Life On Mars: A Sample of Mark Driscoll's Christianity

In the world of contemporary evangelical Christianity, Mark Driscoll is a god.  And I really do mean to give him this designation, because my fear is that those in his congregations are way too interested in hearing what he has to say about scripture than its context, or even the scripture itself.

This post is a point-by-point response to your average Driscoll blog post entitled "Finance Before Romance?", a post meant as part of his larger series surrounding his new book, Real Marriage, written with his wife, Grace.  There is really so much to say on this matter, but I'll keep to my word.  So here goes (All scripture is from the NIV).:

Driscoll begins with a story:

In Real Marriage, I write about Little-Boy Larry. Little-Boy Larry never grew up—like Peter Pan. 
Little-Boy Larry tends to be disorganized and has a hard time getting his life together for an extended time. Getting and keeping a job are always tough because he’s not very ambitious and finds that ongoing responsibilities tend to get in the way of his hobbies and friends.
Unable to pay his bills or look after himself, Little-Boy Larry tends to borrow money from other people who keep an eye on him in ways an adult looks after a child. Women are attracted to him in the way a mother is attracted to a helpless baby.
Little-Boy Larry makes for a horrible husband because he expects his wife to provide as much or more than he does for the family. In doing so, he abdicates his God-given responsibility to lead his house well and be the primary provider for his wife and kids.
Driscoll's assumptions here are plentiful.  First, we're assuming that Larry is probably middle class and has knowledge of job-finding resources, and has the ability to get a job, but doesn't want to keep one.  With the American unemployment rate still hovering between eight and nine percent, this is a felonious assumption, though a common one from someone with Driscoll's socioeconomic background...i.e., "Why don't these damn lazy jobless people just get off their asses and get a job?"  If I were unemployed and my wife ended up as the primary provider for us, you're damn skippy I'd be excited for her.  Would that be an abdication of my God-given duties?  Let's continue:

A Man Provides

In our society, many men shrug off this responsibility and live as Little-Boy Larry. This has unfortunately led to many women writing off men and taking matters into their own hands. As a result, for the first time in the America’s history there are more single adults than married and statistically, women are more likely than the men to attend college, be working a career track job, and attend church. The Atlantic(here and here), The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal have all run major stories recently on the changing landscape of gender in our culture.
The Bible provides an alternative to what we are seeing in society today. In the Bible a man is called to grow up, move out of his parents’ home, get a job, pay his own bills, and take responsibility for himself (Genesis 2:24).
This is not to say that a wife can’t or shouldn’t work, but the primary responsibility resides on the husband to provide (1 Timothy 5:8), and unfortunately, many men have abdicated this role to women, placing undue burdens on their families.
Driscoll is using anecdotal knowledge here to prove his point, something that can neither be proven or unproven, namely that many women are writing off men and "taking matters into their own hands."  The implication here is troubling.  A parallel is drawn between unemployed, "lazy" men (again, a false assumption) and women's newfound desire to do for themselves, something Driscoll's seems to implicitly find undesirable.  That there are more women in the workplace, more women in college, and more single women (we are assuming here, admittedly) creating strong careers for themselves instead of submitting to historically-bound definitions of themselves is something that we should find a biblical alternative to?  I believe you have found the wrong Jesus, my brother.

Now, let's hit that scripture he mentions, because Driscoll LOVES him some Paul's letters to Timothy.  Note his usual gloss-over of the scripture without actually dissecting it.  In I Timothy 5:8, Paul states, "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."  Pretty harsh, unless you take it in its context.  Paul is elaborating on the responsibilities one has to one's entire family, one's neighborhood, one's community.  In fact, he reckons that widows, slaves, and elders are to be cared for the same as if they were one's family.  Take the first two verses of the chapter, for example: " 1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity."  So, random older men become fathers, older women mother, and younger women, community, togetherness, responsibility, love.  Not hierarchy.  Not "you're in, you're out."  Paul is saying that if you don't treat even those right around you with kindness and make yourself responsible for the weakest in your midst, you might as well stop calling yourself a Christian, because you're worse that people who don't.

The quote from Genesis is laughable in its lack of support for the statement Driscoll makes.  Genesis 2:24: "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."  The "that," presumably refers to the story of God creating Eve from Adam's rib.  In other words, a man leaves his parents to be united with his wife because man and woman were meant to be together.  The jump from there to paying bills, not living in your parents' house, and getting a job is a huge chasm in logic.  I'd love for Driscoll to say that to my brother's face, a single parent living in my parents' house busting his ass to provide for his daughter.  He might get some Southern hospitality upside the head.

But I digress.

Providing Isn’t Easy

That being said, I know that we’re facing some very hard economic times in the U.S. For many, employment isn’t exactly easy to find. There are many good, responsible men who are actively pursuing work but who may find it hard to land a good job.
This is not surprising as part of the curse for Adam and Eve sinning in the Garden of Eden is that work would be hard (Genesis 3:17–19). This includes the hard work of finding good work.
Given that, I thought I’d take write a few tips to single guys who wish to pursue a wife but who are also struggling financially and having a hard time getting a good job.
So finding a good job is hard because God said work would be hard, which includes the work of finding a job.  What about the writer of Ecclesiastes, who says,  "17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."  Can I struggle to find meaning in work?  Am I allowed to question the meaning of my toils?  Isn't that struggle a beautifully fucked up part of the human condition?  Or should I just stop my complaining and get a job?

It’s Not about Where You Are, but Where You Are Going

First and foremost, the idea of a man leaving his parents’ home is one of maturation. It’s about leaving home, taking on adult responsibilities, and maturing as a man. So, if you find yourself in between opportunities, it’s not about what job you lost or don’t have—it’s about what you’re doing to change your circumstances.
God knows your needs and the Bible promises he will meet them, but this doesn’t mean you sit idly by and just pray (Matt. 6:7-8, 25-34; 25:14-30). Think about it this way: In the midst of a drought, two farmers prayed to God for it to rain. Afterwards, only one of the farmers went out to prepare his fields, whereas the other farmer didn’t. Which farmer do you think prayed in faith?
As you pray and seek Jesus, what are you doing about your circumstances? Are you sitting idly by at home or your parents’ house playing video games, tracking your fantasy football team, and surfing the web? Or are you busting your tail looking for another opportunity or making yourself more qualified by getting additional education or vocational training?
Again, middle-class assumptions.  To be sure, these men-boys are his audience.  Doesn't really seem like ministering to the "least of these," though, if your audience's biggest problems are that they have too much time on their hands to play PS3.

You May Just Have to Get a Joe Job

The key to understanding masculinity is Jesus Christ.
Stop.  Just...stop.  Right there.  The key to understanding masculinity is to analyze the culture around you.  I know some smart people who study this stuff, Driscoll.  I'll put you in touch.  The key to understanding how to be a man OR a woman is Jesus Christ.  The cultural lines are irrelevant in God's eyes.  Christ found himself hanging out with the people he was never supposed to even touch or talk to.  Christ wasn't important to our definitions of gender because he was a man.  He's important to our definitions of gender because he told us to throw all those definitions out to Sheol (see Galatians 3).
 Jesus was tough with religious blockheads, false teachers, the proud, and bullies. Jesus was tender with women, children, and those who were suffering or humble.
Women, children, suffering, humble.  Look at that string there.  Look at the implicit comparisons.  Look at the assumptions made.
Additionally, Jesus took responsibility for himself. He worked a Joe job for the first 30 years of his life swinging a hammer as a carpenter.
Yeah that Jesus.  What a fucking badass.
We don’t always get the job that we want, which means sometimes we have to simply get a Joe job to provide our family (or even future one). A Joe job is one that isn’t glamorous but that is honest and pays the bills. For instance, my dad was a union construction worker who hung sheetrock. He worked day and night to provide for his family and he literally broke his back doing so. Was it his dream job? No, but he worked hard to provide for his family.
While you’re in between opportunities, or striving to make yourself more qualified for other work, you need to find a job to provide for yourself—even if you don’t like the work.

Find the Right Woman

What kind of woman are you pursuing? Is she like the late Gwen Guthrie who sang, “Your silky words are sweet, but your pockets sure look empty. Ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent. I’m lookin’ for a man to put some money in my hands?” If you meet a woman who will not be satisfied with the level of income and lifestyle that you can provide, then she’s probably not the woman for you. Since it’s your responsibility to provide for the material and financial needs of your family (1 Timothy 5:8), life is much easier when you’re married to a woman who is content with the lifestyle you are able to provide.
If you work hard, give generously, invest smartly, and save prudently, you shouldn’t feel guilty for not making the big bucks. You want a wife who appreciates how you can provide rather than one who is continually dissatisfied with what you provide.
So why the hell do you continually tweet about your wife's addiction to top-designer shoes?  And why the hell is that funny to you?  How is that not being conformed to the things of this world, and being continually dissatisfied what what you provide?

Be Patient

Finally, understand that your timing isn’t always God’s timing. You may have a desire to get married, but if you don’t have the resources to provide for a family—even in tough times—it’s best to wait until you can provide.
Practically, this means doing everything in your power to find good work and trusting that the Lord will provide the opportunities to work and provide. Don’t waste your singleness. Rather use it well to serve the church, work hard at finding work, work hard at keeping work when you have it, and position yourself to be a husband and father who can provide.
I welcome your adamant disagreements and questioning arguments. 


  1. this just in:


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