I hesitate to write posts like this sometimes because when I feel so strongly about a particular issue, I use strong language. And I hate to do that knowing that some people who read this only know me from what I write here. I feel compelled to be level-headed, or, at least kind. Unlike many bloggers, I think you probably can know me (at least a little) from what I write here, but I don't want anyone to see the part of me I like least: my snarky anger. So, trying not to be angry or snarky and trying to proceed with humility, I'm going to write about something I care very very deeply about. You might disagree. And I'm ok with that.
This morning, I read Mandie's post about Mark Driscoll's sermons (if you don't know who Driscoll is, now is a good time to Google) and her reactions to them. I'm home today with a terrible virus graciously given to me no doubt, by some hygienically-challenged undergraduate, and so I had some time to watch one about birth control.
Now, despite what I think might be some shared ideas between us, I think Mark Driscoll is, well, kind of a likeable jerk. One Seattle blogger asserts that he actually expressed the desire to punch two elders in the face during a sermon. And while I can understand his desire put out the lights of the ordained, it's probably not too indicative of a great deal of wisdom or restraint to admit it in front of your congregation (assuming that he actually did). That being said, I see some things in his teaching on this matter that I respect. And some that make me uncomfortable to say the least. Perhaps I should start with those things in the "respect" column.
Mark Driscoll likes women, from what I can tell, and he requires a lot from the men in his congregation in the area of personal responsibility. He also gave the most technically accurate description of birth-control methods that I have ever heard any religious person give. This is quite important because I fully believe that most Americans know little to nothing about the birth control methods that they are actually using. And I think pastors/priest should have an opinion about these matters and maybe, if the Holy Spirit gives them the freedom to do so, they should express them to their congregations. He also smacked some "home-school legalists" in the face in a pretty bold way. And it was funny. And maybe useful.
But he also said something tremendously scary. In a lengthy diatribe about "idiot" husbands (one that lent considerable credibility to the Seattle blogger) he said that the elders of a church are a higher authority over a woman than her husband. Yikes. In the interest of personal disclosure, I'm not a traditional "submit to the man" kind of wife, but I'd certainly rather submit to my husband who knows me and who has a vested genetic stake in the welfare of my child(ren) than to an elder who doesn't much care what happens to me. (Can you tell this is kind of an issue for me? I admit it. It's a stone-bruise.) Frankly, my husband and I know that one of us can't be well-adjusted or happy if the other isn't. We're just a symbiotic system, I guess. So, my welfare is important to him as is his to me. That gives him some rights, I say. The idea of submitting to anyone over my husband (who I don't really submit to very well at all, actually) is frightening enough to me as to elicit quite an emotional response. Cause, at least my husband likes me. Almost all of the time.
The other thing about this sermon that bothered me was Mark Driscoll's obvious dislike for feminists. Now, feminism is about as broad a pool as the Atlantic Ocean and there are many many different branches of thought. Some are irritating and profoundly anti-man and family and some are not. I could write more about that, but I won't. Suffice it to say, I do consider myself to be a feminist. And I hope not the irritating kind. (I like both men and family quite a lot.) So, I think Mark Driscoll shouldn't be so quick to pour the sea into a Dixie cup. I shan't rant about that any further.
Finally, (wow, this is disjointed) I think about my own feelings about birth control. I'm not opposed. I can see some good reasons to hold off on the making of babies, but at the same time, the idea that a woman should take a pill to "chemically fix herself for sex without the requiring anything from the man" (as Frederica Matthews-Green* says, more-or-less) is icky. Our society wants us to think that it is a feminist action to control our own reproduction by disrupting a beautifully functional and healthy system of the body. But that idea has to be one of the most anti-woman notions of the past Century. No one is asking that of men, I notice, and I think it valid to ask why.
*Frederica Matthews-Green read my blog once and I've never gotten over the thrill.