The New Christians

The New Christians

Comment of the Day

Drew Tatusko drops a very thoughtful comment Re: Mark Driscoll.

Postmodern and post-structuralism aside (since this will sound to some
like that but is not), gender is different than sex due to its
psycho-social construction. Since it is this, anyone can assert a
different gender construction from within a existing frame that is at
odds with another frame (see David Martin’s definition of this picked
up by Charles Taylor). Thus, Driscoll asserts his own construction of
gender in a way that is offensive to many. I frankly have no
over-arching issue with that. People are free to be misogynistic and
loaded with machismo as they wish. I can stay away from those
constructions and find comfort in other social frames more like “me.”


Where Driscoll crosses boundaries is that he uses a very
unsophisticated biblical legitimation for that socially constructed
identity. What is important here is that the social construction of
gender identity in the ancient near east that absolutely placed women
in a lower social strata in terms of social and political influence
among other things. Men had to go to war and work the fields, etc such
is the nature of agrarian life. But Driscoll wants this image of the
man tow work in a social frame that increasingly eschews it save for
increasingly sectarian cleavages from the norm.

The issue is that he makes this kind of social construction of
gender a core value in his understanding and communication of the
Gospel. When we make any such social constructions non-negotiable
foundations to the Gospel it creates divergences from the actual
function of the Gospel and the role that Christians ought to play in
its communication. The Gospel is not about gender construction, it is
about soul re-construction through works enacted by faith – something
made effectual to ultimate salvation by God’s grace. Thus, Driscoll
erects a barrier to this central role for Christians with his
stammering through often strange notions of Jesus’ gender and bizarrely
misplaced renderings of the apocalyptic in terms of gender construction
in the frame of the secularized West.

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posted March 3, 2009 at 9:26 am

“People are free to be misogynistic and loaded with machismo as they wish.”
People, yes. But pastors? I can’t be nearly as laissez faire about this from someone in a position of leadership, even if he doesn’t hinge his gospel onto it.
There’s a simpler word for misogynist and machismo – violence.

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Julie Clawson

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:37 am

People are free to be misogynistic and loaded with machismo as they wish. I can stay away from those constructions and find comfort in other social frames more like “me.”
While I agree with your point that gender is socially constructed and that therefore we can choose which constructs we wish to uphold, I’m less okay with just turning a blind eye to it and just playing with people like me. There’s a difference between acknowledging a person’s right to their opinion and working to stop that opinion from spreading and hurting more people.

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posted March 3, 2009 at 11:04 am

Postmodernity doesn’t mean relativism. It doesn’t mean that anything goes. Postmodernity means attention to detail and acknowledging the provisionality of all our perspectives. Somewhere between idolatrous certainty and relatavistic nihilism, there is a place where we take moral stands. These moral stands are provisional and fragmentary, so we make them with a humble confidence. Yet we can and must make them. So let me state my moral perspective as humbly-yet-confidently as possible: The exclusivistic, hyper-patriarchal sexism in the theology and work of Mark Driscoll is dangerious for us all on a whole variety of levels.
(1) It’s unrealistic to suggest that there is only one way to be male or female
(2) It’s idolatrous to suggest that there one answer to theological questions
(3) It’s unbiblical to suggest that there is a such thing as a “Bible answer man” who can give the one right answer to any question by any person in any context
(4) It’s imperialistic to use hierarchical leadership and missional models
(5) It’s unethical to ignore the harmful impact of patriarchy on women and men
(6) It’s dangerious to ignore the physical violence and emotional damage that has been caused by patriarchal constructions of gender and power
(7) It’s malicious equate manhood with fighting and war
(8) It’s stifling to promote models of femininity that idealize characteristics such as humility, weekness, meekness, submissiveness, servanthood, silent suffering, self-sacrificial love, non-leadership, etc.
(9) It’s stifling to promote models of maculinity that idealize characteristics such as violence, aggression, roughness, anger, pridefulness, control, entitlement, ownership, sexual aggression, hierarchical leadership, etc.
(10) It’s misandristic to suggest that men are “sissies” if they display a healthy range of emotions
Thus, Mark Driscoll is harming men and women. In our interdependant world misogyny is misandry – and misandry is misogyny. To quote Martin Luther King Jr., “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

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posted March 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

All Christians are called to have soft hearts and hard feet.
We are tender towards others.
We are tough in going to the places where people hurt the most.
Tragically, people who follow Jesus (like me) often have hard hearts and soft feet.

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posted March 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I didn’t finish my note.
I oppose any kind of domination over others. Therefore, the word “submission” makes me nervous.
My “proof text” is…
no lording it over others
greatness is defined by service to others
leadership is defined by taking the last place in line
That’s my “fundamental”

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Drew Tatusko

posted March 3, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Thanks for the response and thank Tony for the re-post.
RE: My comment regarding the freedom to be misogynistic. That should be read in light of what follows – “Where Driscoll crosses boundaries is that he uses a very unsophisticated biblical legitimation for that socially constructed identity.” Therefore it’s not OK in that context. I am not relativizing legitimation for this or that behavior, even though people are free to be jerks as they wish in America. I agree that we are not free to be jerks in the body of Christ.
RE: “Postmodernity means attention to detail and acknowledging the provisionality of all our perspectives.” I disagree. If you read a wonderful essay by Leszek Kolakowski called “Looking for the Barbarians” in Modernity on Endless trial, the “spirit of openness and self-criticism” is from which modern civilization sprang. Therefore I think that those who are disheartened by the telos of postmodernism which is nihilism (read Baudrillard or look at the life of his colleague Guy DeBord which was ended tragically short) are looking for a modernism without the constraint of an unrealistic or oppressive utopianism. That, I would call, critical realism which is again a modern idea. This also means that we have to stop reifying the tentative nature of our own traditions since God will lay them to waste should we rely on them too much. Cue: Jesus overturning tables of commerce in the Temple.
Otherwise y’all are preaching to the choir.

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