silence as key to Pastor Dad Mark Driscoll’s ministry

mark driscoll pastor dad cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Any regime will work if the silence of the masses is kept. Those in authority rule. Those ruled submit silently. If only people would be quiet, you could do anything to them. Silence keeps the machine running smoothly.

This is the strategy of Mark Driscoll’s ministry at Mars Hill Church. It is doubly effective because the bible is used to reinforce it.

I am grateful that Driscoll is so clear on his intentions. And generous! He preached an 81 minute sermon on fatherhood and turned it into a book. You can download the pdf of Pastor Dad for free. Often misogynistic ideologies are cloaked in confusing and subtle language. Not so with Driscoll. He is very clear. Men rule. Women submit. Children obey. Then he provides the verses supporting it. After I read the book I felt like I had to pull myself back out of the Old Testament into the 21st century. It is so heavily male chauvinist that it sounded like another planet where women either do not exist or are effectively silenced like chattels.

There is one paragraph on page 14 that, in my opinion, tells it all:

“Since marrying grace in 1992, I have had the privilege of pastoring literally thousands and thousands of single young men. many of them have asked me, “What does your wife do?” I tell them that although she has a degree in public relations and had a good job at a large media company, she got off the corporate ladder to stay at home as a wife and mother. They often then ask curiously, “How did you get her to do that?” as if we arm-wrestled and I won, thereby permitting me to tell her what to do for the rest of her life. I explain to them that I did not “make” my wife do anything. Instead, I simply married a woman who agreed with me about the beauty of raising a family, because it was much easier than fighting.”

It was much easier than fighting. That’s the key. He didn’t verbally make her stay home. He didn’t have to convince her. Driscoll intentionally married a woman who wouldn’t bother fighting with him and would fulfill his expectations of what a woman, wife and mother ought to do.

There are people who are a part of my community who have been under the Driscoll regime and they would agree that silence is key to the success of the operation. Especially for women. I suggest there can only be two explanations for how this is happening:

  1. The women are not self-aware enough to realize they are being oppressed; or
  2. They do realize it but, like Grace Driscoll, realize it’s easier to be quiet and capitulate rather than fight for their rights.

Like I already said, this only works if the people keep quiet. So I’m sending out a signal to all of you under this kind of regime: it’s time to start talking.

I promise if you do it will topple soon.

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  • Excellent assessment!

  • Elizabeth Keith

    i live in the seattle area. mars hill is. is. creepy? that isn’t even a good word. sort of cultish? it is exactly as you have described here. the ‘ministry’ is NOT of God in any way shape or form. it is a MAN’S empire, designed to exalt a MAN. i only hope he gets slammed into the Kingdom on his bloody ass and spends the rest of his life undoing the Jim JOnes act and damage he created.

  • Cillendor

    Patheos never fails to disappoint. Have you considered that Grace doesn’t fight because she actually agrees with him about traditional, complementarian gender roles? I mean, most of the women in my family went to college and got degrees, but all of them willingly chose—with no urging from their husbands—to stay at home to raise their children. You subtly say in this article that children are a burden, and that raising children is in itself nothing to merit praise. On the contrary, raising children is the highest end to which any parent can aspire—higher than any rung on a self-absorbed corporate ladder. And as the Bible is clear in displaying, God created women especially to be skilled in this task. It is only “progressives” such as you who think there is something shameful or unfulfilling about training a new generation of souls in life and in the Lord.

    Your liberalism disguised as theology is shameful.

  • Actually dear reader I never said anything about the value of staying at home. My wife did out of her own choice as well, and because we were able to. And raised three children. I am drawing attention to his specific statement as well as the overwhelming implication that things run more smoothly and biblically if women submit silently.

  • Women shut up and submit… that message sounds exactly like the traditional mennonite church I grew up in (which my family is still a part of). I started asking questions about the discrepancies between the way men and women are treated at about the age of 5… which explains why I left that culture.

    But then one of my biggest surprises (and disappointments) after leaving that strict menno culture was realizing that belief wasn’t limited to them… but sadly the majority of evangelical christianity believed it… which explains why I left that culture.

  • Yep. Thanks Janet. True.

  • David McMahon

    WOW!! How’s the cool-aid taste?? People need to learn the difference between theology and social norms…

  • David McMahon

    Well said!

  • David uses the term “misogyny” here to lambast and berate those he disagrees
    when he is denying a woman’s right to conviction and choice just as
    surely as he claims Pastor Mark is by implying that women who choose to
    stay at home have somehow not made as good a choice as those who choose
    to work afield.

    Confirmation bias appears to be the root of David’s argument. That, and an apparent disdain for first 2/3rds of the Bible.

  • Satan sure does have a funny way of working up there in the PNW, if Mars Hill is his realm.

  • Gary

    I think it is really funny how you build up a BLATANTLY obvious straw man to attack rather than actually deal with the original post.

    For example your statement of; “You subtly say in this article that children are a burden, and that raising children is in itself nothing to merit praise.” is pure bullshit you seem to have pulled directly out of your ass. It certainly was not in any way implied by the post, subtly or not.

  • Al Cruise

    Their are Mennonite Churchs that are now adopting Gospel Coalition, and Mars Hill statement of faith. Not surprising.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Prove to me that the Bible’s primary audience wasn’t men and you’ll get me listening to you.

  • I am one of those hell-bound progressive types that you seem to think are the root of all evil in the world. I think that raising children is a VERY important activity. In fact I think it is so important that I wanted to participate and be involved. I also think that it is important for people (including adult women) to be well-rounded and have opportunities to experience life and not be pigeonholed into certain narrowly prescribed roles. Therefore, the way we worked things out in my family is that my wife worked part-time (one foot in business world and one foot home) and I have a job that allows me to work at home so I am there as well. We are both involved in the kid’s upbringing. We also both stay connected to the business world. Neither one of us is 100% all the way one way or the other. Everything doesn’t always have to be black and white – man’s roles and women’s roles – good and evil – heaven and hell. There is a lot of gray in the world.

  • Alan Molineaux

    It seems to me that complementarianism is a self fullfilling theology: only those who can remain within its oppression will stay. Then people like Mark Driscoll can wheel out their trophies of compliance as proof of why it works.

    I say none of the to undervalue those who have been caught in its system but to highlight how oppressive it is.

  • Karla

    At the refuge we have the lovely kathy Escobar as our co-pastor. She shares many stories of how she has been excluded and denigrated as a female pastor. It amazes me that this happens in this day and age.

    re Driscoll intentionally married a woman who wouldn’t bother fighting with him and would fulfill his expectations of what a woman, wife and mother ought to do…. How boring to have a partner who only does what you want them to do! I feel sorry for the both of them.

  • “Like I already said, this only works if the people keep quiet. So I’m sending out a signal to all of you under this kind of regime: it’s time to start talking.”

    That gave me butterflies :).

  • You mean that first 2/3rds that was all about a humanity oppressed by sin, slavery, and prejudice because Jesus hadn’t yet come to set them free and give them a proper representation of God?

  • hahaha. perfect 🙂

  • good butterflies i hope.

  • Mark

    I’m struggling with this one. Though I’m no fan of Mark Driscoll, I don’t see the problem with two people going into a marriage happily in agreement with each other’s expectations. He wanted to be the sole provider and have his wife at home with the kids, and she wanted to be at home with the kids and have a husband who could support a large family solely on his earnings. You say Driscoll intentionally married a woman who wouldn’t bother fighting with him…” but if she went into the marriage with the same expectations as he, then there was no fight to be had.

    If it was the other way around, a woman looking for and finding a man who wanted to stay home and raise children and she was able to make enough money to support the family, would we be finding fault with her?

  • Hello David, I believe his oppression of females vanishes in comparison to his idea that God predetermined the large majority of humankind to burn eternally in hell.
    According to his theology, humans are god’s pawn created for his glory.

    Lovely greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

  • Dawn Fallon

    I came from from a Christadelphian background and I would say parts of that sect are positively Patriarchal let alone complementarian. Mind you, had to laugh – I heard Driscoll say once that women are like wine as they grow older and men are like milk, lol

  • I don’t have a problem with a man being the sole bread earner and the woman staying home, the other way around, or any mixture of the the two. People working together are capable of all sorts of successful family dynamics. I just have a problem when people who have one particular opinion on how family life should be try to elevate that opinion to what God says family life should be and then imply that is how everybody should live their life. I feel this arrogance of elevating personal opinion is what the original scripture writers did. I feel that many religious people today continue to do that. Mark Driscoll is just one of the worst contemporary offenders in this regard.

  • Livin

    That is not good as Mennonites are believers in free will not predestination.

  • JosephBrown660

    Well stated. I attend Mars Hill whenever I am in Seattle. Driscoll preaches from the Bible. Not everyone agrees with him, because it does not always soothe their “itching ears” especially those of progressives. Progressives have a difficult time with the instructions laid out in 1 Timothy 2.

  • Faith Monkey

    This topic seems to bring out the vitriol in people. I LOVE this post. It’s fine if women choose to stay home and raise a family – that is an awesome vocation – but I think the point David Hayward is making is that Mark Driscoll seems to be saying that women who DON’T want to submit and stay home are not living Biblically. Mark Driscoll is implying pretty overtly that Christian men should do as he did and marry a nice woman who agrees that the woman’s place is in the home. As a Christian woman who loves Jesus, thinks that raising kids is awesome, but also wants to work as I feel it’s part of the person God created me to be, I find Mark Driscoll’s views on women pretty . . . yep, misogynistic. And also ignoring all the great women of the Bible who didn’t fit into that mould.
    Faith Monkey

  • And of a much more non-violent Jesus than Driscoll does…

  • Guest

    Maybe Grace Driscoll actually wanted to stay at home and raise children?

    It’s not for everyone, but there are women (and men) who are genuinely happy with a life like that. I don’t think women should be shamed and pressurised into motherhood, but on the other hand, they shouldn’t be forced to have a career either, if they’d rather look after their kids. It’s not surprising Mark went looking for a woman who shared his values; most people do.
    The main problem is he seems to think his marriage is the only valid way to organise a family, instead of one of a number of options.

  • Gary

    Well THAT explains a lot!!


  • Jeannie Boen

    I don’t know Grace. But I have often felt sorry for her. And I very much worry about their children.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Actually, people with free will have a difficult time with those who use the Bible to attack.

  • Jason

    Wow, just brilliant thinking here. Random setup about the silence of the masses. Pretending like you know Mark Driscoll’s actual strategy and its effectiveness. Strident editorializing about complementarianism. A quote from Mark’s book clearly elucidating the dogmatism and malevolence inherent in “marrying a woman who agreed with him about the beauty of raising a family”. Some hearsay about what the author’s friends think. Suggesting that the women of Mark’s church might be dumb cowards, and then a call to action to “start talking”. Groundbreaking stuff.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    And your ad hominems are just as unique.

  • Jennifer Harris Dault

    Fred Phelps also preaches from the Bible . . . not everyone who “preaches from the Bible” is using it in good, honest ways that honor God.

  • JosephBrown660

    I have heard Mark Driscoll and my personal belief is that he is a legitimate pastor. I have never listened to Fred Phelps so I am unable to comment on how his beliefs compare to mine.

  • JosephBrown660

    So if a preacher offends you or causes you to feel bad he is bad? The Bible provides guidelines for living acceptable lives. If we stray from those guidelines preaching sometimes pricks our conscience to lead us to repent. Of course, some people on this forum are not believers so in that case it does not matter….for now.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    If a preacher’s goal is to demean and make a group feel superior, then he or she is a wolf in shepherd’s clothing.
    And excuse me, but i’m an atheist who was educated in two Catholic schools (college and high school) and has a great respect for doctrine and dogma, but there is a point where misogyny is just so blatantly obvious that Paul has to be labeled as being WRONG.
    Or is that too frightening a concept, even though he was never an apostle and never directly heard Jesus? Do remember that Jesus had utmost respect for the women in his company.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    “Legitimate pastor” does not equate to “model for Christ.”

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Your bigotry and self-hate disguised as Gospel is extraordinarily harmful to others and yourself. It’s time for you to let go of the anger that you are directing at David and find out why you have such an anger.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Would you kindly keep away from the ad hominem?

  • disqus_cfBevsr42L

    wondering what conference that church belongs to? our church is part of menno
    church USA, and though i am aware there is a pretty extreme range within
    that, we are about as liberal, non-hierarchal, egalatarian as is
    possible to do and still call yourself a church :D.
    As a child I attended a Holderman Mennonite church that was traditional, headcovering wearing, men on one side of the church, women on the other. But they were big proponents of gentle spirits and quiet in the land etc, and that isnt exactly the direction Driscoll takes with his masculine christianity bs.

  • disqus_cfBevsr42L

    the issue is (and i say this from personal experience) is that a woman might start out happy with it, and as she matures and develops, become really not alright with that/ God might lead her/them in a new direction. However, his whole ministry and reputation now depends on her character and growth remaining static. Since he has defined Gods will for them forever, neither of them will be open to what God might have in store for them. If he further does not recognize that as one flesh, she is a vital part of his ministry, he is ignoring part of the vision of God for his life. (I say this because I have now seen several promising ministries fail, because the husband is busy not listening/purposefully doing exactly the opposite of the wisdom God is speaking to the ministry through the voice of the his ezer -knegedo)
    I wish them the best, but i think marriages work best when both partners are willing to support the other 100% as they grow and change, and willing to consider options, instead of pigeonholing each other and then forcing them to remain the person they were on the wedding day.

  • disqus_cfBevsr42L

    and THAT explains the problem with male infidelity in these cultures.

  • Karla


  • Jessica

    I am finding that I really love your blog. There are lots of great nuggets of wisdom here. The struggle for women in these churches is that they are told constantly that to be a Christian means submitting. That God, being a God of order, created a hierarchal system. They point to the usual scriptures, and say that if we do not believe it to be so, than we do not believe scripture to be inerrant. To argue is to go against God. We shut up as we think we must based on scripture. How can we empower women by teaching pastors in proper exegesis? All churches I have attended, but one, have this view in mind. If I want to go to a Bible believing church, I am required to hush. I know no other way, and it makes me heartsick.

  • Jessica

    I am from Seattle too! Try Bethany Community Church. It is fantastic. I struggle, because I am wondering if people like Mark Driscoll, Michael Pearl, and countless others are genuinely seeking God? How can they get it so wrong? I know we are to be known by our fruits; people who love. Can we say that Driscoll is not in Christ? Is he indeed our brother? In either case he needs our love and forgiveness.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    No one seems to like that Jesus was all about disrupting the accepted order …

  • Jessica

    Christians believe in the inerrancy of scripture. If one point is false, than we throw out the whole book. Our faith is entirely dependent on the Bible’s truth and Divine authorship. This is how women stay neatly in the complementarian view. We read scriptures without delving deeper and at face value they seem to say on thing. Looking at the context, the scriptures surrounding the controversial verse, and even researching the Greek, gives us a better understanding of what is really being said. Many pastors speak with such authority on these scriptures that we are fearful to question. Truth is not afraid of investigation. I am learning to research.

  • Jessica

    At a quick glance of 1 Tim 2, yes women should hush. But are we looking at the whole book. What is Paul addressing here? Paul is instructing against the infiltration of false teaching and demanding order in worship. These women were not orderly. If we look at other places in scripture, we see a precedence of female leaders. We must then look at the whole picture; scripture in light of scripture. I agree with Driscoll’s theology, but not his stance on roles of women or his presentation. Christians are known by their love. He is all truth and no grace. Where is the love in Driscoll?

  • Jessica

    Friend, I think I am a witnessing a knee jerk reaction. It would be a crime if mothers didn’t take their role as mom seriously. Parenting is a huge responsibility and honor. It is just not for everyone. What I fear is that some are great at coercing women into the role of “helpmeet” in which her role is to marry and make babies. This is not the calling of all women. Some women can’t have children, or won’t marry. They are no less image bearers and no less fulfilled. Though the church often puts women in these roles and tells them is this their highest calling. It is tragic to think this is what one must do to be a “good Christian”.

  • Joseph, to learn about Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church you can always go to their website:

    You may be appalled. You may like like what you see…

  • Thanks Jessica.

  • Tomi Roshi

    Marriage is a business between two people there are costs, benefits and value. All these are subjective depending which party in the marriage you are asking. Speaking for me as a man who has been married the conflicts arise over divisions of labor. Who is responsible for what chores and task to fund and operate the marriage enterprise. To be successful in my opinion means each stakeholder needs to be clear what their duties and obligations to the family enterprise are. When it is husband and wife and no children each party has an obligation to sustain the enterprise and make agreements for contributions. When children enter the equation the stakeholders need to reevaluate their roles and contributions. It pains me at times to see children being raised by someone other than a parent or family member. Raising children is an expensive endeavor unfortunately many people do not take the time to see whether the marriage enterprise can afford children. This is where the conflict begins. One party needs to work harder to fund the operation and if the other party feels the funder is spending too much time at work instead of changing poopy diapers then conflicts arise. All too often neither party is ready to be involved in the marriage enterprise. Add to the female bias in family court, marriage as an institution, for men in general is doomed to fail. As for choice in a woman’s pregnancy men have no choice. In my opinion marriage in its present form is a failed enterprise. For men there are no benefits. If I need my house cleaned, I hire a housecleaner. As a man if I want children, I can hire a surrogate or adopt both will be much less painful than divorce court and custody fights.

  • Mark

    Upon further reflection, I do agree with you both. There is certainly a difference between a person feeling that the male should be the provider and the woman should stay at home, and the belief that it is unbiblical/ungodly for it to be other than that. And I also agree there is no room in Driscoll’s world for his wife to change what she wants to do, because that would undermine his teachings. Her only alternatives would seem to be 1) be content to do things his way, or 2) hit the highway.

  • Mark

    You bet! I have a difficult time with anyone to takes to the pulpit to trot out his personal views and call them God’s word. And who denigrates anyone who interprets the bible differently than he does, as if he is the only one qualified to tell the rest of the world how to live and serve God. Not everyone agrees with him because we are free to read and come to our own conclusions, and because we should, rather than blindly accepting his or anyone else’s views at face value.

  • Mark

    I don’t share your assessment that marriage has no benefits for men. Although the road has at times been rocky, I would not trade my marriage of more than 40 years for a lifetime of temporary relationships and/or loneliness. And I have many friends who feel similarly. Sorry about your failed relationship, but it sounds like it wasn’t a bed of roses for your ex, either.

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    Yes, I think you’re exactly right that the key here is his implication that THEIR way is the ONLY way. Notice he says they reached that agreement because she “agreed with me about the beauty of raising a family.”

    Implying, I guess, that people who don’t do it their way don’t see the beauty of raising a family. Those are bad, stupid people who don’t value children!

    It’s a classic rhetorical trick to make the “other side” look bad without actually having to engage their argument.

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    Plus, isn’t it unfair of him to characterize their decision as “oh, we recognized the beauty of raising a family”….as if moms who don’t stay home DON’T recognize the beauty of their children? That’s a dirty rhetorical trick if you ask me.

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    Just wondering about your statement that the Bible is “clear in displaying God created women especially to be skilled in this task.” The Bible actually never states that women are better parents than men. In fact, there are a huge number of Bible verses about children that are geared towards fathers, making it hard for me to believe that the Bible is endorsing mothers as specially equipped above and beyond dads.

    Please don’t appeal to “liberalism disguised as theology” to tear down your opponents. My father, who is a conservative pastor in a fairly conservative denomination, shared work and child-rearing duties with my mom. He did not need to become a liberal and give up his theology to recognize the benefits and blessings of their arrangement, and he certainly saw nothing in the Bible to prohibit it, “clear” or otherwise.

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    Are you saying that the first 2/3 of the Bible states specifically that women should not work outside the home?

  • yep. implicit judgment.

  • mirele

    Not all Christians believe in the inerrancy of scripture, and, I’d argue, those who claim to believe in so-called inerrancy only believe in the inerrancy of SOME scripture.

    One of the reasons I bailed on the church was because inerrancy requires its followers to lie about the age of the earth and the universe. If inerrantists will lie about something like that, then why on earth would I trust you people when it’s something I can’t prove?

  • What is ad hominem about that? At no point did I attack the person of the poster I was replying to.

  • No, but it also does not say that women have to work outside the home. David seems to me to be arguing that the ONLY valid choice for women is for them to choose to work outside the home. David is just as surely denying women her rights to make her own decisions as those who would say the women must stay home in order to be within God’s will: Both these are as wrong as the other.

  • Jezabell

    America is rife w/Fundamentalist Christian fantasy that butts its ugly head into our politics. It’s a constant battle trying to keep our democracy working and the insanity of these lunatics at bay. George Bush’s legacy is one such tragic example.