What I Can Learn from Mark Driscoll (warning: LANGUAGE)

I have been ruminating over the content and the implications of Rachel Held Evans’ blog post this morning.
I am no stranger to Mark Driscoll – I have been made extremely uncomfortable by the overt and covert content of this pastor’s message over the past 5 years as well as the amount of venom with which he has sometimes delivered it.
There are many reasons that we who call ourselves Christians and especially we who dare call ourselves pastors and theologians should get angry. There is even a time to raise our voices, and to cry out to God. Some justifiable reasons are as follows: homelessness, human trafficking, needless loss of life, unethical business practices. That Driscoll has chosen strictly archaic and binary gender roles his hill upon which to die is tragic – I see no need for it, and furthermore it detracts from the finite amount of time that he has, that we all have, which I think Jesus would like for us to spend first and foremost ameliorating the actual, real suffering of other persons.

Rachel Held Evans, on her most recent blog post has laid out a convincing case about the problem with a bully in the church such as he. If you did not click on the link you truly should.

This leads those of us in the free church tradition to the question of “now what?” The best thing about being Protestant is often the worst thing about being Protestant – our polity. Were we Catholic, arguably Driscoll could be questioned for his choice of words. Whether or not he would be I dare not guess.

Even if many many letters are written to the elders of Mars Hill Church as Rachel has suggested, I have it on good authority from a friend who has read said by-laws as he was formerly a paid staff person of the Acts29 Network that the bylaws of Mars Hill are written in such a way (or at least they were when he read them – I do not aim to misspeak here) that it is Driscoll who has the ultimate veto power over their decisions and not the other way around. This saddens me not only because that is not the way that the elder/pastor situation is supposed to work (not in ANY church) but because no pastor should ever deem themselves reproachable.

Here’s why. Is Driscoll an asshole? Can we and should we call him that? asked my friend and former fellow Div School student Chad. I have arrived at this answer:
Driscoll behaves like an asshole, and often. So do I.
On any given Tuesday I might be a terror in a teacup five times over before lunch. I do not have the platform or the attention that Driscoll does, to be sure, but like him I have destructive attitudes and patterns in my life that do me harm and are standing in the way of the life I want to have and the cause which I have set out as my purpose.
I hope that my friends can look me square in the face and say, “Sarah, you are being an idiot.” I hope, too, that I can receive it well and want to change.

The thing which upsets people at first about Mark Driscoll are his attitudes. The thing which infuriates them, however, is that these attitudes have been pointed out to him repeatedly and though he has had the opportunity to change them and bring growth and renewal to these areas in his life he has instead chosen to dig in his heels and remain the same. This trait does not make someone a good leader – not of a bowling league, not of a group of Boy Scouts, and certainly not of a well-known church.

Like people in my own life who resist and refuse change I can’t magically close my eyes and do some Jedi mind trick, somehow enlightening this individual. What I can do is do the really difficult thing, asking those with whom I am really close about the areas where I might be stuck in the mud in much the same ways. It might be really difficult to hear and even harder to go about changing. But *that* is what I, and all of us, can learn from this Driscoll situation even if he is hellbent on not learning a thing from it.


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