Speaking of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll…That article in the Stranger is interesting.
To become a “member” at Mars Hill Church requires more than attending church. Becoming a full-fledged member—a process highly encouraged, and sometimes thunderously demanded, in Pastor Mark Driscoll’s sermons—requires months of classes and a careful study of Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, Driscoll’s 463-page Mars Hill textbook. To seal the deal, the prospective member must formally agree to submit to the “authority” of the Mars Hill leadership.
Driscoll, the church’s cofounder and public face, has made a name for himself with his strutting, macho interpretation of Christianity, one in which men are unquestioned heads of their households and “chick-ified church boys,” as he calls them, need not apply. He rails against mainstream Christians who imagine a “Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ… a neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy.” Instead, he has molded a doctrine based on manliness, sexual purity, and submission to authority: wives to husbands, husbands to pastors, and everyone to God.
Patriarchal, in short. Like Quiverfull religion; like Mormonism and the FLDS; like Catholicism; like Islam; like all the monotheisms except the most liberal branches.
One guy, given the pseudonym “Lance” in the article, was an enthusiastic Mars Hill member until he disagreed with a pastor about a building safety issue
and the disagreement metastasized into a weeks-long debate—not about the safety issue, per se, but about whether Lance was being “insubordinate” and refusing to properly “submit.”
“I began to question their authority,” Lance says, “and their ability to make good decisions.”
In the midst of this, Lance had begun a long-distance relationship with a young woman in Colorado. Lance says that his pastor instructed him to end the relationship, even though their relationship was not yet physical and nothing improper had happened. Lance balked, but his pastor insisted: “I’m the authority over you,” the pastor said, according to Lance. “You agreed when you became a member that I am your authority, and you have to obey us.” Lance was torn—on one hand, he had signed that membership contract.
On the other hand, this was ridiculous.
In a final, tense meeting, Lance got fed up with the leadership’s harping about submission and authority. “How is this not a Jim Jones theology?” Lance remembers asking.
So he was thrown out – and then they started hounding him. Other people have had similar experiences. The phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” turns up and is clearly not altogether metaphoric.
At a service in January -
After the band played two indie-rock hymns, Pastor Driscoll appeared on a live video feed from his Ballard church. His “Men and Marriage” sermon was relatively tame: A husband should be the firm and responsible head of his household, the leader of a “little flock called home and family.” He should think of his wife as “a garden” and himself as “the gardener.” If you look at your garden and don’t like how it looks, Driscoll preaches, just remember: “You are the gardener.”
Tame? That’s tame? Saying a woman is a fucking garden and the man she’s married to is the gardener? That’s not tame! The reporter’s a guy, so maybe he didn’t think about it hard enough. That’s NOT tame. One, it makes the woman a thing and the man a person; two, it makes the woman a thing that has to be dug and otherwise battered and the man the person who does the digging and other battering; three, it makes the woman’s appearance something that it is the man’s job to alter to suit his liking; four, it’s basically permission for a man to use force and violence on “his” wife along with refusal of permission for the woman to refuse or resist. It’s not the least bit tame. It’s disgusting.
The thing his sermon didn’t address—the thing I came hoping to hear about—was when submission to human authority goes too far.
Well yes it did; the garden claim is decidedly a matter of when submission to human authority goes too far.
Meanwhile – why does the Washington Post include Mark Driscoll on its On Faith blog? I wonder if the Washington Post would include a cleric who talked about black people as gardens and white people as the gardeners. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t. Why is stark overt male dominationism more socially acceptable than stark racism? I would love to know.