Since popular pastor Mark Driscoll asked his followers to share stories about “the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed,” other Christians have taken note of something many atheists have known for quite some time: Christianity doesn’t make you a better, kinder, or more empathetic person. If anything, the Christianity we’re used to is hypocritical, intolerant, and the source of so much pain for so many people.
It’s important to note that Driscoll didn’t say anything out of the ordinary here — not for him and not on behalf of many other “followers of Jesus.” Gay people are used to this type of bullying from prominent Christians.
The upside to all this is that some Christians are speaking out against Driscoll. Like Rachel Held Evan, who calls him a bully (in Christianese):
Mark Driscoll is wrong.
Godly men stick up for people, not make fun of them.
Godly men honor women, not belittle them.
Godly men love their gay and lesbian neighbors, not ridicule them.
Godly men celebrate femininity, not trash it.
If this Facebook status were Pastor Mark Driscoll’s first offense, it might not warrant a strong response. But Mark has developed a pattern of immaturity and unkindness that has remained largely unchecked by his church. In evangelical circles, he’s like the kid from high school who makes crude jokes at every opportunity, uses the words “gay” and “queer” to describe the things he most detests, encourages his friends to subject the unpopular kids to ridicule, and belittles the guys who aren’t “macho” or “manly” enough to be in his club.
Anthony Bradley at (Christian) World magazine called Rachel’s response “libel”:
There is nothing loving about calling a pastor a “bully“ — that is, “a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” That is a serious charge. In her post, Evans describes why she believes Driscoll to be a bully, implying that he, his teachings, and the elders at his church are not functioning in ways consistent with Scripture. While it is more than reasonable to understand why someone would take issue with Driscoll’s post, Evans’ way of responding cannot and should not be encouraged. What was even more disturbing was the way in which many other believers jumped on the slander bandwagon to feed on the carnage once it went viral.
In any case, Rachel wasn’t the only person calling Driscoll out.
Tyler L. Clark expressed it beautifully, too:
The Church has been terrible to gays and lesbians. You have surely spent enough time talking with gay people in your community to know that the image of Christians tends to be a hateful one. In the same way that you want church culture to be more welcoming to blue-collar dudes, it also needs to be more welcoming to the gay and lesbian community. Your language… doesn’t help this. I am NOT calling you a misogynist or a [homophobe]. I’m simply suggesting that you reconsider how your words and actions are perceived.
Your language is not only hurtful to gay men. It is hurtful to many straight men. As a man who has always been intimidated by more traditionally masculine men, your words tell me that I am not welcome in your church or among your friends.
It’s easy to pigeonhole all Christians into the anti-gay, anti-women umbrella, but there are some good ones out there and they’re as sick of this shit as we are.
Driscoll has since responded to the outcry with a non-apology apology:
I then put a flippant comment on Facebook, and a raging debate on gender and related issues ensued. As a man under authority, my executive elders sat me down and said I need to do better by hitting real issues with real content in a real context. And, they’re right. Praise God I have elders who keep me accountable and that I am under authority.
Coincidentally (or not), someone wrote to “Dear Abby” about a similar problem:
We have a problem — our pastor. He uses the pulpit to criticize, put people down and offers no compassion. A person can only take so much.
The problem is, if you say anything to him, you can bet the next sermon will be about what you discussed. How can I talk to him without making him angry?
Your pastor’s behavior gives new meaning to the term “bully pulpit.” Rather than approach him yourself, you and others who feel as you do should take your complaint to the governing board of your church. And if that doesn’t fix the problem, you should seriously consider finding another “flock” to join because it appears your shepherd has lost his way.