Against every natural and holy impulse within me, I’m marking this advent season before
Father’s Hallmark Day by reading Mark Driscoll’s ebook, Pastor Dad: Biblical Insights into Fatherhood.
As I’ve oft noted, Mark Driscoll is one of those people who calls to mind that piece of scripture from 2 Peter:
The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
For my response to chapter 3 of Pastor Dad, “The Fruitful Vine,” I thought I would attempt what Driscoll almost always fails to bother with : consider a woman’s point of view. My wife, Ali.
So then, I offer you both my reactions to Driscoll’s screed as well my wife’s likely reactions to what she surely would have a stronger and more derogatory term than screed.
Driscoll begins the third chapter in the beginning of the bible, the book of Genesis, telling us that fatherhood and a “biblical family” are rooted in God’s command to Adam to be “fruitful and multiply.”
This means, Driscoll explains with breathtaking generalization, that “godly men desire to have children and that those children would have much fruit in their lives with God.”
Does ‘fruitful and multiply’ really mean having children, or do we read that in to the text because State’s more ancient than Rome have always had a stake in encouraging families? Might it just as easily mean our lives are to be about more than ourselves, having a multiplying, pay it forward effect? Does this mean Jesus was also taking about us spawning when he said we’re branches on his vine that should bear fruit?
Nice, so Genesis is just a two-party conversation between God and Adam with Eve off doing….what? Doesn’t matter I suppose…to Mark Driscoll. Why in the ________ does he assume God only gave the command to Adam?
Next, Mark Driscoll cites the ‘cleaving’ passage in Genesis 2 to argue that only after a young man has grown up, started a career, and learned to govern his own life “is he qualified to pursue a young woman through father…young men continue to live at home, freeloading off their parents as boys who can shave, while they have sex with girlfriends that they one day may shack up with, and use birth control to prevent pregnancy or abortion to murder their own child because fools see children as a burden and not a blessing.”
Let’s just ignore the unalloyed way he just equated all abortion with murder as though there’s no ambiguity on the issue. This is a surprisingly biblical justification for getting married later in life, but I wonder how he feels about the way this rationale rubs against the other biblical notion of chastity outside of marriage?
Kudos for Mark Driscoll smacking down boys who want to remain boys into their 30’s, playing XBox, being mommied by women who should be grandmas soon, all the while having their ‘friends with benefits’ or their ‘baby mommas.’
Of course, any prophetic wisdom aimed at men who want to remain boys is lost by the way Driscoll treats women as completely passive objects in the transaction he calls ‘courtship, marriage, and fatherhood.‘
Really, does this mean women who pursue men can never have a ‘biblical marriage?‘ No doubt Driscoll would have an S word for such women and it wouldn’t be ‘scriptural.‘
“As a general rule, single men should aspire to to marriage and fatherhood, and if they do not there is something seriously wrong with them.”
So, according to Driscoll’s construal of manhood, Jesus is extremely queer- definitely in one sense of the word and possibly in that OTHER sense of it?
Weren’t the first Christians ALL single? As a way of expressing their commitment to Christ and their conviction that the community was now their family?
Don’t Christians believe we spread by conversion and baptism? New Creation rather than procreation?
Next Driscoll says:
“When I met my wife, Grace, I adored her and soon asked her how she felt about children, because if she was not interested in being a wife and mother who desired to stay home and raise her children, I was not interested in pursuing a relationship with her and did not want to waste my time.”
As I often tell couples, your relationship with your spouse- not your kids- is your first priority. You didn’t swear a covenant with your children; you did with your spouse. You and your spouse are meant to be visible sign of God’s love for us all. Children are the fruit of parabolic, married love; married love is not the means to the end that is children.
‘Waste my time…?’ Jason and I met when we were 15 and have been together over half our lives. We had no idea what the future held back then and we were no more naive than couples who meet in their 20’s or 30’s or 40’s. Love- and life- happens. It’s that willingness to step out into an unknown future with someone (whether it means kids or not) that is Christlike and faithful not finding someone to mate with. Did he inspect her teeth and forelegs first before breeding with her?
“I wanted to have children and be a father who was the sole economic provider so that my wife could stay home with the children…[a wife whose] children praise her because she is a wise bible teacher who spends her time working hard to build their home and bless their father.”
Isn’t ‘sole economic provider’ a bit of an anachronism? The cliche of the husband bringing home the bacon doesn’t really match the biblical context of an agrarian (not capitalist, market-based) economy where said bacon was literally bacon and was literally brought ‘home’ from the field next to the house, a field in which you can be damn scripture sure the woman worked in as well (see: Ruth, Book of).
I’d LOVE not to have to work but pastor’s don’t make enough to support a family in an economy with an evaporating middle class. Not to mention, I reserve the right to work should I want to work and I claim the possibility that God might call me to do so in some particular fashion. If not everyone has the same gift from the Spirit, then why/how would God call all women to be stay-at-home moms? Some dads are superbly fitted to be stay-at-home parents, and homes with 2 working parents aren’t de facto bad families.
And then there’s this: A WIFE’S JOB IS TO BLESS THE….
As in, her man not her God?
Driscoll then moves on to discuss in nuanced, sensitive fashion the influence parents can have on their impressionable, ever-watchful children:
“If a wife is a nag who disrespects her husband by chirping at him all the time, then the children in that home will follow her example and become fools who ruin their lives by similarly disobeying and dishonoring their dad.”
To buttress his claims about the devastating effects of nagging wives upon God’s good creation, Driscoll cites as evidence:
“…anyone doubting this descent would be well served to simply watch one of the innumerable popular sitcoms on television where the husband is an idiot and the wife trash-talks him in front of the children…”
Does anyone really think today’s sitcoms are anymore reflective of reality than Rob and Laura Petrie from the Dick Van Dyke Show? I wasn’t alive, but did married couples with children really sleep in twin beds and know absolutely no black people?
Bravely though, Driscoll places culpability where it’s due:
“….whose responsibility is it? ultimately, it is men who are responsible because they chose their wives.”
It’s not my fault. I didn’t do anything but marry a great gal.
‘Chose?’ Jason and I dated each other. We fell in love together. We decided to marry each other. It was mutual, just like our marriage.
Apparently Mark Driscoll chose his wife off a shelf at the mall.