(Updated 07/22/11 — scroll down)
Seattle preacher Mark Driscoll has provided some “some backstory” on — though not apologized for — his “flippant comment” about effeminate worship leaders, saying it arose from a conversation with a trucker, and his executive elders have since told him he needs to “do better by hitting real issues with real content in a real context.”
Yesterday, we reported Driscoll’s vicious Facebook post, in which he essentially asked his followers to expose and ridicule effeminate worship leaders:
So, what stories do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leaders you’ve ever personally witnessed?
After hearing about this hideously sophomoric behavior, I sent an email to Mars Hill Church, where Driscoll is pastor:
Millions of kids in schools across the world are bullied every single day because their peers perceive them as effeminate, gay, less than masculine. Many of them suffer such humiliation, they’d rather kill themselves. I don’t think you can have missed that, as several high-profile bullying-related suicides have been reported in the US over the last couple years.
I sent him this quote, from a straight, married Christian who knows what it is to be hurt by such remarks:
When you put out a call on Facebook for people [to] verbally attack “effeminate anatomically male” men, I find myself back in high school—shoved against a locker, with the bullies calling me a faggot.
Please don’t add to the pain by encouraging Christians to expose and mock “effeminate anatomically male worship leaders.”
Driscoll: No Apology
Driscoll’s response to the public debacle so far has been not to apologize but to miss the point completely. A “raging debate on gender and related issues” ensued, he wrote. But it would be more accurate to say a protest against his mean-spirited, bullying behavior ensued. This isn’t primarily about gender; it’s about bullying.
Driscoll says the Facebook comment stemmed from a chat with a trucker who was “uncomfortable” with effeminate worship leaders. A shrewder pastor might have pointed out that anyone comfortable in their own skin need not feel uncomfortable around people who are different, and perhaps the trucker should be more confident in his own identity and worry less about that of others. But rather than address this insecurity, Driscoll responded with the very kind of macho posturing for which he is renowned:
He asked some questions about the Bible, and whether the Bible said anything about the kind of guy who should do the music. I explained the main guy doing the music in the Bible was David, who was a warrior king who started killing people as a boy and who was also a songwriter and musician.
Yes, he affirmed this hostility towards effeminate men by explaining that a boy who kills people is pretty much God’s ideal role model for the perfect, alpha male worship leader.
So, what of Driscoll’s juvenile attempt to rally his Facebook followers to a verbal lynching of men who fail to make the mark? He says it was flippant and it lacked context. This he blames on the limitations of social networking:
These are big, tough, far-reaching issues. Too big, tough, and far-reaching for things like Facebook and Twitter, I’ve recently learned. … In the past, I’ve not had a regular place to work out personal commentary on social issues, and so I’ve erred in sometimes doing so in places like Facebook, Twitter, and the media, where you can have a good fight but don’t have the room to make a good case.
Astounding. He really thinks — or at least wants his followers to think — his demeaning attack was a failure of social media. And he talks about being a real man? How about being man enough to take responsibility for your own choices and your own abusive words, Pastor Mark?
Hat-Tip to… Another Macho Pastor
Now, onto the hat-tip for this article. You know, that bit where I acknowledge where I first heard this story. It’s an interesting one.
It began yesterday with a comment from “Daniel” on the Driscoll post. Here it is in its entirety:
this is just gay
As with all first-time comments, it came to the moderation queue. I didn’t publish it, as it was flippant, unnecessary and a clear attempt to add to Driscoll’s bullying with a drive-by anti-gay slur. But I did check out the email address, which led me to Daniel Beckworth, a youth pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church, Opelika, Alabama. According to the Thomasville Times, he ministers to high school students as an evangelist with Youth for Christ, Auburn. He’s also CampusLife Director for the organization in East Alabama.
So I emailed Daniel and asked why he — a pastor charged with caring for young people — chose to add to Driscoll’s sophomoric bullying with a derogatory, homophobic, trolling comment of the very type that hurts kids that are “different” every day. I pointed out that many kids would rather kill themselves than face such humiliation. I kept it low-key and respectful, saying that “even if you have conservative beliefs about homosexuality, there are better ways to express them than ridiculing and stigmatizing.” He replied:
You really don’t have anything better to do? You’re going to spend the majority of your day criticizing a man who has actually accomplished much for the kingdom? Who are you and what have you done besides talk trash about someone else? Why don’t you go criticize the mrn who refuse to do anything or the people arent man enough to take a stand against homosexuality.
My comment was meant to show how rediculous your stupid website is. Youre wasting time blogging about that because you must have nothing better to do. It doesn’t help anyone and you become guilty of the something you accuse Driscoll of being.
I admit, I don’t have a megachurch. But I do consider the work I do here through Ex-Gay Watch a worthy cause, and I said so:
I have many things I’d rather be doing, but I consider standing up to bullies a noble cause. If you don’t think holding up effeminate males to exposure and ridicule is bullying behaviour, I’m not sure I can convince you. Maybe you need to speak directly to some of the young people whose lives are miserable because they’re bullied daily because, through no choice of their own, they don’t look or sound masculine enough.
A naive part of me hoped this youth pastor would come down a notch or two, think twice about what he was saying and start to show some sensitivity to these issues — real issues for millions of kids every day. His bizarre reply, however, seemed to pit bullying against pampering:
Maybe you should speak to the young boys who wish they had someone to help them be manly. You dont need to reply. You have no chance of convincing me that we need to pamper young boys.
I did reply. I told him the exchange had been illuminating and I intended to publish it. He laughed it off:
Oh no! If you publish our conversation the 14 people who read your website will know I disagree with you.
I’m not laughing. In fact, I’m fearful for the kind of men, gay or straight, who suffer humiliation and distress in churches like these because of the hostile atmosphere created by such brashly declared stereotypical notions of masculinity.
So here it is, for the record: evidence that there are pastors out there who think and talk exactly like Driscoll; pastors engaged in youth outreach who defend Driscoll and consider criticizing him on the same level as publicly rounding up your disciples for a gossip session about “the most effeminate anatomically male worship leaders you’ve personally witnessed.”
So, the hat-tip. H/T: Pastor Daniel Beckworth, who ended our exchange last night by sending me the link to the Driscoll article:
Read that homeboy and have a good night.
John H points out that Daniel’s trolling comment echoed Mark Driscoll’s own words from 2006, when he ended a homophobic rant against Brian McLaren with the words “In conclusion, this is all just gay.”
Driscoll was forced to apologize for the ugly diatribe — there’s a pattern here — which was both dismissive and derisive of gays and lesbians:
Well, it seems that Brian McLaren and the Emergent crowd are emerging into homo-evangelicals. … I am myself a devoted heterosexual male lesbian who has been in a monogamous marriage with my high school sweetheart since I was 21 and personally know the pain of being a marginalized sexual minority as a male lesbian.
Driscoll legitimates “homo” and “gay” as terms of derision, and somewhere along the line, among the legions of loyal fans Driscoll has a lot of influence over, a youth pastor does the same. The similarity may or may not have been deliberate — but the behavior pattern is unmistakeable.
Daniel has emailed me with an apology, which it seems he has shared with a number of people this affects. In it he acknowledged that “many young people struggle with acceptance and face the terrors of bullying on a daily basis and it is not my desire to offend those young men or add to their struggles.” He ap0logized to me, his church, YFC and young people who have been bullied. He added that he’s realized his words “can have deep consequences and I can very easily belittle young men whose struggles I know nothing of.”
You never really know when people make mistakes so publicly like this how genuine their apologies are, but if all this has made Daniel even a fraction more sensitive to the issues involved here, and if that is reflected even in some small way in his youth ministry, so much the better.