Mark Driscoll’s Patriarchy Theory

I think that Pastor Mark Driscoll says some things that are correct from the Bible–but I’ve found more often than not that I disagree with him on the subject of how women need to be seen. It is rather interesting, the number of evangelical and fundamentalist Christian leaders who are like the flip side of a coin of the average feminist spokeswoman or man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCDWN2FSV38

In this link, he talks about women as victims, men as victimizers. This is a common point of view, but is it Biblical? In the Bible, men and women are each victims and victimizers; just as Adam and Eve sinned together, so it continues. For example–a woman is taken in adultery and about to be stoned, is saved by Christ–and Joseph is falsely accused of rape, awaiting sentence of death. A concubine is raped to death, her body later cut to pieces by the Levite whose concubine she was and sent to each of the tribes he wants to follow him to war. One woman consents to have a baby cut in half while another wants it to live even at her own loss. The list goes on.

So why does he do this?

I think first of all that he has sincerely good intentions. He wants to help people have good Christian relationships. He perceives a real problem, that many people have no idea how to have a married relationship. And he has a straightforward formula for it: he teaches that women can learn to love themselves as God loves them, and that men can man up and be the men God intended for them to be.

I also think that he seems to fall into the trap of preaching that women are generally innocent–that they only sin because men make them. What does this remind all of us of? Patriarchy Theory, of course. Women would never do anything bad on their own–it’s because men are not responsible and are not looking after them. In Christianese, this goes something like this: “Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden because Adam wasn’t there for her as a husband should have been.” I’m not sure if he ever has actually said that, but listening to him talk, he might as well have.

So in this presentation, he shows the ultimate–a young woman has premarital sex with a young man, believes that she must marry him, and then finds that it is a terrible marriage. He is abusive, adulterous and cruel.

Now: let me say that I believe that Jesus was absolutely right to deal with the woman taken in adultery as he did. Let me emphasize that. But there is no question that the woman was taken in adultery–but those who are going to kill her are themselves sinners and hypocrites. So it would be fair to say “this poor young woman, what a pit she ended up walking into!” But my emphasis would be on the fact that she nevertheless made a bad choice. This doesn’t justify what happened later, by any means, but at no point does Driscoll simply say “women have agency, and they often use it to sin, just as men do.”

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21 thoughts on “Mark Driscoll’s Patriarchy Theory

  1. ” Women would never do anything bad on their own–it’s because men are not responsible and are not looking after them. In Christianese, this goes something like this“Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden because Adam wasn’t there for her as a husband should have been.”

    But she DID sin because Adam wasn’t there.

    The problem lies less in the facts, and more on the emphasis (which is important, this is the original sin and the ultimate downfall of men. Details are important). The emphasis should be on her as a sinner, not on Adam. Adam’s major sin was -not- the fact that he was absent, it was that he did not listen to God’s commandment but listened to the already fallen woman. He was seduced by someone who had already been seduced herself. The curse of Adam fits perfectly with these facts, and I imagine Adam would have received a far different curse if he had simply failed as a husband, but succeeded in telling that woman off for having disobeyed God.

    Don’t let your anger and resentment for Mark Driscoll become overzealous. He deserves much of what he gets – but lets not over compensate and lose what gains we can find by advocating The Truth over his ‘Feminism with a spit shine’ churchianity.

  2. there is no question that the woman was taken in adultery–but those who are going to kill her are themselves sinners and hypocrites.

    because it takes two to commit adultery, and the guy was no-where to be seen.

  3. I like Driscoll. Something perhaps ignored is that he’s from a family of men who (according to him) have a history of wife-beating and he was quite the scrapper before getting saved. He’s protective of women because of his pastoral impulse to shepherd and his visceral feeling for women as weak and vulnerable. (In the physical sense, which he is very familiar with, we most certainly are!)

    Does anyone else do this? Feel an urge to protect anyone (I get protective of random people) and then try to enlist the aid of those around you to help protect them? I am pretty sure that’s what Driscoll is doing. He feels like most guys are like him – and he wants them to follow his lead. It’s a very human failing. It *is* a failing – but I’ve not found any perfect preachers out there, have you?

    That said, I don’t love him for his “man up” speeches, as amusing as they are – I like him for kicking me in the religious people soft spots in my own conscience. (A major one is the sin of fear, which he preaches just as hard against women as men). But I grew up in a Baptist church, and a good solid Bible thumping, y’all are going to Hell sermon is something I enjoy. YMMV. I don’t want a preacher to tell me how awesome I am, I want conviction so I can figure out how to get closer to Jesus and be a brighter light in His kingdom.

  4. I have nothing against Mark Driscoll as a man particularly. I disagree with him on this issue.

    Touching on this matter of whether or not the story of the woman taken in adultery is authentic or not, I don’t see the point of going there. Why open the doors to discussion of the authenticity of scripture? And I am sure I am not alone in thinking that the approach that you can only know scripture if you know Greek and Aramaic is counterproductive.

    The issue that concerns me is that I find nothing in scripture that says that women are not responsible for their own sins. The notion that men are sometimes responsible for women being put into a position where to sin is a stronger temptation than it might otherwise be is true, as it is for women.

  5. Why open the doors to discussion of the authenticity of scripture? And I am sure I am not alone in thinking that the approach that you can only know scripture if you know Greek and Aramaic is counterproductive.

    No you’re not alone in your thinking.

    I know people who have determined that certain parts of the NT are suspect because they believe it contradicts one or more of their pet doctrines in the OT. And their personal brand of religion is a mess.

  6. 1. The point of going there is that it’s important to know what Jesus did and what He didn’t do.

    2. The discussion on authenticity of Scripture is a good because most Christians are sorely lacking in knowledge of their own faith, and a solid handle on the evidence will reinforce your faith.

    3. And no, you don’t need Greek or Aramaic to learn about who Jesus is, but what Christian does not want to further understand the historical context in which the Scriptures are written?

    I find the lack of intellectual curiousity among Christians disturbing to be honest.

    This isn’t about people having cognitive dissonance about things not agreeing with their beliefs. It’s about certain parts of the NT being authentic because they were not with the original manuscripts which is a legit issue.

  7. I find the lack of intellectual curiousity among Christians disturbing to be honest.

    I often do as well Deep Strength. I think there’s a talking past one another going on here. I don’t know Sojourner, so I can only speak for myself here, but if he is like my husband and I and most serious Christians, he has an exhaustive Strong’s concordance, Vine’s Greek, and all that stuff. And uses it. We certainly do.

    What I wonder more than anything is the impetus for questioning this historic and traditionally accepted Scriptural recording of the encounter between Jesus and this woman.

    No one is saying that we shouldn’t dig for Scriptural truth. But we should do it without agendas. I was astonished at how wrong headed I was on a lot of matters after watching my previously unchurched husband search the Scriptures for himself.

  8. What I wonder more than anything is the impetus for questioning this historic and traditionally accepted Scriptural recording of the encounter between Jesus and this woman.

    Except it’s not. If you would read the link I posted to Wintery Knights Blog.

    I’ll quote the main details:

    The earliest extant manuscript to have these verses is codex Bezae, an eccentric text once in the possession of Theodore Beza. He gave this manuscript to the University of Cambridge in 1581 as a gift, telling the school that he was confident that the scholars there would be able to figure out its significance. He washed his hands of the document. Bezae is indeed the most eccentric NT manuscript extant today, yet it is the chief representative of the Western text-type (the text-form that became dominant in Rome and the Latin West).

    When P66, P75, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus agree, their combined testimony is overwhelmingly strong that a particular reading is not authentic. But it is not only the early Greek manuscripts that lack this text. The great majority of Greek manuscripts through the first eight centuries lack this pericope. And except for Bezae (or codex D), virtually all of the most important Greek witnesses through the first eight centuries do not have the verses. Of the three most important early versions of the New Testament (Coptic, Latin, Syriac), two of them lack the story in their earliest and best witnesses. The Latin alone has the story in its best early witnesses.

    Only the codex given over in 1581 has this passage, and none of the primary early Greek manuscripts actually have it.

    Given what we know of Jesus’ character it seems that the passage could potentially be true because it is something of how he responded. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this passage may not be authenitic, even if it agrees with his character. It’s a very easily twisted piece of Scripture along with the judging passages, except those has no unquestioned authenticity.

  9. What you’re saying is not really accurate. The first instance known of it is apparently from the late 4th or early 5th Century. It has been referred to in other writings and it is believed that it may have been left out because it could create the false impression that Jesus sanctioned adultery.

    There are opinions on either side of the fence about this. But nearly all scripture can be twisted; we have the example of Satan doing this with Christ during the temptation, taking scripture out of context to present Christ with temptation, whereupon Christ quoted scripture back in correct context.

    Elspeth is correct; I do study the Bible in depth.

    I would like to add to my concern about Pastor Driscoll: I think that he is a good example of a Christian leader who says many things that I believe are well thought out and important but is wrong on this issue of whether or not to point out women’s sins, simply and plainly, just as we would with those of men. He has said some things with which I profoundly agree–this is not one of them. So that’s why I think that bringing up this long running controversy isn’t really helpful in this particular case, because it’s not about that passage in particular, but rather about the doctrinal views that interpret it.

  10. I’m no more likely to trusts a preacher as I am a politician. anyone who uses words to earn their bread does not have good intentions

  11. Where Driscoll’s reasoning is fundamentally flawed is that he assumes women in the NT time and culture were no different than women are today. The women of the 1st Century Roman Empire were not sloughing in a cesspool of institutional misandry like we are.

  12. DS & Sojourner:
    The story of the woman taken in adultery is believed by many to have been originally part of the Gospel of St. Luke, and interpolated into the Gospel of John. (As a side note, I’m one of those ‘old school’ types who still believe John’s writings were the earliest in the NT)

  13. Empath:
    Today, while I was having lunch I overheard two Churchians, one loudly pontificating to the other, about how the church needed to tailor its message to what the audience wanted to hear. “Some guys just come to look at the girls,” he laughed “But that’s OK—whatever it takes to get people in!”

    I wonder if he was Mark Driscoll? He lives in the same city I do…

    As if that wasn’t bad enough, when they were finished the two Churchians tried to sneak out without paying…pfffttt.

  14. I like Mark Driscoll’s ability to communicate, especially when he uses humour. I disagree with him on the issue of women’s agency, because I believe that Scripture is right to say that there will be neither male nor female, Greek nor Jew and I believe in the the Gospel being available to all but rejected by many. The bible study group of which I am a member were watching Mark Driscoll’s sermons on the letters of Peter and when it came to marriage and women he was quite Scriptural in his analysis, but when it came to marriage and men we had a Man Up rant. Unfortunately one of the men in the group had been a victim of domestic violence from his supposedly Christian ex-wife, to the extent of being hospitalised after one attack. This man was shaken by Mark Driscoll’s approach to men in that series. What we need to understand is that we are all human and we will all make mistakes. Some of us will make them in the privacy of our own marriages and our won homes, while other s will make them on a public stage. Rather than running down MArk Driscoll, why do we not hold him up to God in prayer, for correction of error by God, and for more opportunities to proclaim to everyone their need of a saviour.

  15. UKFred: this is not really about Mark Driscoll per se. It’s about the way that feminist thought has by a kind of mental osmosis slipped into common thought. This is why it needs to be challenged, and why it is uncomfortable to do so–because it is so normal that it sounds shocking to say that it is not moral and good.

  16. Sojourner, glad you posted this, I’m nearly off the grid here in central Texas and hadn’t even opened anything electronic on several days.

    Healthie, I can u dear stand why you’d see Driscoll as simply over doing the urge to protect women, but I cannot get where he goes with it. On one extreme,the worst case is he is actually exploiting his own experience and family for some street cred as he bashes men. In the best case he is a lift chaser. As a man who grew up watching really, and I mean really, bad abuse of my mother, I get the protective thing, the zero tolerance for male men physically abusing women etc. But note how sojourner phrases this, and tell me how being protective leads to this, no matter how comprehensive his protective efforts may be….

    And he has a straightforward formula for it: he teaches that women can learn to love themselves as God loves them, and that men can man up and be the men God intended for them to be.

    You mention fear as an affliction he peaches to women about. Genuine fear, or the fear that is a growing plague on American women in particular, that being insecurity and low self esteem. You make the point that he preaches fear equally to men and women. Should he not simply and plainly teach everything to men and women? Are men not insecure? And who in today’s America has more to actually fear? When even the church is against men……in a sense, and the paradigm is STILL that men are growing in our aggression and oppression and must be stopped by the courageous likes of Driscoll.

    I have always said that the context aimed at men in and of itself is not the problem. There let is the amalgam and context of the entirety of churchdom. Driscoll is worse than most. He is like the average evangelical preacher pandering to women…..but….with the addition of his own twisted form of being some sort of mans man.

    In general, I find it surprising that Driscoll isn’t getting his ass kicked regularly.

  17. @Empath; I was searching around and found a couple of articlesby Dalrock that essentially point out the same thing, so I don’t think we’re alone in noticing this.

    http://dalrock.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/mark-driscolls-feminist-foolishness-posing-as-christian-wisdom/

    One of the things he never mentions in his sermons on how immature men who are avoiding ‘manning up’ are is that the social climate and economy have been changing to the point where men are forced to reconsider how they approach life. And one of those areas is marriage. You can do all his eleven suggestions on being a spiritual leader, keep the family fed and out of debt, do your best to try to understand your wife, but if she’s done, she’s done.

    Wintry Knight’s blog mentions him as well–and said rather aptly I think:

    “…when pastors respond to the real problems facing men with ‘man up’ and women believe them and accept the view that they are not responsible for solving these problems, then we all lose”.

    I have no argument with Driscoll’s general view that sin is sin–except that in application it apparently is not as long as you have two x chromosomes.

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