The Subtleties of Shaming a Nag

While I don’t plan to make a habit of posting media from Mark Driscoll on this blog, this one deserved mentioning if only because of the conversation happening here this week.

When I published Smokin’ Hot Wives & Water to the Soul, I truly had no idea that Driscoll would be preaching on Ephesians 5 and complementarianism in this week’s sermon media. There is an amazing object lesson in this clip, though. And it has to do with the subtle way in which a male pastor preaching female submission and chiding women for disrespect and nagging (which happens a lot around 8:00-on) actually shames women in his congregation and creates an atmosphere of oppression.

A lot of the pushback I received for the post this week came in the form of, “C’mon, I love acknowledging my wife’s beauty and she loves it when I do! Plus it’s biblical! You’re such a prude and a buzkill!” One conservative Christian woman tweeted this:

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 11.06.55 PM

While I appreciate the honesty here (ok, that tweet stung a little), I can’t help but think it misses the point. Or, maybe worse – it represents a harsh, kneejerk defense mechanism that actually proves my point. The point being: there is an inculturated demeaning of women at work here that even some women are ready to defend. And, quite frankly, I’ve seen it, because I’ve been a part of it. And my wife and I took difficult steps to remove ourselves from that same culture of shame and oppression.

As we watched this video together and I filled in the blanks with some of the stories I’ve heard of Mark’s “counsel” toward husbands about their uppity, nagging wives, my wife simply remarked, “Oh, he’d probably hate me.”

Which is why I LOVE her.

So what do you think? Do you see any concerning/alarming elements in this sermon clip? Or is it basically biblical and OK? Do you notice an underlying tone or trend – or something “not right” about the posture of a man preaching this way about women? How do you reconcile the text itself with your views? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. He blogs here at Patheos and HuffPost Religion. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter, released in 2012. Most importantly he binge-watches TV dramas and plays in the snow with his family.

Find him on Twitter & Facebook!

  • GavinJohnston

    I think men that call themselves Christian are sexually excited by the fact that they think they have found the ultimate endorsement through the Bible of their dominance over women by putting a theological microscope on a few passages by the zealot Paul.  It is amazing that people can read a whole book and completely miss its spirit and essence, but it is simply indicative a hyper-lexconic understanding as opposed to a Spirit-filled understanding.  We put the cart before the horse and we try to get the Bible to conform to our age by cleverly using a few lines of scripture to endorse a well established social and psychological desire to get a lot of sex and dominance.  Even a terrorist can find clever ways to twist scripture to conform to their worldviews and desires.  The heart of the problem is that both males and females are overly identified to their bodies and the One we supposedly understand, Jesus, said something like, if part of your body causes you to sin, then better to cut it off.  Instead we want to keep them all, fixate on them, worship them, and figure out a way to make women make them easily available to us.  Yet, one who has truly entered the Spirit of Christ has left these fixations behind.  The way we are acting, we are like the Jihadist who think heaven will be a bunch of highly available pole dances by only sexy virgins.  Instead of blowing up innocent people, we just cozy up with Satan and live a highly conformed life to the immature world we find ourselves in.  Quoting a few lines of scripture isn’t enough to get us out of this hell, instead it is a clever way to keep the fire burning.

    • GavinJohnston

      If we’re going to run around calling ourselves “saved” to the rest of world we have to start showing some more spiritual depth.  In most of this supposedly Christian look on the issue, we are barely getting beyond the current cultural debate about the issue.  We are getting very confused by this debate because we are stuck in the cultural definitions of what it means to be a man and women, not a Spirit!  I thought Jesus brought us a few new insights into that matter -or- at least eternal wisdom that reconciles all differences, not by recourse to some social scientific insight or temporary cultural definitions.  We’re struggling because we don’t understand, live, and become Spirit.

      • GavinJohnston

        The time is coming when you “will worship in Spirit and Truth” Jesus said to the woman at the well.  How related to the Spirit and Truth are our current stumbling blocks of relations between men and women?  Obviously we are creatures and we are going to struggle with all this, but by our current and supposedly high theological understanding of the issue, we are remaining locked in the issue!  Using scripture to cleverly disguise what a porn star, a bigot, or just generally an unspiritual person may say about the issue does not RAISE the issue to a higher level, it actually confuses us and keeps us swirling around with the swine.  Mark Driscoll and others are not throwing pearls to us, they’re rolling around in the mud so proud that they can spout off scripture and to have convinced their wife to ‘submit’.  I pray and hope that we are entering a new phase where we start to understand Spirit and Truth.  We seem to making the same mistakes that Jesus pointed out to the Jews.  That is why Jesus will always have a Jerusalem to preach to…

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      GavinJohnston man, this is so good. “a hyper-lexonic understanding as opposed to a Spirit-filled understanding.” YES.

  • erlenmeyer316

    It’s interesting that right before he begins to publicly disrespect women he says this (which I think is truthful):
    “this does mean that a wife sets a pattern for others to respect her husband. let me ask you this, if mom disrespects dad in front of the kids are they going to respect dad? no. if the wife disrespects her husband in front of his co-workers will they respect the husband? no. no. women who publicly disrespect their husbands they encourage others to disrespect their husbands.”
    this is true, but it’s true universally. when we publicly disrespect ANYBODY we encourage disrespect from others. We invite them to sin against another person because we’ve told them it’s good and okay. The problem with take these verses out of context and applying them just to wives is that Paul always talks about how these relationships of husband/wife, master/slave, male/female that have historically been seen as a “power over” relationship are no longer that way in the Kingdom of God! There is no “power over” even if you find yourself in a relationship the world says should be. There is only a race to forsake that power, to get rid of it, to not put yourself equal with the other person, but to for both to strive to put themselves beneath the other. Taken out of context and filtered through the “power over” mindset that Jesus challenged it’s no surprise that the verse are used this way. 
    The truth that Pastor Mark spoke (and then immediately neglected to execute) applies to everybody. Husbands, wives, teachers, students, masters, slaves, men, women, rich, poor, pastor, and layperson.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      erlenmeyer316 dude, so well said. the ‘subtlety’ i’m pointing to might be just that: submission, respect, etc., are all presented AT women, as if they are SOLELY women’s issues/roles. this creates the culture of shame/oppression/abuse because men are given license to demand respect regardless of what they do, who they are. that’s the most unbilbical thing i can think of (for the gospel reasons you stated).

  • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

    Zach, earlier this week, I commented that you were my new favorite blogger.  While I stand enthusiastically behind that statement – today I would like to elaborate.  It is so very important that men speak respectfully and intelligently to this issue.  When women do it, no matter how articulate and humble our argument, we are most often regarded as ranting feminists.  At it’s very core, this is a social justice issue.  Women lack the social capital to speak on our own behalves in the culture of oppression you are exposing.  For this issue to really gain traction, we need men like you – with a heart that loves Jesus, an attitude that honors God and an obvious gift with words – to speak up for us.  Thank you for lending your voice and considerable talent to a marginalized and oppressed people group.  And may God bless and multiply your efforts.

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      Also, a problem of authenticity arises when unilateral respect is demanded based solely on one’s gender (male) or role (husband).  So much of Christian culture shapes us to act a certain way when the posture of our heart is otherwise.  Jesus called this cleaning the outside of the cup when the inside was filthy.  Respect cannot be demanded based on biblical instruction – it must be earned.  I can choose to honor my husband regardless of his actions.  A choice to not demean him in public is a choice to honor him.  But for me to authentically respect him, he must have shown himself respectable.

      • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

        Amy Thedinga ABSOLUTELY. the great travesty of this sermon (and many like it) is that submission, respect, etc., is all “wife stuff”, while some vague notion of “love” (which for driscoll probably amounts to sexual purity and working hard) is the guy’s part. the man is in control, and the wife has to respect him. the man is the leader and the woman has to submit to him. it’s coercive to the core and opens the floodgates for abuse.
        Submission is not a “girl thing”: eph. 5:21. And neither is respect.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Amy Thedinga thanks so much for this encouragement. i really hope i’m helping, if only to a small degree. it’s amazing how obvious all of this becomes once we are willing to open our eyes to it, and i hope more men in the church will begin to open there eyes.

  • http://www.wordhavering.wordpress.com/ Mike Freeman

    I appreciated your post! Been married for over thirty years to the same woman. Been pastoring (more or less) for all of that time. Asked her out of curiosity what she would think of me referring to her this way in any public forum. She said it would be less than appreciated. Then, of course, she immediately posted on FB that she’s married to a “smokin’ hot dude.” This was not helpful.

  • micahjmurray

    You have a fantastic beard.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      micahjmurray spirit = lifted. thanks bro.

  • MWeier

    I am a 55 yo married male.  I fellowship at a church from a reformed tradition and that holds a complimentarian view of gender (and that view is not just limited to marriage, but is definitely gender based).  What troubles me the most about the Driscoll teaching is his lead into “the nagging wife” in which he chastises women who disrespect their husbunds in public.  I have seen on occaasion a wife disrespecting her husband in front of others, but by far I have seen more husbands disrespecting their wives before others.  They are usually “small” snide remarks (“she could loose some of that baby weight” “I’ll hear about this later”) and rarely spoken directly to the wife, but about her to other men.  I guess if I was a woman, I might hear more of this type of talk from wives, but to put all the responsibility on the wife for showing respect reinforces the male superior/female inferior paradigm.  Mutual respect and egalitarian roles in the local church body and within families will do more to impact the world for the gospel than a continuation of power based authoritarian models which my brother Driscoll is teaching in this clip.

  • http://www.lifeunhindered.com/ cbowar

    First, I do want to say thank you. I have tried to explain these things to a good deal of my family and friends, and to some of my brothers in christ who don’t understand what I mean. What you said has provided a great deal of clarity about my own feelings, and given me hope that I’m not crazy. 
    I think what Mark Driscoll missed was that the reason we are in the free fall that we are in is not because wives can’t submit to their husbands, or even husbands respecting their wives…I rather think the reason is because we as a culture have lost how to be in right relationship with one another (of both genders). this is, yet again, a discipleship/community issue. We don’t know how to be in good friendships and respect the people we are in community with so when we get married we bring those same relating styles with us into the marriage. I am uncertain if Mark intended women to feel convicted by what he said. I didn’t because I don’t want to treat anybody the way he described women treating their husbands and because my heart is one which seeks reconciled relationships with everyone. I do think he was disrespectful, I don’t imagine he was at all helpful for women who want to improve their marriages. And it taints what I (as a single woman) might expect out of marriage in the church. I

  • ohitsdom

    What is unbiblical about this sermon? A wife disrespecting her husband is not biblical behavior. Now, verses that address the subject in the bible are followed with a commandment for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, so it’s not a one way street. But that doesn’t mean Driscoll’s sermon here is wrong. It would be wrong for a pastor to focus on what the wife needs to do and not address the husband’s behavior. But a pastor’s time is limited so I have no problem with it being addressed in a follow up sermon. Is your criticism of Driscoll that you feel he’s only addressing one side of the issue, or is he saying something unbiblical? You didn’t reference any verses so I’m assuming it’s the former.
    And in regards to your previous blog, I think husbands publicly affirming their wives’ beauty is a great thing. Your examples were extreme and inappropriate; I have never come across a pastor tweeting about his wife’s butt. But I regularly comment about how beautiful my wife is. There’s nothing demeaning about it, I’m in love with her so it’s natural to talk about with others. It’s not a public facade at all, it’s a genuine expression of my feelings. And bonus: no other woman in my life has any ideas of a wandering heart.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      ohitsdom thanks for your perspective – not sure that it’s addressing the bigger cultural issue my first post is getting at, but I hear where you’re coming from. as for this sermon, i’m hoping to sketch out my perspective on a biblical view of gender in a future post.

  • K Deanna

    I wrote quite a bit, but I kept getting a message that my comment was too long – I guess I had way too many disrespectful things to say about Mark Driscoll.  One quick thought:  While I do believe there are much better ways to correct or adjust someone, anyone, male or female, than to do it publicly, it does happen.  In that situation, Driscoll seems to think men are incapable of responding to a woman without being perceived as mean.  That’s quite an insult to men.  It sounds as if he needs to get to know some better men; men who are thoughtful, kind, and articulate.  He also has a problem with a man seeming weak if he does not respond.  First of all, that’s just insecure.  And secondly, Jesus, who was harshly and unjustly accused did not respond to His accusers – He remained silent.  Two thousand years later, we still see this as demonstrating strength, not weakness, and as an example to emulate.  That is all.  Now, I must go find something to nag my husband about, because apparently that’s what we women do.

  • mwalker21177

    Zach, thank you so much.  Seriously.  Between your words here and the Smokin’ Hot Wives Post the other day, you have given me so much encouragement.  I echo every single thing that Amy (previous commenter) posted earlier.  You have a sensitivity and discernment regarding gender issues that is beyond refreshing.  As a woman, I am grateful.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      mwalker21177 Thank you, so encouraging :).

  • victoriandroid

    “Demeaning” is definitely a word I would use to describe the underlying tone in Mark’s sermon. ESPECIALLY after 8:00. Ironically, he is being very disrespectful to women as he tells women to be more respectful. I felt offended as I listened. Even though I’m not married, I think Mark would probably also hate how opinionated and strong-willed I am, in general.  I also strongly dislike his assertion that a man is “weak” if he doesn’t respond to his wife’s disagreement. I am so grateful for the men I know  who understand that words like “whipped” and “weak” have no place in a dialogue about how men respond to women.
    I am also grateful for this blog. Zach, you “blog good.” Thank you for your wisdom and your willingness to approach these controversial issues. I’ll keep reading!

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      victoriandroid amen, and thank you :).

  • mommajlee

    Most of the stuff in the beginning, i wouldn’t necessarily disagree with He lost when he began talking about a quarrelsome Woman and after that it got really murky. I think he was trying to be humorous and provoke some jolly laughs from his boys, but I would say if I were sitting in his congregation I would be feeling pretty bad about self. I am not all into the different complementarianism and whatever other view points there are {I guess I should brush up on this} but I think there are better ways to address marriage issues. I am interested in reading your perspective about a biblical view of gender roles. (Somehow I think I would agree with you)

    • mommajlee

      P.S Eve didn’t disobey Adam, she disobeyed God. Adam {or Mark Driscoll} is not God. Also, Adam can make his own decisions, right?


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