mark driscoll responds after his elders ‘sit him down’, offers no apology

There was no apology, but neo-fundamentalist 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 “flippant” remarks made on Facebook:

Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll incites gossip about "effeminate" worship leaders and asks his followers to name names.

Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll incites gossip about "effeminate" worship leaders and asks his followers to tell their stories.

as well as a number of past comments about “effeminate” men. (Kudos, btw, to John Von Rader and Rick Allen (above) for immediately calling Mr. Driscoll on his incitement of gossip in this public forum. And conversely, I hereby offer the following link to Will and Virgil.)

Mr. Driscoll’s response wasn’t actually so much a response to the merits of the objections raised against his behavior as it was a mere acknowledgment that some people didn’t like his recent Facebook incitement of homophobic gossip comments. Glaringly absent, however, from his comments was any form of an apology whatsoever. Mr. Driscoll did acknowledge in a carefully worded statement that his executive elders “sat him down,” saying:

As a man under authority, my executive elders sat me down and said I need to do better by hitting real issues with real content in a real context.

I’m not sure whether to interpret this as an acknowledgment of disapproval by his superiors (methinks so?), or an attempt to deflect criticism by suggesting that what is really needed is a better venue to publish his unapologetic thoughts on the gender issue. I lean toward the latter because where the apology should have been, Mr. Driscoll instead promised to create a new website where he will attempt to better articulate his “complementarian” position of using “biblical authority” to continue to suppress discuss the roles of women in the the church. Not unexpectedly, Mr. Driscoll states that he will use the first post on the new website to hock a new book that he and his wife have written tentatively entitled, “Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together” (apparently differentiating real marriage from same-sex marriage, which Mr. Driscoll opposes) to be published by Thomas Nelson publishers.

Driscoll reasserted his position that King David was properly qualified to be the chief psalmist (the apparent equivalent of “worship leader” to Mr. Driscoll, who appears to have forgotten about the worship function of the Levitical priests in early Israelite religion) of the Bible because he still possessed the very “masculine” trait of being “a warrior king who started killing people as a boy.” (Driscoll’s actual quote is this:

I explained the main guy doing the music in the Bible was David, who was a warrior king who started killing people as a boy and who was also a songwriter and musician.)

So in the end, Mr. Driscoll appears not to be saying that he said something inappropriate, but by offering to create a new website to promote discussion of his views, he appears to be saying that we don’t understand him because he’s not saying it loud enough. Go figure.

Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.” 1 Corinthians 13:4ff defines love as “patient, kind,” etc. Nowhere in 1 Cor. 13, however, do I see the masculine love husbands are to show defined as “watchin’ football, makin’ money, climbin’ a mountain, shootin’ a gun, or working on a truck” (see the 2:50 mark here).

Don’t forget that Mr. Driscoll’s Mars Hill church sees its primary mission as the proselytization of 22-25-year old “young, single, non-Christian, perverted, educated, technological men” (see the 3:45 mark here). Mr. Driscoll made his name as a pastor by appealing to young men. He does a lot of consulting on the side and has achieved much success within Evangelical circles because of his strategies to appeal to young men. This means there is much potential personal and financial incentive for Mr. Driscoll to preach a gospel that appeals to “young, single, non-Christian, perverted” heterosexual men who like to “slaughter other men,” “win a fight,” and “punch you in the nose” (see the 2:20 mark here). Perhaps this is why we continue to hear and read repeated homophobic and gender-discriminatory comments from Mr. Driscoll: his “gospel” is designed to appeal to the “young, single, non-Christian, perverted” men from whom he gains his power.

Imagine if these men ever learned about the real Jesus presented in the Bible. I’m guessing that would be bad for business…

HT: Rachel Held Evans

30 Responses

  1. The comments and innuendo that Mark Driscoll made were definitely not in good taste. But has the battle shifted to an attack on his ‘complementarian’ stance? I hope not.

  2. Bob, I joined you in the original condemnation of Driscoll’s Facebook post. But I think you are now being a bit uncharitable in calling his response “no apology”, and that “Mr. Driscoll appears not to be saying that he said something inappropriate”. He does say

    I’ve not had a regular place to work out personal commentary on social issues, and so I’ve erred in sometimes doing so in places like Facebook, Twitter, and the media, where you can have a good fight but don’t have the room to make a good case.

    In other words, he is admitting that he was wrong in the way that he handled this.

    He is not of course apologising for his beliefs, and I strongly reject some of these. But I think he should be given the benefit of the doubt now, pending the appearance of his new website and his new book. And when these do appear, and if their content is not as directly offensive as the Facebook post, that will be the time for a proper and polite (at least from our side) discussion of the issues, while avoiding personal attacks.

  3. […] his church set him down and instructed him to stick to the issues better. Both Rachel Held Evans and Dr. Robert Cargill has responded. Dr. Cargill is correct – it is not an apology. (And contrary to Anthony Bradley, what […]

  4. Peter,

    Thanx for your reply.

    I obviously don’t agree with the complimentarian view, and instead favor full equality between men and women, following the arguments going back to Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza’s In Memory of Her (where I first read them). And I am completely open and ready to discuss the issue with professionals and the public in an open, disarming, and friendly manner as I have in the original arguments to which I linked. The debate should be had, and most people will best respond to the logic and reason of the debate. As I say in my classes, “After hearing all the evidence, whatever anyone decides after that, I’ll respect that.”

    What rubs me the wrong way with Driscoll on this issue is the following:

    a) Driscoll has based his entire ministry on this macho man, alpha male-dominant gospel, and does not apologize for doing so. Remember, Driscoll is on record as saying (see the 3:09 mark here):

    “How do you get young men…the whole war – all this nonsense on how to grow the church and how to do this and that – one issue: young men.
    That’s it! That’s the whole thing.
    They’re gonna get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate…phew…they’re gonna make the culture of the future.
    If you get the young men you win the war, you get everything: you get the families, the women, the children, the money, the businesses – you get everything!
    If you don’t get the young men, you get nothing. You get nothing!
    Most churches are built to cater to 40-something-year old women, and their children.
    And the guys are nowhere to be found.
    We built this church goin’ after young single, non-Christian, perverted, educated, technological men.
    The church is over, as far as I can tell, is over half male, single, in their 20s.
    That demographic does not go to church.
    The least likely people to go to church are 22-25-year old men. Least Likely.
    But THAT is the most important slice.
    ‘Cause they’re, like I said, they’re making all their major life decisions.
    And churches that don’t have those kind of guys, they cannot be innovative, because they don’t have innovators. They’re just not there.”

    I’d need an entire different blog post just to address the problems with the above statement. Women cannot be innovative?? Young men are the most important demographic?? If you get the men, you get everything?? And if you don’t get the men, you get nothing?? (because, women and children are nothing)?? And who exactly is getting what? It sounds like Mr. Driscoll is out to get the “the money, the businesses, etc.”, you know, everything! He seems to have figured out a quite successful business model: appeal to chauvinist men, and suppress the women (who are, after all, “nothing”) all in the name of Christ! So the Facebook comments are not an isolated incident, they are part of a deeply-held, fundamental theological position/business model for Mr. Driscoll, which every once in a while pokes its head out on Facebook and YouTube. And yes, imho, it is wholly un-Christian.

    Sometimes, the only way to get the alpha male’s attention is to challenge him directly, and not simply speak as one would with a professional. Bullies need to be stood up to, especially those who dismiss others (usually women) as quickly as Driscoll does.

    b) the gender issue is still a very serious issue, as is marriage equality/same-sex marriage. I shall oppose anyone or any institution that attempts to use religion to suppress the rights of women. Period. This includes the so-called “complimentarian” view, which imho was formed in response to the rise of feminism as a middle ground between gender equity and the traditional “male = spiritual leader / because I (the male) said so” theology that used to dominate Christianity.

    c) finally (and this is perhaps the biggest reason for my last two posts): what Driscoll said in the video and especially on Facebook is highly, HIGHLY inappropriate. They are the kind of comments that reflect a consistent pattern of hostility towards gays, women, and men who do not live up to Driscoll’s male standard. These are the kind of comments that can get a “pastor” fired (or at least earn him a sit down and talking to by his elders). The fact that his executive elders had enough sense to sit him down and talk to him about it is a good thing, and shows that they are listening to public complaints. (I find it quite fascinating that Driscoll, who normally blows off his critics, will respond when the criticism is a well-written critique and movement started by a woman (see Joel’s comments here.) BUT after all of this, for Driscoll to be so arrogant and so hostile toward the entire episode as to qualify his characterization of the encounter with “as a man under authority” (as if to say, “Well, they are my bosses, so I have to do what they say, but I totally disagree with them”), and to STILL, even after that, not apologize… well, that only gives you further perspective on what we’re actually dealing with: a man who simply looks down on anyone (even his elders) who does not want to be a macho macho man in the name of Christ. And as I said, sometimes the only way to get the attention of someone like this is to call them directly on it.

    I’d rather have the professional discussion, but we’re dealing with Mark Driscoll, who doesn’t honor arguments made by “sweater-vested ‘chickified’ church boys” (and doesn’t apologize for doing so). So, I’ll take off my argyle sweater vest, and I’ll argue it his way on this one. ;-)

    If what Driscoll took away from the meeting from his elders is, “Look, I’ll write (and sell) a book and create a website (where I can control public feedback, unlike Facebook), and that way I can say what I say and not have to apologize for it,” then I don’t think that’s the solution his elders (or the public) was looking for.

    Thanx again for your comments and support! – bc

  5. Bob, I too am an egalitarian, and agree with you in rejecting complementarianism. But I do think Driscoll has the right to make his case for it, if he can do so without stirring up hatred.

    I also agree that we should stand up to bullying. But when the “bully” has backed down we too should back off, rather than try to establish our dominance which will only provoke the other guy to a fight. So I think we should leave this for now as the situation seems to be under control.

  6. Do you think Driscoll is aware that he’s (somewhat) reproducing certain ancient Mediterranean sensitivities about men and women here? He’ just not being consistent about it. For example, many of our extant Greco-Roman ancient Med. sources construe “gender” in terms of a continuum.

    The masculine end of the continuum is defined by active, authority, control, rationality, moderation, hard, hot, dry, and yes…penetration.

    The feminine end, conversely, is characterized by passive, submission, being-controlled, being dominated, irrationality, excessiveness, wet, moist, porous, and penetrable.

    Such sensitivities are part of more holistic-ly produced and maintained ideologies involving positions about physiology, “anthropology,” cosmology (e.g., “science”), politics, etc…all enmeshed in blatantly misogynistic dynamics. Ideal men should dominate and control others because they can control and dominate themselves … whereas “women” should not because they cannot.

    From this standpoint it’s easier to understand common slandering tactics: e.g., accusing another man of being effeminate (common Greek word: malakos). It’s saying that he’s a “girly guy” who displays more feminine traits of being dominated than he should for his social position (especially that of being penetrated rather than being the penetrator; e.g., a slave should be penetrated because even male slaves are not considered to have the qualities of men such as autonomy, ability to control self and thus others).

    Where am I going in the context of this discussion? I wonder if Driscoll is aware of these broader sensitivities about male and female that he’s reproducing? Various writings of the Bible certainly participate in them in varying ways….which, btw, is part of the reason I find the whole Biblical Council on Manhood and Womanhood amusing. Though such folks claim to want to uphold all the Bible’s views of men and women, they don’t really want that. It would require them to hold that women are not actually separate (roles) but equal but instead separate because not equal. it’s right there in their favorite passage, 1 Tim 2.12-15. It’s not that women cannot teach and exercise authority over men because they are truly equal in God’s eyes but just have different roles. It’s because (read the passage!) Eve is derivative from Adam and transgressed because she’s inclined to being deceived (unlike Adam: read “men”). Instead women are supposed to stay at home and have kids…please pardon my 1950s American-izing paraphrasing.

    Back to Driscoll, the point here is that if he’s claiming to get his ideas from the Bible, he should come to grips with how a straight “one-to-one” move from these ideas in the Bible to normative gender idea(ologies) for today involves him in some blatant misogyny and inhabiting (and reproducing!) views that have been text-book strategies of subjugating and oppressing women and others classed as socially-inferior for thousands of years. Just a (long thought)…

  7. Peter,
    Thanx again. You may be right. The best thing to do may be to wait and see if he is remorseful, and give him a chance to apologize.


  8. Stephen,

    Well said. And thanx. Gen 1:28 (“Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and dominate it”) certainly comes to mind. Add to that a well thought out business model for ‘getting’ the women, children, the money, the businesses, and the real estate,’ and you’ve got yourself one heck of a neo-fundamentalist prosperity gospel.


  9. Sorry, but this will not be very scholarly or well worded. I’m not going to screw with being polite or even try to be politically correct. Any man that calls himself a “man of God” and then demeans or condemns any segment of society is a f#@%&*$ idiot (okay, I did censor that)LOL. Those who believe and follow that idiot are even worse.

    Why do we even allow such antiquated notions as “men’s roles” and “women’s roles” to permeate our modern society? I suppose some men never lose that cave men mentality, and by that I mean all they wish to do is to “conquer” and control others.

    Is Christianity now a war? Reading the comments from Mark Driscoll certainly makes me believe he thinks we’re at war, but with what? Freedom? The American Way?

    I’m sick of the pretenders and the holier than thous taking God’s name in vain and telling me what I should believe and what I shouldn’t. They are no better than the freakin’ Taliban or Al Qaeda. As a matter of fact, the zealots are heading that way so fast they’d make the Taliban proud.

    I don’t care about the Bible. I don’t give a damn what is says or what it doesn’t say. It has no place in my life. I know God and I simply do not need a Bible to define that God is for me, especially when it was written by men with the a similar agenda as Driscoll, control.

    The more I read about the “return to Christian values” the more I realize how little people knew about early Christians and how much of that religion was stolen from other religions and pieced together to make something new and exciting but still the same old same old.

    I can understand why most Christians don’t believe in evolution, because they’ve never evolved. Most of them are scared people who’ll do anything to force others to believe as they believe. They feel most comfortable when there’s no dissent. I guess you could replace Christian with Republican and it would be the same idea.

    People like Marc Driscoll should be driven back into the caves they’re so sure we never lived in but prove it daily with talk of “men and women’s roles”.

    Sorry Dr. Bob if that’s offensive.

  10. […] 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 example of a […]

  11. Every few years one of these so-called Christians crawls from the slime wearing his he-man status badge of honor while condemning the non-manly men (gays—let’s call it what it is). When I read the quotes above all I see are the words “men”, “young men”, “effeminate men”, “David” (the lyre strumming boy-poet), and statements against women. I think Freud would have a field day with this. I sense another hypocrite a la Ted Haggard on the rise who will one day be exposed with his own gay masseuse drug-pusher incident…

  12. […] is the man in the picture a masculine looking man, or just some “chickified church boy in a sweater vest“? @PastorMark […]

  13. Notice that Driscoll referred to the “elders” that “sat” him down as his “executive elders.”

    The “executive elders” are a couple of men hand-picked by Driscoll. The rest of the “elders” at his church are elders in name only, after Driscoll pushed through new bylaws that stripped the elders of their right to vote on important church matters and concentrated the authority of the church into the hands of Driscoll and his chosen executives.

    More here:

  14. @Bobby Milford and Greg, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    As Shakespeare put it : Methinks he doth protest too much!

    However, if that is his doom (to be found out, anyway) he’ll do what the greats all do : It wasn’t his fault, he was forced to do it, it was somebody else’s (anybody else’s) fault : and the worst, the very worst part is – his herd will believe him, utterly.

  15. Well I have little good to think about Driscoll, after having read this: (Transcript here: Thankfully, as a single (late 30s), never married man I don’t attend church anymore so I was spared all the crap!!

  16. I spent about 9 months in a MH church plant last year and though the honeymoon wasn’t too bad, it became the twilight zone pretty quick. We actually told the people at our CG and pastors we were leaving only to have them demand that we come back and explain ourselves… when we didn’t show up to explain ourselves they threw us out of the church…. What? “We just told you we were leaving.” “No, you’re not leaving, we’re kicking you out!”

    Mark is really short, and wears sport shirts unbuttoned down to his naval. Dare I say for his talk of “tobacco chewing, gun toting, brawling fisticuffs attitude and style, he really seems quite the metrosexual in person. Just my read. But it’s easy to feel empowered and masculine when you are 40+ and your audience is a bunch of hero worshiping 20 somethings. It’s easy to talk manliness and ‘toff guy’ rhetoric with a bunch of suburban white kids who grew up in private schools.

    It reminds me a bit of the 24 year old guy who used to hang out at all the high school parties where he was “somebody”.

    I see an attitude, I see a cultural trendiness…. but I don’t see a deep rooted love for God and a deep rooted appreciation for what God has done for simple creatures like us…. I don’t see the “What is man that you are mindful of him!” heart in Driscoll or his army of sycophants. I don’t see a humble servant leader.

    Now I see a man in a dangerous position, surrounded by far too many younger and spiritually immature men who have lifted him up to such idolatrous status that his pride is being magnified and amplified unchecked into something both radical and dangerous.

  17. First time on this blog — felt the need to comment. We seem to see things so differently. I’m the only woman to comment, yet in Driscoll I see a man after God’s heart. One that is calling men to lead. One that is upholding scripture that calls women to submit under the authority of men within the context of church and family. He does not say that women or any other group are LESS THAN men, rather that they have equal value – but are called to different roles.

    I see no demeaning of women. I see a challenge to men.
    Rise up. Lead. This woman (who is not in any way feeble, desperate, lonely, or pathetic) is waiting for the men to heed God’s call on your life that Driscoll is echoing.

  18. You are correct: you are the only woman to comment in this way.

    (And I think you are looking for someone to take care of you, which is exactly what Driscoll wants you to think. If he can get you to think that way, then he doesn’t have to earn your love and respect, just demand it.)

  19. Anna, about Mark being a man after God’s own heart, how much do you want to compare Drisoll to David? Anyone can read Samuel and see that being described as a man after God’s own heart doesn’t preclude marrying for political/military advantage. It doesn’t preclude slaughtering whole villages and lying about it. It doesn’t preclude conspiring with members of the royal family to protect one’s interest. It doesn’t preclude a failure to discipline an incestuous rapist within the royal family. The book of Samuel doesn’t seem to suggest that being a man after God’s own heart automatically entails being an actually good man by normal measurements, does it?

  20. I’m tired of effeminate men, especially in church leadership roles. Mark Driscoll trying to supress roles of women? Give me a break! That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. The add you have on here of those women in bikini’s and on there knees is humiliating and disgraceful to women… What about that? Homophobic gospel, pshya right. Your whole article on this subject is asinine.

  21. whitney,

    1) what ad(d)s? i don’t have ads on my blog.
    2) and whitney, if you’re tired of ‘effeminate’ men, especially in ‘church leadership’ roles, how would you characterize jesus?
    3) are you going to offer any proof/evidence of your claims, or just yell, ‘no, no it’s not. that’s asinine!’ really loudly and hope that some people buy that as a cogent argument?


  22. Ha! Ads, yeah, it has conveniently disappeared. You should call yourself the ‘Assistant Professor to Religious Studies… except Christianity’. If you’re calling Jesus effeminate then you obviously don’t know jack about the religion. AND… yeah, just another asinine thing of you to say. Not arguing. We have no common ground on which to start an argument from. Just wanted to let you know that there’s people out there that think your points are crap.

  23. Whitney,

    Full disclosure: I’m approving your comments purely for the comedic value. People need to see the sheer irrationality of those brainwashed few who support Driscoll.

    I have never had ads on my blog. But, that doesn’t stop you from perpetuating your earlier false statement. You simply insinuate that I recently changed that. Fundy rule #7: When caught in a lie with a lack of evidence, appeal to conspiracy or foul play.

    Again, you make claims about Jesus, but offer no evidence. You simply attack my credentials without offering any of your own. And my offense is simply that you disagree with me.

    Your very tone is irrational and hostile – precisely what I’d expect from a follower of Driscoll who argues from misinformed emotion rather than evidence and facts.

    Please keep responding because you’re making my point: you (or your dear leader Driscoll) cannot argue on the facts and the merits of the argument. All you can do is call names, attempt to bully, scoff at those with actual education in the field, and express your frustration by offering one sided faith claims and proclamations without evidence or even the consideration of an alternative point of view. Again, classic fundy practices.

    You serve Mark Driscoll well, and are a perfectly typical representative for him.

    Thank you.


  24. Is it possible that Driscoll is ’emulating’ his target demographic’s stereotyped behaviours simply so that he can continue to appeal to them?

    I mean, he argues using multisyllabic words and can grasp the concept of context vs content, yet he continually uses hyper-masculine phrases like “chickified”, “macho”, and appealing to violence as a defining characteristic of the men he wishes to appeal to – all the things that many (but not all!) young urban males (at least, here in Australia) appear to aspire to.

    It just seems that there’s a rational, intelligent human buried inside the veneer of homophobic brutality, but his business model comes first, so the inner “rational” Driscoll can do naught but direct some language, not risk appearing lest he scare off his accolytes.

    That’s a big stretch, but on reflection, it _is_ possible. Isn’t it?

  25. i would agree with you on the first part. you’ve hit the nail on the head. driscoll does a good job reaching out to a portion of the population that is typically neglected by the church. unfortunately, he grossly distorts the gospel message – especially in areas of discipline, authority, and the place of women – in order to appeal to the men he recruits.

    that is, his success in his 20-30 something aggressive males is only due to his distortion of the gospel message so that these men do NOT have to alter their attitudes toward women. as long as they remove some detrimental activity from their lives, they can continue to dominate their women (in a ‘complimentarian’ manner, of course) as long as they submit to the central male in their new world – mark driscoll.

    it is more than a cult of personality. it’s an authoritarian cult, with penalties for failing to submit to driscoll’s authority, and further shame and humiliation-based penalties for attempting to leave.


  26. Just so you know, there are ads on your main page. I have seenthem, though there isn’t any on this page. I see you do not like taking a woman’s word for it so I thought I would chime in.

    as for Driscoll, the Bible gives the criteria on how to judge a person claiming to be of God. So far, very few have used that criteria but have replaced the gossip they charge Driscoll of advocating with deconstructive criticism of their own. They do not stop attacking Driscoll and include his supporters when they post to defend him.

    What it looks like to me is that those who do not believe God think it is alright to attack those who claim to and their supporters while demeaning those who turn the tables and critique those who are attacking Driscoll.

    hypocrisy is a very larg elephant in the secularists/unbeliever’s room

  27. david,
    for some reason, wordpress supplies ads on mobile devices, even though i decline them on my blog.
    other than that, i shall again just allow people to read your words and absorb your reasoning.

  28. Mark Driscoll needs to reevaluate why he is a pastor. He brings attention to himself more than Jesus Christ. He is coarse, crass, sophomoric, and with very little discernment. Follow Christ, and look to men of honor for leadership not men who tickle your ears and turn the scripture into pornography (his treatment of Song of Solomon). God is no respecter of men. Tolerance of men who treat the holy with contempt is no virtue.

  29. […] When will it end? Story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. […]

  30. Freedom of speech. Does not give us the right to slander somebody for what they say. If u say a lie long enough u will believe it. Although the bible says those continuing in gay relationships will reap there full penalty. And as far as young men there is a strength to them that no other gender or age group process.

    Whoever bc is I think u are pretty rash to make statements about something u biasedly warped. U especially have no grounds to critize somebody if u never met them too.

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