About two years ago two young married men expressed to me their desire to uproot their families from Enid, Oklahoma and move to Seattle, Washington to be a part of the ministry of Mars Hill. Though I was familiar with Mark Driscoll, I was curious why these young family men felt the need to relocate. The reason they gave me was an eye opener. "We want to be some place where the masculinity of God is emphasized in the home, in church, and in leadership." These two men have since left Emmanuel Enid with their families. Their wives have little or no say in family matters or financial decisions. For example, each man has taken a stand against inoculating their children and no amount of objections from mom is sufficient to reverse this patriarchal decision to prevent childhood disease by faith rather than shots. Dad's word is law in the same manner God's Word is law, for the man is in the image of God. Woman is made from man, and her only protection is to obey the man as if she were obeying God. It would seem self-evident that major difficulties will one day arise if this kind of thinking regarding male authority and female subordination persists in any family--much less any church.
I went back yesterday and listened to a young Mark Driscoll as he preached a message twelve years ago entitled Men and Masculinity. In this bizarre sermon, Mark recounts how as a lost person he never wanted to become a Christian because the only Christians he knew were "feminine men," known for their gentleness and tenderness. Then, after conversion, Mark realized that the feminization of men was not biblical. According to Mark, "Jesus is a man, not a woman. All sixty-six books of the Bible are written by men, not by women. God is our Father, not our Mother. Jesus is our Brother, not our Sister. Jesus came as a Warrior to bring down the enemies of God. Christianity is a masculine religion." Mark was too young at the time to come up with this dogma on his own. I blame John Piper, Bruce Ware and a handful of other evangelical systematic complementarian theologians who gave to Mark Driscoll his warped views regarding God's masculinity and male authority through the sermons they have preached and the books they have written. The biblical text reveals something far different about God. Sadly, under the leadership of Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill has become a cathedral of male worship. Because of this, Mars Hill Church is in danger of reflecting more the authoritarianism of cultism than the equality of Christianity.
Today I read the incredibly tortuous account of the firing of Mars Hill pastor Paul Petry. Interestingly, it was Paul's wife, Jonna Petry, who wrote the compelling narrative that describes the spiritual abuse she and her husband endured at Mars Hill. Not wanting to take the Petrys solely on their word, I read through every single Mars Hill document that the Petrys provided on their blog as factual support for their account of events. I read the new By-Laws of Mars Hill (see page 112). Only males compose the church's legal standing. Only males vote on church business. Only males serve on leadership teams. Only males determine pastoral salaries. Only males convene for business meetings. Only males determine matters related to the church. Only males are the true members of the church. Females, for the sake of 'spiritual standing,' can be called 'members' and have access to the church's website, but females cannot be, in any form or fashion, in leadership at Mars Hill or considered as people with legal or moral authority.
Unless something changes at Mars Hill in the near future the church is going to implode. The cure for the perceived feminization of church men is never the suppression of church women. Instead of disciplining Jonna Petry for calling other women to prayer under the guise that she was attempting to subvert Pastor Mark's authority, Mars Hill should have asked Jonna Petry to be part of their leadership team and write the response to the hundreds of questions they received about the growing lack of transparency and distrust of the all male leadership at Mars Hill. Jonna is obviously gifted with superb writing skills and she would have done a much better job of communicating a message to the church than the male elders did. But, of course, Jonna Petry and other gifted women are to follow, not lead. Mars Hill men, you had better wake up. A revolution is taking place. Women in the church are waking up to the biblical truth that they are created as much in the image of God as you are. They are realizing that they possess the same gifts of the Spirit as men. They are arousing to the knowledge that when half the body is suppressed, the church is as dysfunctional as it when you perceive feminization in men. So go ahead, Mars Hill men, and act like men. Just don't make the mistake of suppressing your Spirit-filled women who are the only ones right now that might have the ability to keep your church from imploding.
Finally, if my friends who left Emmanuel Enid are reading this post, please know of my love for you. Because of that love I urge you to be willing to follow the leadership and wisdom of your wives. They have much to offer. By the way, they have already expressed their willingness to listen to your wisdom and follow your leadership! Now its your turn. Christianity is mutual love and mutual leadership. God calls us to be servants of one another, not masters over anyone. It's the way He intends (Matthew 23:8-11).