Young Women, Driscoll and the Church

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I dislike much of what Mark Driscoll says. I’m unwilling to completely write him off. He has some good things to say, but he also has plenty of stupid things that he says. Brian, over at Rethinking Youth Ministry, has recently posted on this subject (you can see a video of Driscoll from awhile back and a response to it, complete with verses taken out of context, at the link). I also happen to agree with him, the majority of committed Christian teens that I see are girls. Now, I do agree with Driscoll that we could do with singing a few less love songs to Jesus. I wouldn’t mind stone churches instead of fuchsia ones with flowers.

But that isn’t the issue. No one is saying you can’t take students mountain climbing. What Driscoll is doing is drawing an entirely arbitrary line between “masculine” and “feminine” and then saying that you want to get the masculine guys (I assume those would be the ones with trucks, women, and businesses) into church because if you get them you “win it all,” (ie, the women, babies, businesses, etc). To be honest, it’s a stupid argument. Women are quite capable of disagreeing with their husbands. Beyond that, women are often more capable then their male counterparts at running companies, organizing things, and customizing their ride. At the same time I’m forced to wonder where the quiet, shy men who prefer books to football fall in Driscoll’s paradigm.

Stereotypes are not helpful. When Mark Driscoll talks about women (EDIT: let me add here, “in any public context in which I have heard him speak”), he engages solely in stereotyping. What Mark Driscoll says about women is not helpful. Conversely, what he says about men really isn’t helpful either. In the end I’m quite glad that the girls in my youth ministry have no idea who Driscoll is.

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6 thoughts on “Young Women, Driscoll and the Church

  1. Driscoll can be tough to take at times, but I think the point he makes about the importance of the father being the spiritual leader of their family is important. I have seen in my own life and the lives of members of my church the difference it makes to the whole family when the father is leading his family. That being said there are many women I know who are leading their family spiritually while their husbands stay at home on Sundays or go to other denominations. I have listened to Mark Driscoll on many occasions and I think the truth in his message gets lost in his delivery. I have read statistics that reveal the truth that when a father is reached with the Gospel and follows Jesus the chance of his family following his lead is considerably greater than if a child or the mother is reached. I don’t think this is dismissive to women, but rather points to God’s plan for the family – men spiritually leading their family.

  2. I wouldn’t mind stone churches instead of Fuschia with flowers either. And I’m a woman! I agree, while he may have some good things to say, Driscoll’s stereotyping is completely unhelpful. As a woman, I border on finding him offensive, and I’m not offended by too much.

  3. I apologize in advance for the length of this comment. I’m both exhausted, and grumpy.

    I have to agree with james; the truth of Driscoll’s message is sometimes lost in the abrasiveness of its delivery. However, Driscoll is right more often than he is wrong, at least in my opinion.

    People often take shots at him for his use of terms like “dude” and “chick”, and get ticked off because he talks about gender roles, but less often do people look at the practices that have been generated from his theology. In most conservative evangelical churches with doctrine similar to Mars Hill, women are largely discouraged from ministry leadership. Women usually aren’t deacons, worship leaders, adult class/group teachers, etc. They run the nursery, children’s sunday school, and church dinners, and that’s about it.

    Interestingly, at Mars Hill, they DO have women serving in all these capacities. They have women who are deacons, lead community groups, are paid staff (and no, not just the ‘womanly position’ of secretary), ministry coordinators, teachers, etc. The one thing that is exclusively male is the office of elder/pastor.

    I think that Driscoll and Mars Hill actually allow women more freedom to serve and minister than many churches. It’s just that Driscoll is an easy target because he talks about his views on this culturally charged issue, while the rest of us, even if we are in more constraining contexts, are largely silent.

    Further, I don’t think his argument is stupid. He’s not saying that churches should ignore women and children. He’s saying that some emphasis needs to be put on training up Godly men, because that has been lacking in the American church. That’s absolutely true, but it doesn’t mean it’s an either/or situation. He is also saying that by and large the men are key to families coming to Christ. I happen to agree with him, though that’s admittedly a debatable sentiment… but stupid? No.

    Before I shut up, I have to take issue with the entirety of the last paragraph above.

    First, regarding “Stereotypes are not helpful. ” Stereotypes, or labels, can indeed be helpful, as sociological and demograhic trend identifiers, at least at the macro level. However, the second a stereotype is applied at a micro level, against an individual, it breaks down completely. So, it’s fine to say that “american church men” are too “chickified” (it can be argued either way). It would be wrong to say that Brian McLaren is a limp-wristed pansy.

    Second, regarding “When Mark Driscoll talks about women, he engages solely in stereotyping.” You’ve overstated that; you haven’t heard everything he’s said about women, so you can’t be sure that’s all he ever does.

    Third, regarding “What Mark Driscoll says about women is not helpful. Conversely, what he says about men really isn’t helpful either.” Honestly, this is just something with which I disagree. I’ve listened to many hours of Driscoll’s teaching over the past two years, and he has had very helpful, very well presented comments on relationships, gender roles, and ministry. Even if you disagree with the man, it’s still helpful, if only to encourage dialog such as this.

    Finally, regarding “In the end I’m quite glad that the girls in my youth ministry have no idea who Driscoll is.” Honestly, this is kind of funny. At youth group on Friday evening, two of the girls in my ministry told me they want me to quit holding back (I have been) and teach more like Mark Driscoll, who they had seen on the internet. I guess by your standards, my kids are screwed. 😉

    Sorry I rambled. And sorry I disagreed with everything you had to say, Calvin. I still love you, even if it means I’m a wuss.

  4. Len – We’re still friends, no worries.

    I will concede one point to you, and that point is that I haven’t heard everything Driscoll has said. I’ve made an appropriate edit to the original post pointing that out.

    As for everything else, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’ll point out one or two things though, because I think it might be helpful in fleshing out my opinion some more. First, as it regards what good Driscoll has done, I agree that he has a very interesting ministry. If I were to only look at his ministry I’d probably agree with you. The problem is that the man talks to the public, and he seems to me to have two major issues. 1) He seems far more interested in getting men to be men from a cultural perspective, rather than a Jesus perspective. Some will disagree with me on that, but as far as I can see, that’s what he’s about. 2) He needs to learn to be gentle with his language. I’m not saying he can’t be tough at times, but he is known as being the offensive pastor who says demeaning things about women. I’m not saying that that is a completely correct view of him, but as much as Jesus was in the Pharisee’s face there is an example of him being gentle and kind, especially towards women. Driscoll could learn a bit from that.

    Ultimately, this comes back to theological views. I don’t, personally, see enough evidence in Scripture to argue for any kind of male headship outside of the family. Even there, I see things much more as a co-headship. As a result, I disagree theologically with Driscoll, and with his hermeneutic. Obviously, if you agree with Driscoll theologically you are more likely to agree with his views on this matter. That’s fine.

    Thanks for interacting (oh, and the girls in your youth ministry aren’t screwed…so long as they don’t get the idea that they are somehow less than a man, and I doubt they’ll get that idea with you around).

  5. I don’t have to agree to disagree! You’re wrong, and I have to prove it! Wait.. no.. I don’t, do I? 🙂

    You hit the nail on the head; it ultimately comes back to theological views, not just banter about whether or not he’s too abrasive of a speaker. If one is already in the complementarian camp that he is in, then one probably doesn’t have an issue to begin with. If you are egalitarian, you’re already on a different page anyway, regardless of appropriateness of his terminology.

    By the way, I should say for the record that even though I find Driscoll helpful, I think the dude crosses the line at times. (Yeah, I said dude.)

    Side note: Some of the women at Mars Hill Church have a blog called Reforming the Feminine, and it includes a teaching section highlighting a lot of Driscoll’s gender-related content.

    I know an incredibly awesome, proudly feminist, woman in my church who likes to debate this stuff with me. Though she has been in the church with her family for five years, she actually decided not to receive church membership since the church doctrinal statement doesn’t allow for female deacons (which I think should be changed).

    I sent her to Reforming the Feminine a few days ago (not to say “this is right” but to add some gasoline to the fire for our next go at it), and am looking forward to seeing what she comes back with. She’s been such a blessing to my family, and a great friend to talk with; it sucks that she’s moving to Minnesota this summer.

    Finally, the girls in my youth group already know they are better than the boys. Mark Driscoll isn’t going to change that. 😉

    Anyway, enough monopolizing your comments section. I keep posting comments longer than the original post, and for that I apologize!

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