Overstretch and Inconsistency at Mars Hill

HT to singleman, who provided a reference to this link.

This account looks particularly troubling on several fronts. Here is the quickie version of my thoughts:

(a) Andrew, to his credit, understands that he has substantial spiritual baggage involved here. If you’re engaged, and you make out with someone else, there’s a serious problem. That will not be resolved in days or even weeks, but rather months and possibly years. That the Mars Hill folks saw a need to address that is not the problem here. One must, however, credit Andrew for being up-front about his issue. Many lesser men would have attempted to sweep this under the rug.

(b) Andrew’s [now former] fiancee was not exactly pristine on this, either: she had been “physically involved” with Andrew. While it is true that the woman is the “weaker vessel”, there is no indicator in Scripture that she is never responsible for her own sexual indiscretions. For Mars Hill to subject him to accountability–for a sin issue that he confessed on his own volition–but not to subject HER to said accountability for a similar sin, is a major inconsistency on the part of Mars Hill. If Driscoll believes that the Scriptures teach such inconsistency, then he needs to go back and read his Bible.

(c) Andrew’s [now former] fiancee has now been set up for future failure, and this is at least as much on Mars Hill as it is on her and Andrew: she has been taught that she can commit egregious sins, and it’s not really her problem. When she eventually marries, her husband is going to be in a major world of hurt.

(d) MrsLarijani and I attend a church that is an Acts 29 affiliate. I can honestly say that the situation there is much more conciliatory and fair. When RL and BW had their affair, the elders did not pile on RL. No; they really were very equitable and even-handed in their assessments of both actors in the affair. BW was not derided as the Jezebel who brought down the pastor; nor was RL derided as the predator who “led poor BW down the path to promiscuity”. Both were confronted for their sin, and both were called to repentance. That is the way it needs to be.

Our church is actually quite laid-back. While the theology is conservative, I can honestly say that the small groups we have been involved with–one led by an Air Force Lietenant Colonel, and the other led by an Army chaplain, both of whom have doctoral degrees and ministry experience–have been anything BUT micromanagy.

For the elders, they have an accountability process to which they subject each other every week. I’ve seen the questionnaire that they use; it’s actually pretty impressive, and does include questions about potential sexual minefields.

Personally, what I would have recommended for Andrew: give him the same questionnaire that the elders use, and invite him to participate in that for a while. By doing this, you are extending him accountability, while at the same time telling him, “We are going to treat you on the same par as we would treat our top leaders here, so don’t be offended.”

Instead, it appears that Mars Hill has punted on a golden opportunity for real restoration.

58 thoughts on “Overstretch and Inconsistency at Mars Hill

  1. i tend to think that, if a person is otherwise repentant, it’s not on the church to inflict additional punishments.

    After all, he or she has plenty of that already: his fiancee has left him; he’s on her father’s crap list; his name is now dirt; he has enough mess to clean up without the Church piling on.

    I mean goodness: Andrew fessed up on his own volition. He wasn’t the pastor; he wasn’t an elder; the guy already had an attitude of repentance, and the fact that he went to them tells me the poor guy wanted help.

  2. ReconsDad :
    @Craig M.
    Yeah…this borders on bizarre, and exemplifies the very reason that people CRINGE every time they hear words like accountability.

    I’ve cringed at the word “accountability” ever since the days of the Shepherding Movement.

  3. @singleman
    That’s the thing: everyone who has a cursory understanding of recent history knows where things can lead when a church goes too far with “accountability”. The first thing that comes up is the “shepherding movement”. The worst-case scenario: People’s Temple…

    I’m not equating Driscoll with Jim Jones, but–if Andrew’s account is correct, and I’m not seeing a case for it not being so–this is dysfunctional at best and downright psychotic (as Craig M says) at worst.

  4. @ReconsDad

    Agreed. An interesting aside – the wife and I are trying to choose a church. We visited one a few months ago in which the entire sermon was based on a “biblical” condemnation of one of the (former?) parishoners. It was appalling. We left halfway through.

    It seems to me that the dangers of this increase with the insularity and indepedence of the church. You don’t see Anglican or Southern Baptist or Catholic churches doing this to their members, because the immediate (local) pastors are responsible to a hierarchy. There are avenues of appeal; there is canon law; there are procedures for repentence agreed upon by serious men with good judgment over time. If Driscoll and his inner circle make serious missteps, who can correct him?

    I distrust any church in which the pastor (even worse, the “founding pastor”) is bigger than the denomination and hierarchy.

  5. @Craig M.

    Agreed. An interesting aside – the wife and I are trying to choose a church. We visited one a few months ago in which the entire sermon was based on a “biblical” condemnation of one of the (former?) parishoners. It was appalling. We left halfway through.

    What kind of church was that one?

    It seems to me that the dangers of this increase with the insularity and indepedence of the church. You don’t see Anglican or Southern Baptist or Catholic churches doing this to their members, because the immediate (local) pastors are responsible to a hierarchy. There are avenues of appeal; there is canon law; there are procedures for repentence agreed upon by serious men with good judgment over time. If Driscoll and his inner circle make serious missteps, who can correct him?

    While I agree with the general thrust of your statement, the Southern Baptists can be pretty nasty as well. Then again, Southern Baptist churches tend to be somewhat autonomous, although there is a general assent to certain fundamentals.

    As for Driscoll: that is a very legitimate concern, as this sort of situation happened in our church.

    RL, who had a great degree of charisma, was the founding pastor. As such, he was given a green light on a lot of matters where he should have endured more pushback.

    To the credit of the elders, though, they were very decisive in the way they handled the affair. They were as conciliatory as they could be, but they DID make no bones about removing him–and BW–from their respective positions.

    They were ONLY excommed AFTER refusing, after several months, to break off their relationship.

  6. @ReconsDad

    Can’t recall. Some variety of independent evangelicalism. We’re giving it one last gasp before we give up and roll over either to England (Anglican) or Rome. At least that’s how it looks now. I’m not a Calvinist, so PCA is out. Do Lutherans still believe in God?

  7. I admire the guy in the story for standing firm and saying no. Being able to cross your arms, spit on the ground, and look your persecutors in the eye is an important part of being an adult.

  8. @Craig M.
    Look for a good WELS or LCMS congregation. But be prepared for a liturgical environment.

    I’m not really surprised at the “shepherding” going on at this Mars Hill location. I suppose it seemed like a good idea at the time, but it usually slides into legalism.

    The man confesses his sins and repents (as he should) and then is suitably rotisseried until the mucky mucks are satisfied that his outward to them and everyone else meets their standards. All the while giving the finacee in question a free pass and a “there, there” and a pat on the head. Something is wrong.

  9. ““On several occasions, I was called a Wolf,” says Andrew, “which at Mars Hill, is like the worst thing you can be called.”

    I ask him why.

    “Because it means you’re a man who preys on innocent people–nothing more than a predator.”

    According to Andrew, at Mars Hill, the cliche “it takes two to tango” isn’t true. Why? Because Pastor Mark teaches that women are “weaker vessels,” and therefore, when a girl and boy engage in consensual sexual activity, it is always assumed that it’s the man’s fault because he failed to lead the woman (or “weaker vessel”) toward righteousness. (And everybody knows that women can’t find righteousness unless a man leads her there. Ugh.)”

    OH.MY.FREAKIN.WORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “Andrew says that many of Mars Hill’s men feel beaten down. “Because that’s what happens there, especially when you question a pastor. You get beaten down. Until you submit.””

    Hitler?

    “If this is your final decision, you will also need to know this will not be our final communication as this is not an instance where you can walk away from the mess you have helped create and leave many issues unaddressed.”

    wtf?!!!!!!! who do they think they are, anyway? we’re not under military control. we do not live in a dictatorship country.

  10. @Craig M.
    You could look in the NALC as well, though from my understanding, you might not get as strong of a conservative bent as you would in the LCMS or WELS. (As always, YMMV…)

    For most of the time I lived in West Virginia, I went to an ELCA congregation that was becoming more and more alienated from the national body, almost by the day. In 2009, when the ELCA went all-in on the gay agenda, my old church finally left. It joined with slightly fewer than 20 ELCA congregations around the country and formed the North American Lutheran Church. There are now about 300 NALC congregations and about 100K members.

  11. i just read part 1 and 2 of the link to my husband, and the more i think about it, the more infuriated it makes me. there’s no way i’d step one foot in that church or associate w/their people. why not associate w/their people? b/c it’s like they’re in a markdriscol.spell, and it wouldn’t matter what you said, their response would always link back to their leader/spellbinder.

    is this throwing the baby out with the bath water? perhaps. but i don’t want any part of something like this. i’ve lived my share of spiritual abuse in and out of the church, and i refuse to put myself in any position where i’m exposed to it again.

    what they have done is sick. i’d call it mentally ill, but that would excuse their behavior. why any man in his right mind would want to attend a church like that and subject themselves to be ridiculed across a church-wide network (the city) is beyond me. they definitely must beat them down and into submission before (i would hope) they would aquiesce to such horror.

    and the women must love this driscol man – free ride in life! blame it all on the men! i’m not responsible for anything! i can screw any man i want, and HE is responsible! if i’m gonna do something wrong, make sure a man is involved b/c then he’ll take the fall and responsibility, and i’m off the hook! woo hoo!

    HELLO???!!!!!!!

    there may be good things about driscol and mars hill, but the water has been poisoned. that’s the thing about ‘sin’ like this … it wipes out the good with the bad, for everyone.

    Andrew wanted to move away from home to find himself, to grow up. well, he certainly did. good for him. if i were a single, young adult, the only young man associated w/ mh that i’d be interested in dating is Andrew. if Andrew lets God have all this, God will use it to stengthen him in ways he cannot conceive now. may it be so. may he not ever let it grow roots of bitterness in his soul. may he continue to live in forgiveness toward these people. and may he find consolation that, in sharing his story, he is going to help others who have been spirtually abused, too.

  12. As I am in the middle of Driscoll’s latest book, I’ve got a theory about what these guys are doing. Will provide a thread for that.

    What’s crazy: the book, so far, is very good. The Driscolls are very open about their shortcomings, and the issues through which they have to work.

    The problem is, fleshing that out in the larger Body is not a matter of exerting proper control over people. What Driscoll is forgetting is that he had to learn much of what he did through the prompting of God in his life. This was not something that was browbeaten into him.

    And yet, he seems to think that all he has to do is get some small groups together and browbeat principles and exert control, and this will somehow impart sanctification that otherwise took him years to grow into.

  13. According to Andrew, at Mars Hill, the cliche “it takes two to tango” isn’t true. Why? Because Pastor Mark teaches that women are “weaker vessels,” and therefore, when a girl and boy engage in consensual sexual activity, it is always assumed that it’s the man’s fault because he failed to lead the woman (or “weaker vessel”) toward righteousness. (And everybody knows that women can’t find righteousness unless a man leads her there. Ugh.)”

    Of course, all this proves is that the man is guilty of sin. So what? We already knew that. Going that route, God gives all of us the responsibility that “we must obey God rather than man.” One could argue that, when the woman obeys the man and has premarital sexual relations, that she has made a false God out of him, and followed him instead of God. So, which is worse: failing to lead or idolatry? We can play this game all day. The bottom line is using headship as an excuse to ignore sin on the part of the woman.

    What I find fascinating too is that the punishment for these crimes are equal for male and female. When a man and a woman are caught in adultery, they are both stoned to death. Whether man or woman, God prescribed death for harlotry. Now, granted, it is most likely that these were maximum punishments that one could receive for these crimes, but still, the punishment was not differentiated for man and woman. Apparently, God violated his own word when he did this.

    In fact, what is ironic about harlotry in the Hebrew Bible is that most people believe that the Hebrew Bible is harder on women than men, because it specifically prescribes the death penalty for women. However, when Israel plays the harlot with Moabite women in Numbers 25, God orders the execution of the men as well. Thus, it is clear that God did not intend for the punishment to be differentiated between the sexes, but only intended it to be understood in terms of how severely the offense lead Israel down the path of worship of the false gods of the pagan nations [as was blatantly the case with the Moabites].

    God Bless,
    Adam

  14. Moreover, rather than browbeating his variation of Calvinism, what these groups need to be doing is examining the Scripture narratives.

    Look into the lives of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, and others. Look at the breadth of their life experiences, their successes, their blunders, how God worked in their lives, and how they became sharpened and–in some cases–frayed. Look at the failures of those folks, and how it demonstrates the insufficiency of Man, against the backdrop of what we have in Jesus Christ.

  15. “And yet, he seems to think that all he has to do is get some small groups together and browbeat principles and exert control, and this will somehow impart sanctification that otherwise took him years to grow into.”

    then, it appears, he has lost wisdom in all this. it takes great wisdom to allow God to be God and to stay out of His way when teaching and training and leading others. God may choose to use us as a vessel, but we must never forget we are only the vessel. my late Mentor and my therapist were both excellent at this. they both knew their place, and they kept their place. while they counseled me and guided me and advised me, they always defered to God, and they never got between God and me, allowing God to work out His plan in my life.

    we have to let people be where they are in life, and we have to trust that God is big enough to be with people, where they are, right now, and to bring them to where HE desires them to be.

    there are many problems in this world. sin is rampant. it always will be. the church is under attack. it always will be. but we are not the solution. God is. we don’t need to be God; He is quite capable of fulfilling that role all by Himself.

  16. “Look at the failures of those folks, and how it demonstrates the insufficiency of Man, against the backdrop of what we have in Jesus Christ.”

    absolutely. absolutely. not only that, it’s in God’s time, not ours. i’m always amazed when i read the bible at how God treats people where they are/were at that specific time, despite Him knowing what they would and/or would not do later in their life. God already knows everything, but He does not make us live thru the consequences of wrong choices before we make those choices, or punish us before we disobey … not only that, God honors obedience to Him even knowing we are going to mess up later down the road. this kind of stuff blows my mind – it truly is toooo big for me :)

  17. So true, Amir. How quickly most of us forget the struggle that we have, and continue to have when it comes to dealing with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We as Christians tend to eat our own, and it is wrong.

    I also think that part of the trouble is recognizing that the authorities here on earth derive their authority from God. Once they contradict what God has said, they abrogate their authority. I think the people that love being a part of authoritarian groups are people who are committed to apathy. They don’t want to test things; they want someone else to tell them how they should live and act. It is this apathy of the Christian church that concerns me.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  18. Last October I attended the ordination service of a friend who left soon thereafter to join several others in a church-planting initiative in the Pacific Northwest, including the Seattle area. Seattle is one of the most secular cities in the U.S., making their job difficult enough. I hope and pray that Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church haven’t made their job even tougher by poisoning people’s views about Christianity through actions such as those described in the Wartburg Watch posts and related posts in the blogosphere.

  19. @singleman
    That’s another major difference between his church and the one MrsLarijani and I go to. Our church is comprised mostly of folks who came from bad church experiences, most of them Baptist in their backgrounds. As a result, we tend to be more on the side of liberty.

    In Driscoll’s case, he is dealing with people who are largely from unchurched backgrounds. Perhaps, he is thinking that this tight approach to discipleship is going to impart sanctification on them. What he’s not realizing is that the Church in the New Testament did not even exert this level of control.

    Yes, if someone is living in obvious sin–i.e. immorality–they ought to be confronted. But in the case of Andrew, he confessed and was already repentant.

    At the same time, they have elephant droppings all over their room:

    (a) Given that the elder’s daughter is having sex–outside of marriage–this immediately calls into question the fitness of that elder for the given office. There is, after all, a prima facie case that he does not manage his household well, as required by Scripture.

    (b) Given that they neglected to confront the elder’s daughter for her sexual indiscretions–which she had not confessed, nor had, as far as we know, renounced–they are now telling other women in the Church that it’s not their fault if they have sex.

    This is both an expression of misogyny and misandry: it shows contempt for the woman by not treating her like a grownup; it is misandrist in that it projects undue blame on them.

    (c) this level of power exertion is the stuff that breeds cults.

  20. “(c) this level of power exertion is the stuff that breeds cults.”

    that’s the first thing my husband said when i read it to him.

    ***

    when i was in therapy and spending time weekly with my late Mentor, they both would point me to the bible. always, always, my Mentor would tell me, “prove it in the bible in at least three places so as to not take anything out of context. never take my word for it. prove it in the bible.” my therapist would also always give me scritures to study and refer me back to the bible to discern and verify Truth.

    in doing this, they were not getting in between God and me directly. and they were teaching me to be dependent on God, not on them or any other man.

    i am always very, very concerned when people start referring to a person rather than the bible, whoever that person is. it’s not about what X has to say, it’s about what God has to say. X should be directing people to God. an occasional reference to a person is one thing … but when the dependence is on that person and the focus is off God, then there’s a huge, waving, neon-red flag flashing in the room.

    • Here’s some nastiness from the comments on a youtube video about Driscoll which I think goes along with your point about people looking to X person rather than God- I think it shows how far people are willing to go to defend things rather than consider X person’s potential failings as a human being rather than God.

      “You are the self righteous one who blasts anyone who stands up to this Diotrephes. Is he not man rnan enough to fight his own battles that he has to hide behind you? I wonder why you stand up for him and not for Jesus?”
      (names withheld)

      “You are a bitter hack without a clue. Stop the nonsense and put your energies into something of value. I am here posting because of people like you, and if you cannot see Jesus in Mark Driscoll, you cant see Jesus…. PERIOD.”

      Wow.

      • That’s pretty bad. But not surprising.

        During the 1970s and 1980s, anyone who spoke ill of Jimmy Swaggart or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell was sure to bring down a mother lode of fffffundammmmentalist wrath.

  21. I’ve reached the chapter on men in Driscoll’s book. I’m seeing some red flags, but will reserve judgment until after I read the chapter on women.

    If I’m talking to someone about his (her) marriage, I may focus on his (her) faults in specificity because he (she) happens to be the only one of the two in the room. If his (her) wife (husband) was in the room, I would focus on her (his) issues too. But a lot of times, you are only dealing with one person at a time.

    In Scripture, when Paul writes–especially when you’re looking at Ephesians and Colossians–he deals with both husbands and wives in the same block of text. That leaves no stone unturned. The problem is, when people write books–Driscoll is not the only one here–they devote entire chapters to one sex.

    That is not all bad; it’s just that, before someone rushes to judgment, one must understand that each sex is getting addressed separately rather than at the same time.

    Hope to get the book finished this week.

  22. Along those lines, I’m in the middle of the chapter on women, this one written by Grace Driscoll. While it is well-written, the problem is that, because Mark wrote the chapter regarding men, there appear to be some major issues of omission.

  23. That said, I think Grace has written a very nice chapter for the ladies. She has some real zingers in there. On many levels, she gets it about the women who undermine their husbands.

  24. Looking forward to your analysis. I wonder if you can bounce off of this view a bit. I must say that though I’m a very MILD complementarian, so I find her attention to the context of scripture persuasive. I don’t think the context should cause us to change our target, but it’s a wind that we ought to note and adjust for before we fire.

    http://rachelheldevans.com/mark-driscoll-real-marriage

  25. Craig M – that review by Rachel Evans is disturbing to me on so many levels. If, in fact, it is an honest review and the quotes are not taken out of context (and i have no desire to read the book to find out), then i am greatly disturbed at the information mark has given in these quotes and the way he presented the information. i assume his wife agreed to have this information revealed, however, it all seems too private to me. and the way he talks about his wife in these quotes is demeaning. it is also disturbing that this information is in a print format for their children to see and read. sharing things with your children is one thing … having intimate details public is another.

    i have been asked to write my story in a book, to be published, but i will not do it. there are too many people who could innocently be hurt, not the least of which my children.

  26. @Ame

    I’m just going to say that Ms. Evans seems to be more liberal than I am, but I think she pretty much has Driscoll’s number. He strikes me as a thug and a bully. And I say this as a man who enjoys the accoutrements of traditionally masculine pursuits as much as anyone.

  27. i think it’s one thing to say something like, “in our marriage, we have gone through up’s and down’s, seasons, including in our marriage bed. it made it difficult to counsel people who were dealing with sexual passion when the intimacy in my marriage was going through a down season.”

    also, imho, he should have removed himself from counseling people about such topics and directed them to professional counselors. if needed, the church should hire professional counselors to handle these things.

    however, his tone is one that provokes the legalistic man to take his legalism to the extreme, which does the opposite of what, i would hope, he is trying to achieve, and creating more negative than positive results.

    there’s a fine balance between keeping secrets that are damaging, and maintaining intimacy within privacy in a marriage, and even in a family. there are certain things that just do not need to be shared, especially first-hand accounts. if information is needed, there are ways of giving that info without crossing that line.

    i heard a man talk about women as the ‘weaker’ vessel once. in summary, he said it’s like women are fine china, strong and beautiful, but also delicate – not tupperware or a nerf football that can be thrown around and not be damaged. in this analogy, the tone in which these quotes reveal he is publically treating his wife is like tupperware, not at all like fine china.

    she may very well be in a place where she sees this as being a martyr. that may be b/c of who she is, or b/c of who she’s become with him. or she could be hiding inside, protecting herself. not my marriage; not my call.

    my ex fil is a dictator. the stories i could tell you of first hand accounts that i personally witnessed and experienced are terrible. one time i was talking w/my mil. she was telling me about a visit w/a family member that her husband did not like. she was crying, weeping, sharing this personal experience with me. in the middle of the conversation, her husband, my fil, walked in the door from running errands, and the woman i had been talking to instantly disappeared. i never, ever saw her again. in her place was the woman he wanted her to be – subservient, obedient, subject.

  28. @Ame
    That was one of the particular things that bothered me: he was busy counseling couples regarding sexual matters, even as he and his wife were–at the time–struggling substantially in that department.

    I did have some of the concerns expressed by Evans. At the same time, there were some things that concerned me that she didn’t address.

    • I believe that is a red flag because it sounds like he thinks he is above counsellors, instead of mutually accountable and mutually submissive in the Body of Christ. I am only fine with him counseling IF he is cool with being counseled with and without his wife on their issues and needs. He is not any more spiritual than anyone else in the body of Christ, because we’re all saved the same way- and we are all fallible.

  29. @Ame

    my ex fil is a dictator. the stories i could tell you of first hand accounts that i personally witnessed and experienced are terrible. one time i was talking w/my mil. she was telling me about a visit w/a family member that her husband did not like. she was crying, weeping, sharing this personal experience with me. in the middle of the conversation, her husband, my fil, walked in the door from running errands, and the woman i had been talking to instantly disappeared. i never, ever saw her again. in her place was the woman he wanted her to be – subservient, obedient, subject.

    Your ex-fil seems like a pretty sorry excuse of a husband. In fairness to Driscoll, however, that was exactly the kind of style he admonishes against in the book. He does not condone the authoritarian dictatorial approaches that, unfortunately, too many men take.

    At the same time, Evans is right: Driscoll seems to be locked onto the concept that a “real man” needs to be just short of UFC-caliber, while at the same time being the soft patriarch at home. (Only slight hyperbole on my part.)

    In addition, he ends up coming off promoting the idea that if men would only love their wives right, then their wives would submit to them, respect them, and not divorce them.

    Unfortunately, depravity is no respecter of the sexes, and he seems ambivalent to the ways women in the church often “sanctify” their divorces after the fact. I say that not to beat up on the ladies, but–let’s be honest here–the men are always getting piled on for everything that goes wrong, irrespective of whose fault it is.

    In addition, I have particular disagreement with him over his assessment of what went wrong in the garden.

    While Adam–who was with Eve when she ate of the fruit–should have confronted Eve and said, “God said we must not eat of the fruit, and therefore we must not eat of it. I will not partake!” that does not guarantee that she would not have eaten of the fruit. Moreover, God does not hold him responsible for her sin; he is punished because he ate of the fruit.

    God specifically asked them, “have you eaten of the fruit of the tree that I commanded you not to eat?” He did not ask Adam, “What is this that you have allowed your wife to do?”

    I would not relegate Driscoll’s treatment of this to the realm of assegesis, but it does strike me as eisegetical.

  30. i think there’s this tendency to think, “*I* am the ONLY one who can help ______,” especially among leaders in any field. as one’s authority grows, as the number of people who submit to that authority grows, so does the potential to loose perspective. moses is a great example of that. moses, whom God spoke to directly, with whom God performed some of the most spectacular miracles ever, lost the privalege of leading the people into the promised land. also, moses’ fil pointed out to him, in great wisdom, that moses’ job was too big for him, and he needed to get help. so he did.

    with the depravity of humanity comes great need. when we, as humans, begin to nurture those needs without stopping to evaluate and re-evaluate, we begin to think WE are responsible to meet all.those.needs. in Truth, God is our Provider. if there’s a need, and we can meet that need, then do so, for God has already provided. if we cannot meet it, then we need to direct to God and wait on Him, for, regardless of what we can ‘see’ or not ‘see,’ God has already provided.

    it seems as if mark is forcing things, like he feels he NEEDS to be the one to meet all these needs, and he’s carrying more weight than is his to carry. that would inevitably result in doing things one should not do, such as revealing too much intimate information to prove one’s point.

  31. “Your ex-fil seems like a pretty sorry excuse of a husband.”

    yes, and it is very sad. i have learned much from both of them over the years, and i think the biggest thing i’ve learned of late is the width and breadth of God’s mercy. these very imperfect people are the same people He used in amazing ways on the mission field. they are faulty and imperfect (though don’t tell him that; he’ll argue the opposite to his grave), but God still used them. at first glance, i want to scream at God. in depth, i am grateful. i, too, am very imperfect, and God chooses to use me despite my imperfection. still, if her husband and both her sons pass on before she does, i’ll be glad to care for my ex-mil.

    “In fairness to Driscoll, however, that was exactly the kind of style he admonishes against in the book. He does not condone the authoritarian dictatorial approaches that, unfortunately, too many men take.”

    i’m really glad to hear that. i wonder how much of what he preaches is reactively proactive rather than simply passing on the Word of God.

  32. i agree w/your analysis of the Garden. they both chose, individually.

    again in the NT, Ananias and Sapphira were each held accountable for their individual sin – he not more than her, but equally.

    • I believe Driscoll’s interpretations of things male and female could lead to a lack of personal responsibility and instead of healthy interdependent marriages, more codependency and less health. I think Sapphira is held actually accountable for submitting to her husband rather than to God! Wonder what the covering theologians would do with THAT.

      • That was my fundamental gripe with the way they handled this case: they were giving the woman a permanent “get out of jail free” card.

        She is being taught that nothing she does is her fault. If she marries one day, her husband is going to be tasked with leading her. But whenever she does ANYTHING wrong, it will be his fault.

        It’s the ultimate “Heads I win, tails you lose” deal.

        Sadly, a lot of pastors–not just Driscoll–passively if nor actively promote that mindset.

  33. @Ame

    again in the NT, Ananias and Sapphira were each held accountable for their individual sin – he not more than her, but equally.

    Yep. They acted in concert. Had she merely said, “No…that was not the price we got for the land”, she would have lived.

  34. there’s a fine balance in the church, and i’m ever so grateful i’m not a pastor. there is, and there will be, sin in this world. there are, and there will be, poor in this world (‘the poor will always be with you’). the church is to share the love of God, but not become god and not shove God on people. the church is to tell the Truth, but not panic that they are responsible for what people do with that Truth. we are to meet needs, but we are not Provider or Healer – God is. He may use us, and He certainly does, but it is HE who provides, not us.

    we will not solve the ills of this world. every generation will have their own battles to fight as sin morphs into whatever looks good for that generation with the resources available at the time. satan will always distort God, and satan will always take what is good and make it evil. this is a war that is being fought in the spiritual realms, the likes of which we can hardly imagine.

    this does not excuse us to *not* do anything, but it should tell us that we are only to do what God directs us to do – and never will God ask us to be Him.

  35. @singleman
    I agree with the comment about whether the leader had “relational wisdom”, better known as “discretion” in Proverbs.

    I would not be as hard on Andrew’s decision to speak about this to the small group. Honestly, the poor guy wanted some help. When people are at points in their lives such as he was, they aren’t necessarily going to be in the know about where the best place to get help is.

    Moreover, in larger churches, they will always tell you that the small group is where “you do life together”.

    But the small group leader needs to be expected to have better discretion to know what needs to be treated as private matters versus escalated.

    If this was to be escalated, then there is also a pink elephant in the room: given that he had been sexually involved with his fiancee–who is also the daughter of an elder–then that calls into question the potential fitness of that elder.

    Personally, I would be less-inclined to pile onto Driscoll about this–in his position, he was probably trusting the feedback he received from elders and/or group leaders.

    But he still needs to be wary to make sure that small group leaders are getting proper training, and that leaders are being selected on the basis of proven spiritual maturity.

    This appears to be a case of some overzealous group leaders, clouded by the involvement of at least one elder who had a personal interest in the case, and a troubled young man who was just looking for help.

    On a different note, such accountability breakdown can happen even in smaller churches. I’ve known of instances in which a deacon’s adult son carried on with a teenage girl, and–rather than confronting both of them–the teenage girl and her parents were forced to leave the church. In that case, the pastor was likely tied down by the “golden handcuff”: if he stood up to the deacons, he could have been fired on the spot.

    (I’m not excusing the pastor’s inaction, but merely pointing out the dilemma he would face.)

  36. @singleman

    A lot of wisdom in that link. Talking out of school is bad news. That’s one source of immediate discomfort for me with everything I read about Driscoll — too much information about his personal life and his wife. A man ought to protect his wife’s dignity. I’m sure she’s “agreed” to the revelations on some level, but I don’t really think that makes it better.

  37. @singleman:

    this quote from that link is excellent:

    “I have seen numerous examples of relational immaturity and unnecessary drama over the years in churches. I’ve contributed my fair share too. Churches can be unsafe relational places, not just because some of them are toxic or authoritarian, but because churches are human communities, frankly, in which people tend to broadcast their business indiscriminately while others stick their noses into other people’s business without warrant. Saying the church is our “family” is not always a happy description.

    The Bible says, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1Pet 4:8). However, in the church, because of our unhealthy habits of relating to others, we often uncover and spread a multitude of sins.”

    ***

    i think that this can be lessened with maturity … and wise guidance from those more mature. but when we are young, we can be stupid – even in church.

  38. @Craig M – “That’s one source of immediate discomfort for me with everything I read about Driscoll — too much information about his personal life and his wife. A man ought to protect his wife’s dignity. I’m sure she’s “agreed” to the revelations on some level, but I don’t really think that makes it better.”

    i agree with you here. even if she’s agreed, this is waaay TMI

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