Laughter is the best tonic for my and my husband’s anger this morning after reading Mark Driscoll’s latest series of blatantly chauvinistic remarks- (if there is a fine line between chauvinism and misogyny, I’m not sure where it is)- about women in leadership. Maybe Driscoll’s remarks, excerpted below from an interview with British radio host Justin Brierley on Brierley’s program, “Unbelievable,” ought not to come as a surprise, in light of Driscoll’s newly released book (see earlier commentary on Real Marriage); but because they present such a big stumbling block to the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ for the many women who will read them, I feel compelled to speak out against their message. (“Love Wins,” after all, to quote one of Driscoll’s associates.)
I’m also grateful to FB friend Cliff Haddox for introducing me to Radio Free Babylon’s wickedly funny, sometimes deeply meaningful comic strip, “Coffee with Jesus,” which you can find regular installments of here: http://radiofreebabylon.com/Comics/CoffeeWithJesus.php. If Driscoll were to sit down for coffee with Jesus, I suspect the conversation might look something like the following:
Driscoll: Jesus, I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about you. What I don’t get is how there are women in the church who would steal that part.
Jesus: Mark, what makes you think that your penis entitles you to be a bigger nobody preaching the Gospel than your wife, Grace, if she feels so led? Or, the woman at the well? Or, any of the many women who have become my friends and have walked with me and told others all about me in the many years since? I have coffee with them, too, you know. Mark, you know I love you, but what makes you think that half of the human race should not be represented in the leadership of my church? Are you living in the Stone Age?
Driscoll: But Jesus, you know that only a male God would impose conscious literal eternal torment on people. If you won’t answer the question, I think I know the answer.
Jesus: Huh?? Let’s save the eternal torment for later. At most it might involve my taking you to the back of the wood shed. For now, how about a hug instead?
For less humor and more indigestion, below is the excerpt in question from Brierley’s interview of Driscoll (or was it Driscoll’s inquisition of Brierley?):
“Much of the interview revolved around Driscoll’s views on women and their role in marriage and the church. When Brierley confessed that his own wife is, in fact, the pastor of his church, things got incredibly awkward:
Driscoll: I’m not shocked by the answer, by the questions you ask. I love you, but you’re annoying. ‘Cause you’re picking on all the same issues that those who are classically evangelical, kind of liberal, kind of feminist do.
Brierley: I think it’s because those are the issues here that people are thinking about. … [Brierley says he's impressed by much of what Mars Hill Church is doing].
Driscoll: Kay, let me ask you a few hard questions.
Brierley: Go ahead, go ahead.
Driscoll: So, in the church that your wife pastors, how many young men have come to Christ in the last year?
[It's clear from the tone of Driscoll's question that this is not a bona fide inquiry about the souls in Brierley's church. It's a veiled criticism. Driscoll is going to prove that women pastors can't get the job done (i.e. attracting men to the church) and he's going to belittle Brierley's wife & church to do it.]
Brierley: Well we’re not a huge church, unlike yours, but I’d say there’s two or three probably in the last year who certainly, yah, I’d say have come to Christ in a pretty meaningful way.
Driscoll: Okay and in the church, what percentage is young men, single men?
Brierley: It’s difficult to say off the top of my head, but I’ll freely say it’s certainly not a big percentage, no.
Driscoll: Kay, and are you okay with that? Do you think that’s the best way to go?
Brierley: No, but can it be so easily put down to the fact that the church is being run by a woman? I mean, is that …
Driscoll: Yup. Yup. You look at your results, you look at my results, and you look at the variable that’s most obvious.
[Yes, he did just say that. His results are better than hers. And it's because he's a man and she's a woman.]
Brierley: Well, in our case, the …
Driscoll: This is where the excuses come, not the verses. This is where the excuses come, not the verses.
Brierley: … Up to the point my wife took over, it had been run by men. Since she’s come, lots of new families, lots of younger people, both men and women, have come. I wouldn’t say the balance is right perfect yet by any means. But it’s certainly a lot better than it ever was. And so I don’t necessarily see quite the same situation that you paint there in terms of men not relating. I see more men in the church since she’s been there than before she was there, in a way.
Driscoll: What kind of men? Strong men?
[The implication here is obvious. Only weak, limp-wristed mama's boys would be attracted to a church with a female leader, right? Tough men like Driscoll certainly wouldn't be. Brierley seems genuinely baffled by such a stupid question.]
Brierley: Well, men. I mean, men come in different shapes and sizes. I mean, yah, both really. Men who are very masculine, men who are, I guess, on a spectrum, more effeminate. But I couldn’t say that there’s been a sort of dearth of men in the church since she’s arrived. I mean, Mark, I don’t want to get into a sort of argument.
Driscoll: No, no, you don’t want to sit in my seat, I understand. So does your wife do counseling with men? Sexual counseling? Does she talk about masturbation, pornography, the stuff that I do?
Brierley: Well no, she doesn’t.
Driscoll: Well, who does talk to the men about those things, especially the young men?
Brierley: Well there are other people that she can pass them on to. We have male elders in our church who, you know, would be able to tackle those kinds of questions. I mean, but would you speak with those kinds of issues to a female in your church?
Driscoll: Uh no. If they’re a married couple we might meet with them as a couple. But if it’s a woman, we would have women leaders meet with them.
Brierley: Sure, well it’s the same scenario in our church really.
Driscoll: Well except for who’s in charge.
[This part is almost comical. Driscoll seems to think he's got a real zinger. If a woman is pastor, who's going to do all that important sex counseling that Driscoll seems so obsessed with? Faced with the rather obvious explanation that it's the same in Brierley's church as in his own (men counsel men and women counsel women) Driscoll insists that it's still not as good because the men aren't "in charge".]
Brierley: Well what’s wrong with… I mean, I agree, obviously theologically we’re not on the same page here Mark in terms of…
Driscoll: Do you believe in a conscious literal eternal torment of hell?
Brierley: What has that got to do with the issue of women in leadership, if you don’t mind me asking?
Driscoll: It does. It depends on your view of God. Is God like a mom who just embraces everyone? Or is he like a father who also protects, and defends, and disciplines? If you won’t answer the question, I think I know the answer.”