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Mark Driscoll’s Daughter + Blogging = Worry

posted by Jason Boyett

I missed this news because I don’t pay too much attention to the theology-blogging world since closing my O Me of Little Faith blog, but it seems infamous Seattle pastor/movement leader Mark Driscoll has launched a new website called PastorMark.tv. It’s supposed to be sort of a clearinghouse for all his online content, from sermons to videos to blog posts. Which is a good idea. No problems there.

According to this announcement from Mars Hill, Driscoll’s church, it’s also a place for his wife Grace Driscoll to write about “being a godly wife, mother, and friend.” OK. That’s cool, too.

It’s also a place for Driscoll’s daughter, Ashley, to post book reviews and write about “how to balance the pressures of high school and staying faithful to Jesus.” That’s–

Oh. Wait a second.

This bothers me. Not the idea of a high schooler having a blog. I think blogs are a great outlet for young writers, for expressing opinions, for exploring ideas. I’ve talked to our middle-school daughter about blogging. I think she would love having a small, private blog for her friends and family to read. But there’s a difference between my daughter and Mark Driscoll’s daughter.

1) Driscoll is very well known. In some circles he is revered. In others he is hated. As a theologian and preacher, he is a lightning rod. He can’t say anything without stirring up a storm somewhere, and those storms always find their way back to him.

2) The theological blog world loves a good fight. There are trolls under every bridge, on both sides. Driscoll gets attacked by them constantly, but he doesn’t care. He’s fearless and hard-headed, and that’s part of why people like him so much.

3) Driscoll can shield his family from the punches he takes as a blogger and on Facebook and Twitter. But can he still do that after opening up space for his daughter to blog on his official site? I don’t know.

As a dad, that makes me nervous.

As an author, I have a modest public persona, in small circles. It’s not huge — I’m not even in the same stratosphere as Driscoll — but there is no way I’d let my daughter blog in an official capacity as The Daughter of Jason Boyett. Not now, not when she’s a freshman in high school, not when she’s an adult. She can start up her own blog if she wants. She can do her own thing and build her own platform. But have a teenager write as an extension of my personal brand? No way would I burden her with my own work.

It’s not because I don’t trust her. It’s because I don’t trust anyone else.

Personally, I’m glad I wasn’t blogging when I was 14. I’m a little embarrassed at stuff I wrote about when I was 24, but at least that was pre-Google. But that’s not the issue. What IS the issue is how hard it is to be the child of a pastor. Even if your dad isn’t the kind of pastor who’s featured in the New York Times, the families of pastors are under constant scrutiny, constant pressure, constant judgment. We all know “preacher’s kids” who have imploded. A well-adjusted preacher’s kid is almost a surprise these days (even though I know quite a few). What must it be like when your dad is as famous a pastor as Driscoll? And what will it be like when your famous dad invites you up on his platform?

Ashley Driscoll isn’t my daughter, but it makes me worry for her. I don’t even use my daughter’s name in public online forums like this one, because I don’t want her (or her friends) to be able to Google it and find a bunch of stories I’ve told about her. Same goes for my son.

Alisa Harris, whom I interviewed last week with her own father, has the same concerns. In this provocative blog post, she exclaims “Driscoll…what are you thinking?” Her thoughts:

If Driscoll is the one elevating his children to celebrity status, he’s inviting people to invade their privacy. When you use your 14-year-old daughter as a model for how young women should follow Jesus, you lose the ability to plead for grace when she, well, doesn’t follow Jesus quite like everyone thinks she should. If your daughter is blogging about modesty, all her clothing choices are up for debate. If she’s blogging about dating, her offline choices in boys are open for criticism. This is absolutely not right for people to do—I undoubtedly would have needed even more years of therapy if my high school clothing had been open to public criticism—but they will do it. When you turn your children into celebrities you have forfeited your ability to protect them when people treat them…like celebrities.

Bingo. Being a teenager is hard enough. Being a teenager with an audience of thousands, with your every thought recorded for eternity and compared/contrasted with that of your controversial father — well, that seems like hell.

Not a good idea. I hope I’m wrong.

 



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Rosanna Brazil

posted September 5, 2012 at 11:37 pm


You watched the Katy Perry movie…Didn’t you…?

“When you use your 14-year-old daughter as a model for how young women should follow Jesus, you lose the ability to plead for grace when she, well, doesn’t follow”



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Angie

posted January 31, 2012 at 2:55 am


I’m sure her blog will be monitored by Daddy, and she won’t be allowed to post anything without his approval because she, as the weaker sex, is pseudo-biblically incapable of making a decision about the content without the property owner, her dad, telling her what to post.

No worries, folks – Mark Driscoll is in CONTROL.

The wife, of course, can’t post anything without approval either so both the daughter and the mom can stare at the screen helplessly until the man of the house comes home and tells them it’s ok to hit the post button.



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Nathaniel

posted December 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm


I agree with the concerns in this blog, and having been a pastor’s son when I was younger, I completely understand the pressure of the scrutiny of the public eye and the insecurities and fear of criticisms that come with that. What should be considered though is, if Ashley sees Jesus as her first love and fears God rather than men, than why should she be afraid of what anybody says? If I was in the public eye, yeah, I’d have to give serious consideration to what effect putting my daughter in the spotlight would have, but if I knew that she wouldn’t care what people thought and met criticisms with raw and honest repentance, than I would also take the potency for the gospel that that would have into consideration.
Ultimately, though, I would never force her to do anything, and I would leave the choice up to her, while also making sure she understood the gravity of the decision she would be making.



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Shirley

posted November 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm


FYI: His daughter doing reviews, etc was her idea and he is making sure that all she posts aligns with scripture,etc. I don’t think she is being put on a higher pedestal than any other teen blogger out there…yes, her dad is a well known American pastor and I think because of that people will come to her blog, read what she has to say, and check out Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll because of it.



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Davo

posted October 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm


Yikes!! That sounds absolutely terrifying! I grew up as a son of a pastor and missionary… and while he wasn’t uber widely-known or anything, everyone in my community and churches we visited automatically knew me as Tim’s son. It was a struggle enough when I entered my upper-teen years to develop my own beliefs and identity apart from him. I can’t imagine how difficult it will be for her.



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sharideth smith

posted October 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm


Bristol Palin, anybody? if this girl somehow “fails” by anybody’s standards, Driscoll has set her up for public arrows and ridicule.

i concur, Jason. bad, bad idea.



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Alise

posted October 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm


I agree with you 100%. I’ve got no problem with a teen having a personal blog to write about whatever for family & friends to read. That was our gift to our 13 year old this year (a cute blog design & a domain name). She is very careful about what she posts when it comes to personal info and mostly it’s just a place for her to work out some fiction writing or some creative non-fiction.

But it’s not linked from my blog and it’s not in any way affiliated with me. And I barely have any platform at all to speak of.

I totally think that the families of public personalities are off-limits, but when you place her as part of your voice, then I don’t see how you can do that. I hope that people will still choose to be kind to her and recognize that she’s young and that it’s not fair to judge her, but ultimately, that’s not how it’s going to be for some. The blame for that lies squarely at the feet of the people who have thrust her even further into the limelight.



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JBen

posted October 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm


Great thoughts, Jason. I just received my first snarky mean comment on my blog. It stung for a few minutes but I was able to let it go. That is probably because I am almost 30 and mature enough to know that that kind of thing doesn’t really matter.

Hopefully Mark will set up some good boundaries like disabling comments on her posts or limiting her own time online so she can’t read the things people are going to write about her.



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