have to wonder what would happen to Grace if she suddenly denied her husband access.  In what other ways would he attempt to control or hurt her?

The idea that we need to continually check to see whether the people we love are doing something naughty is not found in Scripture.  There is nothing in there that covers the idea that every aspect of a person’s life belongs to his or her partner.  While I understand that we want to be sure that our relationships are honest and that communication remains open, violating someone else’s privacy isn’t the way to accomplish that.  It’s not a way to build friendships, either.  If someone had a personal problem and wanted to email me about it, it would be incredibly violating for her if my husband—without her permission—read the email.

I suppose it could be argued that people in a church know what they’re getting into, that perhaps everyone knows that the pastors and elders all read their wives’ emails (and, apparently, use it to control them).  I know that I would absolutely never email anyone in church leadership about anything under those circumstances.  That kind of invasive behavior isn’t good for a church, either.

I’m going to celebrate the fact that my husband loves and trusts me enough that he doesn’t need to read my emails or access my Facebook and Twitter accounts to keep tabs on me.  I’m also going to pray for women who aren’t so fortunate.  I highly doubt that reading emails is the only form of abuse going on in many of those relationships.  If that describes you, know that you are not alone and there are places you can go for help.