Yesterday, during morning Mass, one of the prayers offered up was from a sixth grade boy. He spoke into the microphone, “For an end to persecution and bulling, especially for children, we pray to the Lord.”
I held my own son a little bit closer to me, and considered the pews filled with children as I raised my voice to say in response, “Lord, hear our prayer.”
Bullies. I have zero tolerance for their behavior. They are not welcome in my life to push me around, to make me feel small, or to ridicule my choices, my hope, or my faith. Seems simple enough, an easy boundary to keep in place, right? Well, it is and it isn’t because many Christians want unity at any cost, and so I find myself at odds with people who support pastors who bully.
The people who will flock to bullies have their reasons for it. Perhaps they are drawn to the bravado, the demonstrations of strength, or maybe they see something in them to admire and imitate. These people who are drawn to bullies, well, some of them are my acquaintances and friends, but what worries me the most is that thousands of people in my age bracket have formed a massive herd, following a particular bully who is popular in the NW, Pastor Mark Driscoll.
*Point of clarification: I do not think Driscoll is evil nor do I question his faith in Christ, but I do question the Christlikeness of his approach as a pastor and Bible teacher.
Anyway, after I came home from church, the young boy’s prayer still on my mind, I began perusing the latest updates in my social media networks, and discovered that Driscoll was interviewed by another man who often exhibits bullying behavior, Glenn Beck. These two men enjoyed an animated conversation about church, politics, young men, and Jesus; great topics for people who wield their positions of privilege recklessly, right? I watched the interview in full, which can be found on YouTube.
When the subject of young men arises, Beck says to his audience, “I feel a great call to be a better man, that we are supposed to be better men right now, and Mark thinks if we lose the men and the inner cities Christendom is done.”
In this interview clip, Mark is particularly disgusted with men in their late twenties and early thirties that don’t think about their future or have a drivers license. He laments that some men in their twenties ride busses, presumably to text, play video games, and watch porn while they get to where they are trying to go. He then says of these bus riders, “So guys have no vision of future, career, no intent of taking a gal on a date, maybe to get a wife out of the deal, maybe have a kid…”
Beck goes on to ask how these men can be reached.
“You’ve got to tell them that they’re wrong! That they’re absolutely wrong, and they have no idea what they’re doing,” Mark says without hesitation.
Pastor Mark goes on to say, “Nobody looks at these guys and says, ‘You didn’t have a dad. You’re addicted to porn. You don’t have a clue. You don’t have a plan. You’re part of the problem. Stop smiling, because you’re the joke.’ Nobody just tells them that, but that’s exactly what they need and if they would have had a good dad that’s exactly what he would have told them.”
As the interview continues, Mark says that he was a type of big brother figure to a lot of young men in the early years of Mars Hill, but now he hopes to grow into the father figure. This is scary to me because peers as bullies are dangerous enough, but when a bully exerts themselves to a new level of authority then abuse often worsens.
Beck and Driscoll’s condescending tone continues as they joke about the type of guy people from Seattle think Jesus was while he was on earth. Mark says, “They think of Jesus with product in his hair, wearing a dress, hippie on vacation, maybe smoking a joint…They haven’t met the real Jesus.”
Maybe I haven’t even met the real Jesus because the gospel according to Mark Driscoll is that Jesus was a construction working, man’s man who yelled at people. Jesus came to earth for the explicit purpose of telling people they are wrong, they are in sin, and was the ultimate dream crusher.
As I finished watching the interview, this was my takeaway: I can’t change these men, but what I can do is teach my son about the behavior of a bully, especially those who bully in the name of Jesus.
I can teach my son…
- If it doesn’t look like grace then it isn’t the Gospel.
- If it doesn’t look like Love broken for you and for the whole world then it isn’t Jesus.
- If you’re going to be loud, let your voice be so full of humility that it echoes the voice of your Maker.
- If you can’t offer those around you hope and a better future, don’t resort to crushing their dreams and telling them they are wrong.
- If you’re going to look someone in the face and tell them that they are a joke, please know that you’re in direct contradiction to God; He sees us all as gifts.
Yes, I can teach him these things, and I can hope that my little boy will grow up to be man who wants to be like Jesus (just not the construction working, yelling, dream-crushing Jesus, cause I have no idea who that guy is).