Recently my brother in Christ (cough, cough, ahemmmm), Mark Driscoll, has unleashed on the world yet another macho tirade masquerading as biblical interpretation. I’ve seen lots of buzz about this article because in it he claims that “Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist.” Them’s fightin’ words for Mennonites! And there is a lot in the article to fight about–or rather there are a lot of interpretive and theological (and chronological and sociological . . . ) errors to point out. Several people have already made attempts to do so.
Here’s my question: Is it worth it? Is it worth the time and energy it takes to process and respond to Mark Driscoll’s words? (And yes, I get the irony in writing this blog post.)
Yesterday morning my husband overheard me giving a mini-lecture to our 16-year-old son. My beloved partner is working on a PhD in education and teaches special needs students. He gently reminded me that, because of our son’s particular special needs, he does not process that kind of verbal input. That is to say, it’s a waste of my time to lecture him. “I know it doesn’t do him any good,” I said. “But it makes me feel better.”
So, from that perspective, people should feel free to refute Mark to their little hearts’ content. If it makes you feel better to reiterate why you are the reasonable grown-up and he’s acting like a self-absorbed, testosterone-infested adolescent, lecture away. If it makes you feel better to quote Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount; if it makes you feel better to explain the genre of apocalyptic writing; if it makes you feel better to point out that the “long-haired, dress-wearing” image of Jesus from paintings was around long before hippies or community colleges–by all means write a blog post. (I personally, am feeling better already.)
But I can’t imagine that Mark will read or care much about these posts. He’s too busy pointing out all the bossy women and wimpy men for Jesus to cut down with his divine sickle . . . or trample with his divine horse . . . or something.
Mark’s claims about men and women and sex and God are so over-the-top wrong and ridiculous that it’s hard to not read them. Once I succumb to the temptation to click a link to something he wrote, I just can’t stop myself from reading on to see how he will possibly say something more insane than what he’s already said. (And I’m rarely disappointed.) It’s like slowing down to look at an accident on the highway. Morbid, but a little irresistible.
Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about even giving him the time of day to read his stuff, let alone respond to it.
On the one hand, I want to believe that if we just ignore Mark Driscoll, he will go away. (Not away to the sixth level of hell with all the heretics . . . just away to a cabin in the woods somewhere without internet access or mail service.)
On the other hand, I know that too many people are pulled in by his cockiness and . . . honestly I don’t know what they are pulled in by, but I know they are pulled in. And many of those people are damaged by his teachings. People are spiritually abused. Relationships are twisted and broken. His teachings are so toxic there is a support blog for survivors of his church, Mars Hill.
So how do we respond to those who do this kind of damage in the name of Christ?
I think, I pray, that God has placed some people in Mark’s personal circle to council and teach and rebuke him; that God has granted the gift of discernment to some people who are in touch with those most likely to be pulled into Mark’s warped way of thinking; that God has given some people a large platform from which to preach spiritual and biblical truth so that Mark’s perspective is in no way considered “the Christian” perspective on the world.
And I thank God that I am none of the above people.
For my part, I think I need to give my spirit a little sabbath and heed the words in the fourth chapter of Philipians: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Which means that next time I see a link to something by Mark Driscoll, I will pray, “lead me not into temptation,” and move on.