FROM THE PULPIT THE MARRIAGE WAS GREAT
What the Driscolls have said at different times about their marriage in public is important because depending on what statements you heard you would not have been able to even infer that things were that bad in the Driscoll house. It was relatively common at Mars Hill to hear Mark Driscoll say something like this:
Part 6:1 Timothy 3:1-7
Preached February 08, 2004
...I love my wife. I’ve been totally faithful to her. I’m a one-woman man. I met her at 17. I married her at 21. I’ve been chasing her ever since. I’m quicker than she is, so I’m happily married. You know, things are good. I just am. I love my wife. I adore my wife. I enjoy my wife, you know? I – I’m so glad I married the woman that I did. She makes it easy to love her. It says that he has to be a one-woman man. Some women make that easier than other women. Some women are like Kryptonite. You know? They’re hard, but you still gotta love them. I was blessed with a lovely, sweet, nice, enjoyable, great, glorious woman that I completely adore. ...
... When a guy goes into ministry, his wife and is children are going into fulltime ministry with him as a team, right? My wife is my partner, my friend, my confidant. Every stupid decision I ever made is because I didn’t ask my wife, literally. She has discernment.
CRACKS IN THE STORY
Yet Real Marriage recounts a marriage that, from roughly 1996-2006 or 2007, was one characterized by more mutual mistrust than the 2004 sermon suggested. Depressing though it was to read that the Driscolls had such a fractured marriage for the first decade of Mars Hill there were hints here and there that some things were amiss. A March 2007 blog post at Bene Diction Blogs On may have proven one of the most prescient.
On top of a pile of unending responsibilities, Discoll writes a column, and this one is painful.
Of Brokeness and Buddies
I write this blog while flying somewhere over the United States late on a Thursday night heading home from a conference in the great nation of Texas. I have blogged very little thus far in 2007 as I have been playing hurt in terms of my health. I have been pushing it for ten years since Mars Hill Church opened up, and the end of last year was a particularly rough patch. I was looking forward to a few weeks off after Christmas to catch up on sleep. Sadly, what happened is that I would be very tired and go to bed at a decent hour only to wake up a few hours later, unable to return to sleep. I was not stressed out or thinking, but it seemed something was physically wrong. Even sleeping pills were of little to no help and by the end of the holidays I was exhausted, having slept an average of perhaps three hours a night. A naturopath said I had overextended myself and worn out my adrenal glands (which regulate my sympathetic nervous system).I’ve read it carefully a couple of times and I have one word for this pace and level of expectation and disjointed assistance to someone crying out for help.
It was during early 2007 that Mark Driscoll said from the pulpit that Grace Driscoll described him as Elimelech and then explained what that meant.
[roughly one hour in]
...Elimelech is the guy--everything falls apart. It looks dark, it looks bad. He takes a poll he makes a plan. He decides Moab has a lower cost of living. Moab has more vocational opportunity. Moab has food on the table. I will make a plan, I will be the sovereign. I will take care of everything. Trust me. I know what I'm doing. He leads well. He plans well. He tries to be the sovereign (they're all going to die anyways). I am Elimelech.
I asked my wife, "Which one am I?" ... She didn't even breath, didn't even take a breath, "Oh, you're Elimelech." And his name means what? MY GOD IS KING! That was me. If you asked me, Jesus, sovereign, lord, king, God! And if I ever need Him I'll call him but I don't think I do because I've got all this taken care of.
Thus Mark Driscoll on Grace Driscoll on Mark Driscoll.
While the book does not establish a time when the opening "Grace and Disgrace" conversation hapepned, Wendy Alsup shared something in her review that establishes that the conversation had to have preceded the controversial 2007 terminations of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry from employment at Mars Hill.
GRACE DRISCOLL'S STORY OF "ONE NIGHT" AND MARK DRISCOLL'S STORIES ABOUT IT, A CONVERSION IN 2006
This is the one sermon I never wanted to preach. Grace and I were sitting on a couch. It was late one night, just hanging out, and we were just visiting, nothing particularly deep. I started asking her a few questions about some issues in her past and experiences that she’d had, and she just answered them matter-of-factly, just very casually, very unemotionally, and I just started bawling.
And she was taken aback. She couldn’t understand why I was emotional. I don’t get emotional very often. Almost always, if I do, it’s because women and children are in danger. And she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” I said, “No, don’t be sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t say anything wrong, but you’re a sexual assault victim.” And she’s like, “What, me? What are you talking about?” I said, “Yeah, what you just explained was textbook sexual assault.”
All of a sudden, everything in our marriage and relationship made sense. We had been married, at that point, for, gosh, it was six years ago. This year, we’ll celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. So, we were married at that point, maybe thirteen or fourteen years. And we dated for four and a half years before we married, so we’d been together seventeen or eighteen years. I mean, I’d known Grace since high school, and we were good friends.
And now I knew her. I knew everything. And she hadn’t concealed anything, so she wasn’t ever dishonest with me. She just never saw it for what it was. And I think that’s pretty common with victims not only of sexual assault, but of other kinds of assault, as well, that sometimes you tend to have a clearer perspective seeing someone else’s life, but you interpret the data in your own life differently.
Sometimes there’ll be repressed memory, where you don’t remember certain things, and then something will trigger it, or disassociation, which is a clinical term, where somebody who’s being assaulted in some particular way, they’ll disassociate. They’ll sort of mentally check out, just as a coping mechanism. And sometimes people are just not emotionally ready to remember and deal with certain trauma or trouble. I believe that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear, and for those who come to understand some things that have been done to them, sometimes it is because they’re finally at a place in their maturity in Christ that they could handle it. And so, in some regards, I guess it’s an encouragement, meaning we’re finally ready to deal with this.
Mark Driscoll's account is more detailed than Grace's account of the conversation in the book Real Marriage, which reads as follows in chapter 7 of Real Marriage:
GRACE DRISCOLL ON THE INADEQUACY OF MH TO HELP VICTIMS IN 2006, MH ELDERS BEGIN TO CREATE THEIR OWN MATERIAL
According to Grace Driscoll, when she shared her history of sexual abuse it was at a time when mars Hill lacked gospel-centered resources for helping sex-abuse victims or were wrongly focusing on behaviorial modification instead of heart-change. For instance, on page 128 Grace Driscoll wrote:
Mike Wilkerson, in his introduction to his book Redemption, states that there were resources at Mars Hill but they were not sufficiently biblical and in some cases had theology that contradicted what was taught from the pulpit.
Pastor Mike Wilkerson has written this book because I have asked him to. He is not writing it because he is proud or desiring to establish a name for himself. Rather, he is a pastor faithfully serving a great need as requested. ... The content you will find in Redemption is culled from hundreds of Redemption Groups led by mainly unpaid chuch leaders that run based on the gospel as applied in this book in Mars Hill and other churches. Simply, it is battle tested and the kind of information that aids in transformation.
Mark Driscoll's forward to Redemption, page 13
Apparently the unifying theological vision for counseling at Mars HIll, according to Wilkerson, had something to do with Mark Driscoll getting Mars Hill in touch with CCEF.
Wilkerson, on page 15 of Redemption:
Pastor Mark connected us with the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, and as we read their materials and consulted with them about our ministries, some things became clear to us. Our counseling ministries had become eclectic, inconsistent, and in some cases ineffective. We had many different kinds of recovery groups; men dealing with pornography, women dealing with pornography, men and women dealing with the lingering wounds of past abuse, women with eating disorders, women who'd previously had an abortion, and others. The variety of groups proliferated because we sincerely desired to help many people, and various church members had volunteered to give generously of their time and talent to lead new groups out of their own personal experiences of growth and change.
Wilkerson also provides clarity about what Mars Hill elders felt was going amiss in pastoral counseling and small groups circa 2005-2007 on page 16,
As we've seen it has been repeatedly asserted in various places that Mars Hill lacked resources to help sex abuse victims at the time Grace Driscoll shared her story. We've seen it said that there were groups that were ineffective and that had theology that conflicted with the pulpit. What did not get discussed, however, was exactly what resources were being used before the CCEF-related make-over of Mars Hill counseling.
What resources were available at Mars Hill for people looking into Christian counsel for the sexually abused. Bent Meyer explained to The Wartburg Watch that he found the writing of Dan Allender very helpful. In fact it was pretty easy to buy a copy of Dan Allender's book The Wounded Heart at Mars Hill before or after a service.
GRACE DRISCOLL'S "THE MASKS OF AN ABUSED PERSON" AND THE WORK OF DAN ALLENDER
Children: Ashley, Zachariah
Education: B.A. in Public Relations/Communications, with a minor in Technical English
Role as deacon: Hospitality Committee leader
How you became involved with Mars Hill: I came with Mark. :) Since submission is the key to marriage, I thought it would be good for me to attend and be active in the same church as my husband.
(C) copyright 1998-2000 by Mars HIll Fellowship
Why did no one involved in the writing and publication of Real Marriage, or even reviewing the book, take note of this? A question to consider.
POSTSCRIPT: subheadings are now provided to facilitate reading the flow of the documentation.