A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Translating Mark Driscoll

Today’s post is a brilliant decoding of ‘abuserese’ — the manipulative language that abusers use to evade responsibility for their behavior and to shape other people’s perceptions of them. We have re-blogged this post from God Loves Women (original here). The author of the post leads behavior change groups for men who abuse their partners. Many thanks to God Loves Women.

If you haven’t yet heard about Mark Driscoll’s announcement that he is stepping down for six weeks while charges are being investigated, you can find more about it from Julie Anne Smith’s post Mark Driscoll Stepping Down for 6 Weeks While Charges Investigated at Spiritual Sounding Board.

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This morning I watched the 17 minute videoed announcement from Mark Driscoll this weekend that he is stepping down as Pastor of Mars Hill for a minimum of six weeks. You can watch the video and read the transcript here [Internet Archive link].
[Note from ACFJ eds: Trigger Warning —  the link contains a video showing manipulative body language and speech that may remind you of your own abuser(s)]

Within the announcement Mark speaks of the “court of public opinion” not being useful in addressing issues in a Biblical manner and suggests online conversations, like this blog for instance, are unhelpful. I can see that everyone having OPINIONS can be problematic, but without the courageous tenacity of bloggers across the internet raising the issues, Mark Driscoll would not have taken the very necessary and welcome step that he has. So I’m not going to apologise for adding to the OPINIONS in the public space and I would suggest his denigration of the “court of public opinion” is a tactic to silence the hurting, and as a book we Christians honour states, “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”

I have recently begun working with perpetrators of domestic abuse. I am facilitating a Respect accredited programme with men who have chosen to be violent and abusive to their partners. And if there is one thing that perpetrators are “gifted” in, it is avoiding responsibility and manipulating people’s views of them. I would suggest that some of what we see in Mark’s announcement uses those same tactics, whether intentionally or not, whether orchestrated by a PR plan or by the man himself. I would like to clarify that I am not suggesting Mark is perpetrator of domestic abuse, but that his words and actions mirror those of abusers.

During the announcement Mark was emotional, at points he seemed very close to tears. It is interesting to note that domestic abuse perpetrators who visibly show remorse change at about the same rate as those who don’t. In our wider context of power based masculinity, men crying, or being close to tears brings out a specific response for many. That act of vulnerability in a society that states the only appropriate emotions for men are humour and anger can change perceptions of an offender in an instant. I’m not for one minute suggesting they were “crocodile tears” but that we must be careful not to use an emotionally remorseful delivery as a litmus test for repentance.

This is my translation of some parts of the announcement:

“When a small group of us started what would become Mars Hill Church in 1996, we could not have dreamed it would be what it is today. Thousands upon thousands of people have become Christians as the gospel of Jesus Christ has proven powerful over and over. Every day, it seems, I hear of someone whose life has been transformed by the power of the Word of God taught in this place and modeled by so many who call this their church home.”

I’m going to start by reminding you of all the 1000s of people my ministry has saved from hell, so that when I get to my bad choices, we’re all feeling that is insignificant compared to all the people I have helped. So many people’s lives have been transformed by my teaching of God’s Word and you all living out my teaching.

“Today, we are blessed with lead pastors who love Jesus and the people He gave His life for. These men faithfully serve the Mars Hill family.”

Though there are 21 ex-leaders of the our church who are publicly stating that I have behaved in horrendous ways and were either sacked or left due to their strong convictions, the current leaders are supportive of me.

“While I’m still young, I suspect when I’m old I’ll be known for many things—some good, and some not so good.”

I am a 43 year old grown up, but I am going to describe myself as “young” in order to suggest that my young-ness mitigates the bad choices I have made. I would also like to remind you that I have done good things and not actually say that I have done bad things, but just things that are “not so good”.

“I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for.”

I would like to remind you all of the powerful man I am and the many successes I have had in my career so far, but that I also want you to know that I am humble local church pastor, even though I have intentionally and ruthlessly built a large megachurch over the last 18 or so years.”

“It is because of my deep love for the local church in general, and Mars Hill Church in particular, that it grieves me to see anything come against it or threaten to harm it. It also grieves me greatly when something I say or do results in controversy and publicity none of you signed up for when you decided to be a part of this church family.”

I get upset when my choices, actions and words result in people challenging me. I am so totally uninterested in the people I have hurt that I’m not even going to mention their hurt in my announcement. I don’t want to accept the consequences of my actions as the leader of a large church which I am paid large amounts of money to lead and rather than say this, I am going to make it about the peripheral hurt of the church family, which I am actually responsible for not those who have challenged me.

“Over the years, as I have grown and as the Lord has been molding and pruning me, I have, on many occasions, shared with you some of the lessons I’ve been learning. Some of these have been painful, and some I’ve been slow to learn. I’ve acknowledged and confessed many of my sins, shortcomings and missteps, and God has been more than faithful with His forgiveness. Most of our Mars Hill family has been forgiving as well, and for that I’m grateful and blessed. By God’s grace, I want to always be humble and teachable.”

I would like to remind you all of the times I have said sorry for what I did over the years. The fact that at no point have I actually changed my behaviour is something I’m going to try and ensure you don’t think about by making it all about the ways I’ve learned. I’d like to also remind you that before God I am forgiven. Rather than mention how much I appreciate and value all those who have tried to stop it coming to this point, I’m going to validate all those who collude with my behaviours by honouring those who keep forgiving me. Although I have proven that over the last 18 years of ministry that I am not willing to be taught and am not humble, I am going to say that I am both of those things.

“A central theme in my personal walk with Jesus in recent times has been to follow the Apostle Paul’s charge to Believers in Romans 12:8: If possible, so far is it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. God is not honored by conflict, strife, disunity, arguing, slander, gossip or anything else not consistent with the fruit of the Spirit, and I am deeply sorry for the times I have not done my part to living peaceably with all men.”

By quoting Scripture I can reduce my ongoing hurtful behaviour to the term “not living peaceably with all men”. I am going to use the term “my part” so as to suggest that it is not all my fault, but that it is a reciprocal thing where both I and every other person involved are partly to blame for the hurt I have caused.

“I want to thank those who have come directly to an Elder, lead pastor or me to tell us of an offense they are carrying. This allows us to deal with it head-on between the two affected parties, rather than in a court of public opinion and public media. I believe God is honored by this approach—the approach He prescribed for us in Matthew 18 and other Scriptures.”

All those who have used public spaces to challenge me are wrong and dishonour God and only those who have come to me and the leadership of the church are right and honour God. I am going to use the term “offense they are carrying” so as to avoid saying that I had hurt people. The fact that when people tried to come to me I refused to listen, sacking them, threatening them and destroying their lives and livelihoods is of absolutely no relevance. God is not honoured by anyone who publicly holds me to account. I am going to mention the first bit of Matthew 18 where Jesus tells us to approach other Christians who we have been hurt by, but I am going to conveniently ignore the bit Jesus says that’s someone who fails to listen should be treated like a non-believer.

“Others have chosen to air their grievances with me or this church in a more public forum. As is often the case, some of what is said it true, some is partly true, and some is completely untrue. Lately, the number of accusations, combined with their public nature, makes it much more difficult to know how to respond appropriately. Indeed, many times we have chosen not to respond at all, which probably raises even more questions in some people’s minds, and I understand that.”

I am going to use the term “air their grievances” rather than talk about people being hurt. I am going to talk about truth, half-truths and lies without distinguishing between them so that I subtly cast aspersions on all that everyone has accused me of. I am going to talk about “the number of accusations” increasing which makes the issues external to me, rather than about my own choices and hurtful actions. I am going to reinforce my criticism of people holding me to account publicly, but will use it neutral language like “public nature” to hide that. I am going to mention that we haven’t addressed the issues, acknowledge that is problematic but continue doing it.

“In other cases, some have publicly brought up issues that were long ago addressed and resolved, adding to the understandable confusion many of you may be experiencing recently. For example, nearly 15 years ago I wrote some things on a Mars Hill discussion board on our website using a pseudonym. I quickly realized what I wrote and how I did it was wrong. We removed the entire section of the website a few months later and I addressed it publicly in a book I wrote six years later—calling it what it was: wrong.”

The only accusation I am going to address during my announcement is the one that relates to historical actions. I am going to manipulate the facts to suggest that a book I wrote six years later dealt with what I had done, when in actual fact, that book mentioned that I thought it was funny how I had a man turn up at my house to challenge me; that I talk of things “going crazy”. I’m not going to mention that at no point in the book do I actually own or apologise for my misogynistic, homophobic behaviours and attitudes. I am also not going to mention that for the past almost 15 years I have continued to use similar language and ideology in my preaching and writing. I am going to use language that distances me from my actions by saying “what I wrote and how I did it was wrong” rather than saying “I was wrong and I have hurt people”.

“I have taken full responsibility for those actions and will forever be ashamed by what I did, even as a 29 year-old preacher. What I did in this case back in 2000 is indefensible. It is also forgiven; and thank God, I’m not the man I was back then. I have learned hard lessons from this situation, as I have from other situations where I have done wrong things and God has had to deal with me.”

I am going to talk of taking full responsibility for something while still using language that distances me from my choices and actions. When talking about what I did I will mention the age I was in order to justify it as related to being young (like I did earlier in my announcement). Although at 29 years old I had been an adult for over ten years, I will suggest my age made me immature, though I was a married father entrusted with the leadership of a church. I will remind everyone that this happened in 2000, keeping people focused on the historical accusations and not the current ones. I will talk about learning hard lessons which will allow me to suggest I have changed, when the way I have behaved and the choices I have made since then have continued to hurt many people.

“Storm clouds seem to be whirling around me more than ever in recent months and I have given much thought and sought much counsel as to why that is and what to do about it. The current climate is not healthy for me or for this church. (In fact, it would not be healthy for any church.)”

I will again talk about the consequences of my actions using language which distances me from any responsibility by talking of what “storm clouds seems to be” doing. I will talk of how unhealthy this would be and subtly place myself as a victim. I will then restart talking of Mars Hill Church as the main victim of the issues, keeping my audience feeling like they are the centre of this and their interests and hurts are cared about while continuing to completely ignore the hurt and pain of the people I have hurt throughout my ministry.

“Some have challenged various aspects of my personality and leadership style, and while some of these challenges seem unfair, I have no problem admitting I am deserving of some of these criticisms based on my own past actions that I am sorry for. In recent years, I have sought to apologize to people I have knowingly offended in any way. I’m grateful that God has honored many of these encounters and granted true reconciliation and restoration.”

I will start addressing criticisms by saying that some have been unfair. I will not use language which states that my critics are right, but will instead say “I am deserving of” some criticisms. This sounds like I’m taking responsibility, but subtly avoids doing so. I will use the term “past actions” to suggest that this isn’t related to my ongoing behaviour, thereby subtly connecting it to my previous comments on my actions in 2000. I talk of seeking to apologise to people even though those who have been hurt report being shunned and destroyed by me. I will talk about God honouring these encounters without specifics

“But I’m particularly sorry that any of my past actions or decisions have brought distraction to the mission of Mars Hill Church, and therefore, to those who call this their church home. Part of this is no doubt a function of the media age we live in—anyone can write anything, anywhere, anytime. As a public figure, I recognize and accept this, even if I don’t like it; for this is one of the paradoxes of being a pastor in a media age—the same media channels that can be used to carry a sermon to virtually anyone around the globe can also be used by anyone around the globe to criticize, attack or slander.”

The first time that I start a sentence with “I am sorry” it is related to the impact on the church community which yet again reinforces to the audience that their feelings are validated, but the actual victims of my offences are not mentioned. I make my sorry focused on the mission of Mars Hill, reminding everyone that is the priority, not the reality of the people who have been hurt. I will then yet again criticise people who have publicly challenged me and place myself as the victim by talking of myself as a “public figure”. This makes the situation more about my position than my choices and actions. That I have used media channels to criticise and attack is irrelevant, and I will suggest my detractors are “criticizing, attacking and slandering” without actually stating that is what those who challenge me are doing.

“However, another part of it is simply my fault and I will own it, confess it and move on from it as God continues to redeem me. I will seek to resolve unresolved issues with others, and will seek to avoid such conflict in the future; at least to the extent I have any control over it.”

After spending time being negative about my detractors I will now talk about my fault. Yet I won’t take responsibility for any of it, I will just accept partial fault, which essentially means the other people involved are also at fault. Essentially I am blaming everyone else while using the language of responsibility. I will talk of God redeeming me to remind everyone that God is okay with me, having previously implied that others have dishonoured God by challenging me. I will use the term “avoid such conflict” which essentially distances me from fault and focuses the issues as conflict based rather than founded in power and abuse.

“There is a well-documented list of past actions and decisions I have admitted were wrong, sought forgiveness, and apologized for to those I hurt or offended. I will not review them here, as it is my prayer we can, together as a church, move on as Paul writes in Philippians 3:13—But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead.”

I will talk about admitting I am wrong when what I have done previously is apologise but continue to do the same things over and over. I quote Philippians and use the word “forget”; this implies that forgetting is the option for the church community. That forgiveness and forgetting are not in any way related and that forgetting is impossible when we have been hurt badly is something I want to avoid people being aware of.

“These are serious times we are living in and people all around us are dying every hour without Jesus. It is this reality that drives me and motivates me to keep learning God’s Word, and teaching God’s Word to His people so that together, we can continue to reach people with the saving grace and love and mercy of Jesus. I hope that regardless of whatever else is swirling around us, we never lose this perspective on why Mars Hill exists in the first place – Jesus loves people and people need Jesus.”

I will now spend time explaining how people’s souls are at risk of burning in hell and that in comparison these issues that have been raised are really not a big deal. I will talk about my purpose and call and will talk of the current issues that have resulted from my actions and choices as “swirling around us” yet again distancing myself from being the instigator of the issues.

“I realize the vast majority of you just want to come to church and hear God’s Word taught. You want to feed your families spiritually just as you feed them physically, and Mars Hill should be a safe place to do just that. As your pastor, I want that for you more than anything. All of our lead pastors want that for those under their care as well.”

I will keep the audience supportive of me by yet again talking about them as the primary victims in the situation. I will talk about the consequences of my choices and actions in a way that acknowledges the struggles of people are going through without taking responsibility for them.

“I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me. I invite this process, rather than debating accusations and issues in social media or the court of public opinion. A report on this process will be presented when it has been completed.”

I will not mention that one of the accusations against me relate to changing the bylaws of the church to make it very difficult for the church to hold me to account. I will talk of inviting the process even though it has taken enormous public pressure to essentially force me to take action. Book shops are withdrawing my books from sale, I am being removed from church networks and others and although there have been issues throughout my entire ministry, I have shut down all criticism to the point of changing church bylaws and sacking employees, yet I will state that this is a process that I have invited. I will again reinforce that challenging me publicly is wrong. I mention that a report will be presented, but I haven’t mentioned who that report will be presented to, and I have called it a “report on the process” not implying whether the outcomes will be made public.

As a general rule, I will respond to little if any criticism of me in the media, on social media, blogs, open letters, etc. Conducting church business and biblical conflict resolution through media channels is not healthy and is more likely to prove unproductive at best, and destructive and dishonoring to the Lord at worst.

I will now categorically state that media channels are unproductive, destructive and dishonouring to God. That without these media channels I would be able to continue behaving in hurtful and damaging ways without any accountability or negative consequences. This places anyone who comments publicly about what I have said as unproductive, destructive and dishonouring God. The hurt I have caused people should be compounded further by me attempting to silence and denigrate their attempts to heal.

“I have asked our Board of Advisors and Accountability to strengthen our board by adding members to it, and they are in the process of doing so with local members being our first choice.”

We will strengthen the board of advisors and accountability by inviting people who are still in the church and have stood by me throughout all that I have done. Anyone who has had the courage to challenge me has talked of how they were sacked or abused by me. By saying this I yet again focus on my audience, enabling them to feel they are being given power to change things and trusted with that.

“I have agreed to postpone the publication of my next book until a future season, to be determined.”

Bookshops have removed my books from sale and due to the current climate I would probably not sell many books if I did publish my book, plus I am no longer able to pay a PR company to unethically get my books onto bestseller lists.

“I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men. I have never taken an extended focused break like this in my 18 years as your pastor, and it is not a vacation but rather a time to focus on deep work in my soul in the areas of processing, healing, and growing.”

I will talk of meeting with a professional team of mature Christians but will not mention any of their names. The fact I haven’t taken an extended break in 18 years will be used as an opportunity to be applauded for my commitment rather than concern that I have not had a healthy work life balance.

“As I look forward to the future—and I do look forward to it—I believe the Lord has shown me I am to do two things with the rest of my life: love my family, and teach the Bible. I deeply love my family and our church family and am seeking the Lord for how to have a godly and loving future that is not just sustainable but fruitful.”

I will now talk about my family which reminds everyone I am a human being with good priorities. I will establish that I plan to continue teaching the Bible for the rest of my life which suggests I will continue be seeking to influence and lead people.

“Finally, I want to say to our Mars Hill family—past and present, I’m very sorry. I’m sorry for the times I have been angry, short, or insensitive. I’m sorry for anything I’ve done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”

Having spent over 15 minutes talking I will finally say that I am sorry, not to those I have direct hurt, but to my church family. I talk about inviting criticism rather than behaving abusively and focus on the actions of the commentators rather than my own actions.

“God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day. The gospel is powerfully at work in me, your pastor, thanks to the faithfulness of our Senior Pastor Jesus Christ, and the best thing for us each to do is look to Him and point others to Him. Thank you Mars Hill. I love you.”

I talk of “falling short” and doing things “I am not very proud of” yet still do not quantify that in terms of identifying what I have actually done. I make this last section about what God is doing in me and still do not mention anything about the people I have damaged who are no longer in Mars Hill church. After this I am given a standing ovation by the church and my wife and children all come onto the platform to embrace me. This reminds the audience that there are children involved in any decisions made about me. The image of them embracing me will be used on the Mars Hill website alongside my statement.


  1. Brenda R

    I think that about sums it up. MD is only sorry that he got caught. He has no intentions of repentance or making amends to those he has harmed. He is a predator.

  2. Still Reforming

    I’m only four minutes into the speech so I can’t speak beyond that, but what I’ve noticed about this pastor so far is that it’s all about him (I… this… I… that… What I want to be remember for… etc.) and that he clears his throat a lot, as my abuser does quite often before speaking. A prominent liar in our society does the same thing but uses the utterance, “ummmm… uhhhh…” while speaking. I’ll watch the rest of this as time permits. Wish I could watch it now. Seems telling.

    • Ann

      Wow! and here I thought the ummmm…uhhh…was something unique to my N-husband! He uses it every time before asking me a question!

    • the ummmm. . . . uhhh. . . clearing throat stuff — maybe some abusers do that because it takes the cogs in their head a little while to spin before they can come out with something that sounds plausible and **courteous** and **respectful** and **sincere**.

      They don’t do the ummm and uhhhhs when they are spewing their diatribes of criticisms on us in private. That stuff comes out of their mouth fluidly, there’s no need to cogitate about it as it comes so naturally.

  3. Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

    This was excellent!! So well done! Thank you.

  4. Tim Larkin

    This translation is actually understated. The true messages are much more ugly than you state.

    • Anonymous

      Tim–so true that it’s much worse than was translated because evil is so much worse than we can fathom. As bad as it is, I think that when we’re safely in heaven we will be shown just how very bad it was, and how God truly protected us. The author did a beautiful job of breaking down the manipulation and abuse. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Tim, thanks for your comment. Nice you could visit us here. I think I’ve seen you round the traps on other blogs (?)

  5. Re: “I believe the Lord has shown me I am to do two things with the rest of my life: love my family, and teach the Bible. I deeply love my family and our church family and am seeking the Lord for how to have a godly and loving future that is not just sustainable but fruitful.”

    Implied: Therefore most certainly neither the Board, not the elders, nor the mature Christians advising me, nor any of my critics will ever remove me from my position as Pastor! This is predetermined by the will of the triune god, i.e. me, myself, and I. :0

  6. To my eyes, the only time this apology approaches specifics is the part about being angry, short and insensitive. To say the least, that worries me.

    • Yeah. The modus operandi is “I’ll admit to being angry, short and insensitive so my critics get off my back about my potty mouth, my sex obsession, my bullying ‘exorcisms’, my seeing visions of Mars Hill members engaging in various sexual immoral acts, my plagiarism, my financial greed and ambition . . . and all the other things I don’t want you to remember.”

  7. thepersistentwidow

    The translation was indeed brilliant. Basically, Driscall is saying, “Sorry you were offended, but I’m not sorry about anything, except that you don’t appreciate my greatness in your midst.”

    And this is concerning: Driscoll said, “I have asked our Board of Advisors and Accountability to strengthen our board by adding members to it, and they are in the process of doing so with local members being our first choice.” Since he is currently being investigated in their “process” I wonder if him overseeing the Board of Advisors and Accountability isn’t like the fox guarding the henhouse?

    Driscoll seems to still be firmly planted right where he wants to be-in charge. This the way abusers operate. Their “apologies” are really just ways to shore up their power, a tactic they will use as long as they can get away with it. Question is, will the membership of Mars Hill remove Driscoll or will the ship go down with its captain?

  8. Wonderful rendition of “preacher-ese.” Good Job!

  9. Suzanne

    What a bunch of manipulative drivel Driscoll has come up with, and what a great job of translation the author has done. It’s a pity that so many won’t hear the underlying message and see Driscoll for the abuser he is.

  10. It is interesting to me that he has agreed to step down for 6 WEEKS, but this decision begs the question “And then what?”

    As we all know too well, when a person chronically and pervasively behaves in abusive ways a 6 week period of healing, therapy or whatever won’t even scratch the surface.

    My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and especially his children. The Lord only knows what they have had to endure.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Perhaps 6 weeks is the time frame the “professional team of mature Christians” has decided it will take to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. What happens next is we have the Emperor in a brand new set of new clothes, skillfully woven of the choicest of words from the finest PR word/image crafters money can buy.

    • Jeff Crippen

      The Prodigal son comes home, tells his dad “Father, I don’t deserve to be anything in your house…for the next six weeks. After that, I will return to full privileges. Oh, did I say I’m sorry?”

  11. Barnabasintraining

    This “apology” protects no one but Driscoll.

    And worse for him, he seems to have decided to put his trust in man, and not God, to defend himself. Will it work? Probably, since so many these days “love to have it so”.

    I am curious whether he put this thing together himself or if Mark DeMoss (Nancy DeMoss’ younger brother, whose PR firm has taken on Driscoll’s case) helped him out. Or whether DeMoss wrote the whole thing, which would explain why Driscoll had to read it. Don’t know for sure and am not likely to ever find out. But as far as these things go, if Driscoll is going to put his trust in men to put his image back together, I suppose DeMoss is as good as any. Lots of folks are impressed with such things.

  12. Toffeemama

    Excellent translation! Basically, now the next time he is caught being same-old-Driscoll, he can shout “I SAID I was sorry! And you aren’t supposed to be talking about this, anyway; I told you that during my apology!”

    Here’s something I like to do when faced with an apology: I ask, “Tell me what SPECIFIC thing you are apologizing for.” If the answer doesn’t line up exactly with the reason I am angry, then that person either doesn’t understand what they did wrong, or they are trying to manipulate their way out of changing their behavior.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Toffeemama, I lthink your apology procedure makes good sense. You sound like someone who has had plenty of experience in dealing with a Driscoll-type, evade-the-issue, manipulator. Glad to have you here!

    • Here’s something I like to do when faced with an apology: I ask, “Tell me what SPECIFIC thing you are apologizing for.”

      If I had asked that question of my first husband, I would never have reconciled with him after our four year separation. But if I hadn’t reconciled with him he would never have had the chance to re-abuse me right up close again, and I would never have separated from him the second (final) time, so I wouldn’t have suffered the church abuse after that separation, so I wouldn’t have written my book, so I wouldn’t have met Jeff Crippen and all you folk here. So I can thank God for the way it all turned out in the end. 🙂

      But Toffeemama, that’s a great question, and thanks for it. I think you are new to the blog so welcome. 🙂

      • Brenda R

        God has a plan for us and makes it all turn out for good. Blessings!!

  13. terriergal

    Tim Larkin –“This translation is actually understated. The true messages are much more ugly than you state”

    I would not be a bit surprised.

  14. livingliminal

    The trigger warning was no joke! I experienced exactly this type of manipulative ‘apology’ in my situation. It’s so hard to read this, knowing how many people will side with Driscoll and applaud his godly response, condemning the victims as “bitter” and “unforgiving”.

    Think I need to go and take some really deep breaths…

    • Anonymous

      I’ll second that, Livingliminal.

      This part of the translation is relevant to most abuserese:

      I would like to remind you all of the times I have said sorry for what I did over the years. The fact that at no point have I actually changed my behaviour is something I’m going to try and ensure you don’t think about by making it all about the ways I’ve learned. I’d like to also remind you that before God I am forgiven. Rather than mention how much I appreciate and value all those who have tried to stop it coming to this point, I’m going to validate all those who collude with my behaviours by honouring those who keep forgiving me. Although I have proven that over the last 18 years of ministry that I am not willing to be taught and am not humble, I am going to say that I am both of those things.

      If a prominent Christian leader uses this language, no wonder many in the flock do as well, and most people condone it, not being able to decipher what they really mean. I bet most church people will not find his speech unacceptable, and I bet most abuse survivors will find that language eerily familiar.

    • Yes, I’ve found that I’ve been unable to read any of MD’s actual words, but only the responses and “translations.” It hits too close to home.

      • I’m with you, Marah! After sampling a Mark Driscoll video many years ago I found myself too worked up to ever repeat the process. I can read quotes and a translation like this in blogs, but I just can’t listen to him, certainly can’t read any of his books.

    • Hi livingliminal. Welcome! 🙂

  15. Not Too Late

    “It is interesting to note that domestic abuse perpetrators who visibly show remorse change at about the same rate as those who don’t.”

    Hey, folks, it’s not about the tears!

    • Not Too Late, thanks for highlighting that quote. We shall put it on our FB page and our Gems page.

    • In fact, with apologies from people like Mark Driscoll, I’ve learned to expect a moment of tears. It most often comes about three quarters of the way through the speech. And it’s just a confirmation that I’m looking at a malignant narcissist. If they didn’t turn on the tears at a certain point in the scripted apology, I would think they hadn’t covered all the expected bases.

      • StandsWithAFist

        Amen, Barbara! (trigger warning) I was also struck by his body language at the very end, when he gestured to his family to come up on stage. It was very subtle, [min 17:00-17:04] but appeared to me he was irritated that they had missed their “cue” by not running up to embrace him immediately, as tho he was reminding them that their role in this shoddy performance was to make him, the “star” look good. His hand gesture was brief (like “get up here, you morons”), his facial expression was brooding, his head was down slightly while his eyes were darkly looking up. I was particularly irritated at the exploitation of his own kids (no surprise) who seemed oddly aloof in that moment onstage [min 17:15 to the end] with his arm flailing about to gather them ’round. It felt contrived & awkward watching it, with forced, feigned affection in the way that abusers have perfected while their victims squirm. I actually recoiled.

      • Thanks for that detailed description of what you observed on those last few minutes of the video, StandsWithAFist. I shall go back and re-watch that bit.

        Fortunately, I’m not so triggered by watching people like Driscoll that it throws me into a heap of traumatic memories. I am at the place where I can scrutinized their presentations to more finely tune my discernment of the language (verbal and body language) of abusers.

  16. Denise

    Wow…nailed it! My heart broke reading the stories of the families he threw under the bus. Why this took so long is beyond me.

  17. Anonymous

    We lived in Washington State a few years ago. I have never experienced the spiritual oppression in all the decades of my life (which included living for many years in a place that did Ancestral Worship and is one of the most haunted places on earth). I have never felt such a need for the brethren and as a result, I attended many churches praying for God’s truth and hoping for solace. Many people recommended Mars Hill. I mean EVERY person told us this was the best and most awesome church. By this time I was weary from running all over the place so I just checked it out on-line. Immediately, all these blogs about the abuse that many had endured came up, and I feel blessed that I didn’t invest my heart or mind there.

    It also reminds me of the need to screen pastors before they even attend Bible college, let alone seminary. If a person has the brain-functioning of a psychopath as shown on an MRI, it means that they are not capable of feeling love for others. Over and over we are told in the Bible that this is fundamental to being in Christ. That without love nothing else matters. Not all the knowledge or preaching or acting right or giving money. Being able to love others is fundamental to ANY society and we are seeing the results of this as well.

    Some of the most humanistic societies have some of most well-behaved people who seemingly care about the environment, animals, human rights etc. but if you look under the façade of these apparently perfect societies, you will see that they are whitewashed tombs. There is no substitute for a conscience which means the ability to feel shame, fear, love, guilt, and gratefulness. (These are also the things the conscienceless use to steal, kill and destroy us.) We are living in a very rich time; rich for those of us who belong to Jesus. Daniel 12:10 —

    Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

    If you are able to see the truth of this, rest assured, you are loved so very much by the Lord. It’s nice to be reminded of this as so many tell us the opposite.

    • zooey111

      Anonymous said: “It also reminds me of the need to screen pastors before they even attend Bible college, let alone seminary. If a person has the brain-functioning of a psychopath as shown on an MRI, it means that they are not capable of feeling love for others. Over and over we are told in the Bible that this is fundamental to being in Christ. That without love nothing else matters. Not all the knowledge or preaching or acting right or giving money. Being able to love others is fundamental to ANY society and we are seeing the results of this as well”.
      Yes, this is so true!!
      And the lack of love –that’s what I feel is what I feel, in the back of my neck, when the likes of Driscoll “apologize”.

      • Brenda R

        If a person has the brain-functioning of a psychopath as shown on an MRI

        Wow, zooey. I had no idea that an MRI could detect whether or not a person could be a psychopath. That is valuable. I wonder if an MRI were mandatory at a certain age that this could be turned around somehow. I certainly would like the X to have one to see what is going on in there.

      • The MRI scan can show whether the person’s brain has features that are often seen in psychopaths, but it does not prove that the person is a psychopath. Some people show those features on MRI, but would they would not meet the clinical criteria for psychopathology.

        People may have genetically inherited the brain features that are associated with psychopathology, but if the way they are brought up sufficiently counteracts those inherited tendencies, the person will not become a psychopath. Environment plays a part, not just brain structure. Good training in character development by effective parents and effective social influences can prevent the psychopathically-disposed brain from growing into full blown psychopathology. It’s the old nature/ nurture thing. Both nature and nurture play a part.

      • Brenda R

        No problem, Barb. When it comes down to it the MRI won’t really serve a purpose.

      • Yes, and you can imagine how the abusers will try to use MRI scans to say to the courtroom judge: “But your honour, I can’t help it. Look at my brain scans. I’m just incapable of empathy!”

      • Brenda R

        So it is like I always told my kids, “We are stopping the insanity now”. We all have troubles along the way as we are growing up, but when we turn 18 and can be out on our own, we choose who we want to be. Actually, even sooner.

    • StandsWithAFist

      wow–thanks for that verse, anon. I am currently under the latest “narc attack” by my abuser, and often find myself screaming [internally] “how can she claim Christ while denying Him??” I have often said that my abuser will not quit until she has total control, which is in itself wicked. Abusers want the throne that rightfully belongs to God Almighty, & they want others to follow them, not Jesus. This clarifies the truth that “the wicked will continue to be wicked” (even while claiming Christ, whether it’s MD, Doug Phillips or my “sweet little old lady” MIL.) “None of the wicked will understand but those who are wise will” is very affirming for those of us so misunderstood by those who minimize abuse. When no one else defends the innocent, we are defended by His Word. Thanks for this comfort!

  18. StandsWIthAFist

    Dave Orrison had an excellent post not too long ago about the “narcissistic apology”, in which he writes: “Understand that the purpose of the narcissistic apology is not to admit the offense and lessen your pain. The purpose of the narcissistic apology is to get you to shut up.”

    Seems to me MD just wants everyone to shut up. Dave’s post can be read here.

  19. These are serious times we are living in and people all around us are dying every hour without Jesus

    Well this is the part where I lost it. “everyone around you is going straight to hell, and you’re worried about MY behavior????” Just incredible that the sheep in the pews don’t see the wolf ears poking out of Driscoll’s backwards sheep suit!

    • His Banner Over Me Is Love

      I felt just the same when i read that! So manipulative! And of course most people will be taken in by that, and think they are being petty by being concerned by MD’s behaviour, when they should have their eye on the big eternal picture.

  20. NotHeard

    What a cunning and slippery man! Guilt tripping and gaslighting for sure..

  21. Leif Moi, one of the former Mars Hill Pastors, has published his thoughts on Driscoll’s announcement. I found it interesting. Maybe Leif is one of the few narcissists who have actually changed. But in saying that, don’t get your hopes up too high, dear sisters who may be still hoping that your abusive husbands will change. Leif was an alcoholic and he states he was a narcissist. He does not (at least in this article) state that he abused his wife.

    Here is his post
    Lief Moi – Thoughts on Driscoll’s Announcement

    • Barnabasintraining

      Thanks for posting that, Barbara.

      Moi says he came to these realizations regarding his narcissism 2 years ago. Mars Hill has been in existence for considerably longer than 2 years. He also says, rightly, that Driscoll is not repentant of his own narcissism.

      What that means is at least 2 of the 3 founding pastors of Mars Hill Church (enterprise, incorporation, mega facility…) were narcissists at the time of the church’s founding, both of them remained narcissists up until 2 years ago, and one of them — the main (sole, singular) head — remains a narcissist at the present time.

      I’m not sure I want to do all the mathematical calculations these facts suggest. But if anyone else would care to….

  22. Valerie

    I’m part way into the speech. I wouldn’t call it an apology, I call it playing defense. Agghhh…it reminds me so much of my ex. He would start to sing the praises or whatever action or thing he was involved with to set the stage that IT should not be attacked. I see it as a form of what Gavin De Becker calls “forced teaming”. This is when someone with harmful intentions purposely makes “we” statements so the listener subconsciously feels they are connected. In this case he keeps singing the praises of the church in such a way it seems to manipulate people to feel they are being disloyal if they don’t do what he prescribes. They would be breaking up the team essentially.

    When he says something that should elicit humility, he either keeps his eyes wide (as though he’s trying to conceal his true thoughts) or blinks rapidly which can be a sign of lying (Nixon apparently did this when asked questions he didn’t like). MD also puts up his hand as a sign of blocking when he says “he is truly sorry” at one point. When someone is open their hands display openness as with open palms. Him putting his hand up like that is blocking behavior (i.e. not being open). I also had to laugh when he talks about trying to be out of controversy…at least what he has control over. At this point he fiddles with his ear, which is either a sign a fly was itching him or displaying another sign of lying (as in “this doesn’t sound believable”).

    I don’t know what all this guy has done but I saw no humility in this speech…more like the adult version of go-tell-your-grandma-thank-you-for-the-nice-sweater.

    • StandsWIthAFist

      Valerie–that’s hilarious. I love “Thank Gramma for the sweater”. It is brilliant, and shows the developmental level of these types of people–they are 6 year olds pretending to be adults. Sometimes I find myself asking, “what grade are we in??!” The thing that has me stumped is how sooo many people follow the “star”….and how few are willing to ask the tough questions, to expose the lies, question the methods, and stand for truth. The standing ovation for MD leaves me speechless. The corporate denial is staggering, but MD isn’t just denying his sin, or his abuse of power, he’s fighting those who dare oppose him. MD is a bully. Anna V on her blog says: “George Simon has said “In Sheep’s Clothing” that denial as a form of defense is actually fighting. He [Simon] stresses the importance of differentiating between denial as a defense and denial as a tactic to hide aggressive intent. Simon sums up the tactic thusly: “In short, when Jeff [a juvenile caught in the act of bullying] is denying, he’s not defending in any way, he’s mainly fighting. He’s not in a psychological state, he’s employing a tactic, and he’s very aware of what he’s doing. The tactic he’s using is often called denial, but it’s really just another way of lying. And he’s lying for the reasons people commonly lie — to get out of trouble.” pg. 94
      [ http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/search?q=George+Simon ]

      MD is lying, he’s fighting, he’s a bully, he’s an abuser, he’s trying to get out of trouble….and gets a standing ‘O’ ???

      Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” May the Lord rebuke them all.

    • StandsWithAFist

      oops! here’s a better link to Anna V’s blog referencing George Simon:

  23. As a contrast to Mark Driscoll’s apology, you might like to read this apology by James Noriega, a former pastor of Mars Hill. To me, they are chalk and cheese.

    Here is Noriega’s apology where he first posted it:

    And here is an article about it:

    Thanks to the reader who gave us the heads up on this. 🙂

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