A former pastor and elder of Mars Hill Church (maybe "Driscoll's church" is the better moniker) is now telling his story.
He's making public the exchanges that took place during the process of his firing, disciplining, and eventual shunning. Good for him. I wish MORE people would speak out against wrongs (both in and out of the church environment), unafraid of the consequences. There comes a point where we have to stop worrying about the "Christian perception" and act.
His wife's story, found here, is a compelling, frustrating, saddening, and sometimes triggering read - and certainly worth your time. This passage was something I could relate to...
After multiple appeals were continually rejected by Mark and Jamie, we discreetly implored
some local and then national leaders, who Mark said he respected, to help us, including John
Piper and C.J. Mahaney. No one was willing to get involved. I was shocked and heartbroken
again. You’re kidding? The whole Body of Christ and no one is willing to step in, judge the
matter, and attempt to make things right? How can Matthew 18 be carried out if not one
Christian leader will stand in to bring peace and reconciliation?
I discovered in my own situation that people/Christian leaders in a position to have an influence on a situation are simply too afraid to do anything. When people are being wronged, abused, what have you, and people in positions of power decide to stay "neutral", regardless of their intentions, they've sided with the abuser. When evil and abuse is involved, "neutral" is the territory of cowards. Total cowards. Afraid of what they'll lose, afraid of what people will think...just afraid.
While I think that this couple's good intentions combined with some religious addictions to put them in this situation, that still doesn't absolve the abuser of his or her wrongs. This couple's choices of people to reach out to (Piper and Mahaney) weren't the best, but they were probably doing all they knew to do. Frankly, had they reached out to a higher caliber of "church leader", I don't think the result would be much different. Too much fear in leadership positions of the church. Lots of sizzle and no steak. When the fit hits the shan, they all go into self-preservation mode.
I've felt for some time that the "Matthew 18 process" is essentially useless in the modern church dynamic. Church leaders are generally looking out for #1, and #1 ain't God. Church is big bidness these days. In fact, I'd advise those of you reading that if church leadership ever requests a "Matthew 18 meeting" with you, don't go, cause they're gonna beat you into compliance or shun you. Just leave. Just leave. These aren't processes of reconciliation. These are processes of coercion and veiled threats. I don't think for a minute that there was malice in this couple's Matthew 18 intentions - but they weren't in the position of power in this situation. There was malice in the positions of power. There's no reconciliation to be had with men like that.
The entire story frames a larger picture of authoritarian religious power, control, coercive persuasion and thought reform (all symptomatic of a religious cult) with a leader taking advantage of the religious addictions of his flock, using smoke, mirrors, deception, and diversion to attain sole ownership of the drug, only offering the drug to the flock if they'll play by the rules of his own dictatorial pharmacy - and if unwilling to submit to the dictatorship, the dictator will go to great pains to make sure no one else will give you the drug, either. All submission or all nothing. They don't want you to thrive apart from them, which means, in their heart, they don't want you to thrive at all. It's also exhibit A of why elder-led congregations just do not work. A few ruling over the many, rather than all being genuinely equal in Christ and in the affairs of the church, is anti-Christ at its core and fertile ground for corruption. For a guy like Driscoll, however, it's really his ideal model. Set up an inner circle of yes men and screw the congregation. It's the same model Jim Jones used - and we know how that ended. ANY church where terms like "submission to authority" and "church discipline" are ever at the ready (as they seem to be with Driscoll) isn't a church at all, but a cult. Run from it. It's poison.
Do you want to see what a veiled (or perhaps not so veiled) threat from an authoritarian leader looks like?...
Check this out.
Immediately following that message (as you may have read at the link), Driscoll fired two respected church elders for daring to question him. This is a man who considers himself untouchable, and due to the culture of religious addiction he's crafted around him that needs the drug he's offering, he probably is. Frankly, I'd dare him to try and "bust my nose" and see where that got him.
If people could shed their religious addictions, this asshole would no longer have a marketplace.
Even though the process of getting out was in many ways devastating, I'm glad this couple got out, and I hope they continue to heal in peace and love.