Mark Driscoll is one of those people who set my teeth on edge. Invariably, some blogger/reporter/random person will relate something he’s said and I’m astounded at just how asinine it sounds. A couple of days ago, Driscoll posted this status: “Mars Hill Church now has over 50 pastors, some paid & some unpaid. 20 more men are being considered right now.” Now, you might think this statement is rather inocuous, even praiseworthy, but it raises a couple of questions with me. First, what church needs 70 pastors? 70? Really? Then, I did a little digging and found that in 2008 Mars Hill Church in Seattle (where Driscoll is the senior pastor and is not to be confused with Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan pastored by Rob Bell) averaged around 7500 people in worship each Sunday. Did you read that? 7500 in worship. And, we all know that everyone doesn’t come to church every Sunday. Which means that membership could be as 10,000. And, this was 3 years ago, so there’s probably even more people now. So, maybe do they do need that many pastors. If they’re actually performing pastoral duties and not glorified janitors or maintainance men. The other more important part of that quote is “20 more men are being considered right now”. That’s right, kiddies, Driscoll has a complementarian view of gender roles!
In case you’re wondering what the hell a “complementarian view of gender roles” is, it’s basically this: men and women are created equally by God but with different roles in life. Men are to assume authority and leadership while women are to submit and support the men. This idea is why many churches, like Mars Hill, don’t allow women in positions of authority like pastor or teacher of Sunday School classes with men in them. People who hold this belief base it on scripture; mostly 1 Timothy 2:12-15 which says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” At first read, this appears cut and dried. Paul is telling Timothy how the church in Ephesus should be structured and that women are not to be included in the leadership. Couple of problems with that, however. First, in Galatians 3:28 Paul says “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Not to mention that in Romans 16:1-2 he has high praise for Phoebe as a deacon in the church. A deacon, now, not some shrinking violet who sat quietly and served the men. In case you think that deacon meant something different back then, it didn’t. A deacon’s job was to help others and was one step down from the elder who did all the preaching and teaching. So, Paul went from praising Phoebe for the good she’d done in the church and saying there was no difference between men and women to saying women should sit down and shut up in church? That doesn’t make sense. However, for a couple of problems, I’ve a couple of answers. First, the letter to Timothy, like all the Pauline letters, was written to address certain situations in certain places and shouldn’t be used as a blanket statement about the faith. Since we don’t know what was going in Ephesus at that time, it doesn’t make sense to apply that advice to our time and place. Two, scholars are now debating whether Paul actually wrote this letter to Timothy. It may have been written as late as the 2nd century. What difference does this make? Probably not that much to the overall question, but it does explain the difference in the author’s attitude toward women.
As I’ve said many times, I’m a Methodist and Methodists have a little thing called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to interpret and understand scripture. One side of the quadrilateral is experience and my experience tells me that women are called to preach the Gospel just like men and many of them do a better job of it. In response to Driscoll’s Facebook status, Chad Holtz snarkily said “Naturally, God only calls penises”. Fortunately, for us he calls vaginas, too.