a study in masculinity: comparing michael irvin and mark driscoll

Michael IrvinESPN is reporting that Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin will be appearing shirtless (well, abs-uncovered at least) on the cover of next month’s August issue of Out magazine. Why, you might ask, would a straight male appear on the cover of the world’s most widely-read gay magazine?

According to the article by Cyd Zeigler, Irvin is attempting to honor the life and struggles of his gay brother, Vaughn, who died in 2006, by speaking out:

Now, after working through some of his personal demons with his long-time bishop, T.D. Jakes of the Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas, Irvin is ready to talk about Vaughn. More than that, he’s become a passionate supporter of gay athletes and equal rights for same-sex couples.

Michael Irvin also has a pointed message for the African-American Christian community:

“I don’t see how any African-American with any inkling of history can say that you don’t have the right to live your life how you want to live your life. No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality and everybody being treated equally, I don’t want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn’t deserve equality.”

[Note that 2008 California election exit polls indicated that an overwhelming 70% of the California African-American community supported Prop 8 (which sought to ban same-sex marriage), while the ballot initiative only passed with a slim 52.24% majority.]

Good for Michael Irvin. Irvin is now admitting that much of the womanizing he did in his younger years was, in part, due to the fact that he knew his brother was gay, and he didn’t want people to think he was gay. I applaud Irvin’s honesty, especially on a topic where many men are not honest. I firmly believe that many men oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples simply because they do not wish to be perceived as gay.

I know this from experience. Despite my wife and child, many of my “good ol’ boy” friends from back home in Madera and Fresno, CA (especially the Christians) and an even greater number of folks who only know me from appearances on TV or pieces I’ve written either assume I am gay, bisexual, or am no longer a Christian because I advocated so strongly against California’s Proposition 8 (here and here and here and here). They call me all the names you’d use to tease a gay man, as if I’d somehow be embarrassed or offended by names if I were. And while I don’t let petty name calling trouble me much, I do think that many other straight men (especially people of faith) are so afraid of the mere concept of homosexuality (i.e., that it might somehow “rub off” on them or, like Michael Irvin admitted, that it may be a genetic thing and they may carry a recessive “gay” gene that may present at any time), or are simply so afraid of being called gay, that they overemphasize their masculinity and vehemently oppose homosexuality, and even go so far as opposing equal rights for homosexuals. These men, who fear feelings and emotions they may or may not experience or understand, attempt to purge their minds of the perceived threat by condemning gays, opposing their civil rights, and insisting that men stick out their chests, work on their trucks, play football, cuss, suppress the roles of women, and “not act like a bunch of ‘chickified’ church dudes” who “wear sweater vests.”

Which brings us to Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll, who in this case study, must be viewed as the Christian antithesis of Michael Irvin and those of us fighting on behalf of social justice and civil rights for all persons.

Opposition to homosexuals, same-sex marriage, and what he calls “effeminate” men is nothing new to Mr. Driscoll. I’m referring to comments after comments he has made about both women and men he feels do not meet the Christian criterion for “dudes,” including “chickified church boys,” and “nice, soft, tender” men “walking around singing love songs to Jesus.” (see below. And, don’t miss the mash-up of the below video here.)

In the above interview (around the 1:50 mark), Mark Driscoll rants about “effeminate” men, saying they are:

“church boys wearing sweater vests and walking around singing love songs to Jesus…nice, soft, tender, ‘chickified’ church boys”

and arguing real Christian men should be characterized as:

“slaughter other men, heterosexual, win a fight, punch you in the nose, dudes”

Driscoll goes on to complain that:

“60% of Christians are chicks, and the 40% that are dudes are still sort of chicks…it’s just sad”

“You walk in and it’s sea foam green, and fuschia, and lemon yellow, and the whole architecture and the whole aesthetic is real feminine and the preacher’s kinda feminine, and the music’s kinda emotional and feminine…”

“and the innovative dudes are home watchin’ football, or they’re out makin’ money, or climbin’ a mountain or shootin’ a gun or working on their truck.”

Note that Mr. Driscoll is not specifically opposing gay men in the above clip, but “effeminate” men whom he feels are not real Christian men who, of course, punch people in the nose and climb mountains.

[Btw, I wonder how he’d feel about a 6’1″, 220 lb., free thinking, sharp tongued, former redneck from Fresno who ate something his father shot four nights a week for dinner growing up, who is still an equally good shot with a 7mm Remington Magnum or a .357 Magnum, who has climbed that mountain, fixed that truck, won that baseball championship, and took on that bully, and who, now as a Mensan with a formal graduate education in biblical studies and ancient languages, regularly advocates for social justice and the civil rights of those being oppressed by Christian neo-fundamentalists like Driscoll? I wonder how he’d feel about the kind of man who is actually comfortable enough with his own masculinity to wear Uggs and regularly wear a leather satchel which his daughter refers to as a “murse” (i.e., a man-purse) to a professional conference of his peers? Because, you know, they’re out there keeping people honest. Just a thought…]

And this isn’t a one-time thing for Mr. Driscoll. Just this past week, Pastor Mark Driscoll placed the following on his Facebook page. (And yes, since the public backlash best expressed by Rachel Held Evans and countless others), he’s since deleted it from his wall. But fear not, I always make screen shots ;-):

Mark Driscoll asks his Facebook followers to opine on "effeminate" men.

Mark Driscoll incites his Facebook followers to opine and name "effeminate" men.

And Mr. Driscoll is not “just kidding around” as so many of his numb-minded followers are quick to assert in his defense. His neo-fundamentalist pattern of behavior (which I define as a 1950’s fundamentalist in an edgy screen printed hoodie and a pair of designer jeans) is consistent and unapologetic.

Here, when questioned about whether or not he’s “just kidding,” he defines precisely what he’s asking:


Mark Driscoll articulates to his Facebook followers what he meant by "effeminate" when questioned by a respondent about what he was asking.

And, lest you think Mr. Driscoll felt he made a mistake, he defends his asking the question:

Unfortunately, bigotry like this is not limited to the (other) Mars Hill (the better, truer Mars Hill is here), and it is time for people of all faiths to stand up and combat racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and bigotry in all its forms.

This is what Michael Irvin and most sound Christian scholars, bloggers, advocates, and people of faith are combating. This is the bigotry and nonsense that has plagued the church for so long.

I may not understand the gay mind, but just because I do not understand something does not mean I should oppress the civil rights of those who do. In fact, when asked if I am gay, I always refuse to answer the question and usually reply with the classic “West Wing/CJ Cregg” response of, “It’s none of your damn business.” (See also this clip. And this one. And this one. West Wing said it best!) In a panel discussion at Pepperdine University on racism and homophobia, I explained that I say this because I believe that the sooner straight men stop answering the question, the sooner the question will stop being asked. It is not enough for straight men to say that they support same-sex marriage, but then when asked, “Are you gay,” respond with, “W/Hell no, I’m not gay!” as if there is something embarrassing about it. Straight men should speak out more often in support of marriage equality and we all should stop answering (and asking) the question “Are you gay?”

So I applaud Michael Irvin’s decision to face his fears, honor his brother, and speak out in favor of marriage equality. I’m not a Cowboys fan, and never have really been a Michael Irvin fan. But this decision has turned my opinion of Mr. Irvin to a favorable one, and I am now a fan. I applaud his decision, and I hope this is the beginning of yet another long and distinguished career of public advocacy on behalf of the oppressed for the heralded “Playmaker.”

P.S. If you’d like to contact Mark Driscoll’s church’s “elders,” you may do so here.

28 Responses

  1. remind me not to tick you off. can i buy dinner for you in frisco? need help moving? lawn mowing?

  2. lol. ;-) and yes. :)

  3. I bow to you, sir….that. was. awesome.

  4. Uggs are so 2008; I’m revoking your metrosexual card. If you take a fashion refresher course we can discuss your reinstatement but until then you are not one of us. ;-)

  5. given the choice between the two, I’ll take Mark Driscoll any day. (Do some research on him before you believe this charicature painted of him by this blog.)

  6. i’m not saying mr. irvin is perfect, i’m just saying that i’ll take the christian advocating for social justice over fundamentalists any day of the week.

  7. now that you mention it, i do need to update the wardrobe. i always made fun of uggs until i tried on a pair. still loves me some uggs.
    thanx for the comment, and consider reinstatement. ;-) bc

  8. Okay, that is sufficient, you’re back in. Grab your murse ’cause were getting the boys together for a manicure and grilled red meat party to celebrate–hey it’s a postmodern world and us metros are comfortable with apparent contradictions…

  9. […] But, you’ve read all of our reactions. Now, read this: a study in masculinity: comparing michael irvin and mark driscoll « XKV8R: The Official Blog of Dr….. […]

  10. Uggs? Rly? Ugh.

  11. i know. i mocked those who wore them while at pepperdine. but the comfy factor is insurmountable. (but cut me some slack: i don’t wear them with a denim mini skirt in the rain….)

  12. I think you need a better case that many Men and/or Christian men that oppose same sex marriage or thing there is something wrong about Same Sex acts do so because they fear catching the “gay”. I don’t really see that.

    I oppose same sex marriage for the reason of scripture, tradition, natural law and all sort of reasons.

    I don’t know great deal about this debate that this Pastor has brought up about “effeminate” men besides its SEEMS silly and it appears a good many people that support the traditional definition of marriage think likewise.

    I am not exactly sure all of what this Pastor calls effeminate but from what I have seen it seems to catch a lot in it’s net.

    I think I can can agree with you on the “are you gay” thing needs to be stopped. But not sure that means I have to go along with same sex marriage .

    You make some good points but I think the main weakness of your posts in that you just casually throw away opponents to gay marriage arguments and especially men’s viewpoints.

    It might shock you but many of us “straight” men that oppose gay marriage have not shunned the friendship of people that had some level of same sex attraction. We have those people in our family and in the workplace too. I think we have a “concept” of it down. I know this is based on your personal experience. Perhaps you need to broaden your personal experience since it seems pretty limited.

  13. Bob,
    Great thoughts. in the last two posts you have been highlighting many groups that seek to define what practices constitute a Christian gender identity. A very interesting topic that almost no churches cover. to respond to “Jhood”. I do not feel it is a scriptural mandate to have the State control marriage, who should marry or who should get divorced. If two people want to marry they should have to right in the eyes of state to enter into a legal agreement. The spiritual and biblical component for marriage should be kept to the church for christians (synagogue for jews, etc). If your local church does not want to marry two people for any reason, than do not get married in that church. But do not feel that the USA governement gives a “Holy sanctity” to every marriage. “My kingdom is not of this earth” so why are you trying to make Jesus kingdom on earth? Jesus ruled NOT by laws, by love.

  14. Very nice Bob! I believe that you are right on target. Same sex marriage is just as much of a civil rights issue as were those that African Americans have faced. I also agree with Steve Purtell’s reply to “jhood.” I don’t understand how jhood could state that he has not “shunned the friendship of people that had some level of same sex attraction” and at the same time admit to thinking its okay to withhold from his gay friends and family members basic human rights. From my perspective that is not very loving nor very christian.

    By the way, UGGs are still okay. Its all about the presentation. There’s a proper time and place. They just can’t become your everyday shoe that you where to lecture or when you give public speeches. ;-)

  15. I still do not know what, in Driscoll’s opinion (or any opinion) is innovative about watching football Sunday mornings.

    The innovative people (men and women) at our church feed homeless people, let drug addicts live in their homes, sell their guns to afford sending missionaries to other countries to share the gospel, take kids fishing when their dad lands in a jail cell for a crime he never committed, they learn the biblical languages, hang out with Muslims, fix people’s cars for free, and do not wear anything that would be considered cool in Seattle, and yet would not make fun of somebody who does.

    The whole thing is just weird.

  16. […] Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll responded to the backlash of criticism (including my own, Rachel, Joel, Jim, Scott, and others) about his general theology of men and women self-described […]

  17. […] Don Miller weighed in to the recent “real masculinity” debate (background: here and here and here), he did so with his typical class and style. Yesterday, I held up Michael Irvin as an […]

  18. Note that 2008 California election exit polls indicated that an overwhelming 70% of the California African-American community supported Prop 8 (which sought to ban same-sex marriage)…

    There was a similar majority amid the Hispanic (which in California is mostly Mexican/Central American) voters. You could say that Obama caused Prop 8’s passage as his candidacy brought out black (and some brown) voters. (Though black and brown ethnic communities have a rep of being hostile to each other.)

    Both black and Latin American cultures are into Machismo/Hypermasculinity, and this includes opposition to anything which can undermine Macho Manliness. Black and brown ethnic communities are very straitlaced about such matters.

    And it’s not only sexual. There seems to be a push for conformity within a lot of ethnic communities in the name of solidarity. I belong to a couple offbeat hobbies and fandoms, and have heard horror stories about “closet fans” among ethnics, under heavy pressure from their families and community to conform to their ethnic culture — which does NOT include the type of stuff they want/like to do.

  19. […] the pic is of Jesus or not: is the man in the picture a masculine looking man, or just some “chickified church boy in a sweater vest“? @PastorMark […]

  20. […] a woman cheating on her husband (and not the other way around), given his wonderful history with gender-related issues. Go […]

  21. […] those who don’t fit into their rigid gender roles are going to have hell to pay. Many wise critics have discussed the sexism in Driscoll’s arguments, and as many of them mention, this excerpt […]

  22. If he understood what “dude” means, as in “dude ranch,” he’d use a different word.

  23. So Mr Driscoll is OK with accepting people (well, men) his creator didn’t make drummers, but he’s unable to accept people (well, men) his creator made gentler and more sensitive (read: womanly) than himself? And he wonders why he’s on the fringe himself?

    Based on his choice of words here and so many other places, (with special emphasis on his deeply mysogynistic and confusingly homophobic/homoerotic remarks), methinks he doth protest overmuch.

  24. I’m always suspicious of anybody, like the reverend, who comes down so hard on anything they see as “effeminate”. Seems likely to me that these guys are so deep in the closet that they are finding Christmas presents.

  25. […] is absolutely sickening. I guess it’s not just Mark Driscoll in the great northwest that is preaching this homophobic nonsense, but now it’s of Berean […]

  26. […] “a study in masculinity: comparing michael irvin and mark driscoll“ […]

  27. […] will it end? Story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After […]

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