The church affiliation and planting ministry that Mark Driscoll founded, Acts 29, has removed Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church from their network and asked Driscoll to step down. Since I first read about this story, LifeWay Christian Bookstores has announced they are going to stop selling his books. This is all very unfortunate, although some nuance is called for.
As I said below, I do think that some of what Driscoll said and did was indecorous and intemperate, but he has largely admitted as much and apologized. He said in the past that he thought rabble rousing on a forum under a pseudonym was not the right way to go about it, and he apologized. This new brouhaha is largely because those posts which he apologized for and admitted were unwise have surfaced.
But here is the problem. All the above conceded, Driscoll’s fundamental points are correct. The Bible, history and nature do testify to the reality and importance of gender differences and gender roles. And Christian men, and American men in general, have stopped acting like men. And not only is Driscoll correct, but these are issues of utmost importance that desperately need saying if we have any hope of salvaging the Christian Church as we know it.
The feminization of American men, both behaviorally and biologically, has been much commented on in dissident right circles and is largely the impetus, along with the concomitant masculinization of women, behind the growth of the so-called manosphere. (I have a strong hunch that Driscoll is familiar with the manosphere, because he sounds like he is.) But the manosphere is largely amoral and often dismissively refers to those of us who encourage sexual continence as tradcons. Do we really want to cede primary advocacy of gender roles and masculinization to people hostile or indifferent to Christianity? This is why we need Christian voices speaking out on this matter who care about the state of the Church and the country who aren’t just looking for a way to get women in bed.
By booting Driscoll out of the Acts 29 Network, without the appropriate finesse, Acts 29 is empowering the Rachel Held Evans of the world. By not selling his book, without making the action and behavior vs. thought distinction, LifeWay is empowering PC ninnies like Warren Throckmorton. Do they really want to do that? What are Acts 29 and LifeWay objecting to, actions or beliefs? The fact that they took these actions in response to a PC outcry makes it look like they are accepting the PC narrative unless they make it entirely clear that they aren’t, which they haven’t.
So you know that I’m not just cheerleading for Driscoll, I do think Driscoll is somewhat the victim of his own devices. He is closely associated with the emerging church movement, but in my understanding has distanced himself from it and is, as far as I can tell, doctrinally sound on the essentials. Unlike Rob Bell, for example, who has clearly flown the coup. But in the doctrinally conservative wing of the emergent church movement’s efforts to make the Church relevant, they largely adopted “contemporary” modes of worship. I don’t think I’m breaking new ground to suggest that contemporary worship is an arguably feminized form of worship that appeals to female sensibilities. You want to man and woman up your Church? Then wear coats and ties and dresses and stop singing praise songs that sound like “Jesus is My Boyfriend.” Grab a hymnal and sing “There is Power in the Blood.”
For those who didn’t quite get my earlier attempt at humor, by feigning outrage at a minor point, I was primarily dismissing or belittling the larger outrage. But there was a little more method to my madness. In every picture I have ever seen of Driscoll, he is wearing a vest (not sweater) and looks like he needs a shave. I’m not dissing vests or facial hair. In fact, from the standpoint of masculinity, I think there is something to be said for facial hair. But the distinction that Driscoll seems to be making is a tame or lame vs. cutting edge or unconventional distinction, with tame associated with femininity and cutting edge associated with manliness. While there may be some truth to this in the milieu and context Driscoll finds himself in, this is a problem with his milieu. In the grand scheme of things, a traditional combination of loafers, khakis and an oxford cloth button down says man’s man much more so than does a vest and whatever Driscoll’s footwear of choice may be. In fact, the best way to be counter-cultural in our crazy modern world is to be radically traditional, affectionately referred to as rad trad. (For the record, once I
lose weight … err … I mean my wife quits shrinking my clothes … and invest in a new wardrobe, I’m going rad trad all the way!) If Driscoll paired his vest with a suit and a pocket watch and a pair of wingtips, he would be making a much more masculine and traditional statement than he does now. Actions, not words on a forum, speak loudest.
Now that I’ve ticked off every possible element, please discuss.