“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister,but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked person from among you.”
1 Corinthians 5:9 – 13
New International Version
I am often accused, especially upon publishing less-than-flattering posts about prominent leaders within the Christian faith, of being judgmental. I am told to deal with the issues in my own life, before those of another (Matthew 7:3-5, NIV), or I am treated to Matthew 7:1-3 (NIV). In reality, I’ll be the first to admit I am not perfect, sinless, blameless, and am no different than any other human being. I’ve got problems, just like everyone else, and like everyone else I have a tendency to lean more towards my personal hermeneutics than the hermeneutics of God. The only problem is that the former conforms to the pattern of this world, while the latter does not. This is why we need to examine every thought and feeling we have, every philosophy we adhere to, and every ideology we buy into to see whether or not it lines up with the culture and practices of the Kingdom of God.
With that in mind, I am going to discuss the reasons why I cannot support, nor condone the teachings of Mark Driscoll. I know there are a lot of strong opinions out there, both positive and negative, about Mark. I admit, the man has quite the following. Dozens of books, a five-thousand strong flock, and international recognition as a celebrity pastor. Unfortunately, Driscoll has engaged in or promoted a number of behaviors and beliefs that directly contradict God and scripture. Even more grievous, some of these actions land Mark in the cadre described in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NIV).
I do not make this statement lightly, and so I would ask of you – before finishing this post – to agree to pray for the man, and most of all pray for God to open his eyes since we do serve a God who says that He prefers that none of us perish (2 Peter 3:9, NIV). After all, if our God can harden the heart of a Pharaoh, he can soften one as well (Exodus 9:12, NIV).
That said, when I write posts such as this, it isn’t because I want to stand on a soapbox, and preach judgment and condemnation. Instead, its due to a call God has put on my spirit. I don’t know why I am tasked with calling out certain leaders, other than the obvious, but for the intangible I trust that it is in service to some greater point God is trying to make. Subsequently, I have worked to ground this essay 100% in scripture, verifiable evidence, and demonstrate from a biblical perspective why Christians should not patronize Mark Driscoll.
Honestly, whether or not you choose to support this man is up to you. However, I would implore you to think seriously about what you read here today. Even better, check it out for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it, but ultimately seek God in whatever decision you make. After all, it could have an effect on your entire walk, and on the way you relate and witness to others.
Just because a person is famous, with book deals, doesn’t mean they are righteous, nor someone to emulate. If it’s true of sports stars, then it’s true of celebrity pastors, and per Matthew 7:20 (NIV) -
“Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
The problem with Mark Driscoll lies in the messages he promotes, the behavior he engages in, and how the combination of the two works to advance the kingdom of The Enemy as opposed to God. While I am aware I cannot judge the man’s heart, I can judge his actions (fruits), and the effect they have in the world. Discernment is important, especially now as it becomes obvious that the world is heading towards that final mile. One thing God has been hammering to myself, as well as other brothers and sisters, is the necessity of spiritual maturity within the church, and the expulsion of The Enemy from it. Scripture tells is in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NIV) that as this time approaches -
“…people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
This is what is happening with Mark Driscoll, who uses coarse, sexually explicit language in his sermons. Admittedly, I’m no stranger when it comes to swearing, but its an entirely different beast when you have a pastor standing up in front of his congregation telling lewd, double entendre jokes using scripture as a punchline.
[I actually had to spend several days in deep, contemplative prayer to determine whether or not I should share this incident because of its mature content.]
In 2009 the Bott Radio Network, one of the largest Christian radio networks in the country, dropped the acclaimed Family Life program from its stations following an interview with Driscoll. During the broadcast, he boasted about a sermon he gave in Edinburgh, Scotland where he counseled a female parishioner regarding oral sex, and then took it way too far -
She [the wife] says, “I’ve never performed oral sex on my husband. I’ve refused to.” I said, “You need to go home and tell your husband that you’ve met Jesus and you’ve been studying the Bible, and that you’re convicted of a terrible sin in your life. And then you need to drop his trousers, and you need to serve your husband. And when he asks why, say, ‘Because I’m a repentant woman. God has changed my heart and I’m supposed to be a biblical wife.’” She says, “Really?” I said, “Yeah. First Peter 3 says if your husband is an unbeliever to serve him with deeds of kindness.” [Laughter from audience] How many men would agree, that is a deed of kindness. He doesn’t want tracts. Those won’t do anything. What we’re talking about here could really help.
While the church is certainly in need of a more pragmatic, common-sense approach to human sexuality, this is not it! While the Song of Solomon does indeed portray the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of intercourse it does not accomplish this feat using crude language and licentious allusions. Not only that, but to claim a sexual act as a means for conversion? No wonder Family Life was dropped following that interview.
Scripture tells us that teachers are judged more harshly than others, because of the position they hold per James 3:1, (NIV). To that end, we are told in James 3:3-12 (NIV) -
“Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
Mark Driscoll has made a reputation for himself for not only making sexually explicit comments, but using language best left for those rare times when bang your finger with a hammer. Not the pulpit, in front of the 5,000-strong congregation of Mars Hill, the church founded and pastored by Driscoll. The controversial pastor has also made a name for himself, by offering information about spiritual warfare. Indeed, the church is in dire need of practical, common-sense teachings about the supernatural world, but once again they are denied through teachings that contain more chaff than wheat.
A good example is the form of ‘Discernment’ that Driscoll claims to possess, which entails an ability to ‘see’ visions of people engaged in sexual immorality. The type of prophecy he identifies is actually demonic. I have the gift of Discernment, God has never shown me sexually explicit images, nor given me information akin to what is described in the linked video. In all the books I have read regarding spiritual gifts, I have never heard of, nor encountered any other individuals with the gift of Discernment having visions like the ones Mark describes.
I have heard of them, when I was involved in the occult, and practicing witchcraft.
Over there it’s called Clairvoyance, and usually involves an entity who is feeding the person the information. Right now, you’re probably going, “Wait, I thought Christians couldn’t be possessed by demonic spirits?” Not overtly, no, that level of oppression is usually quite rare, but demonic spirits can influence and manipulate Christians through the use of deception and strongholds where they have been given ground. Now, you’re probably saying, “A-ha! Demons can’t prophesy!”
Actually, they can per Acts 16:16-18 (NIV) -
“Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.”
The demons cast out by Jesus also knew he was the Christ, and even told him they knew that an appointed him for him to judge them was coming (Matthew 8:29, NIV).
Never mind his ability to ‘see’ visions of people having actual sex, and the fact that the type of ‘prophecy’ he identifies has more to do with the occult than with God. To verify whether or not this might actually be true, all we have to do is look at not just the actions, but the rhetoric. Driscoll routinely makes statements that mock Christ, divides the church, and opens brothers and sisters to demonic influence. Mark is famous for accusing other Christian men, as a whole, of being, “chickified church-dudes” who have allegedly “transformed” Jesus into a, “Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ”, and thus worship a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell”.
Excuse me? I do not recall Jesus condoning the rampant judgment, derision, and mockery of brothers and sisters who have failed to live up to pagan ideals of sexual identity, and rightfully so! Not only that, for a man who is so rabid about the mistreatment of Jesus at the hands of the mainstream church, he has no problems doing so himself when it suits his purposes as demonstrated in this excerpt from his book Vintage Jesus (p. 43-44) -
“In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus starts off by yelling at complete strangers to repent of their sin, like the wing-nuts with billboards who occasionally show up at shopping centers. Shortly thereafter, Jesus orders some guys to quit their jobs and follow him, and before long Jesus is telling a demon to shut up and healing a leper only to tell him to shut up too. In the second chapter, Jesus picks a fight with some well-mannered religious types and does the equivalent of breaking into a church on a Sunday morning to make a sandwich with the communion bread because he was hungry.
‘In the third chapter, Jesus gets angry and also grieves and apparently needs Paxil. Then he ignores his own mom, which threw Focus on the Hebrew Family into a tizzy, so they quickly issued a position paper renouncing his actions. In the fourth chapter, Jesus rebukes the wind, which caused an uproar with the local pantheists. In chapter 5, Jesus kills two thousand pigs, sending the animal rights activist blog-o-sphere into a panic and creating a bacon famine only rivaled by the great Irish potato famine. In chapter 6, Jesus offends some people and apparently needs sensitivity training. In chapter 7, a few religious types have some questions for Jesus, and he cruelly calls them ‘hypocrites’ and goes on a lengthy tirade about them, which seemed very intolerant of their alternative theological lifestyle.”
Now, who is emasculating, and making a caricature out of the Son of Man?
I don’t know who this “Ultimate Fighting Jesus” is that Mark is so fond of, but he is nothing like the Jesus of the New Testament. Not at all. According to Driscoll, Jesus is going to show up during the Apocalypse with a “tattoo down his leg“, in order to take some divine retribution, and emulate a form of masculinity that finds its roots not in the Bible, but in paganism.
When we allow Satan to dictate gender roles to us, bad things happen. One simply has to Google “women” and “human rights violations” to see the results. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), stoning, and other abuses are a normal part of life in other parts of the world. Acts that are committed solely against women, because they are women, and do so with the approval of cultural and religious institutions who have fully ceded this area of their lives to The Enemy.
For the last 2,000 years he has been trying to do the same to the church, and I believe that the reason why Christianity has been able to hold out is due to the Holy Spirit interceding. As a result, the cessation of blaming of women for the ills of all mankind, and the reconciliation of the sexes is starting to occur on a global scale. Naturally, The Enemy will do whatever it takes to stop this, and has worked to inveigle, obscure, and obfuscate the truth about God and women within the Christian faith.
To do this, he has perpetuated Patriarchy, and to slightly more discerning brothers and sisters – Complementarianism – of which Driscoll is a prominent supporter. Unfortunately, per scripture, both philosophies find their roots in The Fall, and are part of The Curse which befell humanity (Genesis 3, NIV). Thus, they are not of God, and should not be practiced. However, Mark is openly giving The Enemy ground in his marriage, and encouraging brothers and sisters to do the same under the threat that failure to do so will result in ‘church discipline’ – a form of fear-mongering through intimidation.
Only the Devil uses such tactics to ensure conformity, God does not. Why? Because it ensures only short-term behavior modification, not long-term, and it certainly doesn’t foster the development of a mature and intimate relationship with God. What it does accomplish, is teaching people how to follow a prescribed set of rules, and engage in ritualistic behaviors as a means for achieving salvation and grace. In essence, deceiving us into trading our heritage for a bowl of soup, and do so under the belief that instead we have purchased our inheritance as children of the Living God. If this happens, people might actually find themselves in with the goats, instead of the sheep (Matthew 25:31-46, NIV), and nothing would make Satan happier.
Especially, since it gives him ground, and a measure of authority to kill, steal, and destroy until his appointed time.
Patriarchy, in any form, does not build the body of Christ. How can you have a marriage that is a reflection of the Kingdom, that allows for a deep physical and spiritual communion, when one mate is subjugated by the other, and perceived to be inferior? Willingly or otherwise? The answer is that you cannot. Not only that, how can you have actual godly men when they have been taught to emulate rigid stereotypes that actually destroy both them and their families?
Driscoll adheres to these stereotypes, and uses carefully selected scriptures upon which to base his arguments. Unfortunately, they are all taken out of context, and create inconsistencies that can only be resolved if we throw out the scripture that says God can’t lie. Otherwise, He has to in order to make the Mars Hill definitions of biblical man and womanhood work. According to Mark, he is an example of a ‘real man’ a ‘dude’, and that Jesus was exactly the same as his interpretation of manliness.
In reality, by making this statement he is allowing The Enemy to pit men against one another as they compete to be the most ‘masculine’ per this rigid definition. Questioning the veracity of a person’s gender, is an attack on their identity. Driscoll has actually asked followers on his Facebook page to describe to him the most “effeminate anatomically male pastor” they knew of. Deliberately undermining people’s security and confidence in their gender identity, is not of God. Why? Because it teaches his congregation that it is okay to treat people whose appearance or behavior doesn’t conform to arbitrary norms of gender; as less than human.
This is why we need to look to God for what those identities should be, since the behavior Mark is promoting can literally kill people. Despite popular belief, patriarchal masculinity hurts not just women, but men. It makes them vulnerable to certain types of violence, damages their health and wellbeing by encouraging them to ignore or suppress pain and other signs of illness, and it limits the range of their emotional expression in ways that destroys their emotional, mental, and physical health and the strength and health of their intimate relationships.
It also destroys the family.
In our culture, if a man is raped he is subject to ridicule, and attacks on his masculinity for being sexually assaulted. As a result, the majority of rape and incest cases featuring male victims are not reported, and the same for women who are accused of being amoral or at fault for their assault. This antisocial reaction towards individuals who have been intimately violated, comes from occult teachings regarding human sexuality and gender roles.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying anything goes. I am saying that we already have gender definitions – male and female, and if we want to know what those roles are we need to look to God, and not to the patterns of this world. If we want to know if a teaching is from God or not, we need to look at the fruits it bears out upon practice. Complementarianism is not of God because it insists on the rigid policing of gender expression and identity, as a means for preventing the ‘feminization’ of males.
That is a fear, to keep that fear from coming true Legalism and Religion – twin demons – walk in, and offer a solution. By teaching boys and men that relational, physical, and sexual dominance and aggression are the only appropriate expressions of “true masculinity” it strips them of their humanity which scripture describes as ‘fruits of the spirit’. Instead these traits are reclassified as “feminine”, and they are taught that any male who emulates these qualities are not “real men”. The result is discrimination against males who don’t conform to this standard, which then leads to abuse, and it goes downhill from there.
Not only that, Mark is creating the very problem he is supposedly against which is the so-called perpetuation of homosexuality as an ‘approved’ alternative lifestyle. In cases where a person might not actually be a natural gay, (that is someone who is born with that perceived sexual orientation), when they do transition to homosexuality based on cultural messages it isn’t because of the LGBT-crowd. Homosexuals have been around as long as humanity, and in most cultures they are taboo to the point of being put to death.
Therefore, it stands to reason that most people aren’t gay because of some ‘choice’ when the obvious consequence of being found out is execution, and in cases where it is the enforcement of rigid gender stereotypes is to blame. After all, in a world filled with men like Mark Driscoll, individuals who don’t fit that ideal/idol are given two choices – pretend to be something you are not, or be gay.
It doesn’t take a psychology major to figure out that if you grow up hearing every day that your perceived ‘femininity’ means that you are a homosexual, eventually you are going to believe it, and the same for girls. If you get told every single day that because you don’t feel or emulate a certain ideal/idol of femininity, that you act or appear ‘masculine’, you must be a lesbian. If our culture is indeed turning children gay, it isn’t from seeing Ellen, but living in a world where they are told homosexuality is the only other identity they are allowed to have if they don’t act according to the strict definitions of their gender.
I grew up around people like Mark Driscoll, and you have no idea how often they commented on how some youth was acting, looking, or sounding effeminate. Less and only teasing him that he must be gay, and even bullying him with harsher versions of those messages. Not only did it make sure that other boys toed the line, but it sent a clear message to those who would or could not.
Does that sound like God to you?
Driscoll champions a type of man who wields power and authority over others as a definition of his maleness. As a result, that leaves the guy in constant need of something or someone to dominate in order to be a “real man”. This is because he is following an idol, not Jesus, and is trying to emulate an idol not Jesus. Unfortunately, he has been told that he has to act this way in order to be like Jesus, and please God. If he doesn’t, then he is weak, effeminate, and not a “real man”. As long as this mindset exists, relationships between patriarchal men and their companions will be inherently imbalanced and dysfunctional.
Oppression like this leads to unhealthy outlets, usually in the form of mistreatment and abuse of women and children.Throughout history, across the world there have been cultural upheavals that challenged the practice of patriarchy, and their suppression by supporters of the old system which taught that women and children are to be submissive, subservient, passive, and silent even in the face of suffering and abuse. Unfortunately, more discerning men and women start to see these teachings for what they are, and resist them. While women might be awarded the blame, much of this discord is also bought about by men who have lived in dysfunctional households created by philosophies like Driscoll’s, and realize – like their female counterparts – that they have nothing to do with God.
Dirscoll claims that men must always be aggressors, in charge, and that women must be submissive home-bodies or else they’re not being ‘godly’. Instead, he has turned biblical masculinity and femininity into idols, and we know what the bible says about worshiping those. Heck, we can see in it parts of the world where such behavior is the norm, and where males actually kill other males who fail to meet the ideal/idol. Yet, despite this obvious consequence, it keeps happening, which means men must not be opening themselves up to certain death because it’s a ‘choice’.
Rather, the result of living in a culture of unchecked male assertiveness and dominance, and no I am not advocating for a female extreme either. Both sexes need one another, were created for one another, and are equal to one another. If male-dominance isn’t okay or godly, then female-dominance is more of the same. Plus, it doesn’t reflect the Kingdom of God where ‘there is no male or female’. When we change the rhetoric of male or female assertiveness and dominance, to include the expectations of the ruling deity, very bad things happen.
Namely, it destroy family, and ultimately society by fostering an environment where abusive men are protected and enabled, while their victims are forced to remain silent. Men at Mars Hill Church are taught they can and should expect total obedience. If they don’t expect it, push for it, and receive it from their wives and families they are effeminate, and sinning against God by rejecting His definition of ‘manliness’. This sets them up for failure and frustration in their family relationships, and plants seeds for violence and abuse. If their wives or children fail to be completely submissive, they are challenging their egos, their pride, and accused of trying to undermine his manhood and Christianity by disrupting his authority over “his” home.
The only way for him to reestablish himself as a godly, man’s man is to assert his authority even more aggressively than before. The man must constantly be on guard against signs of lack of submission, because that means The Enemy is trying to attack my family! This creates a cycle of domination, frustration, anger, and further attempts at domination. Obviously this is a major obstacle to the creation of a loving, trusting family relationship, and when you throw in ‘church discipline’ it gets worse.
Mark Driscoll is not above strong-arming his congregation into meeting the idols he has set forth regarding biblical masculinity and femininity. Men and women in his community face actual punishment for failing to toe the line, including excommunication and shunning. This works to prevent dissension of any form, and grant total obedience from the congregation. Men at Mars Hill have a lot to lose if their dominance and masculinity is called into question. If they are in a position of power, the can be demoted or forced to step down for failing to “keep their households in order” per an extreme interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:4-5 (NIV). If their children have “rebelled” in some way, including adult children, they can lose their social and political standing. Therefore, men in communities like the ones created by Driscoll have a huge incentive to keep their families in constant subjection since even one mistake can cost them.
Has our discernment, brothers and sisters, really become so lax that a blasphemer and sexual idolator can walk amongst us with impunity? Not to mention teach us to adopt pagan gender ideals that come from The Enemy, and pit men and women against each other?
I would hope not.
The title is derived from the line, “The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons/ Be all my sins remember’d” from the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.