Responding to the Defense of Mark Driscoll’s Call to Ridicule Effeminate Men

(Update: Driscoll responds to it all. Though there is no apology, he does admit it was “flippant” and thanks his critics for their wisdom.)

(Update 2: I’ve now read over this twice and I am still struck by the lack of apology here. No only that but as someone else pointed out, you should just apologize, not plug a new book you have coming out. When my son hits my other son, we make him actually say, “I’m sorry for hitting you.” We want to instill that habit of acknowledging the wrong and the hurt. This may be the crappiest apology ever.)
(Update 3: A friend pointed me to this list. 4, 6 and 7 are notable.)

(My first post on this issue is here.)

While I am not surprised there are some who would defend Mark Driscoll’s call on facebook to ridicule effeminate men. I am surprised by the way he is defended and the veritable silence from the big-time evangelical neo-calvinist bloggers…those in my tribe. The post, now gone, happened five days ago and neither Challies nor any of The Gospel Coalition blogs have addressed it. (Of course they have also not commented on the now public accusations against C.J. Mahaney and SGM.)

So the defenses keep coming and the more they come, the hollower they sound. The following are some of the defenses of Driscoll and his invitation for you and others, the world over, to ridicule men with feminine qualities.

1. “Mark was just trying to use humor to point out what we already know.” When I was in High School a friend of mine told me how frustrated he would get when people would say something unkind and then follow it up with “just kidding.” I’ve never forgotten it. It’s true, we use the “jk” to make up for the fact that we might have just said something hurtful, painful or cruel. Explain to me why this defense of his behavior works again? If I make fun of overweight people and it’s funny, do I get a pass? Similar to this is the “we need to lighten up” argument. How about this for answer – “No. I will not lighten up.” We, as pastors, should not be ridiculing a group a people. We should not be asking others to do it along with us. And we should be swift to want to fight for them with all the belief in grace we can muster.

2. “His critics already don’t like his theology and were just looking for a reason to pounce.” This may be true. But it is just as likely that the defenders share his theology and therefore will not listen or take seriously his critics because of their theology. This is a ridiculous defense. Shouldn’t we care what those who think differently think about our character? Yes, many of his critics hate our Complementarianism. Shouldn’t we adorn that conviction with kindness instead of what looks like bullying? Yes, you heard me right, I am a complementarian and yet still appalled by Driscoll’s callousness. Does our desire to be missional not spill over into how we treat others…say effeminate men?

3. “Calling him a ‘bully’ is overdone.”  At first I thought so. But I think Rachel Held Evans is right in saying this is bullying. Imagine this was not taking place on facebook but in another social arena…say a lunchroom or the locker room. Or the hallway at school. Who would be the one saying this kind of thing? Would it be the leader of Young Life? Possibly. But doubt it. More likely it’s the bully, insecure and wanting all those weaker than him to be the same. OK, so you think he is not being a bully, fine. What is a bully then? What does a bully do? What is it that makes a bully? What if your son was effeminate?

4. “Nobody’s Perfect.” This is the “mercy for me and mine and judgement for everyone else” defense. No one really thinks this is a good excuse in response to a pastor openly ridiculing and then inviting his fans and followers to do the same. It’s just a lame attempt to silence critics instead of actually engaging what he actually did and naming it. The nobody’s perfect defense silences the critics of leaders and preachers who are often (and rightly so) teaching so as to correct those who need correction. What if those in the pew all started saying, “Nobody is perfect” when being instructed. Actually the nobody is perfect defense should tell us something. When we do not feel the need to apologize after ridiculing others, we actually admit we do not believe this. The fact that nobody is perfect should make it easier to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

5. “Paul seemed to be concerned about it, shouldn’t we be concerned about the fact that men have feminine qualities?” Maybe. It’s debatable. But that is not why so many of us are repulsed. We are repulsed because this is the worst way to discuss any issue. There is no way a reasonable person could look at what he said and assume concern for effeminate men, worship leaders among them or the church at large.

6. “The criticism of Mark Driscoll is slanderous gossip.” So, let me get this straight. A high-profile pastor with over 112,000 followers on facebook invites those followers to ridicule effeminate worship leaders – and calling him to account for it is slander and gossip? Slander has to do with making false allegations in order to harm someone’s reputation. And once something is put on facebook and others are asked to comment, the critical comments are not gossip, even if they are now on blogs or news-sites.

7. The Silence.  Am I the only one who thinks it is weird that nothing is being said on all the huge christian blogs about this. Nothing in support. Nothing of rebuke. Just silence. Nothing on Challies. Nothing on TGC. Nothing from the T4G guys. Nothing from World magazine or Christianity Today. Maybe nothing should be said. Maybe something will be said at a later date. But, the silence is strange.

All of these defenses have the distinct aroma of fear around them. Are we afraid of calling to account those whom we before had put so much stock in? Is it because we will be let down if we admit to ourselves that we invested too much into the cult of personality? Is it because we put far too much faith in the celebrity pastors and not enough in the gospel itself? And if we let go of our ill-placed faith, we have too little left?

11 thoughts on “Responding to the Defense of Mark Driscoll’s Call to Ridicule Effeminate Men

  1. Bob July 13, 2011 / 3:29 pm

    I think the criticism over Mark's statement is an over reaction and I think the claims are over reaching. Men like to tease other men. It's what we do & how we bond. I'm teased relentlessly at work because I use lip balm & gel pens. Those who rip me the most are the one's who would come to my aid the quickest. I've seen Pete Wilson teased over & over for a feminine haircut. No one writes a blog post condeming those who tease Pete. Jon Acuff wrote a post ( http://bit.ly/qctZBD ) on feminine worship leaders and everyone laughed. Mark does it and we're all up in arms. Where was Rachel H. Evans when Jon wrote his SCL post? Which, by the way, is far more insulting, in detail, than Mark's one liner question on Facebook. I've also watched pastor conferences of those men "in your tribe" where they tease each other in front of the whole conference. I saw Piper rip Driscoll for his taste in music & his ugly wardrobe. I've heard Chandler rip his own son for playing with dolls & needing to turn him into a real man…. I could go on for pages with examples of this stuff.Driscoll has a huge Anti-Fan base and they came out of the woodwork for this one. I'm not getting sucked in.

  2. Matthew B. Redmond July 13, 2011 / 3:55 pm

    Bob,A few thoughts in response:1) I do think it is worth mentioning that MD asked others to join in the ridicule. I don't know about the other guys.2) Not responding to other's statements and actions which are similar do not negate the present criticism. That is deflection and the adult version of everybody's doing it.3) To reduce this to mere "teasing" does not ring true. teasing a person who is a friend and colleague is very different than this. This was ridicule of a particular group of people by someone who is very open about his views of masculinity.4) By calling to way overblown we tread close to saying, "Don't be such a sissy about me calling you a sissy."5) Only one person could have stopped it from being overblown. Driscoll.That said, Bob, your comments are always welcome, even when we do not agree.

  3. Spherical July 13, 2011 / 3:56 pm

    Perhaps there is silene because people don't want to make an issue out of a non-issue. Let's look at what Mark said…"So, what story do you have about the most effeminant anatomically male worship leader you've ever experienced?"Is this just a matter of people being upset because he wasn't being PC? What if instead of effeminant anatomically correct he would have said Calvinist or Arminian or Baptist or charismatic? (Some of those Baptists are hilarious!) Does that imply ridicule? What if he had mentioned the most charismatic Baptist worship leader? It is just a question to provoke a response. Or are effeminant men untouchable? Are there no stories about them?Twitter and Facebook comments are generally made to get a response. I fail to see any malice in his comment, I see plenty of malice in the way that people have understood his comment. So maybe this is a time to look at the log in our own eye before worrying about the sawdust in someone else's eye.

  4. Matthew B. Redmond July 13, 2011 / 5:54 pm

    I'm not sure how it could be called a non-issue. Regardless, it is an issue now. And whether there was malice intended or not seems to non-starter. Do we only apologize for hurtful words when malice is intended? Of course not.It could be a matter of him not being PC. Could be. Or it could be that it was seriously and publicly offensively. I imagine the same kind of response would have taken place if he had asked for stories about fat women helping lead worship. As far that log in eye response, please read #4 above.Thanks for your thoughts, I do appreciate them.

  5. Anita Kay Head July 13, 2011 / 6:31 pm

    Spherical, I think you make a good point in the hypersensitivity of folks to the particular group being picked on here. But I think perhaps the hypersensitivity is there for a reason. Unlike being Calvinist or Arminian or Baptist, the people we are talking about have characteristics that they were likely born with or had all their lives as a result of their environment or for other reasons–we're talking about someone's physique or mannerisms, not their belief system. Not saying one is more insulting than the other–just a different type of insult, and one that may be taken a little more personally. More importantly, though, we are talking about a group of people that has likely felt ostracized, or at least criticized, for much of their lives. Far from being "untouchable," they are easy targets for ridicule. For the church to join in that ridicule seems inappropriate and unloving.I don't know whether malice was intended and tend to hope/believe it was not, especially due to the forum in which it was posted. But I do believe that Christians ought to expect appropriate discretion and humility from their leaders, and I find the post lacking in both.

  6. Spherical July 14, 2011 / 12:17 am

    Anita: Wouldn't a Calvinist say he was born with the characteristic of being a Calvinist? (Sad attempt at humor)Sometimes the hypersensitivity, which may be there for a reason, just makes things worse. What if Driscoll never said anything about effeminate men, then he would be labeled homophobic. If it were a comment w/o malice intended, and people add the malice because they are sensitive, we may as well stop communicating. What if he had picked on an ethnic group? Some groups would laugh, others think it funny, others not even care. Yes, we need to watch our words, but when a comment is made and then blow out of proportion, who is to blame? He just asked for stories, he did not make a judgement or derogatory statement. It seems like just because he used a non PC word in a questionable context, he is being judged and labeled, the very things he is being accused of.Matt: It is not my intention to use the "nobody's perfect" defense. It is more of the idea of the judging of Mark's intent that bothers me. If he intended to cause harm, an apology is in order. If his comments were taken out of context, he should state the correct context. I happen to believe that an apology is not automatic just because people take offense when no offense was intended.

  7. Bob July 14, 2011 / 12:30 pm

    Matt,Thanks for your reply. I'd like to make a final comment and exclude you. I exclude you because 1 – I like you a lot and 2 – your post is reactionary. That is, if this bruhaha had not blown up as big as it did, i doubt this post would have been written by you. I see you responding to the hype and discourse since your title is aimed at (me), I mean those who defend Driscoll on this issue. So here's your free pass.My concern is with RH Evans and everyone else who quickly threw up a blog post to knock down Driscoll over his FB worship leader comment. How many of those same people ever wrote a blog post praising Driscoll for some of the great things he has done and said? If all you do is scour the internet for the handful of bad (bad by their standards, not mine) comments and never write about his growing church or some of the great sermons he's preached then you clearly have a predisposed agenda against Driscoll. Then my only conclusioni is that these bloggers are no better than the man they criticise in that they are selecting someone as a target and going after them. If I search someone's blog for the word Driscoll and all it pulls back is negative posts, they have a bigger problem than Mark does.

  8. Mark | hereiblog July 14, 2011 / 7:02 pm

    Matt,Thanks for another good post on this issue. I addressed Anthony Bradley's perspective on the issue over at my place. What I want to point out here is that MD's comment is one that could lead to gossip. Think about. He said:"So, what story do you have about the most effeminant anatomically male worship leader you've ever experienced?"So when a discussion ensues from a question like this where does it go? Does it motivate people to share out of concern or ridicule?

  9. Chuck Thomas July 14, 2011 / 7:43 pm

    With respect to your Update #3, you link to an article about repentance. Can you elaborate on the difference between repentance and apology (which is what you say you are disappointed in not hearing/seeing from Driscoll)? Are these one and the same in your mind?

  10. Matthew B. Redmond July 15, 2011 / 2:08 am

    No t necessarily one and the same but certainly similar. One who is repentant would be expected to apologize I assume. In others words, it is hard to tell if he thinks he did anything wrong outside of strategy. Some were calling it an apology. I assume an apology would have the ring of repentance.

  11. Dee July 29, 2011 / 10:30 pm

    Hmmm, just a few bad boy statements? I think it would be interesting to discover just how many "bad boy" things Driscoll has said. In fact, I did just that and the number of statements is unbelievable. I listed them on my site. Frankly, I believe this man is deeply troubled but, then again, I am a woman. :)Someone linked to this post from my blog and people say that your thoughts resonated with them. Well done!

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