Mega Pastor Mark Driscoll gets a lot of un-love from my corner of the progressive faith blogosphere. Where others may rally around disgust at Westboro Baptist Church*, he is our rallying rail. Among people who often disagree about a lot, I think we agree that the reason he is such a necessary punching bag is not only that he asks for it with such flair – like the would-be bully who runs to his bigger brother when he finds himself being called out – but that he perfectly encapsulates almost everything we find wrong about contemporary evangelical culture.
- He touts himself as relevant.
- He’s unabashedly masculine.
- His main motivational points are fear and guilt.
- He’s self-centered and arrogant.
- He focuses on male leadership and female submission.
- He’s obsessed with sex and money.
- He says some pretty stupid, ignorant sheeeeet.
- He’s a control freak.
- He preaches from the gut (ie, In Spirit and in Truthiness)
- He’s homophobic.
When he doesn’t preach from his white, male, middle class privileged perspective, he belittles those who aren’t.*
And all of this sausage encased in one bully of a pastor.
This week, we get another nugget of White evangelical culture captured by Driscoll– this sentence, delivered at the Catalyst Conference:
I know who made the environment and he’s coming back soon and going to burn it all up. So, yeah, I drive an SUV.
This statement could be just a joke that is taken entirely out of context. He could be saying that, even though I know Jesus is coming back, even though I drive an SUV, I know I need to take better care of the world. But that, coming from him, may be a bit of a stretch.
This is the same guy who said recently that wives are horrible to live with when they whine or complain, calling them dripping faucets – on top of the fact that his entire demeanor towards women in general and wives in specific is dismissive. Women exist for men’s sexual pleasure, and not for much else.
This is the guy whoses Facebook status a couple years ago asked his fans who the most “effeminate, biologically male” worship leader they know is. This targeting both managed to demean those outside of both heteronormative experiences (meaning, most dudes who ), and anyone with a queer, trans* identity – as well as males who don’t always want to strut with their stuff out.
This is the same guy who “joked” in the same seminar that males who drive minivans are mini-men.
For Driscoll, “joking” is a way of asserting his aggressive controlling behaviors while protecting himself from criticism. The point is made – and men who don’t live up to his “standards” are summarily condemned and ostracized for not being “manly” enough. Women for not being submissive and quiet enough. And Christians for the slightest questioning of his dominionist, escapist, illiterate, triumphalist, and irresponsible theology.
This statement is troubling – and its retweeting without annotation or judgment by several attendees especially – because not only is it theologically wrong, immature, and shows a lack of concern for the near and remote future – it demonstrates a lack of concern for current conditions for the global and domestic poor and people of color who disproportionately suffer the effects of pollution and environmental disaster. Because those who live on the margins (right, Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans?) are most at risk and suffer the most by breathing the worst air; drinking the dirtiest water; not having access to clean or running water; having oil, tar sands, fracking in their lands, making farming and clean living impossible; developing and inflaming asthma and lung diseases; and acquiring cancer (lung and other types).
This isn’t a laughing matter, Driscoll. And it’s not something the Evangelical culture can ignore and football off – often using some form of the Left Behind eschatological belief system to justify consumerist destruction that physically harms the marginalized. Injustice is the opposite of love, and we show our love of God by loving God’s creation and those made in God’s image. We love God by loving and taking care of the marginalized.
That means questioning our dependence on oil products – gas guzzlers, plastics, centralized retailers, manufactured products. To marginalize from the pulpit those who care about such matters and the people affected by such matters sends a contradictory message: A man of God who doesn’t care about the people of God.
All of these factors I’ve talked about several times and places before – as well as have – just to pick samples that are easier to find - Sarah Moon, GraceIsHuman, andRachel Held Evans (you’d have to type in his name and hit enter. Sorry for the extra work and #FirstWorldProblems. But this may be the most comprehensive post on him and his position within the conservative Christian location).