Tuesday, July 29, 2014

According to Mark Driscoll, I am "half a man"

Subtitled: ...and I am damn proud of it.

So, I wrote last week about the sensitivity surrounding a pastor's salary.  In it, I disclosed that my gross (before taxes) annual salary is $42,000/year, a slight notch below the current median for clergy at $43,800/year.

What on earth does this have to do with controversial Mars Hill pastor/fellow Washingtonian/Christian shock jock/virulent sexist and homophobe Mark Driscoll?  (Yes, the same guy who called yoga demonic, asked for stories about effeminate male worship leaders, and blamed Pastor Ted Haggard's wife for her husband's infidelity.) Well...I married an unbelievably smart, capable woman who, as it so happens, is a medical doctor, and thus stands to make a multiple of my humble pastor's income when she becomes an attending physician.

Not only would she be contributing to the saving of lives and betterment of physical health and the prolonging of peoples' lifespans, because that in and of itself would be more than enough to call her vocation a noble work, but Carrie's profession would also contribute tremendously to our financial security as a family and all that it entails: paying off our debt, buying a house, saving for retirement, and so on.

But, according to Driscoll (and those who agree with him, of whom there are many), Carrie and I should throw all of that away because my masculinity cannot abide being threatened by a woman whose earning potential exceeds mine.

A series of internet posts from the year 2000 by Driscoll (under the screen name of William Wallace II, a screen name he confirms in one of his books) have recently surfaced, including one that is a list of definitions of his favorite terms, including the term "half a man," which he puts thusly:

half a man - any man who takes a wife and does not serve as the financial and spiritual head of his home but believes the relationship is 50/50 and she should make half the money and do half of his job at home pitch a tent club - men who allow their wives to nag them so incessantly that they want to sleep on the roof of their own home

Now, aside from the obvious syntax errors (hey, this is the Internet after all...what, you expect me to capitalize every proper noun in my Facebook messages?  Because I don't), I want to nip this in the bud: yes, these words are from 14 years ago, and 14 years ago, I was, well, 14 years old.  And God knows I said some stupid, offensive, idiotic things then.

But Driscoll wasn't 14 years old.  He was in his early thirties...older than I am right now.  So, yes, these are from a while ago, but this isn't some moronic pubescent boy saying these things, this is a grown man and Christian pastor saying stuff like this:

I speak harshly because I speak to men. A woman might not understand that. I also do not answer to women. So your questions will be ignored. I would however, recommend to you a few versed to memorize: I Timothy 2:11-15 I Corinthians 14:33-35.To learn them, ask your father or husband. If you have neither, ask your pastor. If she is a female, find another church. If you are the pastor, quit your job and repent.

And this:

Can I be a gay Christian?...every man knows you can't build anything with bolts and bolts. Damn freaks. And the pastel cashmere wearing sensible haircut clean shaven loafer wearing minivan driving suburban sympathizers contend "But they really really love each other." I love dogs, but I don't stick my tongue in their mouth and lobby congress for a tax deductible union. "But we need to be nice." What the hell for? A man is free to knock boots with any sad hairy lump of clay desperate enough to climb in the sheets and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that total depravity is an understatement, but what the hell you want from me? Should we form some form of homo Promise Keepers so we can all climb into a stadium and hug each other and cry like damn junior high girls watching Dawson's Creek. I'd tell you to kiss my ass, but I'm afraid you'd take me up on it.

(All Driscoll quotes/rants/bizarre, hurtful ramblings are courtesy of the Christian bloggers Rachel Held Evans and Matthew Paul Turner.)

(Also, sorry for the double parenthetical pause in my post here.  Carrie called me away to ask me to help her with folding the laundry.  Because I want to pull my considerable weight in this marriage, I agreed.)

Anyways, why on earth does it matter what some jackass of a pastor said on the Internets 14 years ago?  Surely we have proverbially bigger fish to fry right now, what with Israelis and Palestinians killing each other in Gaza and pro Russian terrorists shooting down civilian commercial jetliners?

Why, indeed?  Well...I quote my wife/not a help meet/equally yoked partner (yes, the very same person who has led me down that slippery slope towards Satan as a theologian) on this one, verbatim: "I think what allows people to get away with that kind of BS is the absence of other voices."

So, I want to add my voice (and, as I have noticed, a great many other folks do as well, to their immense credit) to that void: my egalitarian marriage does not make me half a man.  I am secure enough in my masculinity that I don't need some other blowhard telling me how to live out that masculinity.

That doesn't make me "pussified."  That makes me a man.

And my being a man goes hand in hand with looking out for the best interests of my household: and those best interests align, spiritually and materially, with my wife pursuing her own career and advancement.  Considering that the Bible features female judges, prophets, deaconesses, and followers of Jesus, I cannot imagine that to be a bad thing for anyone who chooses that path.  Anyone.

I'll put that sentiment another way: one of the best men I know is my Grandpa George.  He's approaching 90, but still has his faculties intact, and he has used those faculties to, among other things: be a lifelong hunter, fisherman, and woodsman; a World War II veteran who fought in the Pacific theater; and the father of three pretty amazing offspring, one of whom is my dad.  But he also delights in the traditionally female role of cooking because he went to culinary school and is a damn good chef.  His wife, my step grandmother Mary Lou, owns her own business, an arts and crafts gallery in the next town over from them.  And he actually volunteers his time a couple of days a week to work for her.  He is an amazing listener, a judicious dispenser of advice, and a gentle patriarch.

By Driscoll's standards, the latter material would disqualify my Grampy from manly manliness.  But in mine eyes, he is the gold standard of what it means to be a man.  Because of ALL of it.

All of this, I have to confess to you, is coming out in a jumbled blur by this point, and part of that reason is that this stuff is intensely personal to me (if you hadn't already noticed, with how openly I am talking about my marriage and my family).

The funny thing is, from one angle it shouldn't be personal for me.  At all.  Mark Driscoll and I have never met, he never did anything directly to me, and here I am, railing against him as though he pissed in my cornflakes this morning.

The other angle, though, is that maybe it shouldn't be personal for me, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it is personal for somebody else who might be reading this blog.  And I want to be able to speak to them and their experience.  Part of privilege is shutting the hell up about something that doesn't necessarily impact you directly, but I don't get to wrap myself in a (masculine) privilege blankie this time.  Even if Driscoll's inane, clearly insecure rants don't impact me directly, there are many other souls who probably are more impacted than I am, and impacted in ways that are hurtful, destructive, or just plain painful.

And if that is the case for you, then it is to you that this post is dedicated.

Because ultimately, that which makes someone a man comes not from societal expectations, or from peer pressure, or even from popular opinion.  It comes solely and exclusively from the identity that God Almighty has implanted in you as you were knitted together and fearfully and wonderfully made by divine hands.

And if that divinely planted identity calls you a man, then congratulations, you are a man.  Nothing a fellow man says or harangues or bloviates can change that immutable, incredible, inescapable reality.

Love in God from "half a man" who cares about you and believes in you...

Yours in Christ,

1 comment:

  1. Whew, Eric, my computer is blowing smoke after processing your blog! :) I read some of Driscoll's 14 year old rants and felt incredibly sorry for him and the constraints of the box he has chosen to live in. I would be less concerned if it were just him, but like you said, so many folk (women and men) believe what he says. It is a sad day for Mars Hill and MD and unfortunately I feel the worst is yet to come. How sad! Thanks for helping me process some of this with our writing. Hello to Carrie!