Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Evolution of Markulinity: Driscoll to Houston in 2015 " ... I want to compel young men to grow up ... "

During the Brian Houston interview we got to hear a recapitulation of what have come to be known as central Driscollian concerns, what some have described as the Testosterone Gospel, and that Wenatchee The Hatchet has previously described as Markulinity. The recent remarks Driscoll made to Brian Houston are a distillation of themes for which he has come to be famous:

I've made a lot of mistakes and one of them was going too fast. There's the Lord's calling and there's the Lord's timing and I should have waited longer. I should have been under godly spiritual authority, for Grace and I to be under a godly couple, that was [a] senior pastor, so that we could learn and grow. I, I, my character was not caught up with my gifting and I did start to young. And I believe God called us to start the church and he was very, very, very gracious to us, uh, but had I to do it over again I would not look at a 25-year old and say, "Do what I did." :

... We went into the urban core and we felt, specifically, called to go after young, college-educated males. That was really my heart. I wanted everybody to meet Jesus but I felt particularly if we were gonna make in the city and the legacy of families and, you know, the way that women and children and culture treated, that getting young men to love Jesus would be paramount. [emphasis added] So that was really the focus and I didn't think the church would amount to much. The first three years we didn't collect a salary; it was very small; we met at night; we moved a lot because we kept losing our rental location; the offices were in our house, so it wasn't a big deal and we didn't anticipate that it would become what it ultimately did.

... young men aren't going to church. Young men aren't going to college. Young men aren't marrying women. Young men are not raising their children and I have such a deep burden and passion to see men--you know, 1 Corinthians 13--I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I acted like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me--I want, I want to compel young men to grow up, to take responsibility. And sometimes, in doing that, I have communicated that in a way that demeans women and that's not helpful and that's not right. In the grace of God I need to repent and be better about that  but I still want, I mean no one would say young men are, in the Western world, highly impressive and we're all encouraged. There's a lot of work to be done. [emphasis added]

And so I regret the times that I have not communicated in such a way that, in trying to compel the men up it seemed like I was pushing the women down and that's my fault.

We've also discussed elsewhere at this blog comments and observations from others about how the aim of Mars Hill leadership, even from early on, was to inspire the young men who would go on to become the future establishment.  Get the young men and you get "everything", Driscoll would say.  But he never fleshed out precisely how or why it was so necessary to get the young men.  Perhaps Driscoll has not been steeped in enough writing by social scientists to have invoked the work of Roy Baumeister.  Baumeister wrote years ago that the demographic most likely to resort to physical and emotional violence and commit crimes was, without doubt, young men at the peak of sexual reproductive capacity. 

While progressive critics of Driscoll in secular and religious circles have focused on Driscoll’s bullying language and conduct, Driscoll’s defenders have seen him as a defender of women and a man challenging other men to truly be men.  This disconnect has been pervasive and it will continue for as long as progressives fail to engage Driscoll’s inflammatory rhetoric in terms that account for the problems he says he’s set out to solve . It’s not that any of us have to agree either with the nature of the problem as Mark Driscoll has diagnosed it, or that even if we do see merit to his diagnoses that his proposed solutions have to be taken seriously, but it seems necessary to understand what the appeal of Mark Driscoll was and is for those who actually respect and admire him.

Now by Driscoll’s own account his aim is to compel young men to grow up.  A Lutheran would quickly suggest that’s all Law and absolutely no Gospel and the Lutheran would be right, but since Calvinists tend to think the Third Use of the Law is a legitimate category for expository preaching we might have to set all that to the side for a while.  Let’s just say that Driscoll’s mission, as he has described it, was to get young guys to grow up.

Okay, so … as famous as this point seems to be let’s back up a bit and ask whether, in fact, this was really a theme clearly articulated by Driscoll and Mars Hill from the foundational years of the church plant. If we go over what early coverage and writers who interacted with the young Mark Driscoll had to say about him, we might come away with the impression that although the seeds for the Testosterone Gospel may have been planted, the earliest years of Mars Hill were not necessarily characterized by that Dude/Bro Gospel.

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