Saturday, February 27, 2010

Playing Cards With Mark Driscoll

When I was a teenager, I was introduced to a card game with the uncouth name, "Bullshit." The game is basically about leading (or misleading) the other players to believe that you possess a better hand than you actually do. Once a player has caught on to another player's false claims, they call the bluff by shouting "Bullshit." I loved this game because it created a space in which one did not have to mince words about obvious and purposeful false claims. You simply announced these false claims for what they were.

At times, it seems like sectors of the church engage in a death match competition to prove who is more right, more orthodox, more faithful, more biblical, etc. And often each side will over estimate their own "hand" and underestimate the "hand" of the others. And every now and again, someone will so grossly misrepresent, that the time comes to stand up, lay all the cards on the table, and call the false claims what they are: bullshit. And I am having one those moments with none other than Mark Driscoll because of the following quote from 2008's Church Leadership booklet:

"Without blushing, Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. While many irate women have disagreed with his assessment through the years, it does appear from this that such women who fail to trust his instruction and follow his teaching are much like their mother Eve and are well-intended but ill-informed. . . Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourages liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them, pay for their own dates in the name of equality, spend an average of three-fourths of their childbearing years having sex but trying not to get pregnant, and abort 1/3 of all babies – and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality (p. 43). "

Like I said: Pure and unadulterated bullshit.

I usually take little interest in Mark Driscoll, though I've familiarized myself with his work for the sake of being well-rounded. Sometimes, I come across something so ridiculous that I might make it a facebook status, and then move on. I, clearly, am not Mark Driscoll's target audience. I am fiercely egalitarian, fiercely NONreformed, and have found a "home" in emergent circles. So, I don't waste a lot of time being outraged at Driscoll, since I suspect he enjoys the "persecution." But when I came across the quote above I was both irked and intrigued for the following reasons:

1. How blatantly hateful and ignorant it is. (not very surprising, but irking)
2. How poorly it was thought out and argued.
3. And most importantly, how it COULD and SHOULD serve as a wake up call for more reasonable complementarians on how they interpret 1 Tim 2:11-14.

First off, Driscoll's appeal to current women magazines to "prove" women are easier to deceive than men is probably the most dishonest part. Mark Driscoll and his engaged-with-culture-self should know better than anyone that men's magazines are selling just as many lies and just as many men believe them, including the one about "true" masculinity being about tough-guy, violence-prone Western notions of maleness. In fact, current top ten lists place both Playboy and Penthouse as two of the most popular men's magazine, in which women are portrayed as voiceless, brainless eye-candy for men to use for sexual gratification. And then other popular magazines, such as Maxim, Esquire, and GQ teach men their worth and the worth of others depends on good looks, money, fine clothing, current style, and how much stuff one can accumulate. Maxim just featured an article entitled "How to Cheat and Not Get Caught." Now should I uphold the lowest form of male-directed media and apply it to my brothers in Christ working to bring about God's Kingdom--who actively work against such mindsets? Of course not.

So while Driscoll's magazine anecdote is clearly ludicrous, I am more interested in his lead point. That the reason women are declared unfit to lead in the Bible is because they are gullible, easily deceived, and still paying for Eve's sin as clearly expressed by the Lord via the Apostle Paul. And I want to applaud Mark Driscoll for coming clean on this. Because most comps, who I admire for being as compassionate and as generous to women as their theology allows, should find these remarks very troubling indeed. Not only because they are extremely offensive and sexist, but because it is the logical conclusion of this kind of theology. If one wants to read the verses in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 "as is" (without considering the immediate context of the letter, the larger cultural context of the time, and the linguistic controversies that have plagued these verses for centuries), and apply these verses literally and universally, then one must also embrace the reasons for the "command." If one wants to continue to exclude women from teaching or having authority over men because "the Bible says so," then one must also accept the reasons given for WHY they are excluded. Mark Driscoll does exactly this, preaching that women are easily deceived and are still under the shadow of Eve's failing.

Most complementarians teach that the restrictions placed on women are about divinely mandated roles and gender hierarchy serves as a picture of Christ and the Church, and so forth, but never would they (or most of comps anyway) dare vocalize that women are restricted from teaching men or having authority in the church because women's very essence renders them dumber than men and it's a continued punishment because of Eve. And yet, that is the only choice the "as is" approach leaves a reader with.

Driscoll brings to light, though probably unintentionally, the quandary many comps find themselves in: how to keep preaching against women teaching men or having authority in the church without having to teach that women are fundamentally and irreversibly inept for the task compared to men.

My complementarian brothers and sisters, if you want to continue to exclude women from teaching and having authority in the church based on the verses in 1 Timothy, then do as Mark Driscoll does, and actually teach that women in their very essence are dumber than men because they are more susceptible to deception by their very nature and must still be held accountable for Eve's sin.

Because the only bigger bullshit move than actually believing women are inherently gullible and more susceptible to deception than men, is to still continue excluding women from leadership positions based on one part of a scripture while rejecting the reasons given for their exclusion in the very next part of the scripture.


Robin said...

Interesting blog.

Being very familiar with Driscoll's teaching, I can say that he does not think that women are dumb or stupid. He works very hard at creating an environment that gives respect to women as equal image bearers having the same reasoning faculties as men.

His exegesis of the 1 Tim. text in no way implies that men are not gullible or easily deceived, just in other ways (listen to his series on idolatry and you'll hear him deal with men's gullibility).

He would never espouse the idea that just any man can be ordained either. He must qualify according to the strict guidelines set in place by God. This is not to hurt the church, but to protect her.

If God says that I am more prone to be deceived than a man...shall I not humble myself and acknowledge my weakness? Or do I buck against the results of the Fall and strive after equal standing in 'everything' with men.

They are not equal to women in everything...and they don't try to claim it. Men are not threatened by women because they naturally have authority and they know it.

God's very curse upon Eve and womankind includes the malediction that women will desire to have authority over men. It's a curse.

I don't feel more gullible than men...but I must guard myself against my feelings, which are fallen, and trust the Lord when He says that I am, in this particular area.

Tia, not trying to start WWIII...just putting out some thoughts. :) But I def. think that this is too important of an issue (to both of us) to let go.

Steven Burleson said...

Classic Driscoll. When is this guy gonna figure out how much harm he is doing to women? Your post is dead-on. Bullshit is the right word for it.

Bob said...


Tia Lynn said...

Hey Robbie. No worries sister friend. I couldn't start WWIII with you. You are far too sweet. And that's not my goal anyway.

As I have said many times, most of my experiences with comps (and many have there been) is that most of them are NOT sexist, at least not maliciously or purposefully, and are NOT degrading toward women, they are only trying to be faithful to their understanding of the bible, and I can totally respect that.

Your interpretive lense tells you there is a gender hierarchy as part of the curse, and Paul teaches women are not to have authority, and my interpretive lense teaches me no such thing. So, yes, if I actually believed God was mandating male-only leadership, I'd suck it up and deal with it, but I don't believe that's what the Bible teaches at all.

As far as Driscoll goes, I find he has a very low view of humanity in general, and is quite demeaning all around, so I do not doubt what you say about his criticism of men to be true. But even in this statement, he explicitly states that women are more easily deceived and gullible than men--which is to say they are dumber. He may believe man can be dumb too, but women on a whole, are dumber. And ofcourse, I don't believe any man or woman should be ordained either, but I believe it is based by calling and gifting and not on gender. I believe women can and should be ordained pastors, elders, or any other leadership, but I don't believe I am called or gifted to either of those roles.

The truth is that PEOPLE are susceptible to deception and weakness and that's why, in general, churches that are build around one charistmatic personality are problematic. There should be a plurality of leaders to keep in check these inherent weakness, not a boys only club.

I do not write these kind of posts to degrade my comp brothers and sisters, but because I actually believe the church on a whole (men and women alike) are harmed and short changed when half of God's children are kept out of leadership roles in the Body.

Jasmine said...

Amen to this post. I'm gonna share it with my friends! =D

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Welcome, back, Tia Lynn. Mommyhood hasn't taken away your edge, I see.

I haven't followed Mark Driscoll much recently. I started out really liking him, but the more I listened, the more I heard things that I couldn't agree with, so as I've done with most of the more famous preachers and teachers, I tuned out.

Something about folks being a "Christian celebrity" rankles me.
Feels oxymoronic, you know?

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Oh,you will LOVE my post today. Totally worth the 5-7 minutes, I promise:

Meliss said...

Some good reading on related topics:

Carlos said...

hey tia, welcome back.. and you're right on with the bull dung...why waste your time on m.d?
check out kathy escobar's blog - i think you'll like it much better...

mountainguy said...

Nice blog. I'm colombian, and I feel somewhat close to emerging/emergent (though I feel more like an anabaptist-wannabe).


Tia Lynn said...

Hey Terry. I read your blog. What a heartbreaking story. Sorry I didn't comment over there, it's been kinda crazy lately, so I am just getting to it now. But I did read it and have seen many similar situations, but I would say that is not the majority experience among comps--since most are comps in name only and function like egals. ;)

Carlos, I love Kathy Escobar! :)

Welcome Mountainguy. I hear you. Even before I identified with the emergent movement, Driscoll never would have appealed to me in the least. :)

Thanks for the links Meliss!

Meliss said...


Ted S. said...

Robin, in her comments above, stated: "God's very curse upon Eve and womankind includes the malediction that women will desire to have authority over men."

I have heard something along this theme quoted so many times, but I have yet to see where in the Bible such a claim is actually made. It does say in Genesis 3:16: "your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

By what twisted logic can we exegete that to mean that "women will desire to have authority over men"?

Is it not more likely that the curse is that the the woman will have a longing for intimacy with man involving more than sexual intimacy, yet it will elude her because he will lord over her instead of seeking true intimacy?

Just one guy's thoughts here.

VCC-Extension said...

Ted S.,
if you look at the Hebrew word that is used for desire in Gen 3:16 and go to Genesis 4:7 you will find that it is the same Hebrew word that is used in both instances. God's warning to Cain is that "sin is crouching at the door; and it's desire is for you, but you must master it".

Clearly in the context of Genesis 4:7, you could say that sin is try to rule over Cain.

Some words in Hebrew can be used to mean something different. Song of Solomon's 7:10 uses that word this way: I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me. So in that context desire is used as you defined it in your last post.

So this leads us then to the question, what does the writer mean's in Gen 3:16 when he uses the word desire. I think it is pretty clear that the writer meant to convey that the women's desire would be to rule over her husband in the same way sin desired to rule over Cain. I say this because in the same sentence that writer says that your "desire shall be for your husband" it says that "he shall rule over you". It doesn't make sense to me that he would talk about a longing for intimacy and than suddenly switch over to talking about her husband having authority over her.

- Andre