Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Watch Your Mouth, Pastor Dude!

On a segment called "Faith Matters", ABC's Nightline program highlighted a preacher at a megachurch in Seattle who is reaching out to a population some might believe are the "unreachable": the twenty-somethings with tattoos and multiple-piercings, ripped up jeans, and black sweaters. These are the folks who like coffee, and wi-fi. And through Pastor Mark Driscoll, they are coming to like Jesus.
Driscoll is described as an "indy rocker" preacher. His church plays rock music gospel tunes, he wears a headset with microphone to preach, and has his Sunday church services wired to be shown at other venues throughout Seattle.
I'm all for what he's trying to do: make Jesus accessible and understandable and not sterile and so "other-worldly" that he is unattainable.
But here's just a snippet of what was in the Nightline report last night:

Driscoll calls the mainstream church's portrayal of Jesus "a hippie-Christ. A neutered and limp-wristed popular sky fairy of popular culture that would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell."
According to Driscoll, Jesus was an outcast who didn't play by the rules.
"Jesus is typically portrayed as very effeminate guy, kind of long, flowing hair wearing a dress, always smiling, [making] pithy Zen statements that read like fortune cookies at a Chinese restaurant," he said. "And the truth is that he was a construction worker. He was very controversial and got murdered."

One word missing from this transcript was that Driscoll, according to the interviewer, had also said the "mainstream church" portrayed Jesus as a "queer", something Driscoll denies. Doesn't matter: "limp-wristed" says enough! And, given that Pastor Dude likes to talk about sex...but thinks sex is for married people only...and "queers" are excluded from marriage in most parts of this country....gee, what do you think Pastor Dude thinks of "gay people"?

These words, "effeminate guy", "wearing a dress", "neutered", "limp-wristed", "sky fairy"spoken by a man who is reaching out to the tattooed-crowd, are sowing the seeds toward two kinds of "us" vs. "them" hatred. The obvious is furthering homophobia in the punk crowd. It's as if Pastor Dude can't handle that Jesus can be a hippie, and wear Doc Martens at the same time, so he uses every pejorative term for a gay man he can think of because--what--real men are Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious? (For the record: I like The Sex Pistols). Is he trying to establish for his young skinhead audience that, of course, Jesus isn't one of those "faggots"? On the contrary, Pastor Dude: Jesus is not only a queer, he's a hippie and a punk. He was an outcast in his day because the authorities couldn't make heads nor tails of what he was saying, and they didn't like that his message was resonating with people, and they were threatened by his words. Why must he be one kind of rebel, and not another?
The other hatred is a denigration of "mainstream" churches. Does Pastor Dude really believe he's the first "dude" to recognize that Jesus was a rabble-rouser? Does he think that those of us in "mainstream" churches have never heard that Jesus' radical introduction of a "new thing" caused such a stir that it ended in him getting killed by the Roman authorities like a criminal?
My advice to Pastor Dude: keep reaching out to the supposedly "unreachables" because they are sheep needing to discover that the shepherd has been waiting for them to come home. But spare us all the garbage about how you personally view mainstream churches, and for the sake of the God of all, quit the gay-bashing. Remember, Pastor Dude: this isn't about you. It's about God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hurrah for you my wonderful daughter. You really got to this Dude.... This is another thing that I guess as an old fud I can do with young people is to tell them that being part of the mainline churchs can be fun. I am sending you some info which might make that possible for you to write about.