Dianna Anderson: Dear Mr. Driscoll

Trigger warning for anti-trans and misogynistic gender policing. In a development that will come as a shock to exactly no one, Mark Driscoll has once again indulged in misogynist, bigoted douchebaggery. This time he invited his Facebook followers to mock “effeminate” worship leaders:

Text: “So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?” [Screencap from Homebrewed Theology]

Well, I have many thoughts. The first being that this would be an excellent candidate for a post at Tea Party Jesus. Can’t you just see those words issuing from the lips of Jesus himself? I know I can.

Second thought: This dude is epic fail as a pastor even by his own supposed standards of faith. Honestly, what kind of a pastor invites people to MAKE FUN of worship leaders because of how they look or act? Isn’t leading worship supposedly an act of service to God and a ministry to the congregation? Isn’t worship a sacred time of expressing love and reverence for God? So how exactly is it acceptable to “lead” people to mock worship leaders based on external appearances or presumed anatomy? Isn’t that blasphemous? Doesn’t God judge the heart? Explain this to me, conservative Christians. I am baffled.

Also. There’s the whole part about how worship leaders are human being like anyone else, with real feelings and all that. Not to belabor the whole Jesus thing, but I’m missing how it’s repping Christ to talk about people like this under the guise of being a shepherd of souls. ETA: Joy makes a similar point here.

A further thought: When he calls “effeminate” male worship leaders anatomically male, he clearly means that they are only “anatomically male,” i.e.,  not really male. It’s quite amazing, really. Mark Driscoll is so obsessed with this gender role nonsense that he’s now taking it to the level of genital policing. He might as well have said that effeminate male worship leaders are male in penis only.

This raises all sorts of questions. What makes him think that anatomy determines gender identity or should limit gender expression? Again, again, a penis is not what makes someone male. The colors or clothes a man wears or how he talks or walks are not what makes him a man. A man is someone who identifies and understands himself as a man. Period.

Perhaps even more confusing… what makes him think he can tell what someone’s anatomy looks like beneath their clothes? More to the point, why on earth does he CARE so very much about what’s going on with other people’s genitals? And what’s up with his FB followers and defenders elsewhere who seem to think he’s making a harmless joke, or worse, a really profound point? I get the feeling if he had put his comments in plain words and actually used the word “penis,” those same people would be up in arms.

Text: Mark Driscoll providing the definition of effeminate: 1: having feminine qualities untypical of a man: not manly in appearance or manner 2″ marked by unbecoming delicacy or overrefinement. [Screen cap from Jesus Needs New PR].

People who defend Driscoll. Let me break this down for you. This isn’t clever or funny or insightful. It’s stupid and juvenile. Let me translate for you.

Driscoll: “I think that person has a penis! But he moves and talks funny! This makes me feel vaguely unsettled and insecure! I don’t want to think about what this means for me as a man so I will mock him mercilessly instead! Har har, look at that guy with a penis who looks funny!”

Ask yourself, Driscoll defenders, why you tolerate or even expect this kind of immaturity from a pastor. From a leader. Ask yourself why this man is so clearly unsettled about his own gender identity that he needs to take potshots at other people’s gender to make himself look and feel more manly.

And ask yourself the excellent questions that Dianna Anderson asks of Driscoll:

I want you to ask yourself this: You are a married man. You have (according to the info I could find) five children, a couple of whom I imagine, by sheer probability, are female [Driscoll has at least one daughter – G]. So think of your wife, think of your daughters, and ask this: Is being female a bad thing?

I know the response already: being female isn’t a bad thing for girls, but it’s a bad thing for a man to display female characteristics.


Ask yourself how this kind of incessant degrading of feminine behavior and appearance makes women and anyone whose identity is in any way “feminine” feel. How it hurts us.

Let’s say that we live in a world where women are in charge. Instead of male pronouns to describe God in the Bible, it’s all female. There’s a zealous writer named Pauline whose words about pastors don’t talk about the pastor having a wife but rather a husband. Her instructions about being quiet in the church are directed at men. Now say you go to a church – you’re faithfully trying to live your life following a savior named Jesus, a woman, who preached great love and sacrifice and spreading the word of her Gospel through the world. You’re doing the best you can to follow what she said in a broken world.

You go to church with your wife and family. She works while you stay at home with the kids, because it’s what men do in this world. And your pastor preaches time and time again about a “feminine” Christianity, about a womanly savior who exhibited all the good things about being female, and she complains about a church that is masculinized, of a church too taken over by men that it’s uncomfortable and wrong and even, possibly, sinful.

You, however, have a complex sense of your own gender identity. Sure, you like doing “manly” things, but you equally feel fine when you do feminine things. You never felt like you quite fit into that subservient role in this Matriarchal world. How does hearing that it’s a bad thing to be masculine, that it’s awful for your wife to share some of your burden as a man, that it’s sinful to the point of keeping [her] from heaven to be masculine?

Does that make you good and angry? Do you think you should be allowed to be masculine or feminine if you wanted because God created you that way? Do you think those archaic gender roles, which aren’t even clearly laid out in the Holy Scriptures of your religion, might just be wrong? Do you feel like who you are as a person is being ignored because of what you happen to have between your legs? [Dianna Anderson, Dear Mr. Driscoll, at Jesus Needs New PR]

When Mark Driscoll pulls stunts like this he’s sending a clear message that anyone who challenges gender hierarchies that place patriarchal masculinity above all else is to be isolated, shunned, and mocked. Men who are not stereotypically masculine. People of nonbinary gender. Trans women. Cis women. Women whose behavior , identities, or personalities at all challenge male assumptions of dominance and superiority. It’s inevitable that there are people in each of those categories who look up to Mark Driscoll as a leader and who read his comments.

Try to see, just try, how this kind of daily, ceaseless attack on femininity makes the many, many people who don’t fit into the patriarchal model of gender feel. Try to see how it makes us feel like we have to embrace an identity of inferiority to be part of the church, or leave.


18 Comments on “Dianna Anderson: Dear Mr. Driscoll”

  1. Excellent, excellent article…. You did much more justice to Driscoll’s genderphobia than I.

    Well done.

  2. Kate says:

    I wish there was a way to follow him on FB without ‘liking’ him. I don’t like. I just want a front-row seat to his bullshit.

    How long, o Lord? Why do so many ‘big names’ put up with this? (I can’t believe I’m appreciating Macarthur at this point.)

    Maybe the spotlight on SGM will turn towards Driscoll and his cult-personality following.

  3. This is great. Thank you for posting it. As you know, MHC and Driscoll are a subject I have become very interested in recently, since moving back to the Seattle area. It’s so helpful for me, just as an emotional outlet to see someone else posting clearly and articulately so many of the things that bother me about this denomination and about complementarian churches more generally. I just know I’ll be adding lots of links to your blog posts to my ongoing Mars Hill Church research post.

    The thing that bothers me so much about Driscoll’s view of Jesus specifically is something I haven’t seen clearly articulated anywhere else (though no doubt I’m not alone in my feeling), so I’ll say it here: When Driscoll mandates proscribed and very specific gender roles for men and women, and then identifies Jesus as a thoroughly masculine “ultimate fighter” figure, he turns Him into something completely inaccessible to women (or to anyone who does not identify as a masculine male). Christians are called to be Christ-like, and what Driscoll seems to be implying is that only a certain percentage of the population even has the requisite parts.

    • Addendum:
      I just went to Driscoll’s FB page and read a number of the comments people left him on that particular status update. I am now physically shaking and my heart is pounding. While I was happy to see that some people, including several who identified themselves as MHC members, called him out on his douchebaggery, there were far too many people who seemed more than happy to play along and defend his posting. If this is the kind of behaviour he encourages in his followers, he’s even more vile a person than I had previously supposed.

      • Faith says:

        Driscoll’s response to why he posted it was disgusting. Apparently he talked to a “blue collar guy” who walked out of a church because he was “uncomfortable with the guy on the mic.”

        So if some random guy who’s insecure about his own masculinity/sexuality thinks a worship leader doesn’t act “manly/straight” enough, then that worship leader is the one who has a problem?

        • Grace says:

          Well, and some random guy who was raised to be bigoted about gender – so churches, apparently, are there to cater to bigotry as long as it gets “real men” in the seats, not to speak truth to people about the ugliness of their bigotry.

  4. Great article. Driscoll and his juvenile beliefs masked as Christianity have no place in our city. If you want discuss further, join the conversation at this little facebook group. http://www.facebook.com/?sk=inbox#!/groups/86958117866?ap=1

  5. marco padula says:

    If only we had a time-machine, we would grab Mark Driscoll, push him in, set the year for 300AD and push the GO button! he does not belong to the 21st century.

    • Grace says:

      I think Mark would probably have a little bit of trouble making it in 300 AD. Fake machismo wouldn’t get him quite so far there as it does from the comfort of his pulpit.

  6. […] Dear Mr. Driscoll  on the Are Women Human? blog by Dianna Anderson […]

  7. […] words, unsurprisingly, drew rapid and sharp criticism from the Christian blogosphere. Seemingly in response to the swift reaction […]

  8. […] words, unsurprisingly, drew rapid and sharp criticism from the Christian blogosphere. Seemingly in response to the swift reaction […]

  9. […] guest post is by Dianna Anderson, a writer and blogger. She wrote an awesome open letter to Mark Driscoll a few months back, and runs the blog Be The […]

  10. […] pt. 1 6.   Mark Driscoll: If you don’t believe in hell, you’re going there 5.   Dianna Anderson: Dear Mr. Driscoll 4.  Ann Voskamp and Jesus as lover: Perspective from the Puritans, pt. 1 3.   Must read: On Cage […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s