Did Anyone Else Know Pastor Mark Driscoll Was Sexist? January 18, 2012

Did Anyone Else Know Pastor Mark Driscoll Was Sexist?

If only every question had that obvious of an answer…

Pastor Mark Driscoll, who just wrote a how-not-to book about marriage in which he admits he wouldn’t have married his wife had he known she “sinned” just after high school, just outed himself as even more of a douchebag.

During a radio interview with British radio host Justin Brierley, Driscoll got into an argument over whose church was better — the one Driscoll runs or the one run by Brierley’s wife.

Chris Massey has the transcript and the commentary:

Much of the interview revolved around Driscoll’s views on women and their role in marriage and the church. When Brierley confessed that his own wife is, in fact, the pastor of his church, things got incredibly awkward:

Driscoll: I’m not shocked by the answer, by the questions you ask. I love you, but you’re annoying. ‘Cause you’re picking on all the same issues that those who are classically evangelical, kind of liberal, kind of feminist do.

Brierley: I think it’s because those are the issues here that people are thinking about. … [Brierley says he’s impressed by much of what Mars Hill Church is doing].

Driscoll: Kay, let me ask you a few hard questions.

Brierley: Go ahead, go ahead.

Driscoll: So, in the church that your wife pastors, how many young men have come to Christ in the last year?

[It’s clear from the tone of Driscoll’s question that this is not a bona fide inquiry about the souls in Brierley’s church. It’s a veiled criticism. Driscoll is going to prove that women pastors can’t get the job done (i.e. attracting men to the church) and he’s going to belittle Brierley’s wife & church to do it.]

Brierley: Well we’re not a huge church, unlike yours, but I’d say there’s two or three probably in the last year who certainly, yah, I’d say have come to Christ in a pretty meaningful way.

Driscoll: Okay and in the church, what percentage is young men, single men?

Brierley: It’s difficult to say off the top of my head, but I’ll freely say it’s certainly not a big percentage, no.

Driscoll: Kay, and are you okay with that? Do you think that’s the best way to go?

Brierley: No, but can it be so easily put down to the fact that the church is being run by a woman? I mean, is that …

Driscoll: Yup. Yup. You look at your results, you look at my results, and you look at the variable that’s most obvious.

[Yes, he did just say that. His results are better than hers. And it’s because he’s a man and she’s a woman.]

Brierley: Well, in our case, the …

Driscoll: This is where the excuses come, not the verses. This is where the excuses come, not the verses.

Brierley: … Up to the point my wife took over, it had been run by men. Since she’s come, lots of new families, lots of younger people, both men and women, have come. I wouldn’t say the balance is right perfect yet by any means. But it’s certainly a lot better than it ever was. And so I don’t necessarily see quite the same situation that you paint there in terms of men not relating. I see more men in the church since she’s been there than before she was there, in a way.

Driscoll: What kind of men? Strong men?

[The implication here is obvious. Only weak, limp-wristed mama’s boys would be attracted to a church with a female leader, right? Tough men like Driscoll certainly wouldn’t be. Brierley seems genuinely baffled by such a stupid question.]

Brierley: Well, men. I mean, men come in different shapes and sizes. I mean, yah, both really. Men who are very masculine, men who are, I guess, on a spectrum, more effeminate. But I couldn’t say that there’s been a sort of dearth of men in the church since she’s arrived. I mean, Mark, I don’t want to get into a sort of argument.

Driscoll: No, no, you don’t want to sit in my seat, I understand. So does your wife do counseling with men? Sexual counseling? Does she talk about masturbation, pornography, the stuff that I do?

Brierley: Well no, she doesn’t.

Driscoll: Well, who does talk to the men about those things, especially the young men?

Brierley: Well there are other people that she can pass them on to. We have male elders in our church who, you know, would be able to tackle those kinds of questions. I mean, but would you speak with those kinds of issues to a female in your church?

Driscoll: Uh no. If they’re a married couple we might meet with them as a couple. But if it’s a woman, we would have women leaders meet with them.

Brierley: Sure, well it’s the same scenario in our church really.

Driscoll: Well except for who’s in charge.

You can listen to that part of the interview beginning at the 49:40 mark of the podcast.

Driscoll anticipated that this interview (and a print version of it) was going to make him look bad, so he tried to warn his followers last week:

Things got particularly strange near the end of the interview. I was asked a question about, if a woman was the pastor of a church which that pastor’s husband attended, would that be emasculating to him. The question was asked in such a pointed way that it was odd.

At the end of the interview, I started asking questions of the interviewer. He admitted that his last questions were really about himself and his wife. Apparently his wife is the pastor of their church, he’s strongly committed to women as pastors, disagrees strongly with our complementarian position, and takes it to some degree personally.


Subsequently, I am not surprised that after a very long interview, which took the better part of an hour, that I may be selectively edited and presented in a way that is not entirely accurate. In particular, the quote about cowardice may not fit all British men, but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seems applicable.

Not that I enjoyed defending Christians, but Brierley took nothing out of context here. The interview is offered in full, and Driscoll comes off looking like even more of a jerk because of it.

(If you listen to the interview, his wife says nothing during that entire portion of the conversation. Not in support of Brierley’s wife, not in opposition to her husband’s message or dickish tone, not even in support of it. She’s silent. And that may be even scarier than everything her husband is saying.)

Driscoll is a man who believes he epitomizes Manliness and everyone else — gay men, “effeminate men,” women — are all inferior in comparison.

It’s sad that anyone takes him seriously. The fact that so many do says more about how how easily people can get brainwashed by a charismatic loudmouth than the persuasiveness of his arguments.

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  • Rob

    I was just reminded of this dickhead’s existence again yesterday. A fellow stay-at-home-dad found this clip where Pastor Marc calls men like me ‘losers’.
    From there you should be able to find the clip where he says that a SAHD in his flock would be subject to ‘church discipline.’
    I still can’t really believe people think that way.

  • Anonymous

    The more I read about Driscoll, the louder the voice in my head shouting “closet-case!” becomes.

    OK, that’s probably a little unfair. He could be a closet-case, or he could just be someone with other deep, very fucked up unresolved issues around sexuality in general.

    He is obsessed with “manliness”. His entire persona screams out that He Is Strong, He Is A Man, He Is A Leader. He shows an ill-concealed hatred of all things femenine that I’m guessing covers for a deeper terror. He is terrified of anything and anyone that would challenge his notion of manly-studly-hairy-men being In Charge while Good Women silently adore them, women with the notion they are equal in strength to men are rebellious whores to be put in their place and men who so much as suggest that the women in their lives are just as worthy and strong as them are fags and beneath contempt.

    Just like the homophobe who goes cruising at airport bathrooms, or the anti-porn crusader with wetsuits and gas-masks under the bed, Driscoll is so over-the-top publicly the Alpha-Male, that one really wonders what’s going on in his tortured little mind.

  • Far be it for me to play Internet psychologist or anything like that, but maybe he’s closet trans. He overplays this manly man stereotype, denigrating anything feminine because deep inside he knows he’s not. When I was growing up in my own head I could have gone either way, I’m sure – either forced the manliness or embraced the womanliness – and I did the latter rather than the former. Not soon enough, but I at least accept myself now.

  • When I saw the headline in twitter – “Did anyone else know Pastor Mark Driscoll was sexist?” – I couldn’t remember which member of the peanut gallery he was, but I thought, “well, he’s a pastor, so statistically..” 

  • Anonymous

    He does seem excessively interested in strong, young men.

  • Fargofan1

    I once heard a sermon where the pastor explicitly stated that if he and his wife argued, he’d have the last word since he’s the man. I also remember an FCA meeting where people agonized beforehand about whether or not to let a woman “preach” (she was more telling her story) in front of men. Mark Driscoll’s views are depressingly common. I don’t know why women choose to stay in these churches or why they’re Christian at all. It’s insulting.

  • I love it when the “Body of Christ” gets an infection and starts eating itself.

  • griffox

    Unfortunately, I understand how people can follow this jackass. I remember hearing pastors say things in church that sent red flags up or made me question their wisdom. In the real world, this is when you get up and run the other direction. In the church world, at least what I know of the Christian church, this is called, “God challenging you”. When you hear something you don’t like, it’s because you are being called to examine a sinful part of yourself that needs to be fixed. This is how people end up in cults, by turning off their better judgement and submitting to pricks like Driscoll. So, the more red flags that go up, the more convinced you are that you need to be under the guidance of this person. Next thing you know, your whole moral outlook it skewed and your method of judging good from bad is replaced with the dogma of a petty, arrogant, do-no-wrong piece of shit. 

  • Flah the Heretic Methodist

    You may feel it’s unfair, but I think the only thing more closeted is my old Navy peacoat.  In fact, for whoever’s holding the pool on this guy, I say “September, 2012” is when he has his Ted Haggard-style scandal and subsequent meltdown.   I can’t even tell you how sorry I feel for this man’s poor wife.

  • Anonymous

    This is terrifyingly accurate. 10 years ago, I would have felt exactly that, that God was challenging me to submit. *shudder*

  • Bubba Tarandfeathered

    I got in a heated discussion over that very point “g-d is challenging me” and as usual I also got the “I’ll pray for you to see the light someday” closing statement. The real challenge is the free thinking community patiently waiting for these ass-hats to end their campaign of bigotry and sexism.

  • Anonymous

    The strength of Christianity, the thing that keeps the virus of it going, is that there is something for everyone in it.  If you want to be a homophobic, sexist asshat obsessed with war then you can pick up a bible and find where it supports your point of view.  If you want to be a liberal, hippy, peaceful Christian then there’s that too.  

    By denigrating Massey and his take on the church Driscoll is trying to lock down Christianity to his own revolting little brand and mark everyone else as a fake Christian that others should reject.  That’s fine with me because it weakens Christianity by weakening the very thing that makes it so strong.  If Christianity is so tightly defined as to only appeal to homophobic, sexist asshats then all those people who are rightly disgusted by such antics will reject Christianity. 

    Keep up the good work Driscoll.

  • Bubba Tarandfeathered

    I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, he probably feels honest and very real “love” and “adoration” for some of the men at his church and sadly his bible does not tell him how to deal with those feelings. Kinda like how we all felt after three episodes of watching Sam and Frodo go almost Brokeback Mt. Doom.

    Alas another basic tenet of xianity:  What ye covet ye must hide with the fierceness of the word.

  • T-Rex

    End up in cults? Christianity is a death cult. Remember, this life sucks and they’re all waiting to die so their “souls” can float up into the clouds and spend the rest of eternity worshipping their own omniscient prick of a gawd and hang out with all their dead relatives and friends. *face palm

  • Anonymous

    What business does a priest have talking to kids or youth about masturbation anyways? It’s not any of of his damn concern. That he thinks it is, is another of his issues right there.

    Apparently this interview has pissed of many people in the UK. Good. Maybe it will help to slow the spread and export of American-style Christianity

  • Bubba Tarandfeathered

    I just Googled his picture, and O’MaGosh he’s sooo gay. I’m very straight and even I felt a bit uncomfortable looking at his pictures.

  • Skjaere

    My sister goes to Driscoll’s church (to which she also brings my brother-in-law and infant niece), and my mother listens to Driscoll’s podcasts. It makes my head hurt. I don’t really want to be at war with my family, but my choice seems to be either that or just shut up about it and hope that eventually they see what this guy is really like.

  • Driscoll is a sexist? Who knew? In other news, water is wet and bears shit in the woods

  • Gus Snarp

    This guy is just a high school bully who’s mad because in the real grown up world his behavior is frowned upon and all those nerdy sissy boys he likes to pick on are suddenly far more successful and happy than he is. So he made up his own fantasy world to reinforce his bully boy behavior. The sad part is that there are apparently a large number of people who sign up to be followers in his made up fantasy world (i.e. church). I’m not surprised a few guys like this exist. I’m surprised people outside of the fringe bullies listen to him. I wonder how many male members of his church abuse women. It’s the perfect shield for wife beating when your church tells you a woman should submit and be silent. I am actually overwhelmed right now with fear and sympathy for the women who are being victimized by this guy’s followers under the guise of religion.

  • Gus Snarp

    That was disturbing. I couldn’t watch it through. This guy scares me. There’s violence in him. I also thought of the classic Bible quote: “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a preacher dishing out more judgment on people. And not even for any of the usual infinite list of sins in the Bible, but just for not being manly enough in this guy’s view. It’s disgusting.

  • Anonymous

    “I’m not judging you, the Bible does”
    “I’m not judging you, god does”

  • You know it’s bad when you set off straight people’s gaydar. 

  • FSq

    Wow. Mark Driscoll SEXIST?

    Up next, Sky is Blue.

  • EL

    Haha… love the ad hominem attacks.  Way to get on his level!


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    Sad to say but I live just up the hill from Pastor Mark’s
    church here in Ballard. It is embarrassing, as a native of Seattle, that such
    and unreligious town has both Mars Hill and the Discovery Institute.

    On the plus side, this hyper-mysogenistic Christianity that
    Pastor Mark and others espouse is starting to drive women away from the church
    to such an extent that some Christians are starting to notice and be

    Pastor Mark wants to fill his church with single, manly
    young men; in other words – turn it into a frat house and I say let him. The
    more it becomes a frat, the less anybody else will want to have anything to do
    with it. Nobody truly respects fraternities and that includes the frat-boys in


  • Anonymous

    Don’t call him “Pastor Mark” like it’s some title of respect or authority. It just validates him

  • Wow.  What an asshole.

  • I appreciate your concern. In much of the Seattle atheist community “Pastor Mark” is a term we use to belittle him. And it is valid, he is, indeed a Pastor just as Patreus is a General and W. is a President. A title can’t command respect; they are bestowed, respect has to be earned.

  • Do you know what an “ad hominem” is?

  • I fell across this Xtian vs. Xtian FB thread on Driscoll in the fall, which is quite entertaining.


  • Anonymous

    LOL, very nice.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I agree with Driscol on one thing: I wouldn’t ever allow any woman to preach to me on the condition of my soul, which is really what they’re talking about. Of course, I wouldn’t ever allow any man to do anything like that, either. I’m not sexist; I hate everyone equally.

  • slantrhyme

    We could always go with “Professor Dickweed”.  I’d vote for it. 

  • slantrhyme

    I reckon Henry Rollins go easily smash this “alpha male”.  He’d do it too, except I get the impression that Mr. Rollins doesn’t like to be told to do anything, so maybe we’d just have to engineer a way to get Henry Rollins into the vicinity of Driscoll and then wait for the fireworks. 

  • Ben

    Can’t some straight men just be sexist douchenozzles? Predicting that every misogynist is a gay man inside insults those of who really are gay men inside (and out). Face it, a lot of men simply have no respect for women. It’s got nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with power and ego.

  • Flah the Heretic Methodist

    Sweetheart, with a 40-lb weight belt and a full tank off the Marianas Trench I couldn’t reach this guy’s level.  He is a vile, abusive man.

  • Sue Blue

    My instantaneous perception of “manly” he-men types is that they are emotionally fragile, pathetic losers desperately overcompensating for something, like, say, a tiny penis, no balls, short stature, lack of dating success, or some other humiliation.  Something.   And here’s a news-flash for all those like Driscoll:  Only the stupidest, most hopelessly pathetic, dependent women are attracted to you!  Women who really will be a ball and chain around your ankle for life – because they can’t or won’t think or speak up for themselves, educate themselves, help earn an income, or do anything except punch out extra mouths to feed and cook pot roasts.  Women who have brains and use them like men who also have brains and use them for becoming educated, intelligent, compassionate partners.  We don’t want masters, we want mates.  
    This sexist bullshit is right up there among the reasons I became an atheist.  I remember a pastor telling me personally he would never accept women in positions of authority, either in the church or out of it.  I told him I simply couldn’t conceive of a rational god who would make such a big deal out of the configuration of a person’s genitals.  Having an “innie” or an “outie” has no effect whatsoever on a person’s intelligence or aptitude for public speaking, counseling, bible-reading, or pontificating.  I always felt that men who insisted that women be in submission must be afraid of them.

  • Anonymous

    If he expressed his misogyny differently, sure. But he doesn’t have to do with that whole hyper-masculinity thing he does. He also said some extremely weird stuff about sexuality and homosexuality in general.

  • Skjaere

    Agreed. I would be very surprised if he’s not at least bi. But then I think that about most people who believe a person can “choose” not to be gay.

  • Rich Wilson

    ok, I have no idea how this works

    So does your wife do counseling with men? Sexual counseling? Does she talk about masturbation, pornography, the stuff that I do?

    but it seems like Driscoll’s assumption is that he should be doing sexual counseling with young women, where they talk about masturbation and pornography.  Um, wouldn’t that creep out young women?  If it takes a man to be a pastor to young men, then- oh ya, right.  I forgot.  Women don’t matter.  Sorry, I got it now.  Move on.

  • Steve

    I think douchenozzle is the perfect epithet for him. Imagine what must come out of his mouth at home. I feel sorry for her as do for all abused women. But, when is she going to see the light and get the hell out of Dodge?

  • Since EL seems to think it means just any insult, I think we can safely say no.

  • “…but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seem…”Driscoll would know all about that, I’m sure…

  • A vile, abusive man who blames rape victims and calls them “fornicators”. Even his own WIFE.

  • Translation: “I’m judging you.”

  • I’d be waaaay skeeved out if an adult was talking to my (hypothetical) child about masturbation. Big Red Flag, there.

  • Demonhype

    The only reason the Sam and Frodo thing didn’t get me in the movie was because it seemed much more overt in the book.  Everything with Sam and Frodo was written like some kind of (occasionally kinky) romance novel.

  • Sue, that’s been the main thrust (pardon the pun) of xtianity since the days of the jewish zombie himself.
    Bart Ehrman makes an excellent point that the part of the bible these mysogynistic fuckers rely on (Acts, Collossians, Galatians, all the “Paul” writings) are quite obviously interpolated in the original. In other words, the churchy people reading the very original copies of those “letters” in Greek were so shocked by Paul’s positive attitude towards women, that they made copies of the books and added their own ‘take’ in between the original sentences. Then they destroyed the originals. (Dr Ehrman doesn’t say that, but it’s obvious they had to cover their tracks somehow!)

    And all those horny monks living in close proximity to each other for endless years, and not a woman in sight… What else were they going to do except copy books by hand, adding their own guilty insights as they went along, before heading off for matins and a quicky with the abbott before bedtime.

    Personally, I’m pleasantly surprised that women have been allowed to continue to exist. If it weren’t for the undeniable fact that women have a role to play in making babies, I’m sure the Driscolls of the world would have put all women to death centuries ago for making men think “bad” thoughts. They obviously still do wish that (and let’s not mention the secular fun and games of the witch trials!). And so the Driscolls of the world punish women for putting them in that invidious position. Then they probably go and “help” young men by talking about masturbation and pornography. Nothing sinister there.

  • Guest

    I enjoy reading this blog but I’m not often moved to comment. I am gay, for what it’s worth. Also closeted. I just wanted to say I think this thread has shown a real ugly side. It is not okay to insult people by implying that they are gay. You have not found a loophole whereby it is okay to insult homophobes by calling them “closet cases”.  It is, in fact, an ad hominem, and in poor taste. You do not have “gaydar” and cannot tell a person’s sexual orientation by their appearance or mannerisms. If you are actually concerned about actual gay people, and not just social-signaling how tolerant and edgy and progressive you are, I think you should be more aware of your words and their implications.

  • So how about explaining why so many virulently anti-gay assholes end up being exposed as gay? You know, like Larry Craig, or Ted Haggard….

  • Anonymous

    Hi Guest…..i’m an “equal opportunity admirer” myself.  I don’t think any ‘insult’ is coming from ‘suggested gayness’ here.   People aren’t insulting Driscoll for possibly-being-gay-and-in-the-closet ~ they’re insulting Driscoll for his potential hypocrisy.

    I’ve been a reader/commenter on this blog for a good few years now, and I’ve never seen any commenter use the phrase “closet case” as an insult in itself.  The issue almost always comes up in relation to people like Ted Haggard and the myriad of Republican politicans who speak out publicly against homosexuals and gay rights, but who engage in homosexuality in private….

    Again, any ‘insult’ directed towards such people isn’t based on them being (or potentially being) gay.  It’s directed at the hypocrisy.

  • Anonymous

    It’s called ‘deflection’ 🙂

    I cannot tell you how many personal testimonies/anecdotes I’ve heard (or read) from gay people who were in the closet at one time and express that they were extremely (and vocally) homophobic at the time……whether because they were consciously trying to deflect any potential ‘suspicion’ from themselves, or because it was unconscious and they still hadn’t come to terms with their own sexuality.

    Yep, there’s a definite connection between being obviously-and-vocally-homophobic and being gay ~ which ISN’T to say that anyone and everyone who’s homophobic is gay…….but there’s a big faction who are, and we’ve seen this ‘phenomenon’ play out with public figures time and time again.

  • Sbrushett

    I thought this was the friendly Atheist site…… Haven’t read many friendly comments here.  I thought Atheists were supposed to be more moral then those evil Christians.  Is it OK to bash and slander someone that doesn’t have the same point of view as you?  Have any of you even listened to the interview?  

  • aerie

    Excellent comment AxeGrrl. It’s the same hypocrisy with which they spin their “family values” b*llsh*t. 

  • Juliette Schubert

    I understand that mark Driscoll has the wrong ideas and veiws about gods words but instead of just calling him a jerk we should be praying for his eyes to be open.

  • Hmmm

    When he says strong men, he means strong in the biblical sense of the word, as in being counter to the culture of this world and being like Jesus. Of course you would misunderstand what he meant, because you only listen to anything bad about him or jump on the smallest thing to try and bring him down because you dislike he states the truth of the bible. 

  • Wntuc

    Women brag on themselves, complain or fight against men daily but let a man stand for masculinity and he is gay, demonic or mentaly ill.  Whats worse is to hear other men falling in line with the angry woemen.  I really feel bad for little boys– 

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