Why I’m not signing a petition against Mark Driscoll

*Trigger Warning for rape and spiritual abuse (but don’t worry–if you get upset, just click on any mention of Driscoll’s name for an adorable fluffy bunny)*

In case you’re not as obsessed with the Christian blogosphere as I am, there’s been a petition going around asking Liberty University to keep Mark Driscoll from speaking there. When I saw the petition being circulated by several progressive bloggers, you know this radical feminist had to check it out. So, I clicked, and I read and…

(are you sitting down for this?)

I’m not going to sign it.

Go ahead and check your calendars. It’s not April Fool’s Day. I mean it. I’m not going to sign that petition and let me tell you why.

First, let me share with you some of the text of the petition, found, in whole, here.

How would your founder Jerry Falwell respond to a preacher who taught this in his writing and speaking?

“In conjunction with the rhythm method of birth control, it is possible to use anal sex as an option.”

“Jesus Christ commands you to [perform oral sex on your husband]…

Some of you are sitting here going, “Is this happening? Is this really happening?” Yes it is. [Laughter from audience.]…And he says that, “Your vagina is a garden.” It has wonderful smells and it has wonderful tastes. It’s a garden. . . . He talks about how much he loves her vagina. Many women feel awkward about this. The husband needs to tell the wife, “It’s beautiful. It tastes well. It smells well. You keep yourself well. I enjoy it. It’s a garden to me.”

I see only one problem with the words of Mark Driscoll that are mentioned in this petition (and it’s a huge problem) and that is the line, “Jesus Christ commands you to [perform oral sex on your husband].”

My response to this line is a resounding f*** you, Mark Driscoll. Because, this line is advocating rape. Using a woman’s religion to hold her head down when she doesn’t want to perform a certain sex act is NOT consensual sex. Threatening a woman using her religion is just as wrong as threatening a woman using a gun. It IS rape. And Driscoll influences thousands of young Christian men–he is teaching them to use Jesus to rape their partners.

It’s hard to put this sickening thought aside, but I’m going to for a moment. Because the rest of Driscoll’s words that are quoted in the petition actually do not advocate rape. They actually advocate healthy, positive, consensual sexuality.

Why can’t more Christian leaders do this?

How affirming would it be for a Christian gay male couple to hear that the sex acts they were participating in were not inherently perverse, as some in our culture would believe? How freeing would it be for any couple wanting to try new things to know that Jesus wasn’t going to strike them down for getting a little freaky in the sheets (note, though. Anal sex is not really a reliable alternative to birth control like Driscoll claims. Use a condom, you crazy lovers!)? And, as a woman living in a world where the word “vagina” is banned from Christian bookstores, I can tell you first hand that it would be extremely liberating if my genitals were not treated as taboo and dirty.

But other Christian leaders aren’t doing this. The only man who is doing this is also teaching men to use Jesus as a date rape drug.

Mark Driscoll is taking beautiful, healthy, positive sexuality and lumping it in with rape. That absolutely disgusts me.

So why am I not signing this petition?

Because the writers of this petition are doing the same thing.

As much as I would love to see Mark Driscoll be held accountable for his deplorable words, demonizing healthy sexuality at the same time is only going to set us back, Christians.

I read this petition and I hear, “Anal sex? Gross! Isn’t that what the gays do?” and “Why is he talking about vaginas? Eww! Who does he think he is? Rachel Held Evans?”

This isn’t right. By demonizing these sex acts along with the command from Jesus for women to give out oral sex, the writers of this petition are, like Driscoll, equating rape with sex. And world…

Rape does NOT equal sex!

We need leaders who can tell the difference between healthy sexuality and rape. We need leaders that are neither Mark Driscoll nor Jerry Falwell in their approach to discussing human sexuality, who stand up and say that rape in Jesus’ name is wrong, but that consensual sex acts, even if they seem abnormal to some, can be positive and healthy and fun.

We can fight Driscoll’s misogyny by being more clear and open about healthy sexuality and by comparing it to Driscoll’s harmful power-hungry, coercive means of manipulating women. Putting healthy sex in the same category as rape only perpetuates the problem. No more blurring these lines. The ends here do not justify the problematic means.

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  • http://twitter.com/Catatonic_state Cat (@Catatonic_state)

    Evangelical culture minimises abuse and the stories coming out of the church have not gained any traction with the media. That is Steph’s reasoning for the approach: http://lollytruly.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/please-consider-signing-my-moveonorg.html

    So I get why she’s done it. If you’re a fundamentalist you’re supposed to recoil in horror at how openly he discusses sex. Yes, any audience ought to get the ‘rape doesn’t equal sex’ message, but some have such a stunted understanding of feminism that it doesn’t happen.

    I would like the strategy to work as a first step to raising awareness of abuse. However, I showed the same quotes to a fundamentalist friend and it did not dissuade her from Driscoll’s sermons. She was merely going to ‘approach his work more cautiously’. I even had to explain the misogyny to her because she didn’t notice it.

    Other issues: once a speaker is considered ‘widely accepted’, a set of double standards arise that protect them from criticism. Driscoll is terrible at exegesis and yet this same friend, who will often be concerned with that, has not recognised it. Instead she was more concerned about Driscoll’s conflict with church elders.

    Her mindset is such that she will recognise when authority is threatened and see that as the serious problem. I guess this is also why abuse gets minimised in the church: an authority figure is threatened and the ‘safe’ thing to do is uphold the structure, irrespective of any wrong doing.

  • http://wanderingthedesert.wordpress.com denikaanderson

    I know this wasn’t the point, but goodness, those bunny pictures were the CUTEST.

    In all seriousness, I hear you. It’s hard to find a pastor who will actually engage in the conversation about sex and won’t condemn people who want a little more than what is considered “normal sex” by most evangelicals. It’s also hard to find a pastor who will make a point of saying that you don’t have to have sex with your spouse if you don’t feel safe or loved in the act. We have this “all-or-nothing” mentality–we either talk about sex constantly (whether due to our own obsession or just trying to make it a kosher topic in churches) or we never talk about it (because apparently this is 1850. In other news, my time machine works!). It’s a little ridiculous.

    Okay, it’s a lot ridiculous.

  • http://singleandpicky.blogspot.com Jenn

    I have to say that the bunnies are amazing. That aside I completely agree, there seems to be this disconnect with people when I talk about how I’m not willing to sign the petition. Because the problem is we’re condoning a fundamentalist perspective that sex is dirty because that is the only reason they wouldn’t have him speak. Sex and more important sexuality discussions need to be had – BUT not by Mr Driscoll, but in taking him to task about that says in my actions I’m not willing to talk about it. I want to talk about it, but I don’t think we should have Mr. Driscoll talking at all about anything because of what he represents – abuse, false doctrine and a very distorted image of God. That’s why he should not be teaching. If he wants to talk about sex fine, but it means I get to talk about how he’s wrong.

  • http://marshillrefuge.blogspot.com Sophia

    This is a very interesting perspective…I hear you.

  • http://anirenicon.com an irenicon

    I had very much the same reaction to this petition; it felt like it advocated for the very problems that many of us have with Driscoll (sorry, I don’t know any cute bunnies) in the first place.

    My wife and I were riffing the other day about how genitalia are used in our vernacular- male organs always imply something powerful or positive and the female always weak or negative.

    Ridiculous stuff.

    • Alex H.

      “male organs always imply something powerful or positive”

      I wouldn’t go that far; when I refer to someone like Rush Limbaugh or Mark Driscoll as a “dick,” “prick,” or “tool,” it isn’t meant as a compliment, any more than calling someone an “asshole*” is, and I don’t thing anyone misinterprets it that way. I will agree, though, that calling a man a “pussy” has a different connotation that’s more likely to offend *him*; some guys are proud of the attitudes and behavior that earn them the aforementioned anatomical insults, but nobody takes pride in being called “pussy,” because it’s used to imply weakness. Also, calling anyone of either sex by a certain word beginning with C which I will not use directly here is widely considered considered one of the most offensive epithets in the English language, on par with the worst of racial slurs.

      *That one’s interesting, since in addition to its necessary but noxious excretory functions, it also can serve a secondary function (for people of either sex!) as a receptive sex organ. One wonders how much that secondary function has to do with its popularity as a pejorative. (And now I’m reminded of the hilariously offensive rant in “Team America: World Police” dividing the world into Dicks, Pussies, and Assholes. Nobody comes out of it looking very good, including Matt Stone and Trey Parker, but it was certainly memorable.)


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