Monday, May 16, 2016

Driscoll vodcast "Is Anorexia a sin?", how to delicately formulate a set of doctrines that don't quite blame the person while only framing issues in categories of blame?

Why Mark Driscoll decided to publicly field the question "Is anorexia a sin" is a mystery; almost as mysterious as why he decided to provide some kind of response to the question accompanied by the sound of sludgy over-driven guitar riffs. There's a point at which a question could be serious enough to get an answer not accompanied by a rock soundtrack. Call it a musician's bias, but these days too many films have too much music that distracts from other content, and no, that's not just about films like Batman vs Superman where Wonder Woman gets this loud, boisterous 7/8 vamp while she ... checks her email.

No, if you are willing to watch the clip ...

This ... is a remarkable parade of recycled content given to someone whom we can only assume asked the question sincerely.

Once again Driscoll trots out to men "your standard of beauty is your wife", as if eating disorders were only something straight people dealt with?  If a gay guy knows someone who has an eating disorder what's the point of saying "your standard of beauty is your wife" to that guy? While there could be a lot to be said about how standards of beauty are associated with sexual desirability and social capital the two are not necessarily the same. 

It's one thing for Driscoll to state abstractly in response to a question from someone who has shared dealing with an eating disorder that a guy's standard of beauty is to be his wife, and it's another to remember that in the charges and concerns raised by former Mars Hill elders ...
October 2011—Mark said in a meeting that he did not want a certain staff elder (who was not slim) to take on a certain prominent leadership role because “his fat ass is not the image we want for our church.”

It's also impossible to forget that Mark Driscoll wrote the following:

Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Thomas Nelson
copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0

page 11Our marriage was functional but not much fun. As we approached the launch of the church, Grace was pregnant with our first child and suffering from painful stress-related issues caused by her public relations job, which culminated in me apologizing for not bearing the entire financial burden for our family. ...
In this season we shifted into ministry-and-family mode, neglecting our intimacy and falling ot work through our issues. This became apparent to me when my pregnant wife came home from a hair appointment with her previously long hair (that I loved) chopped off and replaced with a short, mommish haircut. She asked what I thought, and could tell from the look on my face. She had put a mom's need for convenience before being a wife. She wept.

So when it comes to Mark Driscoll attempting to offer counsel to a woman by saying a guy should have a standard of beauty that is his wife ... well, the way Mark Driscoll might have put things a few years back is to say he's the chief of hypocrites. This has clearly been a guy willing to articulate a standard of beauty that he likes that his wife was able to deviate from.

Most infamously, Mark Driscoll wrote the following, which has been preserved here at Wenatchee The Hatchet because it got scrubbed.

Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors' wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him either.
How could a wife ever opt for "lets herself go" if she is, by definition, her husband's standard of beauty?  Driscoll used to say that if you're wife is skinny you're into skinny and if you're wife is not-skinny you're into not-skinny.  But that's the pulpit persona, not necessarily the actual guy in normal life.

So while Driscoll talks about how guys who have any "objective standard of beauty other than your wife" put a burden on wives and daughters ... well, it's not clear at all that Driscoll himself has been all that consistent about living this out himself by his own accounts. Maybe ten years ago he was still holding to some "objective standard" by which he could talk, then, about pastors' wives who "really let themselves go"?

And that's just discussing points made by Driscoll in the first four minutes.

No doubt fatherly affection and encouragement toward daughters and sons is precious, but that kinda gets us back to the concern of former Mars Hill elders about Mark Driscoll allegedly referring to some pastor at Ballard as being a fat ass. Driscoll's camping out on "the father heart of God" and has talked about wanting to be a father figure to young men and to be a pastor to pastors.  But it remains to be seen whether he's come to terms with the extent to which former staff have described his propensity to use language of the sort that we would expect him to not use on his own children or wife that he has, by a few accounts, felt very free to use on staff and members and people he considered adversaries.  Whether he likes it or not this, too, is part of his legacy.

at about 6:00 Driscoll talks about how he and Grace had a rough season and how they were sat down by some godly people who asked them questions.  There's not much about what that season was aor when it was or what the troubles were.

So there are nine pairs of concepts Driscoll discusses.  One of the ones Warren Throckmorton recently took note of is
This is where Satan, demons are lying to you, tempting you. The Bible says that Satan is the accuser of the children of God. He accuses them day and night in Revelation 12:10 there are accusations. If you start realizing this oppression, you can get out of it by acknowledging what God has to say. Oppression, an accusation, is often in the second person, you are unlovable, you need to punish yourself, you don’t appear attractive, whatever the oppression is, it’s telling you something that’s just not true. And so, what you need to understand is that’s demonic, that God doesn’t speak to you that way and if you’re hearing in the second person, maybe someone is talking to you, a spiritual being is lying to you, I’ll get to that in just a moment, and the way out is deliverance, you have victory in Christ, Colossians 2 says He has disarmed and defeated the powers and principalities of evil, triumphing over them through his victorious forgiveness of sinners on the cross.

PS – I find some of what Driscoll said about acceptance of body image to be incompatible with what he and his wife wrote in Real Marriage about cosmetic surgery. Read Tim Chailles reaction to the Driscoll’s approval of cosmetic surgery.

A couple things ... Driscoll hits that "Second person is from the devil" about accusation. If God never spoke to His people in an accusatory second person diatribe ... would there by any prophetic literature in the Bible?  So while Driscoll's advice might seem like a helpfully pious bromide he can't even get it square with an entire genre of biblical literature that is notoriously defined by accusatory oracles from the Almighty over sins that the prophets considered worthy of condemnation.  There's possibly a conviction/condemnation distinction Driscoll could make but the key counterpoint here is that even if Driscoll tries to broadbrush any internal "self talk" that is second-person accusatory as Satanic it's not clear on what basis, if any, he can make this claim.

For those who don't follow the link to Tim Challies' reservations about the Driscollian endorsement of cosmetic surgery ... let's just say it will suffice to say that this is another question about how sincerely Mark and/or Grace Driscoll believe their spiel about how "your wife is your standard of beauty".  Neither Driscoll seems to mean by that to say that if a person's wife doesn't shave her legs or armpits or washes her hair for a few days and maybe gains a little weight that she's still the "standard of beauty" if a little cosmetic csurgery here and there might be okay.

And while it's good to raise questions about standards of beauty it became abundantly clear in Real Marriage that was not necessarily hwere a really bad fracture point was in the Driscoll marriage.  A big fracture point was sex and specifically how often it wasn't happening to Mark Driscoll's satisfaction.  In the "Can We ______?" chapter Chailes pointed out that there was a grid in which one of the questions was "is it enslaving?"  Well, nobody seemed all that interested in asking a basic question--Mark Driscoll made it clear that he realized the cure for his mood swings and depression was more frequent sex with his wife.

The segment from about 6 to 7:15 is where Driscoll talks about how if there's an idolatry problem you need to stop worshipping the idol and start worshipping God.

That ... sounds kinda like Redemption Group doctrine.  I've discussed at greater length here than I care to repeat why it's a pretty big problem to formulate struggles only in terms of idolatry.  I don't plan to get into all that again here.  But it seems necessary to say that bringing up idolatry in connection to anorexia seems worse than useless.  Even if we set aside the aforementioned doubts about how consistently Mark Driscoll's lived out his "your wife is your standard of beauty" stuff, to suggest that idolatry for a particular body type or the approval of a father or boyfriend (not mother or peer group?) could be an idolatry that needs to be repented of can introduce a double bind in which wanting to please someone else gets defined as idolatry.  It "could" be ... but that still puts the issue in terms of what the person struggling with anorexia or bulimia has idolatrously embraced, even after Driscoll had made a point of talking about unrealistic worldly standards for beauty.

In the recent video Driscoll mentiones the possibility of generational sin.  The last time I can recall that generational sin in a family line was a major point of discussion was ...

that link just above is for a transcript, for those who are game to watch the video more directly ...
Spiritual Warfare
February 5, 2008
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Christus Victor (Part 3)

I then ask them to confess sins and cancel ground and command leaving one at a time. `s all before we start, "How did you open the door?" proverbially speaking?  "Well, it was I committed adultery then after that I started having nightmares."

"Well, guess what?  Probably a connection there, huh?  Probably opened the door with adultery. Have you ever really repented of that to Jesus and asked him to forgive you?"

"Not really."

"Well let's do that right now. Let's stop right now and have you repent of that sin, ask Jesus to forgive you. He died.  Receive forgiveness."

Let's get--cuz, see, Satan and demons, with a believer, in addition to external torment and such, most of what they have is what we've given them by opening the door through sin.

"Well then, confess it is a sin.  Let's kick `em out, lock the door but you gotta straighten this out with Jesus. You gotta repent."

So a good chunk of time is just spent on repentence of particular sin. It's all it is. Getting rid of those handholds and footholds.
I then ask them a series of questions. This is where we start, number ten. I'll usually check with ancestral sin. I'm looking at their past.

Now if they come from ten generations of third degree Masons I'm startin' there. If they're grandma was into witchcraft and their mama was into witchcraft and they have some demonic issues it shouldn't be shocking to think that this has been an issue in their family for a while.

I know one family where incest was just part of the family. They actually had very intricate rules to control incest. The grandfathers and uncles could molest little girls but daddies couldn't and you could only do that once they hit the age of ten. You couldn't molest any child before that. I get these complicated rules that have been passed down for generations for the sexual abuse of the children. You're like, this, your struggle here, your temptations, your issues, they have generational lineage.

There are whole family lines that are just demonically inspired. You ever wonder why, in the Old Testament, God will occasionally tell his people, "When you go to war against that nation kill ALL of them. Don't let one of them live." People say, "Oh, oh that's terrible." Not if that whole line is demonized. Not if that whole line of people exists for the express purpose of fighting God and killing his people. The issue is either you get rid of them or they get rid of you. Satan is inspiring them to destroy you and you gotta get rid of them. Satan DOES work through family lines. There are family lines like the Herods who, just from one generation to the next, they're trying to kill Jesus and his people. Some of the family fights in Genesis, they continue all the way to this day. Not saying every person in the family line is demonized, but it seems like Satan likes to work through family lines, ancestral sin.

To begin then, I'll find the area of deepest root, for the deepest root. If it's ancestral I start there and I have `em pray after me. Much of our time is spent praying. I have `em pray something like this: Lord Jesus, if there are any spirits who have anything to do with me (body, soul or spirit) because of ancestral sin or whatever the sin is (sexual sin, adultery, drugs, whatever it is) I ask that you forgive this sin and cancel any ground that may have been held against me.

And I have them repeat after me: If there are any demons working in me in the area of (whatever it is--sex, drugs, alcohol, you know, night terrors, clairvoyance, visions, pedophilia, whatever it is, witchcraft, whatever) we bind all of you together, along with all your work and effects and command you to come forward.
So the way the demon trial seems to have been set up ancestral sin can be something your ancestors are guilty of that you are, in some sense, also guilty of.  Bringing this up in connection to an eating disorder could be construed as a possible counseling double bind.  The person struggling with an eating disorder could be described as a victim of ancestral sin yet guilty of perpetuating that sin in the present.  If the answer Mark Driscoll was aiming to provide to "is anorexia a sin" was supposed to be "no" fails don't get more epic than this.  If the answer was supposed to be "yes" why did he lack the courage to be consistent with conviction and say so? 

about 10:20 into the recent video Driscoll talks about how believing lies can have you in bondage.  So it's impossible not to think about how this, too, resembles teaching content he had on the subject of spiritual warfare from 2008.
February 5, 2008
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Part 2: The Devil

I had one woman, wonderful gal, sweet gal, she was convinced of the lie that her husband was committing adultery on her. So every time he'd go to work she would literally have a panic attack and would go into the closet and shut the door and be there for hours having a literal, full-blown nervous breakdown panic attack. Her husband's a great guy. Loves Jesus, loves her. It [the idea that the husband was cheating on his wife] was a total lie but something in her believed that lie and I think, for her, that struck at the core of her sense of security and identity and Satan got her to believe that lie and it absolutely undid her.  She went to counseling; she was diagnosed bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic, multiple personality disorder (I believe that such things are true but sometimes they're a junk drawer for other diagnoses for people that are experiencing real spiritual problems); they put her on all kinds of medication, she still had panic attacks, still freaking out, still in the closet; and I just told her, I said, "Sweetheart, it's a lie." It's a lie.
Her husband's sitting right there, I said, "Okay, God's honest truth, have you ever committed adultery on your wife?"
"When you leave the house are you going to commit adultery?"
"No, I'm going to work."
"Have you ever touched another woman, are you looking at porn, are you doing anything."
He's like, "I'm not doing anything. I go to work and I come home. That's what I'm doing. I love her.  You know, I'm delighted to be with her. She's the best."

I looked at her, I said, "Okay, here's what faith looks like for you--believe the truth. Don't believe the lie. If you believe the lie, you're going to ruin everything. If you believe the truth, you'll be okay. And you know what?  By God's grace she repented of her feeding the lie. She needed to see that believing a lie was a sin. It was a sin to be repented of. Here's the truth, here's the lie, I chose the lie. That's a sin, I need to repent.  I need to believe the truth. I need to have faith to live in light of the truth, like Jesus said, then I'll be free in the truth.

[She] went off her medication, no more panic attacks, no diagnoses, she's fine. This has been some years, they've got a loving marriage, they're doing great, they love Jesus. They're wonderful people.  But she fed the lie.  Don't feed the lies. And they're everywhere and part of your art in counseling is asking enough questions to figure out what the lies are that people believe.
Not that we're ever likely to find out who this person is, though. What's remarkable about this account is that Driscoll presents someone as responsible for being in demonic bondage for believing lies told to them.  This has been an aspect of Driscoll's counseling approach that has gone without remark for so long it seems necessary to keep bringing it back into the light, not least because this just came up again this week from Mark Driscoll himself.  You need to stop believing in lies so you're not in bondage.  That's from the 2008 spiritual warfare lecture marathon.

I've meant to scale back blogging about Driscoll this year but that he's willing to field a question from someone sharing struggles with eating disorders and to talk about whether or not anorexia is a sin ... it suggests that Mark Driscoll is willing to wade into providing counsel via vodcast. I've got doubts as a matter of personal convictions and experience how valuable counseling via mediated content can actually be.  It seems an actually responsible pastor would save the majority of assistance to someone struggling with an eating disorder to someone qualified to help that person through those difficulties, whether a psychologist or a dietician qualified to help people with eating disorders.  Not some guy who bailed on restorative discipline from his own church back in 2014 and is putting down roots in the Phoenix area whose posse scrubbed the internet of spiritual warfare content from 2008 that he is now so very obviously recycling in providing a vodcast answer to the question "is anorexia a sin?"

But it's not as though a pastor has nothing possible to do.  For those of us with more of a Reformed background Richard Sibbes' The Bruised Reed can be helpful in meditating on the love of Christ that sustains us even as we struggle and fail with besetting sins by reminding us that it was for these very sins Christ died, but also to remind us that as we struggle with the infirmities of the flesh Christ bore these infirmities for our sake.  There are ways to discuss how Christ in His life and death chose to bear with us the sufferings that we face in life in a way that doesn't have to bottom line everything in the category of sin, because "sin" as Christians so often discuss it tends to focus entirely on sins we think people knowingly do with intent when in our daily lives we may fail in all kinds of ways that are unobserved and inadvertent by us.  It is possible for pastors and just regular Christians to share what encouragements we have received without presuming to tell someone struggling with something we don't understand that there's something they could repent of, some lies they need to stop believing, and so on.  How do we know they didn't hear those lies from us, for instance? 

It is this kind of question Mark Driscoll seems never to have confronted--when he has scolded men for having unrealistic expectations about sex and beauty it's never clear that he's thought that carefully about himself.  Let's take the Driscollian grid and consider where the question is "is it enslaving?"  And let's remember Mark Driscoll wrote:

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)

page 164

As with many things in marriage, communication is key. When I cam to the conclusion that the cure for a lot of my moodiness was having more frequent sex with my wife, I simply told her. Yes, it's that simple. For years, when I would endure depression, I tried to talk to Grace about it. Her natural inclination was to want to have long talks about our feelings toward each other, and I know that connecting with her like this is important. But sometimes I was jsut too frustrated and ended up blowing up and hurting her feelings. The truth was I wanted to have more frequent sex with my life, and we needed to discuss how that could happen. 
To make matters worse, seemingly every book I read by Christians on sex and marriage sounded unfair. Nearly every one said the husband had to work very hard to understand his wife, to relate to her, and when he did that to her satisfaction then, maybe, she would have sex with him as a sort of reward. After many years I finally told Grace that I needed more sex. I asked if we could have sex more days of the week and try a variety of positions. She'd be the one to decide exactly how we would be together. Grace said that helped her think about our intimacy throughout the course of the day, which helped prepare her mind and body. To our mutual delight, we discovered that both of us felt closer more loved and understood, and were more patient with each other if we were together regularly in some way. And whether my depression was testosterone-induced or not, I just generally felt happier.
For a wife, sex comes out of a healthy relationship, whereas, for a husband, it leads to one.  [emphases added]

But, as has been so directly and bluntly asked here before, if Mark Driscoll's self-diagnosed cure for his depression and mood swings was increasing sex (i.e. number of orgasms) and if elsewhere in Real Marriage Driscoll likened the endorphine rush of an orgasm to a hit of heroin ... how often did he need sex to stabilize his mood?  More to the point, if a single person (male or female) opted to masturbate to orgasm as frequently as Mark Driscoll felt he had to have sex with Grace to stabilize his mood swings and depression ... would Mark Driscoll consider that number of orgasms self-administered by a single person to be enslaving?

There's something else about Mark Driscoll's teaching and counseling history that seems necessary to mention, something he mentioned in Confessions of a Reformission Rev slightly more than a decade ago.


Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
copyright 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
page 151

To make these transitions, I needed to hand much of my work load to my elders and deacons so that I could continue to concentrate on the future of expansion of our church.  In some ways I longed for this day because it meant the weight of the church would be off my shoulders and shared with many leaders. In other ways I lamented not being able to invest in every young couple, experience the joy of officiating at so many weddings, or know everything that was going on in the church.

I asked our newest and oldest elder, Bent, to take over the counseling load that I had been carrying. [emphasis added] He was the first person to join our church who had gray hair, and he and Filipino wife, Joanne, were like rock stars with groupies since all the young people wanted to hang out with these grandparents that loved Jesus. My problem was I loved our people so much that if I got deeply involved in the pain of too many people's lives, it emotionally killed me, and I needed to do less counseling.

Bent Meyer started tackling counseling somewhere around 2002-2003 if memory serves.  What this could mean is that ... it's possible hat Mark Driscoll had scaled back his counseling load as far back as 2002 or 2003 and that he's been out of the game awhile when it comes to pastoral counseling on a person to person basis. It's difficult to see why anyone should put much stock in this guy's counseling acumen if he backed away from pastoral counseling and handed that work over to former Mars Hill pastor Bent Meyer.  One of the ironies of Grace Driscoll's complaints about ministries for abuse victims circa 2006 at Mars Hill was that she was complaining about the ministries run by men whom Mark Driscoll personally and directly, by his account, put in charge of things.

So in responding to the question "is anorexia a sin" Driscoll's answer is evasive but steeped in categories that tend to shift toward "yes". It would seem that here we are in 2016 and Mark Driscoll still can't quite think through the infirmities of the human condition in a category that doesn't involve blame.

If Mark Driscoll's really thinking of making the stuff in that video some kind of curriculum it'd be best if he didn't bother because ...

There's four hours' worth of stuff on spiritual warfare available to download for free at already.  If he's going to recycle content he was teaching 8 years ago the least we can do is point that out and show you where you can get the old stuff so that if he recycles it again you won't feel any need to part with any money for stuff you can get for free.


Anonymous said...

He starts out with the obligatory beg for money, which if your claim that he's using recycled material is correct, means he's getting paid twice. Couldn't stomach listening to or watching his stubbly face any further. Amazing that you can subject yourself to watching and analyzing hours upon hours of this tripe - but I suppose someone has to do it.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

While there have been times this year where I felt sure I'd rather binge-watch Blues Clues season 1 it seems like someone needs to keep enough tabs on him to point out how much he's recycling stuff from a decade ago. The `08 warfare seminar was a reason I refused to renew membership again, and that it was given in the months after the controversial bylaws revisions and the firing of Meyer and Petry revealed that the warfare teaching was in some sense a political manifesto in which Driscoll literally and figuratively demonized dissent against the executive elders.

That Team Driscoll worked so studiously to scrub the 2008 content from the net where possible makes it seem all the more important to give people a chance to hear and read what he was saying. If he's willing to recycle the same stuff to strangers it is a red flag for how he'll proceed in his re:boot.