Mark Driscoll Apologizes; Protest Called Off
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’ve been planning to attend an action in Seattle this Sunday, protesting pastor Mark Driscoll’s rhetoric about women. The people who were organizing the event had three goals for the protest and stated that if these were met, there would be no need to continue with the protest.
Last night, those goals were met:
1. The city of Seattle has been alerted (via local and national media) to Mark Driscoll’s use of perjorative language in regard to women.
2. The Seattle Times has removed Mark Driscoll as a religion columnist.
3. Mark Driscoll has publicly apologized and has promised to work on his use of inflammatory language and to make an effort to be more gracious in the future (hopefully, no more comparing women to fluffy baby bunnies!). (If you ever read this, Mark Driscoll: thank you very much for that public apology.)
So, the protest is off – and I must say, I’m relieved! I'm also extremely grateful that Mark Driscoll has acknowledged that changes must be made regarding his use of language; I hope those around him hold him to that. The fact that he will no longer be a columnist for The Seattle Times is also a good thing; there are many Christians in Seattle who can write about God’s love for men and women, and once Mark Driscoll demonstrates a lasting change in his language and attitude toward women, perhaps he might pursue that kind of platform again.
There are aspects of his blog post that leave me feeling sad: his portrayal of his critics as a sort of witch hunt (my words, not his), rather than a group of people who are genuinely concerned about the impact of his words on women; a propping up of his position (citing the support of Ted Haggard’s family, his statement that his “theological convictions, even the most controversial ones, are as unwavering as ever”), which seems to indicate that he doesn’t yet understand how his theological position harms women and puts them at risk; the use of manifest destiny-type language that seems to imply that he has a large church because that’s God’s plan for him and because of what he's teaching; the idea that he can't minister in Seattle if Christians are protesting Christians. (It's not a shock to see that Christians disagree with one another -- everyone already knows that, and that's not why many don't like the Christian church. People who don't like the church feel that way because Christians don't hold one another for words and actions.)
Yet, there has been movement in the direction of change, of more careful and respectful language, by Mark Driscoll, as well as acknowledgment that people have been hurt, and for that, I’m thankful. I hope this growth continues, because there's still much at stake. I was struck by the words of a woman named Valerie who posted on the blog portion of the protest site. She wrote about Mark, but these are words all religious and spiritual people should heed:
What I hope, ultimately is that Mark will come to recognize his theology itself as the root of the problem -- To understand that a stance of human certitude cannot serve the Ultimate Essence of Goodness and Truth.
Without a broader transformation, one leading to the deep humility that values doubt, Mark will continue to speak confidently for God, not know how often it is that, in reality, he puts God’s name on human constructions. Our greatest risk in the quest to serve Goodness is that we forge ahead, blind to our blindness, sanctifying our own conclusions and idolizing the teachings of our spiritual ancestors.
We have two powerful protections against this risk. The first is love -- the love that sees the Samaritan not as a potential Jew but as a “neighbor," a human being. The second is doubt, the humility that keeps us constantly aware that we all, from the prophets and apostles to modern day ministers, see the Real through a glass darkly.
Wise words. Here’s to love -- and to doubt in our own certainty. Cheers! And enjoy your protest-free Sunday!