Mark Driscoll was charged with sexual harassment – what was the verdict?

Sexua Harrassment 1

A total of 42 former elders of Mars Hill Church asked if Mars Driscoll was guilty of sexual harassment.  This charge was presented by 21 named elders plus 21 unnamed witnesses.

Many of these men are currently pastors in other churches. It is their charges that were being investigated by the Board of Elders (BoE), whose unreleased report has been reported to be in conflict with the findings of the Board of Advisors and Accountability (BoAA).

Failure to adequately address this issue will give complimentarians a black eye, and divert valid criticism away from the crass and sinful sexual harassment of women that occurred at Mars Hill Church.

Here is what the 21 former elders wrote in their formal charges against Mars Driscoll.

5. Sexual harassment of another Lead Pastor by way of inappropriate comment about his sex life.

10. Is Pastor Mark guilty of sexual harassment in the form of sexual immorality in speech (Eph 5:3)? We are aware of a number of credible reports of inappropriate sexually-oriented comments that Pastor Mark has made to and about other men’s wives, particularly in casual social settings.

My wife has been a part of a closed women-only group on Facebook that has women ex-members of Mars Hill Church sharing their stories. Only now, after a similar group posted in the Facebook group, re:Connect, have I been able to read the accounts.

They are eye-opening.

The level of denigrating women as sex-objects and objectifying them in so many subtle ways is deeply disturbing. I am deeply moved and long to see this harm to women corrected by the Mars Hill Church Board of Elders. They can do so in the following way:

1. Clearly identify and admit the problem.

2. Hold Mark Driscoll to account for his actions and teachings (a sample of which is outlined in the above-referenced and recent charges against Mark Driscoll, and of course, there are the “William Wallace II” rants).

3. Reach out to the women who have suffered hurt and make amends on behalf of the church.

4. Immediately release the verdict of the Board of Elders relating to these particular charges.

On behalf of hundreds of women that have attended Mars Hill Church, I appeal to the Board of Elders to release their investigation of these charges.

Sexual Harrassment 3

“Negative Media Attention” and Mars Hill Church

Spin

Mars Hill Church leadership has decried “Negative Media Attention” and blamed it for a decrease in both attendance and giving.

For us ex-members and perhaps many members we see the following “trustworthy table”. The most untrustworthy from our perspective would be considered negative, and the most trustworthy would be considered positive. We consider truth as positive, and self-serving spin and obfuscation as negative.  We will look at the media spin about the current Mars Hill mess from negative to positive.

News source
General Characterization
Comment

Mars Hill Church  communications
Very untrustworthy
Full of accusation to dissenters and bloggers, lack of transparency, hides truth often.

Other Christian New Outlets (World Magazine excluded)
Untrustworthy
Usually are printing puff pieces seemingly written by Mars Hill PR firms and surrogates.

Daily Beast/Huff Post
Moderately Untrustworthy
Seems to like to pick the sensational and skew perspectives toward a biased view.

New York Times
Trustworthy
Solid journalism

Forbes
Trustworthy
Solid journalism

The Seattle Times
Trustworthy
Solid Journalism – keen to correct any errors

The Seattle Weekly
Trustworthy
Solid and caring journalism.

The Wartburg Watch
Trustworthy
Written with a heart for abused people

World Magazine
Very Trustworthy
Warren Cole Smith has become the nation’s foremost investigative reporter within Evangelical circles.

Wenatchee the Hatchet
Very trustworthy
A totally accurate narrative with keen observation and a ferocious commitment to accuracy.

Warren Throckmorton
Very trustworthy
Daily reading for most members and ex-members of Mars Hill Church and the rest of the evangelical world

The Stranger
Very trustworthy
No tabloid journalist spent more time to make sure that he understood the context and accuracy of the events at Mars Hill Church than Brendan Kiley (Link)

Who would have thought that the least trustworthy of media would be Mars Hill Church and other Christian outlets, and the most trustworthy The Stranger?

Seriously?

Seriously 1

It seems that we have heard the word “seriously” a lot from the leadership of Mars Hill Church.

Seriously :

Adverb

  1. in a solemn or considered manner. “the doctor looked seriously at him”
  2. with earnest intent; not lightly or superficially.

First it was Michael van Skaik, whose integrity has been seriously challenged (along with Sutton Turner), who told us that the charges against Mark Driscoll had been taken seriously, the matter decided once and for all. He along with Sutton are been charged by nine pastors with being deceptive (i.e. lying).

Then we have repeatedly been told that the BOAA takes matters seriously, and of course they also cleared Mark Driscoll. No charge rose to the level of “disqualification.” Their decision was final. After all, they tried very hard to find witnesses, and only a handful spoke up, and these were mostly good reports. (Of course, this deceptive statement has now been challenged by the “noble nine” pastors).

Now we have the next level of seriously motivated men. These men are elders and pastors who are taking everything seriously, especially the seriousness of the leaks at Mars Hill Church. These leaks are very serious!

After all, unlike the numerous and well established sins of Marl Driscoll, and unlike the deception of Sutton Turner and Michael van Skaik, the leaks “tarnish” the gospel. Therefore they must be taken seriously. Very seriously.

Of course, we have already looked at the Mars Hill leadership’s understanding of the word “yearn”, where Michael van Skaik said that he and the BOAA “yearned for reconciliation.” (Of course, neither he nor they had actually tried to reconcile with any offended ex-member that we know of.) Just saying these words make them to be true.

Kind of like the name-it-and-claim it gospel. If we say we are serious, or if we say that we yearn, it makes it so.

Seriously?

It would appear that the Mars Hill leadership took charges against Pastor Mark Dunford’s role in the actions of the “noble nine” seriously. He was removed from office on Tuesday, just days after his “serious” actions. Surely if the clearly established charges against Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Michael van Skaik are taken as seriously, we should see action very soon.

A last thought. How about considering that those who are telling everyone about the repeated and well-documented sins of the Mars Hill leadership, collaborated by Acts 29 and men like Paul Tripp, are taking 1 Timothy 5:24 & 25 seriously:

“The sins of some people are obvious, leading them to judgment. The sins of others follow them there.  In the same way, good actions are obvious, and those that are not cannot remain hidden.”

…and take 1 Timothy 5:20 very seriously:

“Those who sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. “

…the word “all” comes from the Greek word meaning “all…everyone…” (using social media if necessary).

Furrowed brow 2

Four offended men who have not heard from Mark Driscoll.

discernment 1

Mark Driscoll wants to forget the past. But, as this excellent blog post clearly details disqualifying sins against four men in the past, Mark Driscoll has made no attempt of any kind to reach out to the four men sinned against.

Dr. E.S.Williams does an excellent job outlining the disqualifying behavior that has never been addressed by Mark Driscoll. Surely, in order to press forward, the past sins should be named and attempts to reconcile be hastily sought after.

Here is a link to “A Dearth of Discernment”.

Are Mars Hill Church elders elders in name only?

Puppet 2

The ruthless firing and unfair trial of Paul Petry, which in 2007 was used to bully and coerce twenty two shocked and mostly young elders into passing new bylaws without due process, is the most clear example of the current charge of bullying that has been brought against Mark Driscoll by twenty one former elders, along with an additional twenty one unidentified elders that will testify as witnesses as needed (link).

This act of bullying, and the resultant bylaws, ushered in the current era of Mars Hill Church governance whereby Mark Driscoll’s own elders cannot hold him to account. In fact, subsequent “rules” call for an elder to submit a letter of resignation before he can even bring charges against Mark Driscoll.

Mark Driscoll, prior to the bullying in of new bylaws, taught that the elders were men who had equal authority in the church. These elders were men who went through a rigorous evaluation, including the fact that they managed their own household well. This is a biblical standard as well as one called for in the bylaws of Mars Hill Church:

1 Tim 3:4 and 5:  He must manage his own family well and have children who are submissive and respectful in every way. For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?

Elders are to take care of the church, and that care is similar to managing one’s household. This implies that the elder has the authority to carry out such management or care.  Some elders rule better than others, and the ones that rule well are worthy of double honor.

Elders rule.

So how on earth do the men who are called elders under the current by-laws actually rule? The current bylaws do not allow the office of elder to rule the church, even though this is what Mars Hill Church was taught, and is implied, even recently by Mark Driscoll in his statement made on Sunday, August 24, 2014.

Driscoll made a point that the bylaws which spell out the process for dealing with his discipline were approved by the entire eldership:

I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me (link) (emphasis added).

If Driscoll was talking about the 2007 bylaws, then he is not telling the truth. The Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) did not exist under the bylaws that were passed by his bullying in 2007. After the 2007 bylaws were changed, subsequent bylaws did not need the elders’ vote in order to be changed.

In fact, the bylaws that were passed that included the BOAA are mentioned in the charges brought by the twenty one former elders. Here is the 7th charge they brought against Mark Driscoll:

7 . May 8, 2012—In a meeting of the Full Council convened to vote on the slate of nominees for the new board of advisors and accountability, Mark was explaining to the elders that under the newly revised bylaws, the Full Council would have the right to review any changes by the board. One elder corrected Mark with his own understanding that the new bylaws, in fact, allow the board to make decisions without running it by the Full Council. Mark’s response to that elder was bullying, with some elders present recalling language to the effect of: “I don’t give a sh-t what you think. I’m trying to be nice to you guys by asking your opinion. In reality, we don’t need your vote to make this decision. This is what we’re doing…”  (link)

As the reader can see, Mark Driscoll did not need or ask for the bylaws that created the BOAA to be voted upon by the full council of elders. Driscoll not only did not need them, but he rubbed this fact in the face of his elders. Driscoll simply did not “give a sh-t” about their opinion. This is the charge against him – for crying out loud!

What Mark Driscoll was really doing was showing the church (and the current men who are elders in name only) that the bylaws that neutered the elders in 2007 were passed overwhelmingly by the then twenty two elders in 2007. Many of them are among those that have now brought charges against Driscoll. He was not referring to the bylaws that set forth the process of dealing with the current charges.

This shows that Mark Driscoll sees the significance of that 2007 vote. Almost any observer of the current mess traces it back to that vote. Even The Stranger has correctly noted that the bylaw changes of 2007 are at the root of the current problems (link).

Almost every time Driscoll speaks, he reinforces the “need” for the change in the bylaws that occurred in 2007. Over the years he has told different stories as to what motivated the change, the last being that he did it for his wife, Grace (link). Perhaps some other blogger can go through the multiple reasons given over the years.

At the end of the day, Mark Driscoll may apologize and say he is sorry, for this and that, but he will not repent of bullying the 2007 bylaws into place.These bylaws removed his accountability to the elders of the church. His bullying included harming, shaming, shunning and slandering Paul Petry. Yet Driscoll will not repent of that act. By repenting he would have to admit that the entire bullying episode occurred so that he could change the bylaws without due process.

The bylaws that were put in place in 2007 are illegitimate because they were passed only because of the bullying tactics of Mark Driscoll and then lead Pastor Jamie Munson.  Due process was thrown out the window. A future post will go through this in more detail.

Asking the elders to vote-- 20 out 24 were highly paid eldersAsking elders to vote after firing two elders for merely questioning

Suffice it to say that under the current bylaws there are men who are called elders, yet these “elders” have no ability to rule the church as elders.

However, this does not mean that they are not elders in the biblical sense. They have been called by God to be elders, and have passed the test of character that the bylaws call for. All they lack is the ability (if the bylaws are legitimate) to actually function elders. They cannot manage the church as they manage their homes.

But they are elders.

They should rise up and fulfil the role that God has called them to, and declare the 2007 bylaws that were passed through bullying and coercion to be unlawful and therefore unenforceable. They need to conduct their eldership duties under the bylaws that preceded the 2007 bylaws as they were properly and lawfully deliberated and voted upon without duress and bullying tactics.

The charges against Mark Driscoll should be reviewed and adjudicated by the elders of the church as per the legitimate bylaws. The current bylaws, which call for the lead pastor to be tried by a hand-picked sham of a board, which cannot be impartial, should be repealed.

While this is clear to almost everyone, even secular journalists, the question is whether this is clear to the current men of character who have answered the call to manage the church.

Or are these men elders in name only?