Tag Archives: Mark Driscoll

biblical manhood or the fruits of the Spirit?


There’s a certain kind of rhetoric in some corners of contemporary Christianity (mostly in the US I think) about how the church is effeminate and men need to save the church by taking the lead again and being more manly and violent and dangerous and all that jazz…

The story, which has been sold in many books and preached by good solid manly preachers, goes a bit like this: Men are created to be men and should therefore be,-unlike women who want safety and security-, wild and dangerous and violent and take risks and wrestle and strangle adult dragons with their bare hands and other everyday stuff like that… And it also seems like the biggest enemy here is men becoming like women. And oh, sometimes it’s also very important that God is a man. (Really?)

If you don’t know what I’m speaking about, just ignore me and consider yourself lucky… You’re not missing anything and reading me getting defensive about something that isn’t a problem in your world might be counterproductive, so you better read something else then. I recommend this NT Wright interview done by Frank Viola for example, or this transcript of an interview with a man who learnt a lot from Mother Theresa

I’m an alien?
So what’s the problem? The problem for me is when people tell me what a man is, and they paint a picture that excludes me. Like those books about Mars and Venus, where I felt like I was from Jupiter, or maybe Nibiru. But it’s even more irritating when it’s Christians who use the bible, through the lens of their own culture and with a lot of conclusions that I’d never find in the verses they quote, to say that a man is created to be something that might be some (sub)cultural idea of manhood, but that will never be remotely me.

I’m sorry, I might be a straight white married male, I don’t care about fancy cars, or about machines that make noise, I don’t care about competitive sports, I don’t even care about porn, or things all men should struggle with (I have other struggles though) and I think killing things or people is just a sign of evil, not of manhood. I like beer, but not to get drunk, and we just have good tasty beers brewed by monks in Belgium… I like wine and self-made elderflower lemonade too anyway, or gunpowder tea… Playing brave-heart (like a famous evangelical writer wrote about in a book about manliness that I won’t name but which I’ve written about earlier) doesn’t look manly to me, just childish and immature….

I’m sorry, I’m 100% man, and I suppose the puppy-smashing, binge-drinking, porn-watching machos are men too, just as the book reading, coffee-slurping intellectuals… There are different kinds of people, different kinds of personalities, who all have their strong and weak sides, and their struggles and gifts. But to elevate one certain type of man above the others (mostly by people who either are or otherwise want to be that kind of man) is not constructive. And in this case it can be quite misandric in a bullying kind of way, excluding all who don’t reach your holy standard of manliness. And if this kind of thing happens with bible-verses to back it up harm may be done to the body of Christ. (Others have said enough about how the roles that are pushed unto women, or even the word effeminate itself are quite misogynist, so I won’t go into that now)

I don’t care if you are a man and like to lead, but don’t make it a rule. I don’t care if your wife likes you to lead, fine, but not every woman is like that. Me and my wife both are mutualist/democratic people, who get irritated by both having to serve as a slave or to lead alone… Hierarchy is impossible in our marriage. And I’m not a person who likes to be leading everything, the responsibility gets heavy when I contemplate it, and I like to share it with other people…  I hate to be counted on to be ‘in control’ in most situations and I want to be together with people when things are hard… All people are different, but there are other lines to be drawn than between men and women…

not just men, but people are alienated
But, some say, the church is effeminate, and we need to man up. We need to be dangerous and violent and whatever otherwise we are not like God created man, look at **insert person from the bible killing bears or insulting kings or doing whatever kind of crazy things** Look, I don’t care what kind of examples you find in the bible. If they inspire you and you want to be like them. Fine, except when they lead you astray from the teachings of Christ and the fruits of the Spirit (we’ll get to that later) but there are also examples of men who liked to stay at home with their mother in the kitchen, like Jacob… And there are strong women, like Deborah who lead whole nations. Gender does not say much, in both genders there are a lot of different people, and 2 men can be more different in character than a man and a woman sometimes. (I’m much more like my wife in character than I am like people like Mark Driscoll… It’s just a difference, not a judgement of value…)

The rhetoric would say that we men have been tamed, and need to be wild again and take risks and stop being safe and blah blah blah. Now, I completely agree that we are alienated of our nature in this modern safe society in which we are like canaries in a golden cage. We are trapped in jobs that make no sense at all to make sure we can provide for our families. We have to follow a lot of petty rules and conform to a lot of nonsense.

But there’s no need at all to make this a gendered thing. All human beings in our current societies are alienated and cut off from their roots, and robbed of their connection with their selves, with nature, and with people in a community. And playing brave-heart, of having fantasies about being a biblical man who kills a lot of philistines, insults a dangerous king or slays wild animals with his bare hands is not at all helpful. Nor is it manly… It’s more immature, and the whole ‘be a biblical caveman’ approach is just an adventure in missing the point, a distraction. We see that there is a problem, but we come with a solution that isn’t relevant at all. Being more violent, making more noise, and watching fight club with a cheap beer will not bring you closer to God, nor will it make you more man…

The problem runs deeper, and is connected to the core problem of humanity, which is not at all gendered, even though different personalities (and men and women often have different personalities) might experience it differently. We are separated from God, from ourselves, from each other. And modern society has even alienated us even more from creation, which is part of the problem. We are all tamed by our own systems, which are in the end leading to suicide (as Jacques Ellul writes somewhere) and out of which we are called to live a new life, a new story… This is what the gospel is all about, and the gospel should not be watered-down with self-help ‘be a good American male’ therapy’!

Jesus said ‘follow me’, and gave us an example. He, who was God incarnate, followed the path of love until its final consequence at the cross, where the powers of the world killed Him. But those powers could not hold Him, and He defeated death, sin, bondage, evil and Satan in the resurrection! And we can share in that new life, the Way, which shatters the suicidal powers of the world, which brings life and renewal, and is a foreshadowing of the New earth and Heaven, when all evil will be erased, and we will be exactly what we were created to be, in everlasting union with the tri-une God and each other without any trace of darkness… This is what we men and women who feel caged are yearning for. And trying to fill that void with playing William Wallace the killer is just irrelevant as best, and harmful to the gospel at worst…

the spirit of the flesh…
I once almost threw a book across the room (if it would’ve been mine I would’ve really done it!) by the guy whom I already paraphrased who seemed to thing William Wallace from the brave-heart movie the best example of biblical manhood. The reason was that (after writing a lot of stuff about ‘biblical’ manhood according to him, which to me looked liked baptised American machismo and which quite bored me) he made a condescending remark about men who had learned to be nice and take mother Theresa as an example. And then it was enough… You can do what you want, but some things are going to far, like being so ignorant about Mother Theresa….

I don’t see why men, and women could not learn a lot from Mommy T (like Shane Claiborne calls her) She is one of the best examples there is of an untamed soul. She was an example of a person changed by the Way of Christ, and someone who exhibits the fruits of the Spirit. No, she wasn’t noisy, and not even drawing attention to herself, but that’s the whole point… Giving up yourself in love for others is more manly in the Kingdom than all warriors with shiny swords of all the videogames and movies together…

Let’s go to Galations 5, where the fruits of the Spirit are summed up:

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.

This is the character of a Christian, and living in these characteristics as the Spirit enables them to grow in us will make us do things that go against the grain, things that are wild and untamed. But in a very different way than the ‘men are violent’ proponent preach. Violence and being rude and cultivating our ego aren’t fruits of the Spirit, but fruits of the flesh, and thinking that they’ll solve anything in our problems as Christians is misguided. As misguided as some other stereotypes that are pushed upon women too… If we live in the Spirit, the fruits will grow, and where the Spirit is, there is freedom, or liberation as Kurt just tweeted might be a better translation. Freedom from worldly expectations, cultural standards of manhood and womanhood, and liberation from the suicidal tendencies of the World and the Flesh…

Let’s not push ourselves and each other under a new slave-yoke

Let’s change our ways, for the Kingdom is here.

Let’s follow the Way, the Truth and the Light, into Life eternal,

Let’s shine a light so people might see who God is

let’s bring liberation in this dark world,

and let’s shine light where darkness reigns

Veni, Spiritus!

shalom

Bram

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The most popular posts here in 2011


 Since I didn’t post this before being busy with other stuff, I’ll do it now when the year is still young: a list of the most viewed posts in 2011. I’m quite surprised by some of these, but it seems that the theological discussions are dominating the list. What’s also notorious is that certain names of known people just tend attract  lot of readers, much more readers than my own ideas. Which is not a good thing actually… (I supose Jeff ‘I hate religion’ Bethke will be in my top-10 of 2012 if this trend continues)

 1. C.S. Lewis on the resurrection as true mythology (January 29, 2011)
I’m not so proud having this as my most viewed post of 2011, consisting of just a C.S. Lewis quote about the ‘resurrection as true mythology’. Pity that it’s just a big name that attracts, and not my own writings, but he indeed was a better thinker and writer than myself I guess…

2. Why I wanted to marry an ugly girl as a teenager… (February 22, 2011)
I love this post, but I wonder what people where looking for in a search engine when they stumbled into this one, and if they found anything remotely connected to their original search intent…

3. Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you.. (October 14, 2010)
Some good solid biblical content, and a post from 2010, on the third spot, and I’m actually quite happy with that! This is important stuff that should not be overlooked, so the more people search for these verses the better!

4. The cultural problem of Mark Driscolls effeminate worship leaders… (July 9, 2011)
Mark Driscoll, mega-church calvinist, hypermasculinist and anti-feminist has made enough statements that shocked people, even last week something about him was going round, and then I don’t even mention his book.. (be sure to read Dan Brennan’s reviews here and here) A bit of a pity that his name should turn up in my top-10 posts though…

5.evangelical universalism? (and Rob Bell) (February 27, 2011 )
Maybe another discussion I shouldn’t have gotten myself into. Still haven’t read the book…

6. Is this the good news of the gospel? (April 14, 2011 )
A video that explains the gospel, or maybe not, made me write this… This one got 28 comments some of which were probably more interesting than my post…

7. Judgement day on may 21, ’11 or wacko theologies (July 13, 2010)
Harold Camping prophesied the end of the world at october, 21th, 2011, and the rapture for earlier that year on may 21th but nothing did happen except for a lot of traffic on my old blog post from 2010 about it…

8.Substitutionary atonement and Christus victor (April 9, 2011)
And now for some theological discussion… I still think this is an important discussion, so I’m glad with this post in the top-10…

9. a truly orthodox view on salvation… (March 3, 2011 )
Truly orthodox as in eastern orthodox that is, in the same vein of the atonement and gospel discussions of #6 and #8, but with a video of a bearded priest, which is quite cool!

10.Harry Potter & Hermione on St-Paul and the defeat of death (January 29, 2011)
Yes, that’s a post about bible interpretations in Harry Potter. I’m glad that this one made the list, and it might be one of my more original writings of last year….

My favorite post from 2011 that didn’t make the list was teenage flashback: I’m not flirting, but I might need a hug…, and maybe this one: Do you love your wife or a picture in your head? So love, sex, relationships and gender roles seem to be recurring themes on this blog. Don’t ask me why…

I want to thank all of you for reading, commenting, enduring, and not burning me on a stake!

Shalom

Bram

Random Links I liked lately 1


I don’t know a which frequency I’ll be able to post in this series in the future, but here’s the fist collection of articles, blog posts and other internet stuff I liked lately or at least found interesting… It’s very randomly compiled, chaotic as my mind is, and if no-one reads it it’s still a good way for me to remember those links… Subjects may vary in a lot of unexpected directions, just as in the regular blog…

So here we go:

Am I the only one who likes articles called Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: On Disenchantment and the Demonic? It could’ve been a Sufjan Stevens song title…

I’ve been blogging recently about Mr. Driscoll and his problem with effeminate worship leaders (still don’t know what that’s supposed to be though) but something probably more troubling is his famous older statement “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.’ . Dianna E Anderson explains in her blog post A Jesus I can beat up one of the important problems with that statement, and I don’t think you need a hardcore Anabaptist to get the idea that the point of the crucificion is that Jesus just was beaten up…

If this is true it’s really sad and it makes me angy: Monsanto’s Agent Orange Being Used to Clear Brazil’s Rainforest

Some music from a young Belgian band I liked: Lunar rays – do you know Maybe if they played more music like this on the radio, I’d listen to it once in a while…

For those interested in my radish pod curry with tree spinach, and stir-fried daylilies, let google translate do something with the post on my dutch blog with the recipes. (Which might be very funny bad English) Or just look at the photographs…

Also very interesting for those who like philosphical theology: An Open Theism Theodicy by David D. Flowers: Gregory Boyd on the Problem of Evil. I like this approach…

I used to hate this song when I was a teenager. Now I just find it very strange but slightly entertaining. There are some gabber influences, a phenomenon was something with very fast techno music and weird bald people that only did exis in the benelux mainly in the nineties.

I love this new album by the restoration project, which can be listened and bought @ bandcamp It’s a beautiful concept album based on the beautitudes. I reviewed it for cultuurshock.net, but again only for those who can read the noble dutch language…

Some false gods are really dumb and annoying, like igod, the chat-bot.

Possibly my favorite Christian female blogger Rachel Held Evans has a point with her waring ‘Beware of overcorrecting‘!

One timeless piece from the onion: Rock Fans Outraged As Bob Dylan Goes Electronica

Michael Gungor isn’t only a very interesting musician who wrote the God is not a white man song that I post on my facebookwall sometimes, but he writes very interesting blog posts too, like this one called Love and Justice about God beling love and how it connects to His justice…

The End of the Sexual Revolution, or in case you haven’t noticed, almost all of these songwriting insiders writing the soundtrack for teen femininity are middle-aged men.

That’s all for today folks

God bless

Bram

The cultural problem of Mark Driscolls effeminate worship leaders…


I’ve seen some consternation about a facebook status of Mark Driscoll about ‘effeminate worship leaders’. I’ve never been a fan of his gender ideas, and I mostly don’t even see where they come from, since his culture is not mine. I never got why he used the word ‘effeminate’ for example, but now I’ve got that piece of the puzzle straight, thanks to Diana on Jesus needs New PR: It’s supposed to be biblical, and comes from some English translations of 1 Cor 6:10.

Now there’s a reason I didn’t know this, even though I do know that verse very well in my own language: No dutch translation does use a word that means anything remote like ‘effeminate’ in this verse… (I would say ‘and rightly so, but I’m no Greek scholar so I don’t have much authority to say that.) You’ll need an English one for that. So only an English-speaking person, using certain bible translations, could ever have this discussion… For a dutch-speaking person this discussion could not even exist in this way. The dutch word ‘verwijfd’ is used to denote men who are looking and behaving too much like a woman, or gay, but there’s no connection at all with the bible…

So even his use of the word ‘effeminate’ as something biblical problematic is very culturally shaped and linguistically relative…

And the  word is degrading to women. There’s nothing negative about being female, and having ‘feminine’ traits. Those are very cultural anyway, what one culture sees as ‘masculine’ could be seen as ‘feminine’ or even ‘gay’ in another one. The most ‘manly’ men can have something very ‘female’ about them to me anyway. If anything could be called ‘effeminate’ to me, it would be a dandy… We have a Moroccan community here in Antwerp, and they find it very macho to walk around in a pink shirt, which Flemish people might consider gay… It’s just culture. And God doesn’t care more about the fashion of American conservative culture than he does about Moroccan shirts…

But in the end, as genesis says both man and woman both reflect the image of god in their own way, and so does the (according to some) ‘female’ side of men or ‘male’ side of women. Even Jesus compared himself to a mother hen.

There might be people that act and dress unnaturally for their gender, but I don’t see what gender confusion has to do with worship leaders. Everybody can see the gender of people leading worship as far as I know. And I don’t see why people would be scared of the loss of manliness. The only real danger for our masculinity that this world has are hormones in food or tap water, not behavior that’s culturally not seen as ‘male’. Such things are so relative… Your penis won’t fall off from wearing a pink shirt or drinking kriek beer. And in the end even a eunuch is still a man, and not a woman, no-one will deny that…

I guess that I wouldn’t be considered very ‘manly’ by those prophets of biblical manhood. When I read ‘men are from Mars, women from Venus’ I felt like coming from Jupiter, or better, Earth. I’m better in being friends with women than with men sometimes. I hate violent sports, don’t care about cars and noisy machines. I like art and flowers and whatever… but hey ‘I was born this way’*.  Men can differ from each other in their personalities much more than a man and a woman are different. which is good, God made diversity.

No 2 men are the same. No 2 relatonships are the same. Just let them be instead of making rules of what should be a ‘christian’ man (or a ‘christian’ marriage, No way in the world it would be a good idea to let my wife ‘submit’ to me…).

As for Mark Driscolls actual effeminate worship leaders, I have no idea what he’s talking about. Like I said I’m not part of his culture, and I have no idea what exactly he’s referencing.  If he would mean someone like me who’s just not at all macho his ideas are completely off. If he would mean something like artificially androgynous male worship leaders it’s more understandable he’s irritated somehow. I’ve never seensomething like  an androgynous worship leader., maybe it would irritate or at least distract me too… I don’t know.

But the whole use of the word ‘effeminate’ here is not needed at all. It’s degrading to one half of Gods image.

Shalom

Bram

* Kriek = a fruit beer that we have here in Belgium, made from cherries, and which is stereotyped as a drink for girls. Most men consider it mere lemonade with a bit of alcohol in it.

* I am aware that this piece of Laday Gaga theology is a very slippery statement that could be very dangerous. Psychopaths could say the same…

related:
Christianity should not at all be sexist…
‘Male christianity’ vs Mother Teresa

‘Male christianity’ vs Mother Teresa


I was reading this article (it was linked by Christine Sine on her blog) about ‘cage fighting for Jesus’. And I just don’t know what to think about this… The first reaction is just one of total disconnect. I’m just not the type of man who would ever be interested in violent sports, so I guess I’m not the target audience anyway. All things macho are just something that I can’t take serious I’m affraid… But there are more serious doubts about this kind of stuff that I have on a more theological level.

It’s a problem that I have with the whole movement of ‘male christianity’, especially in the USA. In fact, most of it seems totally intermingled with the American culture too for my european eyes anyway…

Thr first problem is that you cannot push people into exact gender roles. Men can also be totally differen from other men, and women from other women, and sex is only one factor. For example; the difference between me and my wife is a lot smaller than the difference between me and some other man (let’s say driscoll, Eldredge and those Christian fight club dudes), you just cant lump people together because they are of the same sex… You cannot force your own preference and stereotypes on people just because they are male or female. Especially not if those stereotypes are just cultural, and not even part of my culture (sorry Mr. Driscoll, your gender roles are not biblical, just american) when I read the men are from Mars book, I sometimes recognised myself in the men fom Mars, sure, but at other times I did find myself more in the description of women, or I felt like coming from Jupiter or maybe Sedna

When it becomes a male-female dichotomy, and the other sex becomes something bad that can be used as a derogatery word (like Driscolls word ‘chickified’) something is wrong. This is sexism, and there is no place for it in the church. ‘Bad masculinity’ is nothing like femininity…

But there is something more that bothers me about the whole ‘be a man, be violent’ stuff. Let’s take for example the qoute at which I finally stopped reading the book ‘wild at heart’ by John Eldredge, after not recognising myself in it from the beginning on. “Jesus is no pale-faced altar boy with his hair parted in the middle, speaking softly, avoiding confrontation, who at last gets himself killed because he has no way out. He works with wood, commands the loyalty of dockworkers. He is the Lord of hosts, the captain of angel armies. And when Christ returns, he will be at the head of a dreadful company, mounted on a white horse, with a double-edged sword, his robe dipped in blood. Now that sounds a lot more like William Wallace than it does Mother Teresa. No question about it, there is something fierce in the heart of God.” (p 19)

The critique of Mother Teresa was too much to read on through a book that already troubled me. I guess eldredge just uses her as a caricature, but I’m sorry, she may be a woman, but she may be more Christlike than all those Jesus-cavemen lumped together… And if for some autistic reason a woman can’t be an example for you, then take St-Francis, or our belgian St-Damien of Molokai, or Stephen in acts… Jesus was God, the Almighty, who laid of His power, and came as a baby, and suffered with us. When they came to arrest Him, the disciples started fighting, but he rebuked them and healed the ear of the soldier who was wounded by Peter. so if Mark Driscoll says “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up”, he misses the point entirely. He came to be beat up, and worse…

The fighting of the good fight is a methaphor, (just as the double-edged sword) It has nothing to do with our fleshly muscles, and endorphines and adrenaline… No, those are things of the flesh, which are not the core of the Kindom fo God, which comes

Not by might, nor by power,
but by my Spirit says the Lord…

I believe Jesus didn’t came to teach us violence. Hhe didn’t say ‘blessed are the bruise-makers’ (or even the cheesemakers) but blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Children of God. He doesn’t break the bruised reed or quench the smouldering wick, and we are called to follow in His way.

The Kingdom of God will not come through Martial arts… But through His strength when we are weak. And that may be impopular for us who want to be strong and in control, but in the end, we are to be weak, so He can be strong through us… And if our false idols of so-called manhood have to go in that process, so be it…

Shalom

Bram