Notes to begin:
(I want to write with grace and mercy towards the abused. We cannot be silent about their pain and the actual negative results of this man’s “ministry”. So this post isn’t for the abused so much as the unaffected. I cannot speak well to things I have no experience with, so all I can say hold on, God’s got you, this man actions were inexcusable, and I wish they had been curtailed sooner.)
And possible trigger warning?
I welcome conversation, if you have problems with what I’m saying. I freely admit I don’t know much about this. These are just my thoughts. Please try to see the heart behind my words. You can comment here or email me at daylilyoverflow at gmail dot com.
I didn’t want to do it.
But I’m going to.
With the wash of posts going around about Mark Driscoll and his resignation from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, there have been people supporting him because he’s finally resigning and now bygones should be bygones, and there have been people holding him accountable for his lack of a proper apology and the inexcusable nature of the actions that led to his resignation.
I’m not going in to whether or not what he did was horrible, or if his pastoring practices were ethical, or if we should look at his work and learn from his teachings. I don’t think these things are true. We shouldn’t be pointing people towards potentially/downright harmful resources. Have your own opinion, and I’ll have mine. I will continue avoiding having anything to do with Mark Driscoll or his books, just because I will be apt to talk about him in a thoroughly negative light and reading his books would just make me angry.
So, in order to avoid complete bitterness, here is some possible good we can glean from Mark Driscoll’s high profile niche-gone-wrong. I’m sure he said other things that were fine.ish, but we’re talking about the controversial and highly emphasized stuff.
The good I see coming from his ministry is in the backlash to the extreme nature of his niche. I don’t think his niche was good. I think it was bad.
The good is not in his ministry, it’s in the backlash.
He wrote so extremely about some beliefs in conservative Christian culture surrounding sex and marriage, that some are finally seeing how complementarianism (say) could be taken to an unhealthy extreme. He has made it easier for others to see just how much it doesn’t work. He normalized talk about sex and marriage in a way that a less crass and demeaning book wouldn’t have made a ripple in the sea of silence surrounding the topic. It was so obviously unacceptable to some, some people had to speak up and healthier conversations could be generated in the space that before had been a void. Because the book was big, there is more chance for people to write in response about the subtleties of abuse and the consequences of some of the things taught in conservative circles.
I cannot endorse his name or anything he did or even the validity of the words in his resignation letter, but I can see some good that is coming from it. Only by the grace of God.
Only only only by God’s grace.
(It reminds me of this passage in Isaiah about how God planned to use Cyrus. Look at the commentary to see the bigger picture explanation.)
It would have been healthier if it had never happened, but since it did happen all we can do is to see what we can learn. And how God is shaping his church because of it.
God in his infinite grace is in charge of Mark Driscoll’s ministry or lack thereof. It is not up to me to decide if he is saved or not based on the spiritual abuse that resulted from his time as head of a church. It is up to me to speak up so others don’t fall into a trap as a result of his work. Maybe his work was helpful or revolutionary for some, but we need to be aware of the damaging power that people with large followings and big names can have. And how easy it is to try and excuse people with big names.
With the “We all sin, let’s just forgive them” line. Yes, we can forgive as uninvolved individuals. But we cannot order forgiveness on someone else. And maybe forgiveness looks different for us or them. We can’t accept an apology for infractions against someone else. So yes, let’s not be bitter, but let’s not let his actions slide either nor sacrifice the reality of the victim’s pain (and possible healing) on the alter of forgiveness. Because the more we are silent in corporate “forgiveness” the more other people are condoned in their lack of actual remorse or condemned by their “lack of” actual forgiveness of past and ongoing hurts.
So let’s not condone or condemn. It’s not our place.
We need to see the bad, but then realize God is working in spite of it. We would have chosen a different path, but I do know God allows us pain at times when we don’t understand.
It is up to us to allow ourselves to see some of the things we can learn, and follow God in, as the backlash continues.
The good I see: conversations about sex and marriage and abuse opening up. And: bad doctrine and practices surrounding these things being analyzed down to their core. And hopefully: healing, freedom, positivd changes, and more safety in church structure.
That is all.
It’s not about Driscoll.
It’s about God and what he can do with us, if we follow, even if other people don’t.
What do you think about this?
Do you think God uses our own imbalances to balance the Church?
How can we stand up for our own convictions while resting in the grace of God?
What about forgiveness?
To find the rest of this series and an introduction, click on the picture below: