Recognizing Sophia, an original collage by Z. Zephyr
A month or so ago I blogged here and here about Ted Haggard, the pastor of a megachurch outed by a male prostitute he’d been paying for sex for several years. He resigned and, as I understand, has “submitted himself” to various and sundry conservative Christian/fundamentalist others in an attempt to repent of his gay ways. Based on the reading I’ve done, Ted Haggard is a gay man and should not have to subject himself to what he is now, undoubtedly, subjecting himself to. It’s a very, very sad situation, and I continue to wish all the best for him and for his wife and family.
In the furor over Haggard’s outing, I noticed, and some here commented, that Gayle Haggard, Ted Haggard’s wife, was being blamed by conservative Christian men for Ted Haggard’s visits to the male prostitute. For some reason, until recently, when a local group of Christians and pagans calling itself “People Against Fundamentalism” organized a protest against him for the statements he made in connection with the Haggards, I hadn’t noticed that primary among the woman-blamers was a local pastor, Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, whose ministry is considered to be “cutting edge” as bible-believers count such things.
Following is some of what Driscoll wrote on his blog following Haggard’s outing:
I have, however, seen some very overt opportunities for sin. On one occasion I actually had a young woman put a note into my shirt pocket while I was serving communion with my wife, asking me to have dinner, a massage, and sex with her. On another occasion a young woman emailed me a photo of herself topless and wanted to know if I liked her body. Thankfully, that email was intercepted by an assistant and never got to me.
Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either…
I spend the vast majority of my time working from home. Some years ago when I did not, I found that lonely people, some of them hurting single moms wanting a strong man to speak into their life, would show up to hang out and catch time with me. It was shortly thereafter that I brought my books home and purchased a laptop and cell phone so that I was not tied to the church office.
Pastors have the right to protect their own home. This means that if someone keeps dropping by unannounced and is unwelcome, or a flirtatious woman shows up to a Bible study at the pastor’s home, the pastor and his family have the right to request that they never return….
Churches should consider returning to heterosexual male assistants who are like Timothy and Titus to serve alongside pastors. Too often the pastor’s assistant is a woman who, if not sexually involved, becomes too emotionally involved with the pastor as a sort of emotional and practical second wife…
Pastors need to carefully protect their cell phone number. If that private number gets out, too many of the wrong people have access to the pastor. Not only should the cell phone number of a pastor be given out to only a few people, he should also consider eliminating his voicemail and simply have calls forwarded to his assistant. In this way people will not become too informal with the pastor and if the pastor knows someone is trouble (e.g., a flirtatious woman), he can see that on his caller ID and simply refuse to answer the call or have to deal with a voicemail.
You know, Driscoll is unapologetically, openly demonizing women here. There is no discussion at all in Driscoll’s post about the way men objectify, sexually harrass, sexually approach, rape, molest, sexually assault, “flirt with,” or otherwise harrass women, or of the way men prostitute women, or of any of the reasons why they do. It is all laid at the feet of women, it is all about poor, beleagured Driscoll, protecting himself from teeming hordes of temptresses, shirtless Jezebels, deceivers, sex-crazed single mothers, emotionally needy secretaries, and wives who “let themselves go” once their pastor husbands are “trapped” by the requirements of monogamy. Does he even GET it that it wasn’t women Haggard lusted after, it was men? Beyond that, I think he’s bragging, and even threatening, especially in light of his throw down about “taking one for the team on this,” as though to say, “You women better shape up, because we men can only hold out so long.”
Beyond his issues with women, he is also am egregious lesbo/homophobe. In this post he characterizes efforts among progressive Christians to make the Bible gender neutral as being the work of “some chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists and minors in ‘womyn’s studies’ [who are] not happy because two persons of the Trinity have a dude-ish ring.” Here he writes:
… if Christian males do not man up soon, the Episcopalians may vote a fluffy baby bunny rabbit as their next bishop to lead God’s men. When asked for their perspective, some bunny rabbits simply said that they have been discriminated against long enough and that people need to ‘Get over it.’
A conservative Christian woman pastor here in Seattle, Rose Madrid Swetman, wrote an open letter on her blog which I think is well worth reading for anyone who doubts that women in patriarchal religion — including Christian fundamentalism — make their own kinds of revolution, in their own way, on their own terms. Indeed they do. I wish this woman were willing to identify as a feminist; regardless, her words are woman-centered words, her heart is for women, and she is speaking forth a very clear challenge to male power. In my view, she is an incipient Amazon, rising, and it brings tears to my eyes. Consider:
It seems to me that in your “Traditional,” or as some have stated, “hard Complementarian” view of Scripture, you seemed to have developed a rather unhealthy, vitriolic, abrasive, unchristian, and uncharitable form of rhetoric to describe women in your posts and sermons. You have been labeled with the descriptive word, “misogynist” by some. When I hear that word used, I don’t just think about a person that only “hates” women, rather I think of the word as also carrying an injustice ideology, similar to racism or anti-Semitism. For me a misogynist justifies and maintains a subordination of women by men for reasons that are not always apparent. I know you say that you believe in equality, just difference of roles. But, to hold a view that submission is in a woman’s DNA, which then disallows equal ministry with a man, is to hold both a far reaching and a destructive theology. The passage in Galatians about no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free seems to sum up God’s story in Jesus. For some, this issue injures the heart of God because of his desire for justice. It is for many men and women a justice issue as was, and still is to some degree, the issue of racism in and out of the church in the last century.
…Can’t you see how even posting that women have motives such as this — my husband is a pastor so he is trapped into fidelity so I can sit back and let myself go — is offensive? In the second post, you sound patronizing and demeaning of Gayle Haggard calling her “lovely and devoted.” Please don’t call me out as a feminist that does not want to be considered “lovely’ or “devoted” because that is not my issue. The issue is that Ted Haggard’s struggle is homosexuality. It did not seem to matter if Gayle Haggard was the most beautiful, devoted woman, and with her husband the most sexually active woman on the planet, it would not have changed this situation one iota. So for you make this statement in these terms and make it an issue of sexual impropriety, failure, and sin, in my opinion, simply misses the point. It is offensive to talk to men and women this way and certainly reveals something about your character which for this reader seems rather prurient.
…This open letter is an attempt on my part to ask you to stop your insulting rhetoric and not abuse the power that has been given you by using bombastic statements about people, both male and especially the demeaning way you name-call women. In my opinion, you are causing injury to your brothers and sisters. There is enough injury inflicted from our enemy without leaders of the flock adding to the amount of injury.
Many of the comments to her post are nearly identical to the comments we feminists receive from misogynist trolls– just the vocabulary is different at times. She is accused of being a hater, a man-hater, is told to repent, is castigated for not going to Driscoll “privately.” Never mind that he has been openly woman-bashing and gay-and-lesbian-bashing for months on his blog!
As I’ve suggested in past patriarch-naming-and-blaming posts, right-wing women stand in need of our support and affirmation, even if it is, as here, respectfully and from afar. Driscoll met with “People Against Fundamentalism,” and afterwards blogged an “apology” which in my view was nothing of the kind. Another protest against Driscoll’s church is scheduled for New Year’s Eve.