Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Evolution of Markulinity: seeds of implosion, biological determinism with double binds, straight guys gotta marry and straight wives should get babies from their fearful husbands

What may be most difficult for those who have always been outside of Mars Hill to appreciate about its history and Mark Driscoll's taxonomy of gender, sexuality and adulthood is that there have been some insoluable double binds inherent in his approach.  The most striking problem is what Wenatchee The Hatchet has described as a heteronormative biological determinism.  The crude way of putting it is that guys were in a cultural idiom in which, so long as they were straight and ever had erections and were not called to smuggle Bibles to non-white people overseas, then they were basically morally obliged to get married as fast as they could manage.  That basic idea was touched upon tangentially here:

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 121
When we got married, I (Grace) didn't understand the physical and emotional aspects of sex for men. It seemed with his high sex drive that was all Mark wanted from me and that he didn't appreciate anything else I did. His drive seemed to get stronger the less we had sex, and I wondered if it was an idol to him or if that was normal for me. I later realized it was partially a real physical need, [emphasis added] not an obsession, since he wasn't masturbating  or getting relief some other way, which I am thankful for. I read somewhere that if you have sex more, it actually decreases the necessity for frequent sex over time for most men. I tried that but it didn't seem to change anything for Mark.

page 164

As with many things in marriage, communication is key. When I came 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. [emphasis added] 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. 

Part 8: 1 Timothy 4:1-8
February 22, 2004

You guys should aspire to get married.  You guys should aspire to get--you gotta get a job first. You gotta get a job, not a job where you wear a uniform and ask people fi they wanna supersize something. You gotta get a job.  You gotta get a job so you can get a wife so you can get kids.  And it's a great, glorious thing to be a husband and a father, and only a demon would tell you otherwise.  Only a demon would tell you otherwise. [emphasis added]

And if you're a guy in this church, c'mon. I mean look around.  It's like fishing in a trout pond. I mean, any woman that is in this church and endures me as her Bible teacher is obviously patient, kind, forgiving and loyal, right? She's just--she's got all this stuff to be a wife. She does.

Part 8 of 1 Timothy
Pastor Mark Driscoll
1 Timothy 4:1-8
February 22, 2004
So as a young boy growing up, I aspired to be like my father. I’m thinking, “You know what? I can’t wait to get married, have kids, be a dad, coach Little League.” This is like my vision and goal. I go to church. Catholic priest is effeminate. No wife, no kids, no Little League, can’t catch, can’t throw, can’t change his own oil, nothing. And I’m looking at him and I’m looking at my dad, saying these two guys are totally different, and I wanna be like my dad. So I didn’t go to church anymore. I just checked out till I got saved at 19, just checked out. Didn’t want anything to do with it. I was thinking, “You know what? I don’t wanna be like this guy. I don’t wanna be single.” Like virginity is a season, not a goal. [emphasis added]

As if all that weren't enough, in 2008 Mark Driscoll made it very explicit what the purpose of the sex drive in males was.

to motivate them toward growing up and honorably taking a wife. Nearly every man wants to have sex. The issue is which woman he will have sex with. If he grows up, leaves home, walks with God, pursues his career, and then marries his bride to enjoy her biblically, then his love for her was part of God's motivation to turn a boy into a man by making him take manly responsibility. Since most young men want sex, that desire is to encourage them not to settle for having sex with their hand or with their girlfriend but rather grow up and lovingly enjoy their wife.

Yes, it seems to be that simple.  Driscoll declared that the reason God gave young men such strong sexual desires is so that in their desire to get laid they would grow up and get married.  Now if Driscoll were still actually Catholic and showed any evidence of taking a natural law approach then, okay, this is still pretty bad.  After all, same sex attraction introduces a substantial monkey wrench.  Then again, Driscoll emphasized that it was God who gave young men such strong sexual desires without bothering to adduce from any biblical text whether that's the case or to what degree.  In other words, in Driscoll's truncated taxonomy of sexual desire as the impetus to inspire men to grow up and therefore marry Driscoll hasn't addressed why gay marriage (in light of a recent SCOTUS ruling) couldn't theoretically be considered.  Romans 1?  Well, Driscoll didn't quote Romans 1 there, did he?

That's just the phallic half of Mark Driscoll's heteronormative biological determinism.  There's also an ovarian version. In Real Marriage, in the chapter on men, Driscoll mentioned that some men are cowardly and are afraid to indulge in the desire of their wives to have children because they're afraid they can't afford children. The wife who wants children is described as having a God-given desire that the cowardly husband sinfully won't grant.  The full nature of this double bind can have on men and women alike may need to be spelled out in the bluntest form by way of a case history.
Over time, we were influenced by the pressure we heard from the pulpit on how we need to have children because they are a blessing (not saying they aren’t) and it is biblical to not use birth control. We were in agreement that we would wait until I finished my degree (I was a high school dropout and was almost finished with my High School Completion and AA Degree at this time). The more we went to church the more we thought about having children and so we changed our plans and got pregnant in early 2007. This was where things started to change for us. We were in a great community group that we attended for a year when suddenly the leaders disbanded due to the strain on their growing family and other church commitments. Right when I became pregnant I lost the community I thought would be there to support us through the journey. My husband is a quiet and slow-to-speak type and it took him a very long time to feel comfortable in the group we were in (which basically disqualified us from taking the group over because I am not allowed to lead and he was not the quintessential Mars Hill “man”). So we didn’t find another group until our son was almost born. During this time we moved to West Seattle and that is a whole different story in itself.

Things were weird after our son was born; it was hard, and I mean damn hard. The following may contain explicit information, just an FYI…I fell back into sin with abusing prescription medication because I had a condition after childbirth that made sex extremely painful and literally impossible (I wonder how Mark would handle no sex for 9 months due to something of this nature!) I can honestly say my husband was most gracious with the situation, he didn’t demand any other sexual activities to make up for it, he didn’t complain, he comforted me and supported me to get healthy. I also remember thinking that he would start watching porn or something because of Mark’s teaching on keeping your husband satisfied to keep him from sinning or something along those lines (I specifically remember a sermon where he blamed the wife of a pastor who committed adultery for “letting herself go”). I never saw anything of that nature from my husband, he was self-controlled and was mostly concerned with my well-being.

It wasn’t long before he was laid off from his job and our financial security was gone. Our savings were used up quick and despite my husband’s efforts to find a job, he couldn’t. It was at the beginning of the recession, I was told by church leaders that my husband wasn’t doing enough and wasn’t fit to be a father or husband since he had no job. As if all his other Godly qualities are worthless because  of the economy! Unfortunately, I agreed with the church and started to resent my husband for not having a job. I did this because I believed MH knew God’s plan for marriage even though at my core I felt differently.

In the real world, the application of the metrics of Markulinity are reported to have led to a couple being pressured to "trust God" and have children against their own reservations. The local church first applied pressure that the couple should have children and then, when financial crisis hit after their son was born, they were told the man had failed as a husband by not being able to provide.  That's a pretty damned evil double bind there, folks.  And it's a double bind that is not so latent in Mark Driscoll's conception of gender, sexuality and adulthood as espoused in Real Marriage. Unfortunately the book is in a box somewhere at the moment so Wenatchee isn't in the best spot to cite the page in which Driscoll addressed husbands not being willing to give their wives babies.  Perhaps an alert reader can help there.

A disciple is not greater than the teacher but will be, when fully trained, like the teacher.  Somebody said that ... .

Meanwhile, in light of what has been shared and how it relates to the teachings and expectations the Driscoll and other MH people have expressed, it seems impossible not to close with Matthew 23.
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

The Evolution of Markulinity: seeds of implosion, a poorly reinvented wheel and a backtrack to the chaplaincy of M. S. Evers, Driscoll wanted the man in the trench masculinity but stuck to the "air war" in the end.

Those unfamiliar with church history and the history of Christian faith and practice will always be at risk of doing a whole lot of work to poorly reinvent a wheel.

Mark Driscoll's take on masculinity was not helped by his increasingly "air war" approach to ministry.  As the brand expanded he became a disembodied video presence with a week delay to the vast majority of people he was ostensibly a pastor to.  The long-term fatal flaw in such an approach is that the sort of clean, manly evangelical Christian faith Driscoll wanted to be known for tends to work better, literally, when the man espousing it is willing to meet men in the trenches of the ground war.  Wenatchee The Hatchet discussed the life and work of Chaplain M. S. Evers at moderate length in the following post.

At the risk of quoting from WtH again:

Now the ethos and metaphor of the soldier becomes even more critical when we have a figure like Driscoll espousing a particular kind of manliness.  It really matters when you say men pay their own way if you are really paying your own way or have convinced others to pay at least some of that expense for youHere's another example. It matters if when you tell men not to take shortcuts if it turns out you've taken shortcuts or allowed shortcuts to be made for you.  The kind of manliness Mark Driscoll seems to want is the kind of manliness that doesn't come across in the air war nearly as clearly as it would in the ground war.  For that matter, assuming all positive possible definitions for Mark Driscoll's ideals about a manly evangelical Christian life and example, we've passed the century point for a chaplain in World War I who was all for a "clean manly" Christian witness and ministry a century ago.
What's unfortunate about a "my life was changed by Jesus" narrative in Mark Driscoll's case is that over time he's become the kinds of hands-off executive elder who was able to single handedly make a decision that led to the dissolution and death of the church he spent 18 years saying God told him to plant. Not only that, the resignation he tendered was given after he'd agreed (he says) to submit to the authority of the board that was governing Mars Hill.  Turns out that wasn't quite the case.

Driscoll had spent years not only being in a kind of "God box" where executives made decisions to close campuses or lay people off without campuses being able to appeal, Driscoll's approach had become so "air war" he was no longer in the trenches. As said before, Driscoll's theoretical approach to manliness could work if he were, like Chaplain Evers, literally in the trenches with the people he was a pastor to.  But by now we've seen that he wasn't.


The Evolution of Markulinity: seeds of implosion, the Alpha Male only weakness

It can be perilously easy to forget that, as popular as Driscoll was with evangelicals, he had plenty of criticism.  Driscoll was one to steadily present himself as always the sensible centrist.  Anyone to his theological “left” was a godless liberal and anyone who was to the “right” of him was a fundamentalist legalist type.  So long as nobody dug into the issue of whether he was competently exegeting biblical texts or coherently defending his position these rhetorical plays could work very well.

But even among conservative American Christians there were serious doubts about the validity and viability of Driscoll’s approach to manhood. Heath Lambert’s review of Real Marriage expressed direct worry that the Driscoll book would simply introduce Christians to pornography. John MacArthur made a case that Mark Driscoll’s interpretive approach to Song of Songs essentially is pornographic back in 2008.

There was yet another critique, however, and the critique held that Mark Driscoll’s Testosterone Gospel was one that elevated Mark Driscoll by way of belittling everyone else.  A blogger who goes by Dalrock published “The only real man in the room.”  Dalrock wrote “For the strongest-man-in-the-room model to work, the pastor has to always sustain this position.” While much of the rest of the post does not indicate familiarity on Dalrock’s part with the actual cultural history or dynamics of Mars Hill it’s a good observation that Driscoll’s rhetoric and image-molding presented him as “the only real man in the room”. That men would say after a Driscoll sermon “Mark really kicked my ass today” suggests as much.

The mystique of Driscoll as Alpha Male began to collapse with the publication of Real Marriage. We were given a narrative in which it turned out Driscoll wasn’t happy all the time circa 2000-2005 like he told us he was; nope, he was bitter and resentful toward Grace because she didn’t give him as much sex as he needed to fight off his mood swings and depression, it turned out. Then there was that plagiarism controversy which raised other questions about the accuracy of the public narrative.  That the first print edition of the 2012 book did not give Dan Allender so much as one mention was problem enough since Grace Driscoll’s public deacon profile had listed Allender as a favorite author twelve years prior.  The alpha male element of Mark Driscoll’s image began to crumble. Driscoll was probably not shifting to the gentler father figure image only to find that old grudges were resurfacing; it seems more likely that as Team Driscoll discovered that the old battles had not been so definitively won after all, image revision could potentially lessen the sting.  It’s hardly likely that anyone within Mars Hill in 2012 expected Paul Petry to publish Joyful Exiles, is it?

For those who heard the “how dare you!?” sermon, consider the difference between the Driscollian taxonomy of “jerks” and “cowards”.  The “jerks” needed to repent while the “cowards” were worthless.  It was in sermons like that that the strictly alpha aspect of Driscoll’s appeal to men became easiest to see but it was sitting in plain sight for anyone who could do the math on what “shoot your dogs” could potentially include. 

 By 2012, thanks largely to the narrative, and the then undisclosed behind-the-scenes promotional dealing to market, of the book Real Marriage, Driscoll had opened himself up to skepticism about the plausibility and sincerity of his decade-long prior narrative. Even before there was any controversy associated with possible copyright infringement or Result Source deals, those of us who had heard Driscoll preach from 2000 through 2008 found the story of the real Driscoll marriage problematic.  If the Driscoll marriage had always been as rocky as was claimed in the 2012 book how and why was Mark Driscoll ever considered competent for ministry?  For many of us from the early years what we were drawn to was the community overall and to the dynamic of co-founding pastors Mark, Mike and Lief--they could be likened to Kirk, Spock and McCoy and you didn't have an Enterprise without them. 
Driscoll's saturation of social and broadcast media had reached a point in 2012 through 2013 where documenting the number of times he changed his story was no longer a particularly difficult task. Owing to the catastrophic turnover in staff Mars Hill began to have circa 2011, apparently broadly coinciding with the arrival of Sutton Turner, Driscoll was reportedly aided by leaders who amplified or transmitted rather than ameliorated or offset his leadership flaws.
And by later 2013 it became awkwardly clear that when a journalist with evidence and a comparable capacity for blunt questions pinned him down on why he was so lax in giving credit where it was due in his books, the alpha male, only real man in the room fa├žade withered.



The Evolution of Markulinity: combining a blue collar Jesus with an initiation process to solve a problem of male lethargy or disposability in urban settings, Dead Mean as initiation rite

aka cult creation by solving the problem of male disposability in a setting where blue collar guys are losers.

As we've discussed already the conflict between generations and the conflict between the ethos of the "hippies" and "hardhats" was prominent in the early years of Mark Driscoll.  This was not yet the formation of Mark Driscoll's Testosterone Gospel, but the seeds for Markulinity were surely planted.  But what was going on in the Dead Men phase can be described in sociological terms as an elaborate initiation process. Rather than simplistically dismiss that period as just cult formation, let's consider that while we may disagree with Mark Driscoll on viable solutions, the problem of unskilled labor and males isn't exactly a trivial one.

Mark Driscoll keeps coming back to the claim that God did amazing things through his yelling at the guys to grow up.   Driscoll told Brian Houston, “ … I mean no one would say young men are, in the Western world, highly impressive and we're all encouraged.”  The shortcomings of modern young men generally don’t seem to be in doubt across the ideological spectrum these days, unless we count the young men themselves. 

That said, let’s return to the idea that the blue collar man is worse off now than he was before.  The blue collar Jesus Mark Driscoll formulated can be seen as developing a religious symbolic idiom through which to address problems with a demographic Driscoll has repeatedly said he’s considered a problem.  Young guys won’t grow up.  We can debate whether Driscoll’s ideas of “grow up” have merit somewhere else.  What’s striking about the 2000-2001 era Driscoll and leaders at Mars Hill is that for a time they seemed to find a way to solve that problem within their community. 

It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to propose that if you solve the sociological problem of young male capacity for competition and aggression; and take their social need to belong and find a useful outlet for that by giving them something to do then, well, you’ve created a cult by default.  Not a cult in some pejorative sense, a cult in the sense that a culture has been formed.  Driscoll and the other leaders of Mars Hill were certainly targeting the young men they believed could be the future establishment, but if that was all they did they would have failed early and failed hard.  What Driscoll’s blue collar Jesus approach also accomplished was appeal to the kinds of young men without “skilled labor” options and gave them a vision of something they could be part of.

Dead Men, perhaps true to the frat boy image Driscoll has so often conveyed, can be seen as a massive hazing ritual for those men who were considering becoming truly invested members of Mars Hill.  We can benefit from a little help in an essay at Ribbon Farm. Cue up a little something by Sarah Perry:

Costly signaling is a framework within which the “irrational” sacrifices and acts of ritual can be made sense of. Costly signaling comes from evolutionary biology, and posits that a signal that is very costly to produce is especially likely to be honest. A peacock’s tail is the classic example: only a very healthy and fit bird could get away with growing such a ridiculously impractical tail. Similarly, sacrificing a great deal for one’s group is a costly signal of loyalty, and therefore more likely honest than mere “lip service.”

In my view, this “costly signaling” theory takes us only halfway to understanding ritual effectiveness. Richard Sosis and Eric Bressler’s study of the longevity of communes found that costly signals in the form of behavioral sacrifice (for example, food prohibitions and sexual restrictions) were correlated with the longevity of religious communes – but not secular communes. More demanding religious communes lasted much longer than less demanding communes. And, importantly, non-religious communes had poor survival no matter how much they demanded from their members. The other half of the secret to ritual is the mental states evoked by ritual. A ritual that does not produce the proper mental states will not be effective at facilitating cooperation

Dead Men was, basically, a months’ long initiation ritual that would determine who was in and who was out as a contributor to the culture of Mars Hill.  It was around the 2000-2001 period Driscoll and others were preaching through Proverbs and discussing the development of a counterculture. 

Progressives from religious and secular circles may benefit from being open-minded here.  We’ve seen Driscoll has repeatedly indicated that young men are at risk of being violent and delinquent and that the people most likely to be harmed by this web of maladaptive conduct are women and children.  In Driscoll’s understanding of things the solution is to get the men to behave responsibly and give them a positive outlet for otherwise malignant tendencies to compete or do battle.  If you pull that off the rest would, Driscoll has clearly supposed, fall into place.  Get the young men and, eventually, you get everything else.  Fail to inspire the young men and you ultimately get nothing.  Tempting though it is for progressives to view this as Driscollian misogyny (which, of course, it can also be), let’s consider the possibility that what made Mars Hill capable of being a cult is that it proposed that its attending young men were not just not disposable but indispensable. 

Social psychologist Roy Baumeister has written and spoken of how the core way in which men create and preserve culture is through disposability.  No one man is ever essential to any institution or movement that lasts.   This was something that got discussed broadly at Wenatchee The Hatchet at the following post.

The men described in that post were men who were, at one point, part of Mars Hill, with one exception. From about 2000-2004 Mars Hill was a place where men were urged to be useful members of the community and told they had a necessary role to play.  If Mars Hill was a cult, it arguably became a cult by making an appeal to young men with the promise, “If you join us you’ll have a social life and a legacy.” Who would fall for this?  As Phillip Zimbardo has put it, "Who would fall for such appeals? Most of us, if they were made by someone we trusted, in a setting that was familiar, and especially if we had unfulfilled needs." Rather than try to define “cult” in pejorative terms so common to evangelicalism, we can propose that a cult is essentially any social system or organizational dynamic that gets people to cooperate toward a shared goal. That’s all a cult is and in that broad sense, cult-formation is the entire aim of the human species. And as Driscoll has insisted across 18 years of public ministry, he wants the young guys to grow up and think in terms of legacy.

In the early history of Mars Hill a bunch of us thought that legacy was going to be something we could explore creating together for the benefit of the Puget Sound region.  Or at least Wenatchee The Hatchet labored under that illusion for years.  Perhaps we could put it this way, it may have truly started that way for a lot of us, even most of us.  What seemed to happen over time was that the legacy of “us” seemed to mutate into a narrative in which Mark Driscoll described that legacy more and more in terms of “me”.

If we’re going to discover healthier and more positive alternatives to what happened at Mars Hill we need to try to understand what legitimate social and emotional and economic needs the culture of Mars Hill managed to meet.  As former pastor Bent Meyer wrote a few years ago, try to take seriously the crisis of productive males as a thing to be addressed.  For Driscoll’s most ardent defenders this will remain a fixed point, they will see Driscoll as pro-women.  Grace Driscoll recently told Brian Houston she never saw Mark Driscoll as being misogynist.  Any attempt to suggest otherwise will be rejected or ignored by Driscoll’s supporters. They have enough of their identities invested in that understanding of who he is they will defend their own identities by way of defending Driscoll. 

To find a healthier path we need to get some sense of what needs were being met and find healthier ways to meet those needs. If we want to talk grand, sweeping policy across the land then what can reduce the likelihood of a Mark Driscoll fomenting a cult around a cult of personality could include restoring the unskilled labor market.  Driscoll, after all, spent a lot of time making fun of people who were “educated beyond their intelligence” and “had more degrees than Fahrenheit” but were, of course, stupid. It would not be until the stunts and controversies of 2012 that Driscoll would shift from his blue collar street cred narrative to his “I have credentials” narrative, and it’s striking that he invoked the second narrative in public settings against journalists or institutions. When it came time to raise money on the home front he’d shift back to the blue collar working stiff narrative who was just amazed at the unimaginable opportunities to change the world for Jesus. That contrast between in-speak and out-speak could be an entire post of its own.

The Evolution of Markulinity: Driscoll looks back on the WW2 days in 2006 and 2011 and explains that though he sinned a lot, his heart was right, and the results were great

For as often as people have said Mark Driscoll apologized for the stuff he said as William Wallace II, the closest thing to an unequivocal apology for both how he said things and what he said we have to wait for … maybe the Brian Houston interview.  Even though Driscoll still describes himself as a complementarian (never mind Grace being his “functional pastor”), and as a Reformed guy, he assured Houston that the William Wallace II rants no longer reflect how he feels. 

Except that, as Wenatchee The Hatchet has been writing for years, Mark Driscoll has never once retracted the substance of his stated views about anything.  He has apologized for his tone but not retracted the substance of things he said as William Wallace II in a way that is clear and to the point.

Now let’s go back and revisit what he had to say for himself and William Wallace II back in 2006.

Mark Driscoll,  Zondervan
copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
350-1,000 people

At this time, our church also started an unmoderated discussion board on our website, called Midrash, and it was being inundated with postings by emerging-church type feminists and liberals. I went onto the site and posted as William Wallace II, after the great Scottish man portrayed in the movie Braveheart, and attacked those who were posting. It got insane, and thousands of posts were being made each day until it was discovered that it was me raging like a madman under the guise of a movie character. One guy got so mad that he actually showed up at my house to fight me one night around 3 a.m. [emphasis added]

Things were starting to get out of hand with the men, so I called a meeting and demanded that all of the men in our church attend. I preached for more than two hours about manhood and basically gave the dad talk to my men for looking at porno, sleeping with young women, not serving Christ, not working hard at their jobs, and so on. I demanded that the men who were with me on our mission to change the city stay and that the rest leave the church and stop getting in the way because you can't charge hell with your pants around your ankles, a bottle of lotion in one hand, and a Kleenex in the other.

On their way out of that meeting, I handed each man two stones and told them that on this day God was giving them their balls back to get the courage to do kingdom work. Guys put them on their monitors at work or glued them to the dash of their truck and kept them. The stones of remembrances from the Old Testament. The next week the offering doubled and the men caught fire. It was a surreal time, since I was basically fathering guys my own age and treating them more like a military unit than a church.

The life change was unreal. We had guys getting saved. We had gay guys going straight. We had guys tossing out porn, getting jobs, tithing, taking wives, buying homes, making babies, and repenting of the sins of their fathers. We had guys who had divorced their wives remarrying them. We had men adopting children so they would have a Christian father. It was a lot like Acts because the whole city seemed to be abuzz.

This season was messy and I sinned and cussed a lot, but God somehow drew a straight line with my crooked Philistine stick.  I had a good mission, but some of my tactics were born out of anger and burnout, and I did a lot of harm and damage while attracting a lot of attention.

Keep in mind “the life change was unreal”. Driscoll said there were gay guys going straight. The season was messy … but somehow God drew a straight line with Mark Driscoll, the crooked Philistine stick.  He had a good mission.  This is not looking like someone who was really saying he was sorry for what he said or even how he said it back in 2006, let alone 2000.  He may truly regret what he said and did, but it wasn’t until the Houston interview he came close to putting things that way. 
Why say that?  Because, well, in the 2011 fundraising film we see that Mark Driscoll didn’t just repeat that the guys shaped up when he yelled at them.  This time around there were guys volunteering to describe ways in which either their lives or the lives of other guys were changed by Driscoll ranting at them to grow up.  By 2000 the aim of compelling young guys to grow up had become explicit in every possible sense.  “Pussified Nation” happened, and Driscoll explained that while that was the negative, a shift would be toward positive alternatives.  Thus, Dead Men.  We can let guys describe it for us here:

Pastor AJ: There was an event at the Paradox, and Pastor Mark’s getting all the guys together.
‘Cause guys would repent of sin, and then they want to meet and they’d be talking, “Oh, I’m sleeping with my girlfriend.” “Oh, I’m looking at porn.” “Oh, I can’t get a job.” “Oh, I don’t know what I want to do with my life.”

[Driscoll] And it got to the point where I couldn’t have that many counseling meetings, so I just decided to bring all the guys together and absolutely yell at all of them at one time. And so I called an all-men’s church meeting.

Jason: People actually flew in to attend.

Pastor AJ: The instructions are, “Grab two stones. Read 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. And when you finish, read them again. And when you finish, read them again.”

Jeff: And we all show up and they hand us a pair of rocks.
We literally filled up every single seat. I met every guy at the door and I told them, “I want you to shut up. You’re not allowed to talk. Nobody is allowed to speak. You guys all just sit down and shut up until I’m ready to yell at you.”

Pastor AJ: And you just keep reading 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus; 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, wondering, “Why do I have these two stones?”

Jason: I think half the people probably thought he was going to apologize for some of his harsher rants that he’d posted online and then say, you know, “You without sin, cast the first stone.”
Pastor Phil: And that silence was just so palatable, just like, “What’s going to happen?” Like you’re waiting for an earthquake, like, “When’s it going to hit?”

Pastor Matt: And Driscoll had just had it and he was losing his mind.

Pastor AJ: Pastor Mark then goes off on the guys.

Jeff: Pastor Mark gets up onstage and just starts yelling!

Pastor AJ: It seemed like a couple of hours, just yelling at us about all of our perversion, all of our laziness, all of our lack of drive and ambition, all of our ungodly living.

“You belong to Jesus. I’m giving you your stones back. It’s your church. We’ve got to fix this building. We’ve got to raise the money. We’ve got to do this thing. This is what God told us to do.”

So I got up there and I preached a sermon on what it means to be a man. I literally think the sermon went about three hours, screamed and yelled at all of the guys.

Pastor AJ: All of us just completely, like, laid open, and he says, “You guys are men, and until you find your own stones, use these.”

And then closed in prayer and told them to shut up and leave.

Pastor Matt: And for a lot of us, this is the first time we heard this kind of stuff.

Jeff: Hearing the truth that we needed to man-up and that God had something better for us, and we weren’t seeing clearly—

Pastor AJ: Guys glued those things to their dashboards. They kept them in their pockets all the time. It was just this reminder of God has made us men, and we will be men. Who does that stuff?

Jeff: We kept hearing that over and over and over again, sermon after sermon after sermon addressed towards men, specifically young men, specifically, taking initiative to lead and love well like Jesus. And that was life changing, life changing.

There were maybe 100 to 120 guys at that time. Probably the average age was maybe early twenties, twenty years old. You’re talking college guys. But a lot of those guys, to this very day, they did it, man. They’re running companies. They’re deacons, elders. They’re starting churches. They’ve gotten married. They’re having kids. Their lives are changed and they are still, you know, hands up, chin down, feet forward, getting it done. And it’s just really cool what God did in this place.

He can’t have felt THAT bad about how things went in 2000-2001 if, a whole decade later, he was still talking about how amazing the life change was; and had men who were at Dead Men talking about how fantastic it was.   What, precisely, Mark Driscoll accomplished with other leaders at Mars Hill through Dead Men has to be understood to get a clear sense of what Mark Driscoll accomplished in the early years and it’s not necessarily a miracle but brilliant group psychology.

The Evolution of Markulinity: 2000, the eruption of William Wallace II and the formalization of Markulinity

Ruth Moon [ posted 8/1/2014 05:08PM ]


In Mars Hill's Midrash forum, posts from which resurfaced and circulated this week, Driscoll posted blunt and emotional comments critical of feminism, same-sex sexual behavior, and "sensitive emasculated" men, all under the pseudonym "William Wallace II."


"While the discussion board itself was a bad idea, my decision to attack critics who were posting there (I did so by posting under the character 'William Wallace II') was an even worse idea," Driscoll said in his letter Friday, provided to CT. "I was wrong to respond to people the way I did, using the language I used, and I am sorry for it and remain embarrassed by it." 

Curiously, notice that Mark Driscoll declared that the discussion board itself was a bad idea. He never gave a reason why, just asserted that the board was a bad idea.  It was arguably not a bad idea. In fact if you were to go revisit what the stated reason was for having a Midrash in the first place you might see something like this:

Throughout the history of ideas, two primary methods of teaching have dominated. The first was popularized by Greek and Roman societies, and still maintains a strong presence throughout the western world. This method assumes that the learned teacher has information that the student needs. Therefore, the student is expected to sit quietly under the teacher and learn what is taught. The second method was popularized by the Hebrews, and still maintains a strong presence throughout much of the eastern world. Called Midrash, this method assumes that both the student and teacher have significant contributions to make to one another's lives. Therefore, learning is conducted in conversational community, with disagreement and penetrating challenge directed at both student and teacher in an effort to discover the truth together.

Midrash is a collaborative effort to stimulate the discussion of topics relevant in our lives. This site is designed to be fueled by your thoughts and ideas and is open for your comments and questions. Feel free to post your thoughts, comments, questions and observations.

And you’d then see a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: The content posted on this site does not necessarily indicate its theological endorsement by the church or its leadership. We are a diverse community with strong convictions that also appreciates friendly dialogue and interaction with people of differing views.

Oh, so a church setting up a publicly accessible discussion board where collaborative discussion and promoting friendly dialogue with people of differing views was a bad idea? If Mark Driscoll would now wish to claim that the Greco-Roman methodology in which the student quietly learns from the master … well, Driscoll doesn’t even seem to grasp that this isn’t the most accurate depiction of Greco-Roman pedagogy but … it turned out that Driscoll’s preferred form of teaching was to have a week delay for a video-taped performance in which he’d expound upon ideas without anyone being able to interact with him in any fashion. 

That Driscoll claimed Midrash was a bad idea to begin with was a smokescreen.  What was bad about Midrash was not that it was open to everyone or that people with contrasting views disagreed, it was how Mark Driscoll conducted himself that was problematic.  But, at the time, Mark Driscoll believed his actions and words were necessary.

As we're about to see, he also came back more than once to the idea that even if his methods were bad the results he got were still worth bragging about even a decade later. While it may theoretically be possible to find out what specific events Mark Driscoll was reacting to that he took inspiration from when formulating his persona that's not something for this series to consider.  We'll shift to two significant retrospective moments in which Driscoll would look back on his WW2 days and conclude he, basically, had the right heart and the results were worthwhile.

The Evolution of Markulinity: The Dude Gospel, the original seed or later addition? Revisiting early Driscoll in media shows generational conflict rather than masculine reform as a driver

 If you were to have visited Mars Hill some time between 1998 and 2000 and asked for a doctrinal statement what you might have actually gotten was a photocopy of an article that appeared in Mother Jones magazine.

We won’t quote the entirety of Lori Leibovich's 1998 article for Mother Jones, but we’ll provide a link.  Read it at your leisure and consider what is and isn’t prominent in that profile on emerging evangelical churches.  It was in this article Driscoll was quoted as saying he wasn’t a pansy-ass therapist.

If anything Driscoll comes across as motivated not so much to "reach the young men" as someone who has, in Leibovich's reading, shrewdly leveraged inter-generational conflict as a rallying point around a mostly younger/young-ish nascent church movement. 


"For financial reasons or whatever, the parents of Gen Xers put their lives ahead of their children's," says Lief Moi, 35, a leader at Mars Hill and the co-host, with Driscoll, of "Street Talk," a nationally syndicated Christian radio show. By playing the "dysfunctional family" card, Moi, Driscoll, and others implicitly coax young people to turn to church as a place where they can experience the family and fellowship they missed out on as a kid. The church then becomes appealing to college students for the same reasons that fraternities and sororities are: instant community.


By setting themselves up against their elders, postmoderns are ingeniously adding an anti-establishment spirit to their movement. "I really preach; it's not just three points to a better self-esteem," Driscoll says. "Megachurches have perfect services with perfect lighting. We're a friggin' mess." Driscoll delivers his sermons largely off-the- cuff, and refuses to follow a point-by-point outline like most pastors at megachurches do. "I'm very confrontational," he says, "not some pansy-ass therapist."


From nine to midnight each Saturday night, Driscoll sits with Moi in a studio high above downtown Seattle, where the two host "Street Talk," which is broadcast to 16 stations around the country. The show is the brainchild of Moi, who has hosted it for six years.

Tonight's topic is "The American Dream and Postmodernity: Is There Hope for the Future?" and for the first 15 minutes Moi and Driscoll toss out questions and debate them: Can one be a Christian and be an upwardly mobile capitalist? How can young people reconcile Christian tenets such as service, charity, and community with American ideals such as individualism?

What we don't find in this coverage is an indication that Mark was chiefly concerned to reach the young men.  It looks more like he was eager to promote as all-encompassing a sense of religious community as possible.  He's described as aspiring to synthesize a Catholic appreciation for the arts with conservative Protestant beliefs and a mainline Protestant sense of cultural tolerance.  That doesn't exactly sound like the Testosterone Gospel.  Further excerpts from radio time with Driscoll and Moi suggests that intergenerational tension was the thread. 

"Some of us haven't given ourselves over to the American Dream yet," Driscoll says into the microphone. "How do we make sure we don't become victims of what harmed us— parents who weren't around because they were too busy making money so we could go on vacations and look like a family?" The phones are dead.

During a commercial break, Driscoll throws up his hands in mock surrender. Moi says, "When we do a show that is philosophical, either they sit back and listen, or it goes over their head. But when we do a controversial or reactionary topic—like paganism or Satanism—we hear from everyone."

Now Leibovich and Wenatchee The Hatchet are not the only ones who have noted that there seemed to be a generational bias within Driscoll's (ugh, it may be unavoidable on a Christian blog, but here we go) worldview. Courtesy of C. Stirling Bartholomew:


When I first met Driscoll he was clerking in a bookstore in Greenwood (North Seattle). I had heard about him. He makes a lot of noise. I knew his father-in-law very well when I was in my teens and 20s but I was long gone when Mark became a regular visitor in that household. When Driscoll came back from college and started doing "street talk" on the radio I would tune in now and then and listen. I noted right away that Driscoll was a generation bigot. He hated 'hippies' with a passion. I suppose this has something to do with growing up blue collar in Seattle which is a northern clone of San Francisco. The war between the hard hats and the flower generation was still in progress when Driscoll was born into the world of hard hats. In the end the hard hats lost the war. The flower children and the neo-pagans took over the culture and nowhere is that more evident than in Seattle. So Driscoll hates what he calls 'hippies' because his people lost the war and now he would like to put the culture back where it was in 1955 and it just isn't going to happen.

Driscoll seems to have adopted the notion that the hard hat world view is somehow connected with Jesus. This is so silly it hardly deserves refutation. Jesus didn't join a union, watch football, drink bud, have a dragon tattooed on his biceps, wasn't a carpenter, didn't have a job, took his disciples away from their jobs ... and generally caused a social disruption where ever he went. Jesus was the antithesis of Mark Driscoll's model of "true manhood".

As has been noted over the years, Driscoll has been set against what he terms a hippie, Richard Simmons conception of Jesus.

The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

Driscoll has also said that Jesus was born in a dumpy rural hick town and that his dad was a guy named Joe who swung a hammer.  It takes little effort to consider that this is a Jesus who has been refracted through Mark Driscoll’s self-understanding.  Driscoll, obviously, has a father named Joe (see God’s Work, Our Witness and elsewhere).  Joe was a union dry-waller who swung a hammer for a living. Driscoll has described his family living in a rough neighborhood behind a strip club. Even if all these analogies could have kernels of truth in any of them the pervasiveness of the blue-collar Jesus has caught attention from people across the board where Mark Driscoll’s public ministry goes. Driscoll would continue to emphasize the blue collar, not-hippie Jesus and his de facto blue collar, “tell it like it is” persona for years before he’d begin to invoke credentials. 

Take all of these observations on Driscoll’s blue collar Jesus, and it's not that difficult to understand how and why Mark Driscoll not only did not make a concerted effort to be under spiritual guidance from earlier generations but why he might have viewed the preceding generations of believers with suspicion.  Even the men he recruited to help him plant Mars Hill, though notably older than he was, could be construed in broad demographic terms as being outliers within the post-war generation. 

What came to be more swiftly recognized as Mark Driscoll's gospel for dudes didn't seem to get refined and take shape until the start of the millennium. When the seed of the Testosterone Gospel burst forth it was not a pretty thing, by anyone’s account. 

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.

Mark Driscoll, the Houston interview, and the "Testosterone Gospel", vignettes in Markulinity coming along this weekend.

okay ... the series will be ready to go later this weekend and it will be tagged for those who want tagged posts for stuff like that.  the tag will be "markulinity" and the series is going to be "The Evolution of Markulinity".  So, uh, stay tuned this weekend for eight more posts.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

so Driscoll said it was revealed to him "a trap has been set", but the potential threat of a RICO suit was publicized back on August 2014, and Mark said he agreed to the restoration plan so ... ?

on the resignation letter
I never got to say good-bye to the church and the people and so what went public was actually the resignation letter that went to the legal governing board that was in authority over me and so, uh, i uh, I know under the circumstances there wasn't a way to do that that would have been, uh, clean or easy. I don't have any criticism of the board. I think that, for the people, that there wasn't closure and I didn't, we didn't get to say anything.

And we didn't expect to resign. I met with the board. There was a whole list of things that were charged by current and former leaders and there was an internal governance struggle and threats of legal action that it got very complicated. And a lot of it was anonymous through the internet so you don't know who is saying or doing what. And so I invited the board to do a full examination, interview [emphasis added] anybody, anything, and we would submit to whatever verdict that they determined.

... When I think about eight weeks we met Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11. I remember because the 11th was my birthday and so Grace and I were present with the board and they said: "We see in your history of leadership, less in more recent years but particularly in the past, pride, anger and a domineering leadership style." That would be the exact words they used.  "We don't see anything disqualifying. These are areas we want you to grow. We want you to leadership at the
church soon." They wanted to do some clean up internally. "We want you back on January 4 in the pulpit, give you time to heal, things to cool down, and for some changes to be made."

We agreed to that. I sent in a go-forward plan and then we went home to have birthday cake with the kids. I think it was on Monday night. I was in the bedroom. Grace was in the living room. And so we told the board and told the kids, you know, we come back and ["will do"? garbled] preaching and try and love and serve and, and fix what was a struggling church and God had provided a way for us to do that as volunteers. And so I was to come back as a volunteer. [emphasis added]

And then on that Monday night I was in the bedroom, Grace was in the living room and he spoke to me and he spoke to her in a supernatural way that neither of anticipated or expected. Ah, and so Grace walked in and she said, "I feel like the Lord just spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." and I said "I feel like the Lord spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." It's not what we wanted; it's not what we agreed to; it's not what we've planned for. And so I asked her, "Well, what did the Lord say to you?" cuz I didn't wanna influence and she said, uh, she said we're [Grace Driscoll speaks but it's low and indistinct, Driscoll pauses a moment and is urged to continue by Houston] "The Lord revealed to me that , you know, a trap has been set, there's, there's no way, chance we can return to leadership" and I didn't know what that meant or what was going on at the time.  And I'm, I said, [garbled] "We need to resign". So this is not what we anticipated
and a lot of people've thought, you know, "maybe he's another plan" but we didn't. We didn't know what we were doing.
[emphasis added]

And Grace fell to the floor and she was just sobbing uncontrollably and I'd never seen my wife like that. She was devastated. So we prayed and slept on it and decided we would make sure we got this right. Talked to pastors, those that we trust and sent in our resignation then on, it would have been Tuesday. ...
Now we've discussed this segment of audio plenty at Wenatchee The Hatchet in the last week.  It is, alas, however a gift that keeps on giving for bewilderment and contradictions with earlier narratives ... or even within the narrative itself.  We've discussed how Mark Driscoll said he both initiated the investigation into his fitness for ministry and said he would submit to the board's conclusions, and then thanks to the above account we're told he just up and decided to reneg on everything he said he'd agree to because he claims God told him ... a trap had been set.

But Mark Driscoll wouldn't have needed a divine missive to know there was the potential threat of a RICO suit.  All Driscoll needed to do was read WORLD magazine.
But in other ways, Driscoll’s critics charge, it’s business as usual. Just weeks after Driscoll’s public confession, the executive elders (Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner, and Dave Bruskas) surprised Mars Hill staff by announcing a new document retention policy that would destroy all staff emails more than three months old. The plan was dropped only after a group of former staff, elders, and members sent a letter to the church saying the new policy was an attempt to destroy documents that might be used in litigation against the church. The group’s attorney, Brian Fahling, asked the church to “preserve electronically stored information that may contain evidence” for legal action in which the church, Driscoll, and others in church leadership “will be named as defendants.” The letter lists anticipated litigation in the areas of “RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act], Fraud, Conspiracy, Libel, Slander, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.”
And it was the Board of Overseers or Board of Elders or both that Driscoll claimed said he was okay, not unfit for ministry, but needed a restoration plan.  Driscoll said he agreed to submit to the restoration plan, so whatever the trap allegedly was can't have been THAT because by Driscoll's account you're supposed to do things in a godly way with a godly heart submitted to godly authority and, well, why would Driscoll doubt the Board(s)?  Whatever the trap theoretically could have been it couldn't have been a RICO suit that may never even materialize anyway.  Let's keep in mind that earlier this year Justin Dean taunted Rob Smith about having failed to produce a lawsuit for more than a year.  Revisit this post for that.
Justin Dean publicly apologized to Rob Smith for having brought up either of those two things, by the way.  Now the salient thing in this is this--Justin Dean couldn't have taunted Rob Smith about tax liens and having failed to produce a suit for more than a year in March 2015 if, as Mark Driscoll claimed, the people that were raising concerns and criticizing his ministry were doing so anonymously.  Since when has Rob Smith been anonymous on the subject of Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill in the last five years, again?  Since when has Joyful Exiles been anonymous?  Since when was Wendy and Andy Alsup's critical review of Real Marriage anonymous?  Wenatchee The Hatchet couldn't have gotten a certified letter from Ballard campus pastor Scott Harris in 2013 if Mars Hill didn't actually have any clue at all who they were dealing with online.  Not only did Mars Hill leadership know who they were dealing with one of the small dramas within Mars Hill was figuring how many people were leaking content to Wenatchee The Hatchet.  The more Driscoll tries to claim the confrontation from people online was anonymous the more bald the assertion becomes. 
So, let's get back to whatever the alleged trap was that Driscoll claims the Lord revealed had been set.
"If" the trap God allegedly told Driscoll about had anything to do with RICO that wasn't something to resign over.  If a person has read any of the coverage of what such a suit would likely entail if it ever even happens is that the suit would be against the officers and not the corporation.  What that seems to mean is that regardless of resignation the suit wouldn't be against Mars Hill but it could conceivably include Driscoll as a defendant.  So even "if" someone were to speculate that that was the trap, it couldn't possibly be escaped via resignation. 

Mark Driscoll's publishers went back and revised various egregious citation errors in Driscoll's published work and, contrary to Mars Hill's own cease-and-desist scenario from 2011, nobody whose work Mark Driscoll may have potentially or actually infringed upon ever gave any indication of bringing suit.  If we want to consult the actual Bible for examples of traps being set for leaders there's this trend of God setting traps to punish, humiliate or even kill corrupt and self-serving rulers who have abused God's people ... but let's not bore you with those details.  It may suffice to say that one of the ways God has seen fit to trap and punish errant leadership is to send them a false prophecy, warn that the prophecy was false, and then let the errant leader go to his demise anyway.  Ahab, anyone? 
The trouble with Driscoll claiming to have heard a prophetic oracle that let him quit in defiance of his own pastoral counsel about submission to authority is that, well, THAT may have been the trap. Perhaps just as some preacher comes up with a theology as an excuse to divorce his wife and marry his mistress, perhaps in a vaguely comparable way a preacher can claim against his own history of preaching and teaching that even though YOU should submit to godly authority and not bail on the church like a dissatisfied consumer HE gets to go back on his word to his own board and apparently his own children to just go quit because, he claims, God audibly gave permission to him and his wife that they could quit.  Too bad Grace Driscoll's never seen fit (or been given a chance?) to even explain what her side is.  Then again, maybe Mark Driscoll's functional pastor didn't hear anything important enough from God to share it as a way of corroborating or expanding upon what Mark Driscoll told Brian Houston?
So for the time being there's as yet no plausible explanation of what the alleged "trap has been set" could be, let alone why that would constitute a plausible ground for a next-day resignation in direct contradiction of what Mark Driscoll claims he agreed to do with the Board or what he and his wife allegedly conveyed to their own children in the days prior to the formal resignation.
Unless we consider the idea that Mark resigning rather than submitting to the spiritual authority of the governing board WAS the trap, and if it was the trap, he totally fell for it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

pending series of posts on Mark Driscoll and the Testosterone Gospel

It's going to take some time to assemble all the material for this, but Wenatchee The Hatchet never actually finished reviewing Real Marriage. In light of the continuation of the Driscolls to talk about how Mark's heart is to compel the young guys to grow up we'll have to explore that a bit more.  Regardless of what "tribe" Mark Driscoll manages to re:launch and re:vive his motivational speaking career it will be useful to review the trajectory of Markulinity as a theme in his teaching.  It's not necessarily a given that the figure now known as Mark Driscoll emerged with this dude-bro theology fully formed.  In fact in reviewing some earlier observations and coverage of Driscoll it was actually somewhat difficult to find some attestation of that as the primary concern. Rather, early coverage and some blogging from someone who met the early Driscoll suggests that the frat boy gospel of Driscoll incubated within other contexts, such as an explicit narrative/rhetorical framework of intergenerational conflict. 

What may also be alien to those with progressive sympathies, whether secular or religious, is that even among evangelicals and socially conservative Christians Driscoll's approach to manhood has been considered deeply flawed, even fatally flawed, at a theological level.  We'll have to see if we can carve out some time to address that later on.  What may be useful as a teaser for the time being is to propose that even among conservative Christians there came to be a critique of Driscoll's Testosterone Gospel as one that was presented for alpha males only, not for ordinary men looking to find a way to go through life.  There have also been suggestions from progressive and relatively conservative Christian writers looking back on the early phase of Driscoll's public ministry that generational resentment was more prominent than the Testosterone Gospel Driscoll has come to be known for in the last fifteen years. We may have time to explore how for those inside the culture Markulinity was seen as a remedy to a generational problem that might not make sense to people who were not inside the culture at the time Driscoll's taxonomy of adulthood, as a theological framework, was beginning to take shape.

So, uh, yeah, it won't be a short series and there will be asides and backtracks to readings from Roy Baumeister or Philip Zimbardo and Daniel Kahneman and maybe Jonathan Haidt along the way.

Houston and Driscoll, an observation about the chaos the Driscoll resignation introduced for the family
Those of you who listened to the whole audio may recall that Mark Driscoll said it was a challenge for his kids, because they had spent their whole lives in the church, at Mars Hill.  Now they aren't there. 

The passivity of the language when Driscoll talks about the social lives of his kids is remarkable. After all, whose decision to resign membership and eldership at Mars Hill put the Driscoll kids in that situation?  Mark Driscoll, obviously, and Grace Driscoll, slightly less obviously.  When Driscoll has shared stories of exation involving his children it's actually easy to have some sympathy for them simply because when their dad makes the kinds of decisions he's described himself making, and that he made in the way he's described, it WOULD be confusing.  By Driscoll's most recent account ...

I never got to say good-bye to the church and the people and so what went public was actually the resignation letter that went to the legal governing board that was in authority over me and so, uh, i uh, I know under the circumstances there wasn't a way to do that that would have been, uh, clean or easy. I don't have any criticism of the board. I think that, for the people, that there wasn't closure and I didn't, we didn't get to say anything.

And we didn't expect to resign. I met with the board. There was a whole list of things that were charged by current and former leaders and there was an internal governance struggle and threats of legal action that it got very complicated. And a lot of it was anonymous through the internet so you don't know who is saying or doing what. And so I invited the board to do a full examination, interview [emphasis added] anybody, anything, and we would submit to whatever verdict that they determined.

... When I think about eight weeks we met Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11. I remember because the 11th was my birthday and so Grace and I were present with the board and they said: "We see in your history of leadership, less in more recent years but particularly in the past, pride, anger and a domineering leadership style." That would be the exact words they used.  "We don't see anything disqualifying. These are areas we want you to grow. We want you to leadership at the
church soon." They wanted to do some clean up internally. "We want you back on January 4 in the pulpit, give you time to heal, things to cool down, and for some changes to be made."

We agreed to that. I sent in a go-forward plan and then we went home to have birthday cake with the kids. I think it was on Monday night. I was in the bedroom. Grace was in the living room. And so we told the board and told the kids, you know, we come back and ["will do"? garbled] preaching and try and love and serve and, and fix what was a struggling church and God had provided a way for us to do that as volunteers. And so I was to come back as a volunteer. [emphasis added]

And then on that Monday night I was in the bedroom, Grace was in the living room and he spoke to me and he spoke to her in a supernatural way that neither of anticipated or expected. Ah, and so Grace walked in and she said, "I feel like the Lord just spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." and I said "I feel like the Lord spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." It's not what we wanted; it's not what we agreed to; it's not what we've planned for. And so I asked her, "Well, what did the Lord say to you?" cuz I didn't wanna influence and she said, uh, she said we're [Grace Driscoll speaks but it's low and indistinct, Driscoll pauses a moment and is urged to continue by Houston] "The Lord revealed to me that , you know, a trap has been set, there's, there's no way, chance we can return to leadership" and I didn't know what that meant or what was going on at the time.  And I'm, I said, [garbled] "We need to resign". So this is not what we anticipated
and a lot of people've thought, you know, "maybe he's another plan" but we didn't. We didn't know what we were doing.

And Grace fell to the floor and she was just sobbing uncontrollably and I'd never seen my wife like that. She was devastated. So we prayed and slept on it and decided we would make sure we got this right. Talked to pastors, those that we trust and sent in our resignation then on, it would have been Tuesday. ...
As you can see from this narrative what Mark and Grace Driscoll would have told their children, according to Mark Driscoll's most recent narrative, anyway, would have been drastically different from what reality turned out to be Monday, let alone Tuesday.  Compare that to this:
Transcript | Mark Driscoll | Thrive 2015-05-01
It finally came to the point where God released my wife and I from our responsibility to ministry. He spoke to us audibly. It wasn’t what we were expecting. It wasn’t what we had agreed to. We were both pretty shocked and the announcement was going to come out that week. [emphasis added] And, uh, our server, our e-mail and things apparently were hacked and there was no way to get anything done without it being a public situation. And so the Board, which are good, godly people in authority, which I appreciate -- they released a statement earlier than we were anticipating, so um, but that meant, and I agree with that decision, I’m not critical of it.  But that meant that I hadn’t told my kids that I had resigned and they were in school, taking test, it was a test week, …. we threw some stuff in a bag and ran to school to grab the kids and within minutes it was on TV, I think it was on CNN. 

Since by the new account the resignation letter was drafted, it seems, the very day the resignation was announced, there wouldn't have been time to notify the children of a decision that was taking shape the night before.  The Thrive account mentions "things apparently were hacked" but there's never been any evidence anything of the sort occurred.  If Mark Driscoll really drafted his resignation letter October 14, 2014 and sent it to the BoAA then it would be natural for the BoAA to disclose that resignation.  The only thing that could be "relatively" sure about information within the leadership culture at Mars Hill was that there was informational hemorrhaging at almost every level.  Wenatchee The Hatchet could write an entire post about the nature of the informational leaks that happened over the last ... few years ... but that's not interesting at the moment.  What is interesting is that at the Thrive performance Mark Driscoll made it seem like the resignation "could" have been released by the Board sooner than expected and that, well, the implication that email or serves were hacked and there was no way for anything to get done without it being public is sidestepping a more obvious point.

When the president of Mars Hill resigned it was the resignation of the highest ranking legal officer in the corporation and it would have to be a matter of public record for state record purposes.  It would also be news. 

Driscoll told Houston "we never got to say goodbye".  That's what the resignation letter already did.  It turned out Mark Driscoll resigned from the only church he was eve ra member of, a church he co-founded back in 1995.  He resigned after he had, as he told Houston, both initiated an investigation and agreed to submit to the findings of that investigation right up to the point that he heard some voice say "a trap has been set."

Was that voice worth resigning over?  Was that voice worth actually or just potentially dismantling the social lives of the Driscoll children over?  After all back in 2007 it wasn't unknown that the Driscolls and Petrys visiteded each other.  When Munson's shunning edict came down it's not like that didn't establish as policy an ending of social interactions between families. 

So if the latest Driscoll account is true (and it does seem to fit the Thrive narrative, more or less) then the Driscoll resignation comes across as impulsive and reactionary; it also comes across as a decision that flatly contradicted what Driscoll said he would agree to comply with.  It's not difficult to imagine, as Driscoll said was a concern since the resignation, that there'd be some worry the Driscoll kids might be upset or resentful about their parents decision to bail on the church they helped plant that the kids grew up in.

And as Mark Driscoll used to teach about husbandly/fatherly headship, it means that it's your responsibility even if technically you'd say it wasn't really your fault.  Regardless of whether Mark can claim God said " a trap has been set", it was Mark Driscoll who decided to interpret that as "we should quit" rather than to submit to the leadership he said he was going to submit to and see where things led.