Why I Care About Mars Hill Church

You may have noticed me tweeting about Mark Driscoll, co-founder of Mars Hill Church.

You may not know this, but Mars Hill Church started in Seattle. Prior to co-founding Mars HillDriscoll was a college pastor at Antioch Bible Church.

Now, that likely means nothing to you. But Antioch Bible Church has a rep around here. First, it’s praised for being racially diverse (all too rare in the US). Second, Antioch is known for its late pastor and co-founder Ken Hutcherson, who received a lot of press for trying to stop gay rights in Washington state. Some of his plans to do so were skewered in the press, but certainly not all.

Let us say that I am not at all surprised that Mark Driscoll doesn’t fall far from that anti-gay tree.  And that is one of the reasons I had no interest in attending Mars Hill even BEFORE they opened a location less than a mile from my home.

But I’m also concerned about Driscoll’s teaching about women. Women in the church, in the home, the workplace, and life.  Around here, you don’t have to read Christian bloggers (though you can) to hear about Driscoll or Mars Hill — area news reports covered that “women belong in the home” and “women can’t lead” were standard Mars Hill teachings.

As noted by Rachel Held Evans and others, some earlier “sock puppet” blog postings of Driscoll’s have recently resurfaced.  I haven’t read them all. One quote in particular is in reference to women asking questions of his sock puppet:

“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.”

I would be embarrassed to have a pastor or spiritual leader write that. I would flee. I say this as someone who has walked out of churches in mid-sermon in response to anti-gay rhetoric from the pulpit.  Then I was — correctly — offended. This is offensive — but also silly.  Driscoll, using a sock puppet account, writes that he’s going to ignore all questions from women on a message board.  At the time he wrote that, he wasn’t disclosing who he was — yet he thinks he can tell who the women are?

Dog at a computer, telling another dog that 'On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.'
“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.
But Mark Driscoll knows if you’re a woman!”

You may gather I don’t think much of Mark Driscoll. You’d be right. The fact that he started his own church, neatly bypassing having to answer to a boss or denomination, is part of it. I think of him as being very young, because his combination of “rock and jeans and cool” and “the Bible is simple” reminds me of teenagers, but it turns out he’s in his 40s and merely acting like a teen. I resent that he’s presented as being a church leader in the Northwest.

But much more important are these words from Fred Clark today at Slacktivist:

There are women at Mars Hill Church. There are girls at Mars Hill Church. There are girls who go to church on Sunday and hear from a man who believes that “pussies” represent everything that is wrong with the world.

In the name of all that’s holy, that has to stop. That is sin. That is evil.

This is an evil, destructive teaching.