This post is a follow up about Mark Driscoll and his view of masculinity and homophobia, which are important enough topics that they warrant their own post.
Driscoll’s view of masculinity is related to and in reaction against the perceived femininization of the church. To Driscoll, the church is filled with “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists.” He challenges it by creating a “macho ethos” in his church and media following (think: church members prefer movies like The Fight Club).
In addition to projecting his own view of masculinity onto others, Driscoll projects his sense of masculinity onto Jesus. If I heard Driscoll and never read the Bible, I would think that Jesus was a pro-wrestler, which is why one NYT article on Driscoll was apply named, “Who would Jesus smack down?” Driscoll has said, “I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” In a recent sermon on the “Do Not Kill” commandment, Driscoll said, “Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist; he’s patient. He has a long wick, but the anger of his wrath is burning.”
The idea of the feminization of the church is not inherently problematic. Yes, probably men have felt alienated by the church and by portrayals of Jesus, and that is something that needs to be addressed. But just because you sense a perceived need, you cannot just make up a view of Jesus that meets your cultural perceptions of crude masculinity and say it’s in the Bible.
Newsflash to Driscoll: there are Christians who are pacifists. They– we– do not appreciate Jesus being called a “pansy.” Shane Claiborne says that Fight Club makes for bad theology and is in fact “a betrayal of the cross,” as Jesus’ death meant to reconcile all things and ended the shedding of blood. He continues, “Mark may see things like ‘kindness, gentleness, love and peace’ as feminine, dainty things for pansies, but the Bible calls them the ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ These are the things that God is like.”
Driscoll’s words have translated into overt discrimination, homophobia, and public shaming. Mark Driscoll has talked about homosexuality more than any pastor I’ve ever known, and I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts. I don’t have to be Freud to realize that maybe there is something else going on here. He also compares masturbation to homosexuality because you’re playing with your own parts and you’re the same sex as… you. Like, why are you even thinking about that? Who thinks about that when they masturbate?
A more disturbing display of his homophobia is on a recent Twitter post, in which Driscoll asked his followers to tell stories about “the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader.” One heartbreaking blog by Tyler Clark says, “When you put out a call on Facebook for people verbally attack ‘effeminate anatomically male’ men, I find myself back in high school—shoved against a locker, with the bullies calling me a faggot.” Rachel Held Evans entreats other Christians to call out what Driscoll is doing: bullying.
I am disgusted by how Driscoll is perpetuating discrimination, shaming, and oppression of other men who are not 100% “macho.” It is so cruel to mock men who are effeminate and say “gay” and “faggot” in discriminatory ways… and worse yet, to do it in the name of Jesus. MD: Think of the men who you are alienating. Think of the men who don’t feel welcome at your church, who think that there is something wrong with them for not being like you. Think of how much homosexual people are already hurting, at the direct hand of the church, and how you are just perpetuating that.
I was able to hear Bishop Gene Robinson, the first ordained Episcopal bishop who is gay, speak last year, and he was talking about how he and his church went to a gay pride parade just to hand out water to thirsty people. No judgment, no mocking. That is a beautiful display of how we should treat the other. There is no room for high school bullying. Mark Driscoll, if you are a man, you need to stop mocking other men. Stop mocking people who aren’t you. Get on your knees and start handing out water to people you’ve hurt. Aren’t these people also your brothers and sisters in Christ?
Gender is not a static construct, unlike some evangelical culture might lead us to believe. It’s not as simple as: if you have a penis, you’re going to like violence and meat, and if you’re a woman, you’re going to giggle on the phone with boys and twirl your hair. There are no people who are “purely” masculine or “purely” feminine. That is very simplistic thinking.
My heart breaks for the people who Driscoll has hurt, the people, like Tyler Clark, who flashback to high school being taunted for being a “faggot” when hearing Driscoll speak, the men who have publicly shamed others after receiving “permission” from Driscoll to do so.
Mocking others and being insensitive are so not the markers of what Jesus is in the Gospels. Jesus said controversial things like, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5). Jesus’ followers wanted to haul ass on his enemies at times, and others wanted him to be a Zealot and overthrow Rome. Jesus chose not to do that. He could have. Heck, if he wanted to time warp and watch the Backstreet Boys in concert 2000 years later, he could have. Jesus could have done anything. Instead of promoting power, he gave up his power (Philippians 2). He came to serve, to wash feet, and to die on the cross.
In his life, Jesus really did the reverse of what people thought he would do. Jesus hung out around the prostitutes, the unclean people, the sick, the dying– the oppressed. Rather than aligning himself with the Pharisees, who imposed rules onto others, Jesus had the harshest things of all to say to them, including: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs,which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27). He did not say that to the downtrodden or downcast. He said that to the religious people in charge.
“The bad news for Mark is that we *do* worship a guy who got beat up. We *do* worship a guy who taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We *do* worship a guy who spoke honorable about women and treated them as equals. We *do* worship a guy who surrounded himself with just the sort of people Driscoll likes to publicly mock. We worship a guy who inaugurated his kingdom, not by “making somebody bleed” but by bleeding! Pastors should certainly strive to reach and serve men. But we can’t do this by twisting Jesus to fit into our culture’s skewed views of masculinity. Getting men to go to church is not the same as making disciples of Jesus.”
I am proud that I worship a God who has been sent to heal the brokenhearted, who is counter-cultural and embodies Love, as well as the fruits of the Spirit. I am thankful that God would not stand in a high school hallway calling a person derogatory names regarding his/ her sexuality. I am thankful that Jesus could have killed, but he chose to be killed. I am thankful for the redemptive love of God, and I am thankful that Jesus was not a sexist, homophobic, heterosexist wrestler.