Monday, August 11, 2014

Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill, Spiritual Abuse and What to do About It, Part 1

Don't kick a man when he's down.

It's true and good advice. It's not in the Bible, word for word, but that doesn't detract from its veracity.

I'm not interested in kicking Mark Driscoll when he's down. I don't know Mark Driscoll personally, and I'm nowhere near qualified to make judgments about him as a person. Sure, he grew up two blocks away from me; sure he married the daughter of my lifelong pastor, which made me privy to a few more details than the next person about Driscoll; that still leaves me nowhere near qualified.

The reason I am interested in what is happening with Mark and Mars Hill is that I feel that something similar happened to me and my family at the church I was going to for my lifetime, until two and a half years ago. And when what happened to me happened to me, I said (to the pastor, my wife, to anyone who would listen): I never would want what happened to me to happen to someone else. Ever since then I have taken spiritual/emotional/authority abuse extremely seriously.

I don't know Mark, I don't know any of the people who are now telling their stories about what happened to them at Mars Hill. But this is what I know: When everyone is telling a similar story, it might just mean something. And the fact of the matter is that many, many un-anonymous people are coming out and telling this story: I had a disagreement with leadership; I tried to open a dialogue about that disagreement with the leadership; I was kicked out of the church.

This is a pattern. This is actually happening. This is what happened to me.

But it never actually happens like that. It's not as cut and dry and simple and easy. What my description leaves out is the passive-aggressive comments, the doublespeak, the paranoia of unhealthly leadership, the trouble that the concentration of power in too few hands renders, the unstated implications, the feigned godliness, the deafening silence that suddenly emanates from your once close friends and family, the use of Scripture from people in power to justify the unjustifiable. Religion is so painful because religious people are just as broken and fallen and flawed as non-religious people--but religious people pretend they are not and so they often wrap everything they do in whoreish rags of implied morality that manage to fool the faithful because we have fallen for the same lie as the rest of the religious people have. We expect more from ourselves and our leaders because of our religion, so we think that we see it.

Oh my. I knew that I had a lot to say, but I haven't even finished with clearing my throat and I've already said so much (and probably too much).

If this examination of the subject is going to continue, it is going to have to be a multi-part series.

But maybe I will have come to my senses before I am able to post the next installment.

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