Evangelical megachurch begins closing branches after pastor calls women "penis homes"

Washington-based Mars Hill Church will close 15 branches following controversy over founder Mark Driscoll

Salon/September 8, 2014

By Jenny Kutner

The Washington-based evangelical megachurch Mars Hill is shutting (some of) its doors. Following controversy over founder Mark Driscoll’s well-documented homophobic and sexist remarks, church officials announced over the weekend that they would be closing several of Mars Hills 15 Pacific Northwest branches, citing financial difficulties caused by “negative media attention.” Several staff and clergy members have also been laid off. At the end of last month, Driscoll himself announced that he would be taking a six-week-long leave of absence.

According to Pastor Mark Dunford, who was recently laid off from Mars Hill’s Portland branch, his dismissal comes in the wake of calls for Driscoll’s resignation, as well as Dunford’s denouncement of the founder for instilling a “lack of transparency” and “culture of fear” within the church ranks. A recent New York Times profile of Driscoll also reports accusations of “plagiarizing, of inappropriately using church funds and of consolidating power to such a degree that it has become difficult for anyone to challenge or even question him.”

For some time the tide has been turning against Driscoll, who has made a spectacle of himself over the years with his anti-LGBT, anti-woman remarks, many of which he has espoused as key elements of his theology. Preaching theological “complementarianism,” in which women are considered men’s followers and subordinates, Driscoll has expressed a belief that women should always be submissive. According to one report, the pastor once instructed a female congregant to get on her knees and apologize to her husband for failing to bend to his will, then give him a blow job.

The advice fits in with Driscoll’s long-apparent, disturbing view of women, examples of which Wenatchee the Hatchet unearthed and posted last month. In a 2001 blog post under the pen name William Wallace II, Driscoll blatantly asserts his patriarchal understanding of women’s role in the world, essentially calling them “penis homes”:

"The first thing to know about your penis is, that despite the way it may seem, it is not your penis. Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while.  While His penis is on loan you must admit that it is sort of just hanging out there very lonely as if it needed a home, sort of like a man wondering the streets looking for a house to live in. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home."

Oh, and in case you’re a dude who finds yourself thinking that your hand or maybe another dude would make for a good home, here’s some Driscoll-authored homophobia to counter that thought:

"Therefore, if you are single you must remember that your penis is homeless and needs a home. But, though you may believe your hand is shaped like a home, it is not. And, though women other than your wife may look like a home, to rest there would be breaking into another man’s home. And, if you look at a man it is quite obvious that what a homeless man does not need is another man without a home."

Driscoll’s rise to fame and success at Mars Hill came as a result of such inflammatory comments, which were once seen as revolutionary for their boldness. But, as it seems many people are coming to realize, calling women “penis homes” isn’t revolutionary. It’s a ludicrous articulation of sexist, patriarchal ideals that have been dominant for centuries, and worthy of widespread public scorn.

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