Why I had to write this post…(or “Why Facebook sometimes makes me crazy.”)
What compelled me to write about this video and the issues surrounding it is the insanity of religious people (I mean here people who embody the negative traits associated with religion) accusing other people of being religious, apparently blind to the fact that these negative traits being plainly present in their own lives. Having being mired in the deepest crevices of the lowest road on this issue, they talk and act like they are on the highest road possible.
When this video was linked over Facebook it struck me that many of the people sharing it personally exhibit or are part of Christian churches that champion the very traits that Bethke is clearly targeting. Many of my peers have un-ironically linked this video with comments like, “How true!” or “I love this!” or “I hate religion!” and yet this video targets many of their attitudes and behaviors. They are apparently oblivious to the fact that their approach to faith and their treatment of other people are exactly what Bethke and others have in mind when they use “religion” as a slur.
I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here. It made me feel like this…
I mean, do you honestly not see that you are championing a message and values that you deny with your very lives? Why are you linking something that so radically criticizes what you are so clearly a part of? You are the people who confuse being Republican with being a Christian. You are the ones who talk about grace but if a person disagrees with you on one political or doctrinal point you treat them like complete trash. You are the ones who uphold non-biblical spoken and unspoken religious rules that people have to obey or face social or spiritual condemnation. You are the ones who attend churches where Jesus is absent and would not be welcomed.
This video is the tip of the much larger iceberg and I instantly thought of two other things that reminded me of the insanity of this situation.
First, years ago a Christian woman put up a Facebook status that said, “It’s not about a religion! It’s about a relationship!” While this phrase is cliché I have come to a place where I believe this is absolutely true. Jesus Christ Himself said that eternal life “is knowing the One True God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.” The insanity making part of this situation is that this woman is part of a Christian denomination so hypocritical, legalistic and judgmental that people (even other Christians) ask me if it is a cult when I describe it. I cannot speak to her personal faith but the background she comes from certainly is not one conducive to a relationship with Jesus or even other people.
Second, I instantly thought of the gigantic walking inconsistency that is the life and ministry of Mark Driscoll. Like my friends on Facebook, Driscoll is apparently unaware of the inconsistencies that riddle his life and teaching.
For example, a few days ago I saw Mark Driscoll tweet this:
The problem I see is Driscoll preaches and teachings condemnation basically non-stop. A fair paraphrase of this verse given Driscoll’s life and ministry would be:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…unless you are gay, or do not do church right, or believe the wrong things about Jesus, or do not do not run your family in a traditional fashion with the male as the leader and provider, or are not violent enough, or do not have the right type and amount of sex, or do not have the right amount of tattoos (not too much, but just enough), etc.” – Driscollites 8:1
Another example is that Driscoll preaches and teaches that all Christian men are called to be assertive, type A, aggressive, physically strong and violent men who take firm leadership and control over the women and children in their lives. If you are anything else or anything less you are not being a real biblical man and you are probably gay. Yet, after teaching this, he then screams “How dare you!” at men who are physically abusive and neglectful towards their wives in his church.
So let me get this straight. You teach that being a physically violent, aggressive and assertive male patriarch is the one true biblical way to be a man and are then surprised that domestic violence, abuse and neglect of women is going on in your congregation?
Now I realize Driscoll’s heart is really to teach and enforce a form of benevolent sexism, but in my opinion Driscoll has sown the seeds of domestic violence and abuse with his teaching and then rebukes men for bearing the fruit of listening to him. Apparently Driscoll fails to connect the dots.
I could (and probably should) really stop there, but I’m not going to because here is the real kicker…
In this sermon Driscoll claims religion never leads to joy or humility because religion makes a long list of rules. Those who manage to obey them become self-righteous prideful jerks and those that realize their own hypocrisy and inability to live up to them are led to despair and depression. I agree with this estimation and almost all of what Driscoll says in this sermon. (The comments come around the 7:00 and 8:00 mark.)
Now let me highlight a few things:
- Driscoll’s teaches a boat-load of rules. You can find links on his website or Youtube to hear Driscoll’s teaching on just about everything, from how organize your family to what to think about yoga. Because these teachings come from a Christian leader, who is really intolerant of any sort of disagreement, and are (allegedly) what the Bible teaches, they create rules that all Christians should obey.
- Driscoll’s behavior has earned him a reputation for being prideful, arrogant and self-righteous. His recent talk on a English radio program is a good example of why. (Here is the recording of the entire interview.)
- Driscoll has written about overworking himself, especially in his early years where he was carrying the entire church on his shoulders. This most likely came from a very performance based relationship with God. (This is in Vintage Church, I cannot find the page.)
- Driscoll has talked multiple times in his books about his struggle with depression. In his most recent book, that contains all the rules about sex Christians should know, he suggests the solution to depression is not addressing the underlying issues but simply having more sex with his wife. (Real Marriage, pg 186)
- John Piper, a theologian who is closely aligned and associated with Driscoll and that brand of Christianity, recently voluntarily took a sabbatical from ministry because of a struggle with pride.
The point I am making is this: Driscoll professes to hate the religion “other” Christians are involved in, whereas he gets the Gospel and loves Jesus. However, the hallmarks of religion that Driscoll himself has identified appear readily apparent in his own life and his brand of Christianity. Driscoll and his ilk fall under his own critique and his own words condemn him.
Hypocrisy or Bondage
These are just some examples of where people who embody the negative traits associated with religion and yet accuse other people of having those traits, apparently blind to their own issues.
There are at least two basic options that explain these situations.
First, it is possible that these people are hypocrites. I mean that in the true sense of the word hypocrisy. People may genuinely aspire to values they fail to meet due to common human frailty. This is not hypocrisy. We all make mistakes or compromises but this does not necessarily detract from the sincerity with which we hold to certain values. True hypocrisy is where someone says they value something that they do not. Some of these people could just be feigning a hatred of these negative traits because that is what is in fashion right now or for some other reason, even though they really do not.
Second, it is possible that these people are so deep in bondage that they cannot see the inconsistency between what they value with their lips and what they live out in their lives. Religious people can be so steeped in what they have always known and been taught that they cannot see all of these evil traits in their own lives even as they protest against these traits and truly do despise these traits. I was there most of my life and am probably still there in many ways that I do not even realize. I, like the lady I mentioned, have said “It’s all about a relationship!” even as I was hyper-religious and had no relationship with God. It does not make it right, or less insane, but I honestly believe this is where most of the people in these situations are at.
What I have said so far really only sets up to the real point of my post, which lies on the next and final page…