Content Note: Mark Driscoll, sexism, homophobia, transmisogyny
There’s a good chance you’ve heard by now that someone recently dug up some conversations that mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll had on a Mars Hill message board way back in 2000, under the pseudonym of William Wallace II. If you haven’t heard you can catch up at Matthew Paul Turner or Rachel Held Evans‘ place.
You’re probably all sick of hearing about this by now and like, “Ugh, I don’t want to read another blog post about this.” If that’s the case, I don’t blame you. Go look at pictures of bunnies instead!
But I have been doing extensive academic research (which has as of now been peer-reviewed and will likely be published later this year) on Christian relationship books for the past couple of years, and that research included Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage. I believe I have something still to add to this war-horse of a conversation, so read on if you’re still interested!
The reactions to William Wallace II (henceforth known as WWII) have been interesting, from understandable anger to calls for grace and forgiveness. Even Mark Driscoll himself has responded (confirming that the comments made by WWII were authentic) and has apologized saying (via Warren Throckmorton):
I was wrong to respond to people the way I did, using the language I used, and I am sorry for it and remain embarrassed by it…The content of my posting to that discussion board does not reflect how I feel, or how I would conduct myself today.
This apology follows another recent apology in which Driscoll attempted to change his image from that of an “angry-young-prophet” to that of a “Bible-teaching spiritual father.” (via Reddit)
In light of the research I’ve done on the sexism in Driscoll’s work, his apologies actually trouble me.
First of all, by comparing his past hateful, angry words to those of a prophet, he is claiming that he spoke for God in those days.
His first apology, as I’m sure others have pointed out, does not address his message, but his tone. He still believes that that America is a “pussified nation,” though he may not use those words. He still doesn’t believe the church has anything to learn from women.
To draw from researchers Glick and Fiske’s  work on ambivalent sexism, Driscoll has merely shifted from a hostile sexist message (one that is obviously hateful and chauvinist) to a benevolent sexist position (one that takes a “kinder, gentler” approach to oppressing and controlling women).
As I’ve discussed in my “You Are Not Your Own” series, benevolent sexism is still harmful to women, especially survivors of abuse.
Abuse coming from a “loving” father that means well isn’t necessarily less painful than abuse that comes from a random angry person on the street. Driscoll repositioning himself as a spiritual father doesn’t mean that abuse will cease. It could just mean that his abuse will become more intimate, personal, and subtle.
Secondly, though Driscoll has apologized for the “content” posted as WWII, he is still preaching much of that same content today.One thing that consistently struck me as I read through the WWII messages was how similar the things he was saying here were to things he said in his 2012 book, Real Marriage (which I’ve read about 3 or 4 times in full over the course of my research).
I could find numerous examples, but I’m as tired of this topic as you probably are, so I’m just going to point out how Driscoll, both as WWII and in Real Marriage, degrades men who don’t meet his standards by comparing them to women.
- Johnny is a boy trapped in a man’s body walking around in a world of other boys all trying to keep their pee pee behind their zipper and do just like their momma told them and be good women.
- You seem like a very nice woman and I’m sure one day you’ll make some man very happy. I know you may live under the illusion that you are a man, and a good combination of medications should be of some help for that. [to a male commenter who disagrees with him]
pussified – any man who has lost his rocks and completed the process of remaining biologically male but become female in all other ways
In Real Marriage
- The previous church I attended was Catholic, with a priest who seemed to be a gay alcoholic. He was the last person on earth I wanted to be like. To a young man, a life of poverty, celibacy, living at the church, and wearing a dress was more frightful than going to hell.
As William Wallace II, Driscoll mentioned that he’d rather go to hell than be a feminist because, at least hell is run by a man. On that point, he has clearly not changed at all. These are still the messages he are sending. He still hates women to the point where eternal punishment is desirable to learning from women.
I’m not interested. I support those who continue to protest his abuse and call for his resignation. He needs to go.
I’m done. Here’s an adorable bunny playing X-Box.
 Glick, Peter, and Susan Fiske. 1996 “The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating Hostile and Benevolent Sexism.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 70(3):491-512.