Mark Driscoll, it appears, is repenting.
I didn’t think I would ever write this post, but I am. In a letter to Mars Hill that appears to have been leaked to Reddit, Mark Driscoll is apologizing for some of his behavior and committing to giving up being a celebrity in order to be a better pastor.
The chatter that has started online is understandable. I get it. It can be hard to know when someone is sincere, and it’s easy to be cynical. It’s also easy to believe the worst about someone. As someone who has been quite critical of Mark, I’m tempted to react that way too.
But, that would be wrong.
When someone engages in hurtful, even abusive behavior, the goal should always be for a person to come to repentance. Our hopes and our commitment should always be on the side of healing, restoration, and forgiveness.
Sure, there are some things in the letter that I could critique. Yes, my instinct is to be cynical and I would have good reason for that reaction. But maybe, just maybe, Mark has now taken the first steps in the right direction.
I think we must refrain from the former (for now) in hopes that the latter is true. In this case, I think that love offers the benefit of the doubt.
If this letter is validated as authentic, I believe the most God-honoring thing to do would be to pray for and support Mark as he attempts to change his life and hopefully heal damaged relationships. I don’t say this lightly– I believe Mark’s behavior has been outright abusive, and I have consistently spoken out against his behaviors very publicly because this was the right thing to do. Along those same lines, if Mark is now showing that he intends to begin a process of repenting, it is equally right for me to speak out and say that this is a beautiful first step, and that he has both my support and prayers.
If we’re actually going to take this “following Jesus” thing seriously, we must always root for and encourage lives to be changed and restored– even when that is someone we don’t particularly like. Especially when it is someone we don’t particularly like.
This isn’t easy for me. I don’t expect it would be easy for you either. But, I hope you’ll at least consider joining me as we both step out of our comfort zones to actually put into practice one of the core aspects of the message of Jesus: enemy love.
Yes, I will always stand against oppression and abuse, and if Mark isn’t being sincere, I’ll publicly speak out against his behavior for years to come. However, you will also always find me standing on the side of healing, restoration, and peacemaking– because that’s what it looks like to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus is uncomfortable. But I am committed to living that way, consequences be damned.
I hope you will join me in praying that Mark’s heart will continue to soften, that his behavior will change, and that lives will be healed– including his own.