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Liberal Christians Unite Against Mark Driscoll

John on November 24, 2006 at 6:03 pm

[Spelling of Mark Driscoll's name corrected. Thanks Helen.]

I guess this should be expected in Seattle. A blog/grassroots group called People Against Fundamentalism is organizing a protest against pastor Mark Driscoll for December 3rd. They have a FAQ up about their group. Here’s a sample:

Fundamentalism in all faiths is a Bad Thing. This site represents a new group; we’re starting small with Christian Fundamentalism (the variant most widely experienced here in the U.S.A). And since those of us starting this are in Seattle, we’re beginning with the biggest name in Christian Fundamentalism in Seattle.

So they’re starting with Mark Driscoll and Osama bin Laden, well, just wait buddy! Just to make it even more clear that they are making the equivalence:

Why are you dumping Christian Fundamentalists like Mark into the same bucket as Islamic Fundamentalist? (New 13 Nov 2006)

On another site Doug stated: “Christian fundamentalists, Like them or not, do NOT terrorize innocent people, behead, keep women out of schools, prevent women from driving, force women to their own buildings, prevent women from showing their face in public etc .”

Hmmm. Well, Christian Fundamentalists did. It is called the Inquisition, the War on Terror. Yes, today Christian Fundamentalists are generally mild in comparison to some other Fundamentalists. But they are of the same cloth.

So pastor Mark Driscoll and Torquemada are really the same guy is what you’re saying? Okay, just so long as we’re clear. For the record, this protest was prompted by a single paragraph from Driscoll’s statement about the Ted Haggard mess. Most of his post is about pastoral accountability, but at one point he adds this:

Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.

As I read his comment in context, Driscoll was saying that the best cure for inappropriate sexual temptation is an appropriate and satisfying sex life. You wouldn’t think too many people, secular or Christian, would disagree with that. It seems rather like common sense. For a marriage to be satisfying, a healthy sex life is a necessary (and Biblical) component. Mark Driscoll has since apologized for not being careful enough with his words and has clarified his intent, saying:

I will reiterate that Paul’s commands are to both husbands and wives. When either party in a marriage is not a good steward of their body, or uses sex to control or punish the other spouse, hurt, conflict, and bitterness can ensue. The tragic result is often sexual sin, such as pornography and adultery. While such sins are not excusable because of a difficult marriage, a biblical marriage can provide some helpful defense against such temptation and sin.

Now many people might disagree with this for many reasons, but calling it misogynistic seems like a stretch. And the critics have said worse than that. They have labeled him “pharisaical”, accused him of “promoting a brutal form of Christianity” and “grinding up lives like a wood-chipper.” The evidence for these crimes is all rather vague. The site provides a half dozen links, including to the quote above.

There is also a link to this Salon article about Driscoll’s church. It’s actually an excerpt from a recently published book by Salon editor Lauren Sandler. Sandler is a “born-again atheist” who has literally made a career — first at NPR, now with this book — writing cultural anthropology pieces for effete media (NY Times, Atlantic Monthly) about those terrifying primitives in fly-over country. Reading her work reminds me of 19th century naturalists who wrote about the savages inhabiting the “Dark Continent.” Here’s a sample:

Hipster culture is what sweetens the proverbial Kool-Aid, which parishioners here seem to gulp by the gallon.

And to think my tax dollars helped write that quip…

Ultimately, it’s hard to tell where the creator of People Against Fundamentalism, whose name is Paul, is coming from with all of this. Paul describes himself as “a pastor’s husband” which sort of suggests he’s from a fairly liberal branch of the Christian tree, but there is no reference to a church where their approved brand of Christianity is practiced. I think it would be helpful to know what he believes in order to more fairly weigh his assessment of fundamentalists in general and Driscoll in particular.

After reading the PAF blog and blogs associated with this campaign, it appears to me that Driscoll’s comment is being used as an excuse for theological liberals to try and take out a high profile conservative target. Supporters don’t just want an apology, they want Driscoll to step down and to be cut from the pages of the Seattle Times (he writes a religion column). Sad to say, but liberals are often quick to try and curtail the free speech rights of non-liberals. It’s ironic that Paul, who supposedly decries Mars Hill for trying to silence women, is quite comfortable demanding that the Seattle Times silence Driscoll.

I don’t know Paul, but it looks to me like his blog and planned protest have more to do with his own issues than with anything Mark Driscoll has actually said or done.

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