I know that this is my second post about Mark Driscoll this week, but I could not let this slide by without comment. Mars Hill Church responded to the recent controversy over their church discipline methods and in that response they posted a chapter on church discipline from Mark’s book Vintage Church as an explanation of why they do what they do. There is a lot of theological baggage that I could unpack from that chapter, somethings I agree with and some I do not. However, what I want to focus on in this post is a story Mark begins the chapter with and the language that he uses.
The story is about an incident that occurred before Mark founded Mars Hill when he was an intern at another church. One Sunday during worship, Mark and another pastor notice a woman and her kids leaving the sanctuary in tears and heading for the door. They stop the woman and ask what was wrong. She proceeds to tell them that her soon-to-be ex-husband was sitting a few rows up with his girlfriend, the woman he had cheated on her with and now intended to marry.
Now that is a tough situation for any pastor. Mark writes that the pastor goes into the sanctuary taps the man on the shoulder and leads him and his girlfriend out of the sanctuary and into the auditorium. The man tries to explain, but just digs himself deeper in a hole. The pastor quotes Scripture to him and asks his wife what she wanted to do. The woman responded that she wanted him to dump his girlfriend, go to counseling, and try to restore their marriage. The pastor told the man that he would be glad to counsel them, but if he refused he would no longer be welcome at church. Now my problem is not with the story in and of itself. Given the same circumstances I would probably would have done something similar. My problem is with some of the language Mark uses in writing this story. Language that he probably did not even notice.
In one instance, he describes her as “his adulterous girlfriend.” Not only does Mark save the term “adulterous” for the woman, but he also describes her as the possession, it was “his adulterous girlfriend.” Now, you might think I am being overly critical of Mark, but at no time in his story does he describe the man as the “adulterer.” It is either “his adulterous relationship” or “his adulterous girlfriend.” This might seem like a small thing to criticize and if this was the only case then you might be right. However, this is not the first time Mark has used questionable language. Mark Driscoll has become infamous for his chauvinistic sermons and writings, see his latest book Real Marriage.
Now if that example did not bother you then maybe this one will. Later in the story Mark describes the other woman as “his whorish girlfriend.” (Emphasis mine) Once again the woman is the possession or in the submissive position of the man, but Mark then saves his most vitriolic description for the woman. At no time does Mark use any negative adjectives to describe the man, except for “sinner” and yet the woman is a whore. This is a woman who Mark did not know at the time and very well could not have known the man was married. That does happen in the world Mark. Married men sometimes engage in a relationship with women who do not know they are married. I don’t know and Mark doesn’t know, because he states “I do not know what transpired in that family.” Mark describes, either intentionally or subconsciously, the woman as the whore who tore a family apart. He does not let the man off the hook, but he places the harshest judgment on the woman.
I might chalk all this up to just poor choice of language if it were not for every other example of Mark Driscoll’s misogynist attitudes. These are not isolated incidents, but symptoms of Mark’s personal distrust and perhaps even hatred of women. Mark only trusts women when he can control their every move. He only describes women positively when they are submissive to their husbands. I do not know Mark personally, but the evidence is stacking up that leads me to believe that Mark has some serious issues with women. However, the worst thing is his popularity with young men means he is influencing a whole generation of husbands to feel the same way. He is training a new generation of misogynists. This must stop. Again I ask, with all this talk about discipline and accountability, who is keeping Mark accountable at Mars Hill? It seems that he has created an atmosphere of infallibility and that is dangerous.