Something very interesting is going on over at Dalrock’s blog.
Dalrock is the biggest blogger out there in the Christian MRA category of blogs. Christian MRAs, as the name suggests, are a hybrid between MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) and Christians. Christianity and being an MRA is a strange combination, I will admit, but there is a fairly easy to identify grouping of blogs that have in common emphasis on Christianity and Christian principles such as male headship and at the same time echo a lot of “men’s rights” themes and show a strong bias towards focusing on women’s sins while ignoring men’s sins and in general show a lot of the same male narcissistic tendencies that MRAs display in spades.
This Christian MRA phenomenon is quite new; Dalrock’s blog is a little over 3 years old and I would say the whole Christian MRA scene overall is no more than 5 years old. I in general view the rise of the Christian MRAs as being a good thing because it indicates Christianity “invading” or “taking over” the MRAs. This is good because it indicates MRAs, or at least a section of MRAs, wanting to migrate towards a more positive and constructive view of life which is something that Christianity offers. The Christian MRA is still an MRA however and therefore is still “contaminated” by many distasteful MRA habits of thought and orientation.
So what is new at Dalrock’s blog; something I haven’t seen before; is that Dalrock is being challenged on his own territory, in the comments section, by some real Christians (“real Christians” in the sense of having views typical of those supporting Christian complementarianism). Not just one contrarian either but a group of them; Matthew King, Earl, and Michael being the most prominent ones. Dalrock is not just brushing off or ignoring these commenters who are attacking his main theme; he is instead attacking them back head on. Things got started with Dalrock doing his regular routine of holding up Mark Driscoll for some ritualistic ridicule for daring to exhort men to “man up” in his “Brilliant Advertising” post. Things however took an unexpected turn when Matthew King, Earl, and Michael showed up to take Dalrock and his band of supportive commenters on. Dalrock then became embroiled in the fight with two follow-up posts; “The Sin of Modern Christian Men” and “Fragging Christian Headship.” Dalrock’s main argument is that those who tell men to “man up” and criticize men for their shortcomings in an effort to encourage men to become better men or who suggest that husbands need to first obey God faithfully before they can expect their wives to obey them are encouraging “feminist rebellion” and are therefore committing sin or facilitating sin.
The problem with Dalrock’s formulation is that it is a classic “men’s rights” approach to things; men must never be criticized or told to take responsibility for their actions in regards to their relationships with women because only women sin and only women have responsibility. Dalrock is very eager to accuse the men who seek to impose responsibilities upon men of “being sinful” on the basis that any criticism of men or responsibilities imposed upon men gives aid and comfort to “feminist rebellion.” Other than this however men are to be held blameless; only women’s shortcomings are to be highlighted and talked about.
Dalrock’s post “Fragging Christian Headship” starts out with a little gem from Mark Driscoll:
Dalrock’s quote from Mark Driscoll (from “Fragging Christian Headship”):
“Lord God, as well, I pray for those men who are here that are cowards. They are silent passive impish worthless men. They are making a mess of everything in their life. And they are such sweet little boys that no one ever confronts them on that. I pray for the women who enable them, who permit them to continue in folly, those who are mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives. I pray Lord God for men who are chauvinists. Those who are mean who are brash who are rude who are harsh. Who Lord God think they are tough when in fact they are satanic…”
I know that Dalrock’s intent is to make Mark Driscoll look bad with this quote; that Mark Driscoll is a man basher shamelessly pandering to women and “fragging headship” as Dalrock puts it. There is nothing wrong with what Driscoll said however; Driscoll is not “fragging headship” or encouraging “feminist rebellion,” he is actually supporting headship and undermining feminist rebellion by setting standards of behavior for the men of his church. When men rise to meet the behavioral standards that Driscoll is setting for them they will be competent as masculine heads of household and they will present themselves to their wives as men deserving of respect and deference.
Here is the entire prayer that Dalrock quoted from (the bold part is the segment Dalrock used for his quote):
Marriage and Men – Mark Driscoll March 22, 2009
6:54 to 8:15
“Father God, I pray that our time would be pleasing to you, that it would be profitable to us. Lord God, as well, I pray for those men who are here that are cowards. They are silent passive impish worthless men. They are making a mess of everything in their life. And they are such sweet little boys that no one ever confronts them on that. I pray for the women who enable them, who permit them to continue in folly, those who are mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives. I pray Lord God for men who are chauvinists. Those who are mean who are brash who are rude who are harsh. Who Lord God think they are tough when in fact they are satanic. God I pray for those men, that they would have the courage today to not fight with a woman, but to fight with You. To actually find their rightful place in creation, that they might receive a good rebuke so that they can become honorable rather than dishonorable sons. God I pray for my tone, I pray for our men, and I pray for the women who are listening in. I pray Lord God that they would know this comes from a heart of passion, deep concern, and love. I pray Lord God that we would think Biblically and critically and humbly and repentantly and that Lord God there would be dramatic life change by the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
This prayer that Mark Driscoll used to start off his sermon was a set up for what was to come later, a kind of introduction to the subject of his talk. Later on Driscoll goes into detail about what he is referring to regarding the “silent passive impish worthless men” who are “such sweet little boys that no one ever confronts them.” And he goes into detail about the “chauvinists” who are “mean, brash, rude, and harsh.” There is nothing wrong with Mark Driscoll giving a portrait of ways that manhood goes wrong and highlighting what the faults of such men are. Driscoll puts masculine dysfunction into two major categories; the cowards and the chauvinists. The cowards are weak and passive and avoid responsibility while the chauvinists brazenly and aggressively “get what they want” without concern for others. Both approaches are wrong, both types of error need to be corrected; this is the central theme of Driscoll’s sermon. Harsh critical judgment and condemnation of men showing these bad character traits is perfectly legitimate; it is a central feature of Driscoll’s style as a preacher and it is what makes his church (Mars Hill Church) as successful as it is. Sin needs to be pointed out in order to be corrected.
In Driscoll’s sermon, Marriage and Men, he says something interesting about men’s duty to financially provide for their families. While going through a list of the different ways men need to honor their wives Driscoll comes to honoring your wife financially:
Marriage and Men – Mark Driscoll March 22, 2009
42:44 to 43:30
“Do you honor her financially? If a man does not provide for the needs of his family he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. There’s a verse [in the Bible that says that]. See, the woman’s curse was her children [suffering pain during childbirth] and submitting to her husband. The man’s curse was providing for his family. [Referring to the story of Adam and Eve.] And what the weakest, most impish worthless men among us do is, “Oh, my load is heavy, I know yours is heavy but I need you to carry half of mine to.” Men, you’ve got to work, you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to outwork the other men if you want to feed your family. That’s your responsibility as a man. If you want any men to respect you, if you want your wife to respect you, if you want your children to respect you, you pay the bills. You make the money, you feed the family.”
I will leave you all with this excerpt from Driscoll’s sermon to ponder over (the capitalized part is where Driscoll gets passionate, where he’s yelling):
Marriage and Men – Mark Driscoll March 22, 2009
52:14 to 53:41
“What happens to a guy who doesn’t do what Peter says [in the Bible], what does he say? Read it for yourself. It said “so your prayers may not be hindered.” If a guy doesn’t obey God on these issues, GOD DOES NOT LISTEN TO HIM! YOU MEN ARE DATING, MARRYING, GOD’S DAUGHTERS. DO YOU REALLY THINK YOU CAN HIT HER, NEGLECT HER, ABUSE HER, IMPREGNATE HER OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE, PUT YOUR HANDS ALL OVER HER, LIE TO HER, MANIPULATE HER, ABUSE HER, NEGLECT HER, and then cry out to God, “Help me.” God’s saying “No way.” [God’s saying] “You don’t love my daughter, I don’t serve you. You don’t honor my daughter, I don’t honor you. YOU ARE OWN YOUR OWN!” [Driscoll speaking] AND MANY OF YOU MEN, THE REASON YOU HAVE A HARD TIME WALKING WITH GOD, IS BECAUSE YOU WALKED AWAY, AND HE [God] HAS TURNED HIS BACK ON YOU! YOU ARE DAMAGING HIS DAUGTER! GOD IS HER FATHER! YOU CANNOT THINK THAT IN ABUSING GOD’S DAUGHTER, THAT YOU CAN CRY OUT FOR GOD’S HELP IN YOUR ABUSING OF HIS DAUGHTER! I’ll tell you as a daddy, you hurt one of my girls, and ask for help to do it some more, you’re prayer will not be answered.”
Mark Driscoll’s “Trial” Sermon Series
January 11, 2009 to August 2, 2009
Marriage and Men is Part 10 of the “Trial” Series