Preacher Mark Driscoll Basically Says No, Single Christian Males Cannot or Should Not Serve as Preachers / in Leadership Positions – Attempts to Justify Unbiblical, Anti Singleness Christian Bias
Well then. This post by Driscoll (see link much farther below) will certainly come as a surprise to the guy, Steve Dewitt, I blogged about who worked as an unmarried preacher until he got married for the first time around age 44.
(Link): Male Preacher Marries For First Time At Age 44
(By the way, the Bible nowhere sets a mandatory or even recommended age for marriage; the “wife of your youth” bit that some marriage idolaters enjoy quoting is not prescriptive; it is not commanding that all people have to or should marry young. See also: (Link): Article by J. Watts: The Scandal of Singleness )
The real reason it is, as Driscoll states in his blog post response to a reader question, so “improbable” for a single man to obtain work as a preacher, is not because of any of the reasons Driscoll outlines in his blog page, but because of the prejudice and suspicions Christians harbor against unmarried Christian adults.
(For example, (Link): More Anti Singleness Bias From Al Mohler – Despite the Bible Says It Is Better Not To Marry)
Many churches are biased against hiring singles because:
- 1. they hold the nasty, unfair stereotype all single adult males are sexual predators, or would-be predators;
2. if they hire a married man, the wife is viewed as a freebie, a “bonus,” she will work in the church pro bono, say, as the church piano player
I tire of how Christians allow their personal views or cultural views color how they interpret Scripture to disqualify folks, which is precisely what Driscoll does in his reply to the question:
- Pastor Mark,
Do you think that God still calls men with the “gift of singleness” into pastoral ministry? If not, what role do you think single males can play in serving the church?
(Link): Single Pastors?
Basically, Driscoll falls back on the old saw and some misunderstandings – which are used to discriminate against Christian singles – that only a few are given the “gift of singleness”
- SIDE NOTE by Christian Pundit:
(there is no such thing as the “gift of singleness, see (Links): this post, this post, or this post (“The Gift of Singleness – A Mistranslation and a Poorly Used Cliche’”), this post (“Gift of Singleness Gift of Celibacy Unbiblical – Those Terms and Teachings Contribute to Fornication”), this post), and, it is incorrect that (Link): only a “few are called” to be single
, and to note that Jesus and Paul were single, but for some reason, they are grand exceptions.
Yes, even though the founders of your religion were childless and unmarried, it’s not okay for others who follow their teachings to be single, childless, and in leadership positions. What a peculiar and unbiblical double standard.
That the Bible states in the New Testament that an overseer may be married with children, and that such a family should be orderly and under control (see (Link): 1 Timothy 3), does not need to be interpreted in such as way to mean, or does not necessarily mean, that ONLY married men with children may apply…
And what of married men with infertile wives, or married men who have only ONE child?
Being ‘overly’ literal or narrow with the “must be married with kids” verse unnecessarily disqualifies many people, so I think a fresh interpretation of, or study of, such passages is needed, since it is being used to discriminate against whole swaths of people.
I also note that Driscoll himself, despite being married, apparently fails several criteria of 1 Timothy 3, in that he is most certainly not “gentle,” is not “above reproach,” and has been, in the past, “quarrelsome.” Driscoll is, from my view, most likely guilty of being “a lover of money.”
To cite but a few examples (but I would encourage you to google the guy’s name and do more research):
- Driscoll’s odd obsession with sex and use of sexually explicit references in sermons (see Link);
deeming heretics such as Trinity- denier T D Jakes as being a fellow Christian (and was this for the love of money, one wonders?) (see Link);
bullying people out of his church and chuckling with glee at the thought of “throwing them under the bus,” (Link): Mark Driscoll – There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus
his grossly explicit sexualization of ‘Song of Songs’ (see Link);
and teaching that Esther from the book of the same name was a whore (see Link)
Here is part of Driscoll’s reply (click here to read the entire reply), which I will be commenting on below:
- EXAMPLES IN SCRIPTURE
First, obviously there are examples in Scripture of godly single men who served God faithfully. The prophet Jeremiah, the Apostle Paul, and of course the Lord Jesus come to mind first.
However, they suffered difficult lives and died. If they had wives and children, it would have been virtually impossible to both be faithful to their ministry and faithful to their families. In their circumstances, being single was the best life state for what God was asking of them.
So, as a general rule it seems that men who are called to pastoral ministry and singleness are also called to difficult and possibly even deadly ministry, such as missionary work in a hostile culture where a family would be a liability.
QUALIFICATIONS OF A PASTOR
Second, when the Bible lists out the qualifications of a pastor, it includes being a good husband (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9). This echoes the fact that being alone was “not good” (Gen. 2:18) even before sin entered the world and that, as a general rule, God’s intent for most men is marriage.
Again the source for that material is (Link): Single Pastors? (by Mark Driscoll)
Driscoll assumes that God chooses who will be single, an attitude which is incorrect, when he writes comments such as:
- A LIFETIME OF SINGLENESS
Third, are you called and gifted by God to remain single for a lifetime?
Every man is called to singleness for a season, until he is married. But if you are not empowered by God for a life of singleness (like a John Stott) then it is most likely best for you to wait until you are married before taking on any significant pastoral ministry.
Given that so many Christians are single today, if one operates under the rubric that God chooses who will be single (vis a vis the GOS – “Gift Of Singleness” teaching), it appears that God has made a whole bunch of Christians single these days.
In other words, God is NOT choosing to marry off scads and scads of Christians today, since so many are in fact NOT married, if we operate by GOS.
So, it is a fallacy to maintain the idea that it’s a “general rule” that “only a few” are called to lifelong singlehood, since very few are married today.
These days, it appears, with 44% of the American adult population being single (according to the US census), and the divorce rates being anywhere from 40% – 60% for Christians (depending on which source one reads), that God is not calling many to the “gift of lifelong marriage.” Singleness is now the default in our culture, even among Christians.
(For additional reading: (Link): American Christian Divorce Rates Vs Atheists and Other Groups – throws a pall over Christian Fairy Tale Teachings about Marriage )
The Bible presents lifetime singleness and celibacy, as well as marriage, as personal choices and self-disciplines, not as positions enforced by God, chosen by God, for each person, yet Driscoll has clearly bought into the common GOS (“gift of singleness”) rhetoric spewed by evangelical and Baptist Christian culture for however many decades now.
Driscoll also makes a comment in the blog post which seems to imply that a married man with children will have better, more pertinent, or more life experiences making him better equipped to lead or minister to other people; this is false.
An unmarried, childless man will also bring to the table a host of life experiences and views that can help everyone in a congregation, including the married.
Driscoll continually falls into the faulty assumption that no adult human being can have sexual self control, as well as the deeply insulting stereotype that married people are immune from sexual sin.
Married people are not immune from sexual sin.
I have listed example after example in the following post of married couples, some who are Christians, who have been interviewed and admitted to being trapped in porn, using prostitutes, and having extra-marital affairs, and some were in the news after having been arrested for child fondling or killing their wives or stealing.
You can view a list of such stories (Link): here.
It is simply not true that unmarried men and women are more prone to sexual sin than the married.
I am in my early 40s, and I am still a virgin. I was engaged and spent time alone with my ex-fiance over a period of years; yet, we never had sex.
Yes, I have a normal sexual drive. No, I don’t have a porn addiction or any sexual hang-ups. No, I don’t think about sex round the clock.
It is possible for an adult to live a celibate life via will power alone.
The Bible teaches that all Christians have self-control. It is not a given that to have a sexual urge means one has to, or will, act upon it.
I am not alone. I have met many other adult, never married, virgin Christians on the internet the last few years. I have also met Christians who divorced, and who have remained celibate after having divorced, and they have been celibate for five, ten, or more years after their divorces.
It is secular culture which maintains that people cannot help but to cave in to sexual pressure – and Christians have bought into this mind set.
Under the heading ‘UNDERSTANDING 1 CORINTHIANS 7,’ in his blog post, Driscoll attempts to justify his idolization of marriage by cherry picking Bible verses that discuss marriage in a favorable light.
Driscoll states: “Biblically, singleness is not ideal.”
That view is not in the Bible – not at all. That is Driscoll’s opinion, which has been colored by secular American culture.
Jesus Christ taught that His followers are to put Him first and the spiritual body first, not their spouses, children, or grandmothers (eg, Matthew 10: 34 – 37). To elevate marriage and having children as much as he does, Driscoll is making an idol out of marriage.
I have discussed this Christian tendency to elevate marriage and parenthood elsewhere on this blog, so I shall not belabor those topics here.
What I will say is to remind professing Christians that one reason Jesus warns against the worship of flesh- and- blood ties, and worship of marriage / spouse, is that those who are divorced, childless, widowed, and never married, find often themselves without fellowship, without companionship.
God expects the “family of God” (spiritual family) to band together to provide “family” for each other, because some Christians do NOT have a mother living, do not have children, and do not have spouses or aunts, cousins, sisters, uncles, or brothers.
See also: (Link): A Preacher Who Actually Reminds His Congregation that “Family” in the New Testament is Not Referring to Nuclear Family, Encourages Them to Include Non Relatives
Another problematic aspect of Driscoll’s teachings and attitudes is that it ceases to take into account all the Christian adult men and women who desired marriage, who did not feel “gifted” or “called to” singleness, yet who find themselves still single into their 40s, 50s, and older.
A Christian simply wanting marriage does not mean God will send that person a spouse.
God does not remove the desire for sex and a spouse from unmarried Christians who desire both.
There are many Christian women today, over the age of 30, 40, and older, who desired marriage, they prayed for spouses, tried dating sites and the whole spiel, but who are still single against their will.
Such individuals did not deliberately choose to remain single. And they were not “called by God to be single,” nor did God give them a “gift of singleness.”
As I have said time and again on this site, based on various information I have seen, there are approximately three unmarried, adult Christian women for every one unmarried, adult Christian man out there:
that means not all Christian single females who desire marriage to a Christian male will be able to acquire one.
Some Christian single females will have to consider marrying a Non Christian man, because there are no Christian single males in existence for them to marry. A woman cannot marry a man who does not exist.
- Further, since most people are failing to remain chaste and holy in their singleness, most people should put their energies toward the goal of one day being married.
Just because “most are failing” at it does not mean one should necessarily push marriage, or that it is impossible to remain a virgin.
I am over 40 years of age and still a virgin, and I am far from alone in being chaste for this long. There are other Christian virgins who are over 30 years of age.
Guys like Driscoll are actually playing into the Christian fornication problem: they are not upholding an expectation of celibacy among singles, as I have written of before:
- (Link): Douglas Wilson and Christian Response FAIL to Sexual Sin – No Body Can Resist Sex – supposedly – Re Celibacy
By the way, I at one time “had the goal of marriage,” but marriage never happened for me.
Simply wanting marriage, desiring marriage, or “having a goal for” marriage are NOT guarantees one will find a marital partner.
- “It is important to remember that Paul is not elevating singleness as generally preferable…”
But neither does Paul teach that marriage is “generally preferable,” either; Driscoll just assumes this is so.
Driscoll makes a lot of assumptions based on his personal experiences, as well, that because he could not contain his own personal lust, he had to marry before hitting age 23 or 24.
Just because YOU could not control YOUR lust does not mean others cannot. Again: over age 40 here, still a virgin, I have a normal libido, have had opportunities to sleep around.
- Paul’s words are as true and timely as ever. For those who are called to singleness for a season, or a lifetime (desires can and do change), their calling will be accompanied by a diminished sexual appetite so that remaining pure and chaste is not as difficult for them as for the person not called to singleness.
This is completely untrue, and the Bible does not teach this at all. Christian singles and celibates experience normal sex drives.
Adult, Christian celibates and singles are not granted some kind of supernatural power to resist sex, nor does God diminish the sexual desires of adult, Christian singles / celibates. It comes down to personal choice not to act upon desire, and personal self-control. Driscoll is completely clueless about adult Christian singleness and celibacy.
- In this way, those gifted with singleness like Paul and Jesus also often have a particular ministry calling on their life that requires poverty or danger.
I am over 40, never married, and I have never lived a “life of danger.”
I live a middle class, suburban lifestyle, just like you.
God has not seen fit to ship me, a never married and childless individual, off to deepest, darkest Africa to preach the Gospel to the natives, or off to Christian-phobic Islamic nations of the world to get me decapitated. Please get a clue.
- Those who do not marry because they are simply selfish or irresponsible are not whom Paul is speaking of in the context of his words and life example.
First of all, some MARRIED people are “selfish” and “irresponsible;” those are not traits that can apply only to the unmarried.
Secondly, some cannot marry because there are no suitors for them to marry.
I really enjoy the magical thinking of married Christians such as Driscoll, who assume if you want marriage, then voilà!, a perfect match will just appear on your doorstep out of nowhere! Reading such simplistic, fairy tale views of marriage is only a tad less entertaining than watching movies based upon the works of Tolkien.
The last time I checked, getting married in America involves doing things, like going on dates and weeding through the idiots and weirdos.
And it’s not a guarantee that one will find a winner or a diamond in the rough among all the frogs and losers, even if one goes on a bunch of dates or joins eHarmony or OK Cupid.
The whole blog post by Driscoll showed a sad, sad lack of understanding, both biblical and common-sensical, about adult singleness and was nothing but a big exercise in justifying why he feels it’s okay for churches to discriminate against the unmarried, particularly in keeping the unmarried out of positions of leadership.
Driscoll’s response to this guy crammed in just about every Christian stereotype against the unmarried that there is. A guy who married at age 21 or 22, by Driscoll’s own admission, and who has been married ever since, really should not be opining about adult singlehood, because he clearly has absolutely no clue about singleness past one’s early 20s.
Being single in one’s 30s, 40s, and beyond is NOT the same thing as being single at 18 or 20.
Related material, off site:
(Link): Are We Afraid of Single Pastors?
Related posts this blog:
(Link): Do Married Couples Slight Their Family Members as Well as Their Friends? / “Greedy Marriages” (study shows that SINGLES help family, friends, community far more than married people; marriage makes people selfish, says study)
- ((Link): ★ See more examples of MARRIED MALE PREACHERS WHO HAD AFFAIRS, RAPED PEOPLE, WERE ARRESTED FOR SELLING OR USING DRUGS, MURDERED PEOPLE, MOLESTED KIDS, etc)
(Link): Christian TV Personality, Preacher ( Jimmy Evans ) Says You Cannot Meet God’s Destiny For Your Life Without A Spouse = Anti Singleness Singlehood Singles Bias Prejudice Making Idol out of Marriage
(Link): Can You Boost Your Self Control? (discusses celibacy)
(Link): How the Sexual Revolution Ruined Friendship – Also: If Christians Truly Believed in Celibacy and Virginity, they would stop adhering to certain sexual and gender stereotypes that work against both
(Link): Why Stay-at-Home Moms Are More Depressed Than Working Moms (article) -Interesting- yet Christians hold up Motherhood (especially SAHM – Stay At Home Mommydom) as Being a Woman’s Only Godly, Worthwhile, or Legitimate Calling In Life