I have been thinking about episode 5 from The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. It was pretty well-done but I confess to ambivalence. I am glad that the Scotland sermon was quoted so extensively, although the audio sounded a little sped-up to make sure there was room for the whole clip in the podcast. Nevertheless, I agree with exactly how much of the excerpt they quoted. Longtime readers will not be surprised I think so because I transcribed the entire anecdote myself here at Wenatchee The Hatchet.
I have, it turns out, written considerably more on these topics as a single guy than I would have guessed I would have but sex, sexuality, gender, and gender roles were so inextricably part of Mark Driscoll’s shtick it is impossible to not run into them.
I mention that because one of the reasons I’m ambivalent about episode 5 of the podcast is because a binary that seems implicit in the account is between egalitarian and complementarian stances as ideological camps in the realm of ecclesiology.
I am not so sure that the culture of Mars Hill was necessarily the realization of a strict or coherent ideology as such because Driscoll, despite what he may have sometimes claimed, shifted his theological views. At the risk of putting this more plainly, Mark Driscoll grew up in a working class Irish Catholic family in what he kept describing as a rough neighborhood. In other words, he grew up a nominal Irish Catholic in a family with a long history behind it of alcoholism, domestic violence and he grew up by a strip club. Living near a strip club and having a family history of wife-beating drunkards who might, as Driscoll once joked, show up on an episode of COPS seems more germane to Driscoll’s stances on gender and related topics than complementarianism as such.
It is a far more cogent material explanation of Driscoll's views on women, men, sex and sexuality to find them in his nominal Irish Catholic working class upbringing than in complementarian theories on ecclesiology he wouldn't bother reading up on until he was in his twenties afte rhe said he had his Christian conversion experience. To frame Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill in terms of complementarian and egalitarian movements of which the then nominal Catholic wouldn't have been aware may occlude rather than clarify Mark Driscoll and the history of Mars Hill. That he latched on to complementarianism is known but he's mercurial enough he could change his views as his family business expands.
While it might be tempting for egalitarians to argue that complementarianism produces a rape culture (and it could) what do we make of John Howard Yoder’s legacy, which has since been revealed to include sexual exploitation? What do we do about egalitarian churches like Willow Creek contending with a legacy of sexual harassment? What about the dust-up online about Tony Jones and his ex-wife? It does not seem like the foregone conclusion that some egalitarians and complementarians seem to think it is that embracing the wrong dogmatic stance inexorably leads to a rape culture, if a rape culture exists.
What seems to be the common variable is the celebrity pastor variable. Rock star pastors, it may turn out, behave like rock stars. Yet the sexual harassment controversy Native American author Sherman Alexie went through here in the Puget Sound area might be reason to give us pause for thinking that there’s anything uniquely clerical about these issues. Sherman Alexie waxed philosophical about how he was taught to not be like those bros from the American Indian “warrior culture” or the parallel “warrior culture” of Christian fundamentalism (how Catholicism fit into “fundamentalism” I’m not entirely sure about). My concern is that while the fifth episode is pretty compelling there’s room for listeners who are committed to a dogmatic stance in egalitarianism and complementarianism may get what they were already looking for.
At another level I was disappointed that the episode did not draw upon the sheer mountain range of primary source materials. I concede at the outset this mild criticism might not be fair because I have a pretty formidable backlog of material to draw upon that Cosper and company might not have and not everything that "reads" is material that "listens" well. I am obviously inclined to write and a podcast is necessarily about talking.
Not quoting William Wallace II is going to remain a problem inasmuch as you have to read for yourself what Mark Driscoll was willing to say when he assumed he was writing as a character. If you don’t read at least some of Driscoll’s unvarnished rambles for yourself or listen to them for yourself you might wonder why Jessica Johnson called her book Biblical Porn. I have reviewed that book and think it’s a worthwhile read and it’s one of the few books written in the wake of the closure of Mars Hill that preserves a significant amount of primary source material in ways that can compensate for linkrot and the ephemeral nature of the internet. I also, for those who have read it, consented to have my work quoted by Jessica Johnson, in case anyone wondered about that.
It became clear to me there was a trajectory in Mark Driscoll’s writing about sexuality from 2001 through 2012, his approach became more graphic and emphatic. By the time Peasant Princess came along Driscoll was sharing from the pulpit the kinds of content he had previously tended to restrict to marrieds-only small groups from what I could gather as a member who had attended for nine years. I have compiled a survey of comments from 2004-2012 on Mark Driscoll’s take on sex in marriage and the presence or lack of it as it was on his mind.
I’m going to revisit a lot of that material so you can see for yourself the wealth of material that could have potentially gone into episode 5 but couldn’t, most likely of necessity. It is far easier to feature audio clips than written materials in a podcast, after all. So you wouldn’t be able to “hear” Mark Driscoll say something like the following because Mark Driscoll did not say any of this, he wrote it as William Wallace II:
William Wallace IIMemberposted 01-18-2001 11:13 AM--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Christian pornography. Christian phone sex. Christian cyber-sex. Christian lap dances.
Someone recently asked me about these issues. And, they are quite valid.
The problem with many unfaithful unmanly unmen is that they have heads filled with desires and dreams, but they marry a Christian women raised on a steady diet of gnosticism (so she hates her body) psychology (so she thinks too much before she climbs into bed) and guilt ridden don't have sex because it's a dirty nasty thing that God hates and makes you a slut youth group propaganda from hell/Family Books.
So the poor guy is like a starving man who is told he can only eat once ever couple weeks and his restaurant only has one crummy unspiced bland item on the menu and he either eats it or starves to death.
Bummer for that guy.
What the guy wants is to see a stripper, a porno, and have some phone and cyber sex. What the guy needs is a good Christian woman. The kind of woman who knows that men like unclothed and sexually aggressive women. Why? Because they are breathing. As long as a man is alive he is ready for sex every minute of every day.
Ladies, listen closely. The guy will never get the big dreams out of his head. He can either explore them with his wife, become bitter and sexually repressed, or sneak off to Deja Vu or log on to the net and escape in a moment of adventure. Birds fly, ducks float, dogs bark, and men think about sex every minute of every day because they have a magical ability to continually think of two things at one time, one of which is always sex. Any man who denies this is a liar or has broken plumbing.
So it would behoove a good godly woman to learn how to strip for her husband. Some nice music, a couple of drinks, candlight and a wife who has thrown her youth group devotionals to the wind would be nice. Most women do not do this because they are uncomfortable with their bodies. Know that for a man there are two variables with a woman's body. One, what does she have to work with? Two, how does she use it? Now I will tell you a secret, number two is the most important.
How about a Christian guy who wants to watch porno? Maybe his wife should get a Polaroid and snap a few shots of her in various states of marital undress and bliss and sneak them into his Bible so that when the guy sits down to eat his lunch at work and read some Scripture he has reasons to praise God. Or, maybe if the lady would plug in a camcorder and secretly film herself showering, undressing, making love to her husband etc. she could give it to him when he's on the road for weeks at a time, or maybe just so the poor guy can see his wife as some undressed passionate goddess. I have yet to find a wife take me up on this be rebuked by her husband.
And what guy breaking his stones on the job every day wouldn't like a hot phone call from his wife now and then telling him in great detail what awaits him when he gets home. Or how about the occasional instant explicit message from his wife rolling across his screen giving him some reasons to expect that dessert will precede dinner that night.
Do you know why the adult entertainment industry is raking in billions of dollars? Because people like to have sex and have fun. Does it lead to sin? Yes. Can it lead to worship. Of course. If you resist this message, please stay single until you get your head straightened out. If you are married and fully constipated, bummer for you and your upcoming divorce.
Quoting so extensively from "Using Your Penis" is significant not merely because of the "penis home" claim but to show that in the thread Driscoll assumed a kind of pornographic baseline as what every got implicitly and, of course, explicitly, wanted. But Driscoll did not even begin to get around to answering the then un-asked question of "Where is he getting these ideas from as to what men are supposedly wanting?"
The William Wallace II posts and threads were, however, a means to an end and once the on-board men were identified through the process of "Pussified Nation" and The Paradox shout-a-thon and "Dead Men", Driscoll's production as William Wallace II was scrubbed and people who knew about it weer admonished to never disclose it. I eventually got around to publishing material by WWII but it took a few years of laborious digging. Nobody stopped to ask what on earth would have or could have inspired William Wallace II lugubrious sympathetic ode to "that guy" because the whole thing was scrubbed away.
In any case, by 2004 that was all in the past and Driscoll assured everyone in 2004 that he adored his wife and …
Part 6:1 Timothy 3:1-7Preached February 08, 2004
... I love my wife. I've been totally faithful to her. I'm a one-woman man. I met her at 17. I married her at 21. I've been chasing her ever since. I'm quicker than she is, so I'm happily married. You know, things are good. I just am. I love my wife. I adore my wife. I enjoy my wife, you know? ...
Keep that unqualified assertion from 2004 in mind.
He also insisted that guys should aspire to get married and joked that Mars Hill was like fishing in a trout pond because … :
Part 8: 1 Timothy 4:1-8February 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. ...There are universal sins, which are a sin for everyone: murder, rape, theft, lying. For everyone, everywhere, all the time, all circumstances, those are universal sins.
Then there are also particular sins, which maybe your conscience won't permit you to involve yourself in but are not universal sins, so you have to obey your conscience. Maybe your conscience doesn't allow you to eat meat. Maybe your conscience doesn't allow you to participate incertain forms of diet. Maybe it doesn't. And you know what? A good teacher will tell you to obey the universal principles and to obey your conscience in all of the particulars.
A false teacher will take their beliefs on all of the particular sins, and they will force them on everyone. We need to be very, very careful that we say what the Bible says, and where it's silent, so are we. And if someone should ask, we can be free to say, "My convictions and my conscience is this way, and I conduct myself this way for these reasons.
Part 8 of 1 TimothyPastor Mark Driscoll1 Timothy 4:1-8
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] Sorry. I wanna have kids. Just thinking about that sort of just – it just hit me like how ridiculous that is. I wanna have kids. I wanna be a dad, and I wanna love my wife, and I wanna coach Little League. And like yesterday, I’m outside and my kids are riding their bikes.
It is far less mysterious where Driscoll got his ideas about manliness if we go straight to the source and, however much we might be cautious, consider that he told us pretty plainly himself what his model was. Mark Driscoll’s teaching may tell us something about what his dad was like, but whether or not what we are able to infer from Mark Driscoll’s teaching about his dad presents a complementary portrait of him is perhaps too pointed a question to attempt to answer here.
All of that is to prepare for the 2012 book Real Marriage. Statements made by the Driscolls within that book were, for long-time attenders, likely to be rattling. I found the whole book disturbing when I began to read it in 2013. After all the stuff Mark Driscoll said from the pulpit from 2000 through 2004 about how happily married he was, many statements in Real Marriage made it seem as though Mark and Grace Driscoll were just shining everyone on.
Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life togetherMark and Grace DriscollThomas Nelsoncopyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLCISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0
To be honest, fornicating was fun. I liked fornicating. To stop fornicating was not fun. But eventually Grace and I stopped fornicating, got engaged, and were married between our junior and senior years of college.
I assumed that once we were married we would simply pick up where we left off sexually and make up for last time. After all, we were committed Christians with a relationship done God's way.
But God's way was a total bummer. My previously free and fun girlfriend was suddenly my frigid and fearful wife. She did not undress in front of me, required the lights to be off on the rare occasions we were intimated, checked out during sex, and experience da lot of physical discomfort because she was tense. [emphasis added]Before long I was bitter against God and Grace. It seemed to me as if they had conspired to trap me. I had always been the "good guy" who turned down women for sex. In my twisted logic, I had been holy enough, and god owed me. I felt God had conned me by telling me to marry Grace, and allowed Grace to rule over me since she was controlling our sex life. [emphasis added] I loved Grace, but in the bedroom I did not enjoy her and wondered how many years I could white-knuckle fidelity. ... We desperately needed help but didn't know where to turn. Bitterness and condemnation worsened.PAGES 14-15Although I loved our people and my wife, this only added to my bitterness. I had a church filled with single women who were asking me how they could stop being sexually ravenous and wait for a Christian husband; then I'd go home to a wife whom I was not sexually enjoying.
... We still disagree on how often we had sex (I [Mark Driscoll] was bitter, and she [Grace Driscoll] was in denial, which skews the perspective), but we both agree it wasn't a healthy amount to support a loving marriage.
page 164As 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 just 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. [emphasis added]
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.
Driscoll’s self-prescribed cure for his moodiness and depression was convincing his wife to have sex with him more often. For those who read Real Marriage you may recall Driscoll said that the closest thing that compares to the pleasure of orgasm is an opioid-induced experience and that God designed the pleasure of orgasm as a way to ensure that spouses are addicted to each other.
So … as I asked before, Mark Driscoll claimed that the cure for his moodiness and depression was more sex with his wife, but could an unmarried person struggling with Mark Driscoll’s mood changes or depression be permitted to self-induce orgasms to cure mood swings or would that be sinful? If it isn’t sinful Mark Driscoll has staked out a consistent position with regard to sexual release as a salve for a mood swing. If, however, it is sinful in Mark Driscoll’s estimation he should reconsider why he developed as et of theological views that transformed his wife’s genitals into a medical opioid dispensary.
What made Driscoll’s matter-of-fact account of convincing his wife that more sex would remedy his moodiness seem so disturbing is that he didn’t merely self-prescribe his treatment. He, famously, prescribed it to others. It is not necessarily easy to find this material if you don’t already have it stockpiled for archival purposes, which is why it’s not exactly surprising this kind of material didn’t make it into episode 5 (although it could appear in a future episode):
The Biblical Man200743:53ish
Sexuality, the big issue for many men. What will you have experimented with? How often are you intimate? What things are different? How have you changed physically, sexually, you know? Losing weight. You want her to grow her hair out. She wants you to cut off that ridiculous ZZ Top beard. Whatever it is. What's different about your bedroom? Did you go get good bedroom furniture? Is your bedroom a nice place or is it a place with a treadmill and a computer and an office and files, there's nothing sexual about that. In what way is your bedroom become sort of a sanctuary for you and your wife to be together?
And most guys are just simply frustrated, that I have talked to, because they're not getting enough sex. I'll give you one story. Won't name his name, but I remember meeting with a--this is a lot of my marriage counseling. I don't think I'm a great marriage counselor but I do think I have one key insight that I'll share with you. Oftentimes I meet with couples and here's what I hear--the wife says, "I don't feel like we're connected. I don't feel like we're close. I feel like he's a little irritable." And then I ask, "How often are you having sex?" And she's, "What does that have to do with anything?" [slight chuckle] That effects everything. You know. Frequency is important.
She says, "Well, I don't understand." You don't have to understand. You have to accept it. [audience laughter] And so, oftentimes, she'll want to talk about communication and I don't feel like he's very happy and du-du-du-du-du-du-du-duh. And then I'll ask him, "How often would you like to be having sex?" And usually it's twice as much as they are. And so then I give them an assignment. I'll tell her, "Do you love your husband?""Yes.""Does he love you?""Yes.""You guys have sex every day and then come see me again in a month and if there's still communication problems, he seems depressed, he's lethargic, THEN we'll talk because there's OBVIOUSLY a problem. But we're gonna start with what SEEMS to be the most obvious solution."
I'm telling ya, ninety-nine percent of the time they come back a month later she's like, "He's just totally a different guy. [audience laughter, Driscoll says "yeah"] He cuts the grass. He's singing, he's singing and skipping through the house. [audience continues to laugh] He's a totally different guy." Yes, he is. Yes, he is. ... Now you can't just go home and say "Mark said we need to have sex every day" unless, of course, it works then DO THAT but it may not work. Now sometimes it may be that you're not a loving husband, an attentive husband; you know your wife was abused, you gotta work through past issues, I understand, but you at least need to be honest, right? So many guys are in marriage and they feel like their wife is playing defense and they're always playing offense and, occasionally, they get to be with her. It can't be that way. It can't be that way.
What made Driscoll's pat prescription seem particularly galling was the contrast it provided against Mars Hill pastor Bill Clem's admonition to single guys to not labor under the illusion that once they got married it was gonna be all the sex they wanted all the time. This is not necessarily audio you'll be able to find at the marshill.se mirror site but the old dead link is as follows:
Sex and the Single Man
Men's Basic Training 2007
45:30 minutes in, with a number of informal "uh" and "um" words excised for readability:
Men, I'm not trying to tell you something that I can say, "Boy, it sucks to be single." For the last over five years my wife has had ovarian cancer, Phase IV, which there are only four phases. So it's been critical most of those five years. She's had five surgeries, she's gone through five rounds of chemotherapy. We just went to the oncologist yesterday and we're told that the cancer's back, so some time in the next month we're going to start chemo again. which will be her sixth round of chemotherapy.
I know my way in and out of most oncology doctor's offices in the downtown Seattle area. The oncology clinic where we have the chemotherapy, you go into the bathroom, and on the wall it says "If you are a chemo patient please flush three times." Okay, now if you're a man and you have a wife who is having chemotherapy and you realize what they're putting in her body eats through porcelain. The idea that you're having sex with her during chemotherapy is not high. They don't make a porcelain condom, okay. The whole idea that she has become toxic means that for twelve weeks and sometimes six months at a time I've had to walk the same walk you're being invited to walk. Purity.
And I have to not collect snapshots of women and take them home to fantasize. I have to know to have a wife in all holiness that I don't get to have sexual intimacy with on a regular basis. ... When she first had chemo, five years ago, she dropped a lot of weight. All of her hair fell out. She looked more like a woman in Schindler's List than a woman on some kind of cover of a magazine. And she needed to be held.
And all of my think-patterns told me, "The reason I hold a woman is because it's gonna take a further stage. I'm gonna end up having sex with her." There was nothing in me that said, "I hold a woman and that's ALL we're ever gonna do." Is, we're gonna sit here tonight and I'm gonna have my arm around her and I'm going to hold her and let her know that I am grateful that she's my wife. But that's exactly what she needed from me.
And if you don't learn how to look at a woman and see beauty, rather than look at a woman and crave ownership, you find yourself in a situation like me (and I hope you don't, as far as a woman with cancer) you're gonna find yourself not knowing how to be her husband.
The follow anecdote, of course, does appear in the recent episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. It is doubtless the most vivid example of Mark Driscoll formulating his ideas of wifely obligation in the imperative:
Mark Driscoll | Sex: A Study of the Good Bits of Song of SolomonEdinburgh, Scotland on November 18,200724:17
I'll tell you a story if you don't tell anyone else of a man who started attending our church because of oral sex. Right? So many women go to church. In your country it's sixty or seventy percent. "My husband won't come to church. He doesn't have any interest in the things of God. He doesn't understand why church would apply to him." We had a woman like that in our church. She became a Christian. Her husband was not a Christian. He hated the church, wanted nothing to do with the church. She kept browbeating him about Jesus. "You need to get saved. You're gonna burn in hell." He had no interest in that.
And so, finally, I was teaching a class on sex and she said, "Oh, so oral sex on a husband is what a wife is supposed to do?" I said, "Yes." She said, "My husband's always wanted that but I've refused him." I went to 1 Peter 3. I said, "The Bible says that if your husband is not a Christian that you are to win him over with deeds of kindness." I said, "So go home and tell your husband that you were in a Bible study today and that God has convicted you of sin. And repent and go perform oral sex on your husband and tell him that Jesus, Jesus Christ commands you to do so." [emphasis added] The next week the man showed up at church. He came up to me, he said, "You know, this is a really good church." That handing out tracts on the street thing, there's a better way to see revival, I assure you of that.
It hardly mattered if in Real Marriage Mark and Grace Driscoll said that husbands and wives should only do what they both feel comfortable doing for reasons I will get to later, namely the matter of whose sex drive gets to define how little sex is too little before Satan is presumed to be involved.
Unsurprisingly, no satanic attacks seem to show up for those who aren't having sex at all. It was in a sermon in his Esther series that Driscoll gave his technical definition of a eunuch. It may be here that Driscoll’s view of what a life without sex would be like is expressed most plainly:
Jesus Has a Better KingdomPastor Mark DriscollEsther 1:10–22September 21, 2012about 8:50
Number two, men are castrated. Men are castrated. I’ll read it for you. “He commanded—” and these guys got names. “Mehuman—” That’s kind of a rapper name, I was thinking, like, ancient Persian hip-hop artist, Mehuman. That’s how it’s spelled. “Biztha.” Sounds like a sidekick. “Harbona, Bigtha.” That’s my personal favorite. If I had to pick a Persian name, Bigtha. Definitely not Littletha. I would totally go with Bigtha. “Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas.”Okay, a couple things here. The Bible talks about real people, real circumstances, real history. That’s why they’re facts. It’s not just philosophy. Number two, if you ever have an opportunity to teach the Bible and you hit some of the parts with the old, crazy names, read fast and confident. No one knows how to pronounce them, and they’ll just assume you do.
Here are these guys. So, you’ve got seven guys, “the seven eunuchs.” What’s a eunuch? A guy who used to have a good life, and joy, and hope. That’s the technical definition of a eunuch. A eunuch is a man who is castrated. [emphasis added] Proceeding with the story before I have to fire myself. [emphasis added]
•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.
DEATH BY LOVECopyright (c) 2008 by Mark Driscoll and Gerry BreshearsPublished by Crossway BooksPDF ISBN: 978-1-4335-0423-5ISBN-10: 1433501295ISBN-13: 9781433501296
My wife, Grace, and I love Gideon and thank God for him often. My wife is petite, and I have a big head, which resulted in C-sections with the birth of each of our children. Having endured one miscarriage and four C-sections, Grace was ready to be done with pregnancies. But I was not yet ready to do anything to prevent God from giving us a child. [emphasis added] So, we left it in God's hands and we were given Gideon, whom I affectionately refer to as Guppy, for being the youngest, and as Flip Flop, because at a very young age he decided he only wanted to wear flip-flops on the wrong feet for the rest of his life. To her credit, Grace often gives me a hug and thanks me for not stopping at four children, because Gideon has been an absolute blessing and a joy to our family.page 166... For example, before I met Jesus I was guilty of sexual sin. I was sexually active prior to marriage and also occasionally looked at pornography. But because Jesus died for those sins and saved me from them, I have been able to put those sins to death. As a result, you were brought into a family where your mom and I truly love one another and have been faithful to one another in every way. We know that apart from Jesus , dying for our sin, sin would have killed our marriage. You would have been either raised by a single mother or trapped in a home of sin and bitterness, marked by unrest and hostility between your mother and me, if it were not for Jesus' death on the cross.page 176After four children, we thought we were done having babies because your mom suffered through painful C-sections with each birth, and we feared for her health. Yet, as I prayed, I believed that someone was missing from our family. [emphasis added] Your mom prayed a lot and trusted me to lead our family. Out of our love you were conceived, and we were both thrilled because we believed that God has chosen you to be a blessing to our family and to the world in some way. Throughout the pregnancy, your mother and I, and your siblings prayed daily for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Now, to another set of statements relevant to the Mars Hill ethos and praxis of protecting and honoring women. About that ... Mark Driscoll believed someone was missing from “our family” and Grace prayed a lot and trusted that even though she was ready to be done with pregnancies after four C-section deliveries and a miscarriage her husband had resolved to not do anything that would preclude another pregnancy.
The point here, of course, is not that Gideon should not have been born, far from it. The point is that Mark Driscoll felt comfortable telling the entire English-reading human populace that despite his wife being ready to be done with pregnancies because of the sheer physical trauma they put her through Mark Driscoll did not yet want to do anything permanent that would preclude another child because … well … he just decided that. He didn’t even invoke the “God told me” claim. Mark Driscoll just believed someone who needed to be in his family didn't exist yet and even though both he and Grace feared for her health and safety Mark Driscoll had made up his mind. Fortunately for all parties involved the pregnancy came to term and the youngest Driscoll was born. None of that, however, can completely distract from the fact that Mark Driscoll formulated all of this in a letter to Gideon Driscoll in terms of Mark Driscoll having settled on what he wanted and Grace prayerfully submitting to that. Notice that after the fourth child "we thought we were done ... but as I prayed I believed ... "
The recent Christianity Today podcast episode was called "What We Do To Women" but none of these written materials that have been on record for years came up. My hope is that by revisiting these materials people can have a fuller sense of what the church culture at Mars Hill was like and reconsider one of the most popular bromides about the church, that it was particularly concerned to honor and protect women. I think there is a case to be made that what passed for honor and protection may not always have been clear-cut as advocates for Mars Hill have assumed. With such a large church no doubt some people had positive experiences but I believe I've been making a long-form case that the ambiguity and even disregard for womens' health and safety has been staring us all in the face in Mark Driscoll's own writings and his advocates have not recognized it.
How many of you would think that a couple that doesn't have enough sex is experiencing demonic spiritual warfare? It's true. How many Christian marriages divorce? Well, statistically, more than those who are not Christian. When non-Christians can work it out a rate that is more successful than Christians that would indicate to me that Satan has really found a way to climb into bed between a husband and a wife and, in one way or another, cause devastation.
When I'm meeting with a couple and one of them, maybe it's the husband, says, "Well, my wife's not being very nice to me so I'm gonna deny her sex and until she's nice to me I'm gonna withhold it." That's demonic. ...
To be sure, there are sex addicts in marriage who are unreasonable in their expectations of their spouse but what I'm talking about is the common situation where one person in the marriage wants to be intimate more often than the other and they're rejected, they become bitter, Satan comes in and feeds that bitterness, baits the hook of their flesh with the temptation of the world, and all of a sudden Satan puts in front of them images and people and opportunities to lead them astray and to destroy everything.
What he says is, if you're a Christian and God, through Jesus Christ, is not bitter with you but forgives you then you must use the Gospel in your relationships to forgive other people. You have no reason to be bitter with them. In being bitter with them what you are saying is, "I refuse to use the Gospel for my relationships. I refuse to allow Jesus to do anything." And when you say that you ARE saying, "I am inviting Satan instead."We began this whole discussion saying "Do not give the Devil a foothold." Bitterness gives him a foothold and it leads to death and destruction. How many of you are truly bitter against God because you don't have the spiritual office, authority, power, income that you want? Things aren't going the way that YOU want. The spouse that you wanted you didn't get. The spouse you thought you were getting ISN'T the way they appear. The sex, the children, the money, the power, the health, the appearance that YOU wanted but you didn't get so, deep down, you're really unhappy with God, you feel like He kinda let you down. That's bitterness.
So if Mark Driscoll was bitter against Grace over the not-enough-sex in his marriage then if he took his own teaching seriously he has told the world that where he could have related to his wife through the Gospel of Jesus he chose to relate to her through Satan instead.
Why does that matter? Because Mark Driscoll has also made it clear he thinks Christians can be demonized. He has presented this as if it were a controversial view but in the history of evangelicalism the view that it is possible for Christians to be demonized goes back to about 1895 with the posthumously published work by John Livingstone Nevius, who most histories of evangelical diabology regard as having established the standard Anglo-American evangelical view. Bear with me, dear reader, I had planned to major in that general field of studies had I actually gone to seminary.
Nevertheless, here’s Driscoll in 2008 broaching the topic of Christians and demonization:
06.19ish Second thing, what about Christians? Can Christians be demon possessed? Not in terms of ownership, no. You belong to God, right? You belong to God. Some would say, therefore, Satan doesn't work on Christians. Well, sure he does. He attacked Jesus. --say, "Yeah, well, he [Satan] can't internally influence them." Well, yeah, he can. Jesus looks at Peter and says, "Get behind me--" what? Satan. In Acts 5 there's a couple called Ananias and Sapphira. They were members of the church, believers, they were bringing their tithe after selling some land, and they withheld part of their alleged pledged tithe, and Peter looks at them and says "Why has Satan so filled your heart? You've not lied to men but to God the Holy Spirit." Why has Satan so filled your heart? Right at the center and core of who you are. Satan work's from THERE. [emphases added]The same language again in Ephesians, "Don't be drunk with wine, be FILLED with the Holy Spirit." Why are you FILLED in your heart with Satan? Christians can't be owned, possessed in terms of demons but they can be externally oppressed and (this will be my most controversial statement) internally influenced. Not possessed, not controlled. [emphasis added]
I'll use a very simple analogy, very controversial. There are huge books written warring over this. Some would argue, "Well, Satan can't have any access to a believer because God and Satan don't occupy the same space." I said, "Well they did in the days of Job when Satan was allowed to go into the presence of God." In me I have the flesh and my new nature. I have my depravity and the Holy Spirit. The world, God and Satan are at work there. Now God is greater, to be sure, and the only way I believe a believer is really opened up to the demonic is through sin and folly and lies and they open up themselves up. Are they possessed? NO. Are they internally influenced? Possibly. Possibly, for some.8:21
In the same way, okay, I'll give you an analogy. I own my house. It's my house. No one has any right to live there but let's say I just invite over some total losers (drug addicts, alcoholics, freeloaders, whatever) and I let `em eat my food, hang out, sleep on the couch, crash in the bedroom, I just let `em live there. I don't kick `em out, I don't do anything. Do they own the house? Do they possess the house? No. Do they have access to it? Well, yeah, I opened the door, I let `em in. Are they gonna create havoc in my house? Yeah, they're gonna ruin everything. So what do I need to do? I need to kick `em out because they have no right to be there and then I need to lock the door and not invite `em in ever again. I'm saying in that simple analogy that's kinda how Satan and demons work. If you open up your life, and this is not, not, you know, you had a bad day and said a bad word, this is a Christian who all of a sudden you're into the demonic; you're sick and you want to be healed so you go to some healer and now you're involved in demons; there's sin in your life that you've never really dealt with, that kind of stuff. You're doing drugs, you're opening yourself up to an altered state of conscioucesness (the Bible says to be self-controlled and alert and resist the devil and not you're not doing that cuz you're into drugs and alcohol and bizarre spirituality). You can open the door, bad guys move in, they don't OWN the house, you can kick `em out, lock the door. That's my description of internal influence. It's in very extreme cases and this isn't very often but it's possible.
So given how bitter Mark Driscoll said he was against his wife about their sex life and how the baseline of the ordinary demonic in Driscoll’s concept of spiritual warfare was “not enough sex in marriage” and how bitterness was a higher level of demonic/satanic influence, then on what basis was Mark Driscoll not demonized? Why does Win Your War include in its bibliography a spiritual warfare manual with material on self-deliverance? Apparently there are people who believe you can expel demons from yourself but I'm setting that topic off to the side. I mention these things because the question of why Mark Driscoll wouldn't be demonized if he took his own teachings and applied them to himself is a question the Driscolls do not seem to have answered for the record. It is relevant to ask this question because Mark Driscoll has, since Mars Hill Church dissolved, said that it only takes the bitterness of one person to destroy a church without saying which one person’s bitterness he might think destroyed Mars Hill Church. Since it was Mark Driscoll who resigned it is Mark Driscoll who at some point has to consider that question, whether he's brave enough to answer it publicly or not.
I've already discussed how it seemed that Mark Driscoll moved the story of a nightmare that caused him to wake-up, throw-up and desperately home his nightmare wasn't about something that really happened that he said did happen. I've pointed out that in 2006 Driscoll clearly said this nightmare was a demonic accusatory dream and how in 2012 it seemed as though the nightmare moved from being years after Ashley Driscoll was born to being before she was born. If the dream was the same dream in both stories then how or why did it go from being what Mark Driscoll was sure was a satanic dream in 2006 to a genuine divinatory oracle in 2012 may be impossible to answer.
What remains disturbing is that Mark Driscoll mentioned the nightmare about his wife at all. I'm a single guy and in the history of the culture of Mars Hill single guys were regarded as knowing nothing and yet paradoxically as being endowed with all knowledge and competence once they said the magic words ("I do") and waved their magic wands. But it continues to trouble me that Driscoll said so many things about Grace in Real Marriage that reveal how bitter and resentful toward he was. Driscoll even claimed he felt God suckered him into marrying Grace because had he known about her sin one time he would not have married her.
Driscoll used to taunt single guys for having unrealistic expectations of some home school stripper mom who knew how to conjugate Greek words and knew what to do with a steel pole. But who else but Driscoll could have given the men those ideas going on and on about how Song of Songs reveals a woman who wants snacks at the ready because she and her hubby would be going at it so long and passionately her blood sugar would get low? And where would Mark Driscoll have gotten ideas like that? He's been comparatively mum's the word on that.
It’s necessary to give an example of a counseling incident Mark Driscoll related because it may shed some light on how wives were counseled within Mars Hill, a point that I believe is a necessary supplement to material discussed in Episode 5 of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill.
February 5, 2008Pastor Mark DriscollPart 2: The Devil01:05:40ish ...
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.
If that woman is willing to speak on record don’t necessarily contact Wenatchee The Hatchet. Christianity Today or some other person is better situated to be a formal outlet. I’m not going to pretend this is more than a blog. I’ve blogged about Mars Hill Church a lot across eleven years but I’m not a member of the institutional press as such.
The salient thing to me is that Driscoll made a lot of drastic claims, which included saying a woman was better off going off her medication (whatever it was) and that she stopped having panic attacks when she stopped believing what he regarded as lies about her husband’s faithfulness. Maybe the husband was a stalwart husband, but how Driscoll handled things should raise questions about his competency to do marital or pastoral counseling by now. What if the husband turned out to have not been faithful? What then? The lie would have been that the husband was faithful and Driscoll encouraged, practically ordered, a woman to believe her husband was faithful even if he wasn’t. In other words, we quite simply have no way to know if Driscoll was telling the truth regardless of whether or not he thought he was.
We have also seen from comments made by Mark Driscoll in Peasant Princess that his idea of chivalrously protecting his girlfriend included threatening twenty guys with assault.
... and this is an ENORMOUS part of my relationship with Grace. I mean I still remember when I first started seeing her she, uh, she went off to college, I was still in high school and they ran out of housing so they put her in a guys' dorm. And I was like, "What!?" so I got in the car and I drove to the university and I knocked on all the doors of all the guys on her floor. "Hi. My name is Mark. I love this woman. Anyone talks to her, touches her, thinks about talking about touching her I will beat them. Literally I threatened twenty guys. Just knocked on every door. No way she's gonna get messed with. No way.
Later on when she transferred to another university, WSU, she's five hours away. And she moved out there and her phone wasn't hooked up yet and we didn't have cell phones. And I told her, "When you get there, go to a pay phone. Call me. Let me know you got there safe." Well she ... didn't call so I got in the car and I drove there. Five hours. The day I had to work. And I knocked on the door. She answered it and I said, "Whu, you didn't call." She said, "I forgot." I said, "Are you okay?" She said, "I'm okay." So, okay, good, I got in the car and I drove home. Just checking. Six hundred miles. Who cares? It's Grace.
... even emotionally, people send her nasty emails, text messages, talk trash about me, leave the church and want to take parting shots at her. She has nothing to do with any of it. So I even put a white/black list on her email and some people so some people can email her and the rest come to me. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. So that she doesn't have to feel bad because people are taking shots at her. That's my girl. No shots. That's the rule.
For years people at Mars Hill Church were convinced that protecting women was an important part of the church culture. What Episode 5 of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill raises are questions about what kind of protection was cultivated and, to risk posing this next question rather bluntly, what sorts of women were considered worth protecting and how their womanhood was defined. For the men and women who never married the Gospel of Mark Driscoll’s Jesus often turned out to be no good news at all. When I finished reading Real Marriage I had a visceral sense that if this was what Mark and Grace Driscoll’s idea of “real marriage” was then real celibacy was the healthier and saner option, however lonely single life might get. Real Marriage made it seem as though all of the talk Mark Driscoll had done about his marriage the previous ten years was a sham, or that Real Marriage itself was the sham. Driscoll left readers of his new book no choice but to deal with his conventionally dualistic options. When the plagiarism scandal erupted in later 2013 it began to seem possible that Real Marriage was the sham, if not quite for the reasons I thought—the problem with the book was not just that it made previous Driscoll claims circa 2004 of how happily married he was seem dubious, the book itself began to seem dubious on other grounds.
If there’s truth to the necessity of repenting of believing lies then repenting of believing that Mars Hill Church really protected women might be a lie that some people need to stop believing. Driscoll's teaching about sex, sexuality and the scripts of adulthood for men and women were (and are) what he has believed would remedy the sicknesses he has seem as rampant throughout the United States in the last generation or so. His sincerity I do not question. He probably really thinks the culture is sick due to the influence of worldly teachings. If he's thought his teachings would ensure men don't look at porn because their wives are "free" I think a case can be made that Driscoll's teachings have not been a cure for the problems he sees but are a new and more virulent strain of the disease.
...So when Driscoll walked into Seattle life and directly challenged men to get a job, to stop watching porn, to stop sleeping around, and to start supporting a family, It worked for much the same reason the Peterson message resonated a decade later. He gave men a sense of virtuous masculine purpose. Shape up. Protect and provide.In fact, I joined legions of other Christians in appreciating Driscoll’s message to men. I excused and rationalized some of his excesses, believing he was doing good work challenging men to lead better, more responsible lives.(I fully recognize, by the way, men are not all the same. They don’t all respond to the same kinds of appeals. The Driscoll blunt approach can repel as well as attract. But it attracted hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands of young Christian men as Driscoll’s star kept rising.)But Driscoll ultimately failed. My appreciation was ultimately mistaken, and I’ve tried to learn from my own failure of judgment. Even worse, Driscoll didn’t just fail as an individual, the way so many celebrity pastors fail; his philosophy and approach failed the men and the women in his church. It caused great harm. And it’s worth exploring briefly why—because the “why” also applies to multiple modern Christian efforts to reach young men.One of the core reasons for the Driscoll failure (and for other failures before or since) is that he met a cultural overreaction with an overreaction all his own. He opposed a specific secular extremism with a Christian extremism that ultimately proved his critics correct....The most heartbreaking of the podcasts so far was Episode Five, entitled “The Things We Do to Women.” It discusses how the church’s extreme focus on empowering men and fostering a “biblical” masculinity resulted in a culture that subordinated women to such a degree that wives were often treated as playthings for their husbands—encouraged to strip for them and perform sex acts that they found deeply uncomfortable and degrading.But the “smoking hot wife” was the reward for the godly man, and satisfaction of his insatiable sex drive was his entitlement.And thus you see the depravity of a thinly Christianized version of true toxic masculinity. What was first a church that challenged men to restrain their vices (Stop sleeping around! Stop watching porn!) ending up indulging men in modified versions of those same vices (You can still have all the sex you want! Your wife is your porn!) At the end of the day, the Driscoll example for young men was dangerous—he sent a message that with daring and discipline, you could become not just a responsible man, but a dominant man.Thus, perversely enough, Driscoll sanctified a secular version of masculine toughness and virility. The (sometimes necessary) act of grabbing men by their metaphorical lapels and shaking them out of their stupor ultimately pointed them away from the cross and towards the same will to power that has bedeviled mankind since the Fall....