If this sort of thing is your bag, then by now you’re probably aware of Mark Driscoll’s latest “D’oh!” moment as, Homer-style, he continues bouncing his excruciating way down the rocky mountain (or down the Hill of Mars, as it were) of his own making.
If you haven’t heard the latest, see this post on the blog of Warren Throckmorton, perhaps our most intrepid Driscoll watchdog. (The short of it: Driscoll’s tush has been handed to him by the 500-plus network of churches that he co-founded: he’s been kicked out, in other words, of his own club. Adding insult to their injury the group publicly wrote to their erstwhile hero: “Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.” D’oh!)
And now I’d like to offer this:
Dear Every Fundie Pastor in America:
Hi there! So, have you heard the latest about Mark Driscoll? Ha, ha! I kid. Of course you have.
Are you wondering today what lesson about your own life and ministry that you might learn from this latest development in the life of pastor Driscoll? If not, allow me humbly suggest that you do.
And what might that important life lesson be? It might be this: Endeavor wholeheartedly to resist becoming a complete dinkwad. Do not, for instance, intimidate people. Do not base your ministry on bullying everyone who doesn’t blindly agree with everything you say. Do not use your pulpit to rain down insults upon your detractors. Do not preach that women are naturally inferior to men. Do not preach that gay people are a moral affront to God. Do not lie about your church’s finances. Do not use your church’s money to buy your book a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Do not snort coke and then spend all night under a fake ID name raving about manliness in online forums. Do not spend so much time intruding yourself into the personal lives of others that your own personal life becomes a disaster.
Just don’t do stuff like that.
Driscoll made the horrendous mistake of assuming that he could wield absolute power. And he could have, too—except for one teeny, tiny little thing called the Internet.
Remember, pastor, what Driscoll, in his fervor, forgot: We are watching. All of us are watching. All of us have the Internet. All of us have the power to instantly share with the world everything we know, think, believe, suspect, question, or are fully prepared to prove.
You do not exist in a vacuum, pastor. The days when you could—the days when pastors were able to close tight the doors of their churches and proceed in just about any way they wanted as long as they had deeply enough intimidated their congregants into submission and silence—are over.
That’s why Bob Jones University is collapsing. That’s why First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana, the original fundamentalist megachurch, is now a hollow shell. That’s why the whole of the fundamentally toxic Christianity is floundering like a harpooned whale. That’s why every single day more and more churches are voting to quit teaching or believing that homosexuality is a sin.
What’s right in the eyes of God is also right in the eyes of everyday people—who, after all, are made in his very image. And everyday people are exquisitely sensitive to when a pastor is preaching or doing what’s wrong instead of what’s right, what’s evil instead of good, what healthy instead of dangerous. And they will speak out against that now, because now they can.
Thank you, Internet.
So remember, pastor: Don’t be a dick. Or, if you must, do. But as you are giving in to that powerful attraction remember, if you can, Mark Driscoll, and never say that you weren’t warned.
I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question: