For those who were unaware, a bit of drama has been unfolding in the city of Seattle over the past couple of weeks. Mark Driscoll (the anti-Rob Bell Jr.), founding pastor of Mars Hill Church, a huge mega-church that practices something called "Resurgence Missional Theology" landed in a bit of hot water when, in the course of sharing his thoughts about the the Ted Haggard situation, wrote this as a word to young pastors who he mentors through his "Acts 29 Network"...
"Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either." (as posted on his blog, Resurgence)
First time I read that I thought... "Uh, did he just suggest that the blame for the Ted Haggard situation is Ted's wife for 'letting herself go'? I can't imagine too many people are going to agree with this."
Highly theological or well-developed my thoughts were not. But, like most things, I clicked off the blog, and went back to work. Imagine my surprise a couple of weeks later to find out that other people did not just "click off" or "move on".
Mark, who I call the anti-Rob Bell, partly because if you've ever heard Rob Bell speak you'll know how sensitive the guy is, and partly because Driscoll has openly ridiculed Bell for not upholding the kind of values he believes Christian men should uphold (i.e. not sensitivity). Thus, Driscoll is famous of deriding men for having become "chickified" and "limp wristed" and for women to accept traditional roles of child-rearing and staying-at-home. In a city as progressive as Seattle, his comments on gender roles, thanks to his blog and the fact that he wrote a column for the local newspapers, for years he's been an object of derision in Starbucks City's blogosphere. I'd link you some examples of this, but, quite frankly, many of them are quite profane (the blog responses, not Driscoll's original posts).
But nothing Driscoll has ever said about gender roles, women in ministry (very opposed), or anything else generated the heat as that quote I listed above. The response was quick and immediate. A group calling itself "People Against Fundamentalism" formed and asked for a formal meeting with Mark and his Elders to explain what they called the latest, and most offensive statement, in a series of what was now be termed "misogynistic" statements".
Uh oh... even Mark realized immediately that this was some kind of trouble he'd never experienced before. While he did offer a kind of quasi-apology on his blog, he never re-tracted his statement, nor did agree to any meeting. This led to PAF scheduling a protest outside of one of Mars Hills' worship campuses for December 3rd, demanding that the Seattle Time fire him as a columnist, and the Elders of Mars Hill release Mark as their Senior Pastor.
Pretty soon, the situation moved off of blog pages and into those of various local newspapers. PAF soon found itself being endorsed from a number of different quarters, and the Elders at Mars Hill wondered what it would be like for families taking their children to church past protesters picketing the worship service. In the meantime, women started coming forward with stories about how abused they had felt (not physically) while attending Mars Hill. Here's an account in a blog written by a female pastor who had met with many of these women, and her attempts to try and meet with Driscoll to talk about the situation: http://www.monkfish-abbey.org/blog/20060308/grid-blog-for-international-womens-day-hammer-time/
With the day of the protest nearing, and this story gathering steam locally, my guess is that considerable pressure was placed on Driscoll, who I'm sure didn't want this kind of publicity either, to try and get this thing resolved. Finally, two days before the protest, Mark and some Elders sat down with a group assembled by PAF, and there he formally apologized, and promised to use different language to say what it was he was trying to say not only in his church, but also in the various venues where he has a voice. He also resigned from the Seattle Times, who was ready to remove him anyway. Apparently, one pastor, a female from the local Vineyard Church, an evangelical/Pentecostal-esque movement that emerged out of the Jesus Movement in the early seventies, made a particularly profound impression on Mark. Her name is Rose Madrid-Swetman. Here are her thoughts on this situation.
Anyhow, crisis averted, for now, but given Driscoll's record (just take a look at his blog... go back far enough and you'll find the "Born Against Christian" T-Shirt for sale) I get the sense that maybe this thing isn't over.