Saturday, January 19, 2013
Dear Mr. Driscoll
This is a post I originally wrote anonymously (as Sophia) for Rachel Held Evans #mutuality2012. It is one of my favorites. Hope you enjoy. <3
I know you are not expecting this, but I wanted to thank you. Yes, seriously.
I had no idea that my experience at Mars Hill would serve as the catalyst to unraveling the bondage of legalism and exposing the patriarchal teachings that have held me captive for most of my life.
When I first arrived at the Mars Hill church plant, I was excited! You have built quite an empire with impressive media and great marketing. Mars Hill has the resources to help a massive number of people not only find Jesus but change their lives. I anticipated God using me in great ways through your ministry. When we moved, I hoped to see women break free of bondage and walk in freedom.
At one of the first gatherings, the pastor presented us with the four distinctives of Mars Hill: Reformed theology, complementarian relationships, Spirit-filled lives, and missional churches. On the surface, this seemed great! A church that knows where it is going and what it stands for. I was new to reformed theology, but open to learn. Spirit-filled lives? Sign me up! Missional churches that are purposeful about the gospel? Amen.
Complementarian relationships? Well, I had never heard this term before. It was presented well. Men and women are different. We do different things and have different qualities. Since my husband and I had chosen, for this season of our lives, traditional roles (where he works and I stay home with our children), complementarian roles seemed to affirm the choices we had made for our family. I respected that men were trying to step up and participate, since we all know that women have been and still are the backbone of the church.
It took me a few months to become uneasy. There were several things that happened.
My community group leader showed irritation when I spoke up at group or challenged him on things he said. I was often dismissed as making excuses or wanting an emotional experience.
I began to notice the way the women almost always said, "Let me ask my husband", and did not seem to have a mind of their own.
As women, we were not allowed input as to what would be the first bible study we did. It was dictated to us by a (very young) man. The winner? The book of James.
I was only welcome to participate in ministry if it was with children or women.
We were taught that if we had questions, we should go to our husbands. We were not directed to search the scriptures for ourselves, or to wrestle it out with God.
ALL of the women seemed oppressed, stifled and silenced. And they masked it with a smile, Stepford-style.
And the most alarming? That to veer from the expectations of complementarian relationships as Mars Hill defined them was considered SIN.
As you and I both know, there are many other issues I had with Mars Hill. My experience caused me to begin to question my beliefs. Were they truly mine or did I just believe them because someone told me I should? I have been able to make peace with many of them.
Complementarianism? NOT SO MUCH.
I cannot believe that God created me or my daughter the way we are, with our intellects, gifts and talents, and then relegates us to domesticity and silence simply because we are female.
I cannot believe that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was not sufficient for Eve's behavior in the garden.
I cannot believe that a God who empowered women and broke social and religious norms in His time on earth, has relegated women to second class citizenry for our time on earth.
I cannot believe that women are weak. I (and many women like me) have survived things in my life that you will never have to experience, and carried burdens to heavy for your masculine shoulders to bear.
I cannot believe that there is any barrier between me and God or my ability to hear from the Holy Spirit. Not even my femininity.
So thank you, Mr. Driscoll. You truly are a catalyst for change.
Thank you for forcing me to evaluate all that I have believed.
Thank you for showing me that complementarianism is simply patriarchy in a shiny new package.
Thank you for inadvertently leading me to embrace my God-given femininity and full personhood in Christ.
Thank you for being the adversity I needed to finally become empowered and find my voice in all its womanly glory.
Thank you for accidentally teaching me to stand up for myself, my convictions and to implicitly trust that my heart is in fact, not deceitful, but trustworthy. The Holy Spirit dwells there, after all.
Thank you for taking me to the precipice and pushing me off the edge.
You accidentally gave me wings, and I am learning I can fly.