‘Harmful, domineering and controlling’

David Moore at the Burner blog really, really, really does not like Mark Driscoll’s new book about marriage.

Moore is not a feminist, or even an “egalitarian,” but he still finds: “This book is an astoundingly unbelievable work of disrespect for women.”

It’s good to see that assessment coming from that corner of the evangelical world.

I mean, one sort of expects that someone like Rachel Held Evans would find the book immature, chauvinistic and disturbing. Or that she would write, “The amount of guilt and shame that pervades this part of the book makes me so sad.”

And it’s delightfully entertaining, but not surprising, to watch Dianna E. Anderson dismantle Driscoll’s book and refuse to put up with his nonsense.

But I had worried that the polite “complementarians” of the mainstream evangelical establishment might be more inclined to look favorably on Driscoll’s repackaging of misogynist d-baggery as “marital counseling” for his flock.

So it’s kind of nice to see Fuller Seminary’s Burner blog so emphatically reject this book in the fourth installment of Moore’s review:

[We] cannot recommend that any couple needing information/advice/tools to improve their marriage take this book seriously.

I keep writing because think the book really is a bad book. In my (very male) opinion, it’s not affirming or helpful to women. Women are more than tools to be used for their husbands’ sexual gratification. …

The book is worse than bad if the readers try to mimic the ‘husband-first’ attitude riddled throughout the book. It’s harmful, domineering, and controlling at best.

* * * * * * * * *

John Shore reads and responds to a letter from  “a Christian woman who chose abortion.”

I don’t agree with everything in his post (which gets a bit bogged down, oddly, in the particular mechanisms of atonement).

But all of that can be overlooked because Shore’s response includes these 13 words:

You made a difficult decision. You’re not guilty there of anything. … You’re innocent.

And to speak those words in the context of the American evangelical subculture that makes up his audience is wonderful, necessary, revolutionary and prophetic.

“It’s harmful, domineering, and controlling.”

“Women are more than tools to be used …”

Those words don’t just apply to Mark Driscoll’s book.

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  • Lori

    So, from the first installment of Moore’s review of the Driscoll marriage book:

     One night…I had a dream in which I saw some things that shook me to my core. I saw in painful detail Grace sinning sexually during a senior trip she took after high school when we had just started dating. It was like watching a film–something I cannot really explain but the kind of revelation I sometimes receive…Had I known about this sin, I would not have married her. But God told me to marry Grace, I loved her, I had married her as a Christian, we were pregnant, and I was a pastor with a church plant filled with young people who were depending on me. (11-12)  


    So after he was married he had a dream about his wife “sinning sexually” at a point when their relationship was very new and apparently not exclusive. That dream got his undies all in a bunch and made him regret having married her. It’s implied that he might even have divorced her if she hadn’t already been pregnant at that point. Because of a dream. WTH? Did the Mrs confirm that this “sexual sinning” had actually taken place or does Mark Driscoll consider his dreams the definitive source on his wife’s conduct, with no confirmation required? Either way, who in their right mind would take marriage advice from this yutz? 

    ETA: I waded through some of the comments and apparently Grace did indeed sleep with another guy shortly after she and Mark started dating. They were in high school, not engaged or anywhere close to it, Mark was not a Christian at the time and he had more premarital sexual partners than Grace did. But because his imagination got to working overtime and he saw a “movie” in his head of her doing with another guy she’s tainted goods who he shouldn’t have married. What an asshole.

  • I’d seen lots of Mark Driscoll’s quotes on sex scattered around the internet, but one bit of his book that I hadn’t seen was this:

    my pregnant wife came home from a hair appointment with her previously long hair (that I loved) chopped off and replaced with a short mommish
    haircut. She asked what I thought, and could tell from the look on my
    face. She had put a mom’s need for convenience before being a wife. She wept.


    How dare my wife cut her hair! By getting her hair cut, she’s putting her wants above mine! That’s just not okay! Cry, woman, cry!!!

  • Anonymous

    Huh, looks like Mr D is the inspiration for Lifetime movies.

    He must be stopped.

  • Lori

    I know. That is classic. How dare a woman who is about to have an infant to care for (with little to no help from the child’s father) put her need for manageable personal grooming above her husband’s preference for long hair? Selfish lover! Bad!  

  • Madhabmatics

    Another instance where the man is allowed to do whatever he wants sexually, but god forbid a woman do it. Mars Hill delenda est

  • One of Driscoll’s excerpts (which David Moore quotes) that really struck me was,

    To make matters worse, seemingly every book I read by Christians
    on sex and marriage sounded unfair. Nearly every one said the husband had to work very hard to understand his wife, to relate to her and when he did that to her satisfaction then, maybe, she would have sex with him as a sort of reward.

    Because it’s so very, very unfair for a woman to withhold sex from a man who doesn’t seem to understand her, nor want to, right?

    That whole “sex as a reward” frame is so very, very wrong. You might as well say women withhold sex from men who don’t respect consent, and will bestow it, maybe, as a reward, on men who respect consent to their satisfaction.

    The idea that a woman might not feel safe sharing her body with a man who doesn’t seem to give a crap about who she is and what she needs… does not seem to occur to Driscoll.

    Based on this and every other point made above, I feel sorry for Grace. I really do.

  • Anonymous

    I can tell right away that not only is this man a terrible husband, but will be a terrible father. This book should be used as evidence to have his kids taken away.

  • Ok, so he had a detailed dream about his wife and another man. Instead of dismissing it as a product of the strange way the brain works in dreaming (Hey, I’ve had some strange dreams which I will put under the heading of TMI were I to relate them), or perhaps discussing it with his therapist, he decided to put the worst possible spin on it and use it as a cudgel with which to blame his wife for all his problems.


  • Lori

    He thinks God sent him the dream as a revelation. I have no idea why he thinks God would have told him something that was going to make him regret his marriage and create a rift between them that would take years to heal. If God was going to tell him something about Grace’s past you’d think he have gone with the far more useful information that she was an abuse survivor and needed some help with that. 

  • My ex-husband was like that. He hated it when I cut my hair short and made no secret of it. He didn’t just say he preferred my hair long, he acted as if my cutting it was a personal affront. And he wasn’t even a Christian at the time, just a jerk.

  • Anonymous

    Especially since it is the same God that told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute for the expressed purpose that she would cheat on him.

  • Diona the Lurker

    I do wonder how she feels about her husband writing all this nonsense about her in a book which looks like it will get a wide audience. 

  • Anonymous

    I can only guess that at this point God has given up trying to send Grace dream-relevations that her husband is an asshole.

  • Lori

    She’s the co-author of the book and apparently wrote at least one chapter of the herself. Of course, as one of the commenters on one of the reviews pointed out, she’s in a marriage where her husband is the “head”. If she refuses to cooperate with something that he wants she’s sinning by refusing to submit to him. IOW, I don’t think there’s any way to know what she really thinks about telling all her business to the world in a context where she’s presented as the problem.  

  • On the smaller abortion section I assume most folks here have seen this?

    “The only moral abortion is my abortion”

  • (o.O)



    I am agog at the rationalizations as to why these people believe they’re special when it comes to getting abortions for themselves and still blocking it (or trying to) for others.

  • JohnK

    That information probably fell under deity-worshipper privilege, and couldn’t be legally disclosed. Even Heaven is afraid of lawsuits.

  • Brandi

    God help Driscoll’s children.

  • FangsFirst

    Here’s my experience with haircuts in a loving relationship–

    Her: “Do you like my hair longer or shorter?”
    Me: “Longer.”
    Her: “Okay.”
    Me: “Wait. Are you going to grow your hair back out just because I said that?”
    Her: “Yes.”
    Me: “Uh, you don’t have to do that. I said that without thinking…if I had known you were going to use it to decide what you were actually going to DO…it’s your choice. I like how you look either way.”
    Her: “I know.”
    Me: “Okay, how do you prefer mine?”
    Her: “You look good either way.”
    Me: “Okay, but which do you prefer.”
    Her: “I like it the way you like it.”
    Me: “I like it the way you want it to look.”
    Her: “You like it long, so I like it long.”
    Me: “I swear you liked it shorter.”
    Her: “You like it long.”

    This conversation happened like eight times. Seems a little different, no?

    (her Christmas present from me last year was my hair being cut off again. We weren’t supposed to get each other anything, but I felt I owed her balance for her own decision. She still won’t tell me directly which she prefers, but she was happy about it last year, so there’s that…)

  • Lori

    God help Driscoll’s children.  


    I’m honestly not sure which would be worse. Being their daughter or being their son and not a real manly man. Either way, living with the Driscolls would be soul crushing. 

  • Madhabmatics

    I’d just like to point out that this sex book / marriage guide is so offensive that it makes Tim Lahey’s sex book look ten kinds of progressive.

  • Anonymous

    Driscoll’s book was pretty thoroughly dissected over on Internet Monk a couple of days ago.  The discussion, and links to some other reviews, is worth checking out.  Nobody there liked it, either.

  • “I don’t think there’s anything purer than two guys in a cage… no
    sticks, no bats, no help, no team… and just see which man is
    better.” Mark Driscoll

    The hawt. 

  • Dan Audy

    That sounds also word for word like the conversation my wife and I have had a couple times over the years.  The funny thing is that when her hair was long I was certain I prefered her having long hair, now that it is short* I’ve discovered that I prefer it short.  I think the conclusion I should reach is that I love her hair in whatever way it is on her head because it is a part of her whom I love more than I can ever express.

    *Cut not due to her periodic not-as-bad-as-it-used-to-be desires to self-mutilate but as part of the Great Lice War of 2011 in which EVERYONE in the family cut their hair in support of my son who had to give up his precious, beloved locks of red hair after 3 months of trying (and failing) to get rid of the bugs.

  • Anonymous

    No kidding.

    How about a reponse more like “For Christ’s sake, love, it’s not THAT important, not to cry over. I didn’t mean to sound as if it were.”
    *Not* that I recommend this inadequate response; just looking for a minimum compatible with human decency. (But at least the opening phrase, coming from a pastor, would show that he’s serious. Right?)

    I see from the quotes in the reciew that he requires constant visual erotic stimulation. I hereby avoid a long macho rant on how anybody could look for advice on being a Real Man from a guy who finds it that difficult to get it on with a woman.

    But soberly, if a person is fighting to control powerful sexual urges in what he (or, even worse, she) believes to be a Christian fashion, who could be a worse counselor than this guy who doesn’t know what they are? Me for C. S. Lewis (a foregone conclusion anyway), who would not preach against any sin he didn’t feel tempted by.

    OK, a little bit of a chauvinist rant.

  • “I don’t think there’s anything purer than two guys in a cage… no sticks, no bats, no help, no team… and just see which man is better.”
    -Mark Driscoll

    He said that?  Really?  Because that would be awesome.  I am thinking of putting him in some kind of Thunderdome scenario where two enter and one leaves, and Driscoll will not be leaving…

  • FangsFirst

    I think the conclusion I should reach is that I love her hair in
    whatever way it is on her head because it is a part of her whom I love
    more than I can ever express.

    She puts me to shame a lot–that is exactly how she feels about mine which was down to the middle of my back when she met me.
    But I’m a little fuzzy about hers, as the worthless scum that cut hers used to literally torture her, and she used to be very proud of it when I met her (it was REALLY long) and she’d always had it, and she was the one who told me for the first time that hair cutting and head-shaving is self-mutilation of a pretty drastic kind, at the very least for women in this culture. So some rather negative associations…

    Of course, she was also WAY more upset when hers went.

    When mine came off, the entire hair salon stopped and then actually cheered for me as they lopped off about a foot and a half in one go. I didn’t get all upset like everyone says you do, but then, it was an act of grief, so there could be that element. Probably motivates her unwillingness to claim her often implied preference for my hair being short–she feels guilty and responsible. Which is unnecessary (as she would say. Though more likely about my constant imbibing of Dr Pepper than anything that implies she’s not responsible for all the horrible things in the world…)

  • LunaticFringe

    It shows that I’ve been reading too much perverse fanfiction when my first thought on “The next time you and your spouse are lying in bed angry, bitter and
    physically distant, with your backs turned towards each other, imagine Satan himself sleeping in the open space between the two of you” is “that could be kind of hot.”

  • I think you’re getting the wrong idea. He was referring to, of course, a match of speed embroidery (New England rules, not Chicago).

  • This conversation happened like eight times. Seems a little different, no?

    At least you didn’t buy her a comb for her hair on the same day that she decided to sell all of her hair to buy you a watch chain.

  • FangsFirst

    At least you didn’t buy her a comb for her hair on the same day that she
    decided to sell all of her hair to buy you a watch chain.

    ha! well done :)

    I’ve mostly showered her in nice, safe Beauty and the Beast related items. She found me Big Star’s #1 Record and T. Rex’s Slider on vinyl (have I mentioned how she is unbelievably AWESOME? Even though she still refers to them as “big discy thingies”…).¹
    Luckily, I had not sold my turntable to buy her things related to her favourite movie. Which, fortunately (it is a big comfort for her), she cannot sell her love of.

    ¹I mean, other than the framed pictures of us with sappy poem centered
    she gave me for my birthday. And she
    hates pictures of herself. And is nervous about open sappiness. Alongside a sappy card where she wrote out all sorts of things she doesn’t like saying out loud. I cried. In front of her. A WOMAN! More reason for Mark Driscoll to hate me.

    PS: I LOVE Big Star. Those presents still meant way more to me.

  • RickRS

    This hair cutting thing speak volumes.

    “She wept.”

    Mark Driscoll is claiming all he did was signal his disapproval with a look and his wife wept.

    I can only come to the conclusion that Driscoll is an abusive husband that controls and manipulates his wife to the point that she is reduced to tears with a disapproving look, or he actually went on a raging rant to shame her for cutting her hair and is lying about his response to his wife cutting her hair.  Either way, Driscoll is abusive d-bag.

  • Anonymous

    The hair thing is a sure sign of abuse.  My dad was psychologically abusive and one of my mom’s first acts of defiance was getting her hair cut short and not apologizing for it.  It was the first step that finally led to a separation a few years later.

    My dad was constantly jealous of my mom looking too nice.  He thought that she would cheat on him (because he was cheating on her), and he thought she looked nice to get attention from other men.  But then, whenever she didn’t look nice enough, he was still displeased because he was embarrassed to be seen with her.  He wanted a trophy wife that every man would want but that no man would want.  You can imagine how this double-bind would affect anyone’s mental health.  Everyone’s hair belongs only to the person it is growing out of.  If anyone makes you cry about your hair choice, that person is abusive.

  • Jenny Islander

    I just saw a picture of Driscoll for the first time.

    I instantly imagined him with that haircut, expression, and leisure-suit-inspired outfit with a black placard with white numbers on it just below his chin.  Because good LORD, he looks like a thug.  He even stands with that aggressive PHEER MY MANLY CHIN posture.

  • Diana A.

    Me too!  These poor women who buy into the lie that they deserve less love and respect from their husbands than their husbands want from them.

  • Diana A.

    Somebody needs to hold an intervention for Mark Driscoll’s wife to help her get out that relationship.  No woman deserves to be married to a man who’s that lacking in basic humanity.

  • Somebody needs to hold an intervention for Mark Driscoll’s wife to help her get out that relationship. No woman deserves to be married to a man who’s that lacking in basic humanity.

    I agree. I relish the thought of Mark Driscoll being forced to watch as his wife and children are taken away from him and into protective custody, never to be seen by him again. I want to see the look on his face as that happens, and remind him that this is his fault, utterly and completely, and he has no one but himself to blame.

  • Anonymous

    Right. Well. I do not like Mark Driscoll. He’s an unrepentant bully, and every word of criticism aimed at his acts, his words, and his disgusting new book is well deserved. But a person’s physical appearance is like their gender, or their sexual identity, or their name. It’s not something that they chose; it’s not something that has any bearing on their treatment of other people. It is, however, likely something that they share with a lot of other people, the majority of whom do not deserve to be grouped with someone like Mark Driscoll. 

  • Matri

    I want to see the look on his face as that happens, and remind him that this is his fault, utterly and completely, and he has no one but himself to blame.

    In order for that to happen, he would first need to be a human being capable of empathy who values his wife & children more than himself.

    Pretty sure he fails on all three counts.

  • There’s also the small “problem” that Mark Driscoll’s wife and children are actual people, not human-shaped potential punishments for Driscoll. While I’d certainly be delighted to hear that Grace and the kids were safe and out from under Mark’s abusive thumb (and not, because of this, suffering from poverty or socioreligious condemnation and rejection at the hands of their community), but talk of wanting this specifically in order to see the look on Mark Driscoll’s face is chilling. It un-peoples them.

  • FangsFirst

    In order for that to happen, he would first need to be a human being capable of empathy who values his wife & children more than himself.

    Pretty sure he fails on all three counts.

    You’re only “pretty sure” he fails at valuing his wife and children more than himself? I think he stated THAT one pretty openly…

    I want to put a winking smiley to emphasize that I’m not being snippy about you, but it seems inappropriate in context. Hope this stupid aside serves the same purpose without the inappropriateness!

  • Anonymous

    I read that comment as sort of… it’s hard to express; it’s like when a book goes to the point of view of the bad guy just as he’s losing. The bad guy doesn’t care that his troops are being mowed down because those are human beings fighting out there for him, and good men, and good soldiers, all dying for him. He cares because the thing he values, his power, is evaporating before his eyes. It’s exactly the warped, sick perspective Driscoll would see any intervention or rescue through.

    Not that I don’t agree with your point. What Driscoll’s possessions do not need at this point is further loss of their humanity; he’s already done a bang-up job of that.

  • Crw007

    From the surprise and shocked remarks regarding Driscoll’s dream/vision of his wife’s pre-marriage sex, it seems like you folks aren’t aware of his “gift of visons”. But why are they mostly just about sex?  http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2011/08/pornographic-divination.html

  • Scottynewman80

    Sadly Mark is should not even be considered as a sound Christian, nor his works given any more heed by a Christian than, say, Oprah. Mark is an unrepentant control freak who has ruined peoples lives, and is a false pastor, because a true pastor has a “pastor’s heart”, and would repent if he had knowingly or unknowingly harmed people. I would highly encourage anyone listening to Mark or reading what he writes or attending Mars Hill to cease doing so. He is unrepentant, and as such we are to treat him as a pagan or a tax gatherer, and have nothing to do with him. If anyone wants the specifics of the charges I am bringing (and I would be surprised if you do not know them already) just ask, and I will be glad to give 2 cases in point. God bless you.