Much to my surprise last night as I was lazily browsing the internet before bed, I see a link posted to Facebook titled, “The Mark Driscoll Scholarship Fund for Women in Ministry.” Now, if you don’t know who Mark Driscoll is, he is the pastor of mega-church Mars Hill church out of Seattle known for his frank sermon style and his willingness to openly discuss what are considered “taboo” subjects in church such as oral sex. He is also known for his extremely patriarchal views of men and women which he unapologetically proclaims. To give you an idea, he once said that unless there were extreme circumstances, a dad who decides to stay home with the kids while mom goes out and works would suffer “church discipline.” So, to imagine Driscoll setting up a fund for women to go out and lead both men and women in ministry was jarring to say the least.
Not to my surprise, I found that the fund is being established by a group of people who want to offer an alternative Christian view of gender. Recently, the people establishing the find held a counter-conference to the Driscoll led, “Act Like Men” conference which was sure to be rooted in more of the same monolithic, macho, and heternormative definitions of what it means to be a “man.” The counter-conference titled, “Act Like Men?” is where the “The Mark Driscoll Scholarship Fund for Women in Ministry” came to fruition. It is clearly as name that is meant to draw attention and work against the harmful ideologies that preachers like Driscoll continue to perpetuate under the guise of Biblical truth.
Now, I have to be honest. The second I understood that the scholarship was a joked aimed at Driscoll, I completely laughed my ass off. I couldn’t stop. The man who once got mad at his wife for chopping of her hair without asking how he felt about it will now have women growing spiritually in order to live lives of pastors in his name. I, mean, it’s brilliant. The joke is certainly not lost on me as I have spent far too many hours yelling at my computer while watching Driscoll supposedly speak out against domestic violence against women while reinforcing the same problematic structures that lead to domestic violence in the first place.
To be honest though, I can’t help but feel as though this isn’t the right way to go about this. I think the counter-conference was a great way to bring in alternative theologies when it comes to gender, but the scholarship is focused on a man, not a gender theology. I am all for helping women pursue their calling in ministry beyond motherhood, children, and worship, but at what point are we no longer offering a critically engaging view of gender aside from patriarchal roots, and just making a joke at someone who we don’t agree with’s expense?
Let’s be real, I don’t think Driscoll is going to cry and feel bad about himself when he hears of this. He’s not going to feel shame and examine his own ideologies in the light of this scholarship fund. Not at all, I think the opposite. I think he’s going to hear of it, dismiss it as feminist garbage from a bunch of boys who refuse to grow up and use it as ammo as to why women in leadership is an idea rooted in immaturity and rebellion. It will probably become another joke at Mars Hill of people trying to “fight against Godly gender roles” as opposed to engaging with Biblical teachings that don’t align with their own. I think we are using an amazing opportunity to focus on getting women into ministry and instead replacing it with wanting to poke fun at our oppressor – and where is the good in that?
Wouldn’t it be way better to call it something like “The Nadia Bolz-Weber Fund for Women in Ministry?” Why not have the name of the scholarship be rooted in women who are spreading Christ’s love and furthering Jesus’ mission to love, serve, and teach? I am afraid that a scholarship that is clearly named after someone so against women leading in ministry will inspire this movement through shared disdain of a Driscoll instead of through shared inspiration through women who have already responded to their calling for ministry with love. Why have our inspiration be anger at those against us instead of humility and love for a God that is for us?
I don’t agree with a lot of Mark Driscoll says. In fact, I typically gauge how well I will get along with someone theologically based on how much they are against his teachings. And I absolutely love the idea of creating a scholarship fund for women to become church leaders in a spiritual and secular society that systematically oppresses it from happening. But if we truly want to offer a counter message of gender ideologies rooted in Christ, we must do that while remembering that while Driscoll says very problematic things that he needs to repent for, we need to be graceful when we offer counter messages.
John 13: 34-35: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” I think anger is good and can be righteously given and used (Jesus himself got angry) but if that anger and frustration is lost in name calling and flippant attitudes towards Driscoll himself, we refuse to love as Christ loves. Let’s not stoop to pettiness against Driscoll or ironically inspire women to teach in his name, let’s instead focus on Christ’s grace and the beauty of realizing your calling of being a teacher, no matter what gender you are.
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