Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mark Driscoll shares reasons not to marry someone who is pro choice, tells us he was pro-choice in his teens


I first met Grace, my wife and the mother of our five children, over 25 years ago in high school. I was pro-abortion. She was pro-life. We argued over the issue. I pretty much always won. I was wrong, but I was tough to debate with.

That Mark argued with Grace would surprise nobody.  Driscoll used to say the early years of marriage found him winning all the arguments with Grace but sleeping on the couch a lot. People argue, sometimes for fun, sometimes in earnest. Driscoll clearly enjoyed and enjoys arguing for fun.

In fact the first sentence is kind of a championship Captain Obvious lead.  Where doesn't mention of Mark Driscoll note Grace and the five kids these days?  Would someone just happen to come across this one link and not know that Grace Driscoll is Mark's wife and the mother of their five children now that Real Marriage has been out for more than a year?  Well, maybe ...

But perhaps opening with the thumpingly obvious was meant to lead into something surprising.  Perhaps that what Mark Driscoll has aimed for with the sentences: "I was pro-abortion. She was pro-life." Okay, so Mark Driscoll tells us in his teen years he was for abortion.  At this point the veracity of his claims to have been pro-abortion could be hypothetically vetted by his four younger siblings and his parents and people who knew him from high school.  Any of those people want to vouch for Mark Driscoll's high-school pro-abortion position?  But have we ever been told the names of the Driscoll siblings?  Maybe in the Auburn area?  Mark Driscoll doesn't go on to elucidate any of those details because this is an opinion piece about who not to marry and why.  Driscoll goes on:

She came from an evangelical home. I came from a Catholic home. Both of our homes were pro-life. But I was not only pro-choice, I was pro-abortion. I agreed with the underlying principles of Thomas Robert Malthus, which greatly influenced Nazi Germany, and Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood. I read up on the issue quite a bit, and won debates in high school and my freshman year of college defending population control and abortion.

Distinguishing between "pro-choice" and "pro-abortion" looks sort of like distinguishing between a mountain lion and a puma at first glance.  What would have been interesting would have been if Mark Driscoll explained why he was for abortion in spite of his Irish Catholic family being pro-life.  Why did he agree with the underlying principles of Malthus or Sanger?  What, for that matter, would Driscoll say the precepts of Malthus or Sanger are besides the Godwin-jump into Nazi Germany?  
Mark Driscoll has spoken rather generally and vaguely about his past and particularly about his family.  If he was pro-abortion why was he pro-abortion? 

And, rest assured, Mark Driscoll read up on stuff and won debates in high school and in his freshman year at WSU.  But then lots of people read up on stuff and won debates in high school and in freshmen undergrad debates and none of this establishes anything about a clear grasp of the ideas, does it?  Arguing for views you don't actually agree with is par for the course in debate classes. 

Why was he for abortion?  Not just a "I bought into Sanger" explanation will suffice.  Mars Hill has been about engaging culture and entering into the stories of people around you, right?  Why was Mark Driscoll in favor of abortion?  What had he seen growing up in SeaTac that gave him the idea that, say, elective abortion was simply the right view to have and this despite an Irish-Catholic family?  This would have been interesting to read if the aim Mark Driscoll had was to share that but that's not the reason he's written the piece.

But it would have been genuinely interesting to find out how Mark Driscoll's siblings reacted to his stated advocacy for abortion.  What about his parents, Joe and Debby Driscoll (who show up for mere seconds in God's Work, Our Witness so that Joe can tell us stuff we already knew from Driscoll's PR team)?  Did they think their son was sincerely advocating for abortion or being contrarian?  What about his siblings and ... what are their names by the way?  Driscoll has a long history of being curiously quiet about his actual family life and even ascertaining the names of his siblings would take some research.

Meanwhile, Driscoll can say stuff about his high school years but when the statement is unusual, background matters.  And let's face it, Mark Driscoll telling us after all this time that he was for abortion when he met Grace is unusual given the years he spent saying he and Grace married each other because they agreed on all the important stuff.  And the challenge here is that there are times when Driscoll asserts stuff that becomes nearly impossible to establish.  For instance, Driscoll has said he's worked professionally as a journalist even though a non-OpEd byline with his name on it has proven hard to find. Let's face it "worked professionally as a journalist", in the field, never refers to op-ed pieces but to actual reporting.  To date Driscoll has no evidence he ever worked in a non-editorial journalistic capacity, which is another way of saying having worked as a "real" journalist at all. By analogy, even if Mark Driscoll were for abortion who would verify this?  His parents? His siblings?  Do they even remember things that far back by now?  Maybe. 

In rhetorical terms what Driscoll establishes is that having formerly been pro-choice he now gets to speak as someone who changed sides and the emotional and rhetorical effect of this gambit can take effect whether or not anyone can even investigate if and how seriously he endorsed abortion, elective or otherwise, twenty-five years ago. The question should theoretically be simple enough to answer and giving Mark Driscoll's relatives an opportunity to share what it was like living with the man who has, by his account, become a gigachurch pastor, would be fascinating, really.

Maybe he did win debates in high school and his freshman year of college making a defense for population control and abortion but this in itself would not entail that he ever truly endorsed those views.  Debating for points you don't agree with is pretty normal in classroom settings. Words from siblings or parents who would be willing to verify his claims would go a long way to backing up this relatively recent and unique statement from Driscoll.

Ultimately marrying someone who has the same views you have on abortion would be a good idea, regardless of what your view happens to be.  In fact this single point is so pedestrian in itself that if it were stated in that way it would be uncontroversial.  Mark Driscoll, though, obviously preferred to not state an uncontroversial point in an uncontroversial way.  Along the way Driscoll has potentially, if not actually, opened a small window into the story of his relationship to Grace Martin and to his own family that still sheds very little light on who the young man was

... or not.


laura simmons said...

Seriously, you need to get a life. Why are you so obsessed with criticizing Mark Driscoll? What about: Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
You seem to just be looking for things to slam him about. How is that helpful to the Body of Christ. He is not perfect as he is first to admit but you are not his judge.

CoffeeMatt said...

Jeremiah doesn't need to "get a life". He already has one. This is a small subset of his side-hobby of blogging.

Also, Driscoll is a big boy. He can handle some criticism.

I think the value here is pulling back the curtain on how some large church organizations and denominations are operating in America today. At times I think they have absorbed far too much from corporate America, especially with regards to the PR machine. As someone who cares about the health of the church, I think we need to be extra careful about these things.

I appreciate that posts here are more like data dumps for those interested than long rants.

Andrew O'Brien said...

Well, I think I get what you're saying here, but I'm not sure. Are you hinting that Mark Driscoll likes to re-write his own past to serve current agendas? Because if that's the case, I'll say I agree with you at least in one small part of his history mentioned in this post, namely his Catholicism.

Mark Driscoll likes to present him and his family as being super devout Catholics during his early years. I get why he does this. Saying he was a devout Catholic makes his Protestantism a bit more legitimate. But its lying, because Mark clearly wasn't that devout of a Catholic. Whenever he talks about Cathholicism its loaded with error. Was he culturally Catholic? I'm sure. Did he go to a few first communion parties in his day and celebrate the holidays like a lot of Catholics? I don't doubt it. But was his family ever engaged on a more than half assed level? I don't think so. He just doesn't know what he's talking about.