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