Men, Women, and Mark Driscoll

Today: Part II of my thoughts on Mark & Grace Driscoll’s new book, Real Marriage.  Though there is much to commend the book, I cannot wholeheartedly endorse all of it.  This is mostly due to Driscoll’s traditionalist and masculine approach to theology and gender relations.  While I will admit that it is well within the bounds of Scripture to take the approach he does and he is much more sensitive to the surrounding issues than many would give him credit for, I part company with him in the following areas:

  1. Men need to be more manly and should not be stay-at-home Dads.  Reacting against the growing trend of “indefinite adolescence and a Peter Pan syndrome epidemic where some men what to remain boys forever,”  Driscoll wants boys to grow up and be men.  I understand this.  And make no mistake: he argues against chauvinists even as he does “tender cowards.”  But when it comes to the traditional husband as breadwinner, I aver.  His wife Grace writes, “The man’s curse was providing for his family…if you want any men to respect you, if you want your wife to respect you, if you want your children to respect you, you pay the bills.”  Really?  Is it that simple?  That cut-and-dry?  That black and white?  It think not.  There can be plenty of circumstances where the man is at home and the wife works.  While this non-traditional setup may seem weird or embarrassing to some, this likely has more to do with culture than some eternal biblical mandate.
  2. The wife should submit to the husband.  There’s plenty of biblical discussion here that I don’t want to get into today…but my question is this: how often does this doctrine even matter?  The Driscolls reject egalitarian marriage in favor of a complementarian one.  But even in their model, Driscoll has admitted that his wife is his “functional pastor.”  Real Marriage argues strongly against using male authority over a wife in an abusive way, and even discusses the topic of submission with reference to Ephesians 5:21, which commands “submitting to one another.”  If, as Grace Driscoll writes, “she [the wife] gets to decide if you [the husband] are loving and leading well as the head, and you get to decide if she is respecting and submitting well as the helper,”  why are we contending for headship in the first place?  Just because we feel we have to?  How is the Driscoll’s marriage NOT egalitarian in many ways?  I believe marriage is a relationship of mutual submission…and frankly I’m not sure if in practice even some of the most fervent “male headship” people wouldn’t agree. 
  3. Women in ministry.  Not a major topic in the book nor a major topic for today.  Suffice it to say that Mark Driscoll is against female pastors.  I am not.  For Pentecostals, both our history and the primacy of the Acts 2 passage (where the Spirit is poured out on “all flesh”) help safeguard the place of women in ministry.  From my experience as a seminarian at a mainline school surrounded by a host of men and women preparing for the pulpit, I can tell you this:  one of the most clearly called and gifted ministers I have seen–of any gender–is a woman.  Deal with that.

Tomorrow:  Sex and Real Marriage.