Mark Driscoll Tweet on Thou Shalt Not Murder

mark driscoll tweet on murder

Yesterday, misogynist Fundamentalist Calvinist pastor of Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll tweeted:

“Thou shall not murder” includes suicide, terrorism, euthanasia, abortion, but not necessarily capital punishment, just war, self defense.

Currently, Driscoll is incoherently preaching through the Ten Commandments at Mars Hill. This past Sunday, Driscoll preached on the command, thou shalt not murder (kill) . Based on Driscoll’s tweet, he thinks:

Murder is:

  • Suicide
  • Terrorism
  • Euthanasia
  • Abortion

Murder is not:

  • Capital Punishment
  • Just War
  • Self Defense

Welcome to the schizophrenic world of Evangelicals as  they try to hang on to their right-wing politics while still professing to be followers of Jesus. Countless Evangelicals think just like Driscoll does. While I do not have any empirical proof, I suspect that Driscoll’s interpretation of, thou shalt not murder, is the dominate Evangelical view.

When terrorists fly planes into buildings in New York and Washington DC, it is murder. When American drones kill women, children, and non-combatants, it is just war. When America prosecutes its immoral war on terror or when American planes drop napalm on helpless Vietnamese, it is just war. When American planes drop incendiary bombs and nuclear bombs on helpless Japanese, it is just war.  When “terrorists” respond in kind and kill American soldiers it is murder.

When a person decides to end their life, either by their own hand or through the help of a compassionate physician, it is murder.  When the State straps a man, convicted of a capital crime based on circumstantial evidence, to a gurney and injects him with pharmaceuticals, it is not murder. When the State hangs, shoots, or gasses a convicted criminal, it is not murder. Yet, if my pain becomes such that I can no longer bear it, and I choose to swallow a handful of drugs in order to end my pain and suffering, it is murder.

If a woman aborts a zygote it is murder, but if an American bomb blows an Afghan, Pakistani, or Iraqi infant to bits, it is just war. Every abortion, from the moment of conception is murder, yet killing the mother in a just war, executing her for a crime, or killing her because she, in a hormonal rage, threatened me, is not.

Got it, This all makes complete sense to me.

Ahab, at the Republic of Gilead, focused on the suicide aspect of Driscoll’s tweet. Ahab writes:

On October 21st, Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll posted a tweet that read, “‘Thou shall not kill’ includes suicide, terrorism, euthanasia, abortion, but not necessarily capital punishment, just war, self defense.” Driscoll’s anti-choice approach to abortion did not surprise me, but his demonization of suicide caught me off guard. The implication, it seems, is that Driscoll sees suicide as a sinful form of killing, in the same moral category as terrorism.

Driscoll’s lack of empathy and compassion disturbed me. Suicide is an act of despair, the act of someone who cannot see a way out of a painful situation. For many, suicide is the tragic end of their struggles with mental illnesses, addiction, or trauma. Mental health disorders such as depression, substance abuse, a family history of mental illness or substance abuse, and traumas such as physical or sexual abuse are all risk factors for suicide. It’s also a significant public health issue. According to the CDC, suicide was the cause of death for 38,364 persons in 2010, making it the 10th leading cause of death for that year. Instead of demonizing suicide as a sin, we must recognize it as a serious public health problem and offer support to those at high risk.

To declare suicide a sin is to demonize and belittle people who struggle with despair. It ignores our responsibility to help those in need, ostracizing people with suicidal ideation as “bad” and “other”. To boot betrays a dangerous ignorance about mental illness, addiction, and trauma, one that I’ve seen too often among fundamentalists.

And I’m sick of it…

Like Ahab, the Evangelical approach to mental illness and suicide sickens me. Is it enough for a Christian pastor to say, God commands you to not kill yourself?  How is the person who is struggling with suicidal thoughts to interpret God’s prohibition against suicide? They are at a place in life where they see no other way to deal with their pain besides killing themselves. It is evident that religion is rarely an antidote for suicidal thoughts. It is not enough to tell them that they need to have more faith or that they just need to trust God. Telling a depressed person that God will never give them more than they can bear only deepens their pain and depression.

Several years ago I realized I was one of people my friend Ahab calls, at high risk. I have battled with depression my entire adult life. As an Evangelical pastor, I hid my depression from everyone but my wife and children. After all, God only wants winners, right?  Anyone who commits suicide is the ultimate loser.

This hiding of my depression only depressed me further. Finally…three years ago, I sought out secular, professional help. The psychologist I see every two weeks has helped me tremendously. Has he cured me of depression? No. Has he kept me from having suicidal thoughts? No.  He has, however, kept me from sliding down into the pit of darkness so far that there is no hope of return.  He has become the knot tied on the end of the rope. He knows that my depression is driven by the health problems I have. When pain levels are off the chart and I am reduced to a human blob sitting in a recliner holding a TV remote, he knows I am at risk. This is why one of the first questions he asks me is, how are you feeling? All that he requires of me is that I be honest.

If God says thou shalt not kill yourself was all I needed to hear to assuage thoughts of suicide, I would have killed myself long ago. Evangelicals like Mark Driscoll have a simplistic, reductionist view of the world and human suffering.  They likely cause far greater pain and suffering than not.

Let me end with this post with the Biblical and theological implications of Driscoll’s interpretation of, thou shalt not murder.

As I mentioned in a post yesterday, the Bible says, the Bible Driscoll says is the infallible, inspired, inerrant, Word of God:

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:8)

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,envyings,murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Based on these verses, no one who commits suicide, has an abortion, murders a person, performs an abortion, or helps a person end their life, is a Christian.  The God who said, thou shalt not murder, also said that murderers will not inherit the kingdom of God and will burn forever in the Lake of Fire.

Comments (16)

  1. Whitesnake Jackson

    I’m going to need to get some wine in me before I can fully discern good murder from bad murder. Please tell me there’s no Biblical confusion surrounding wine.

    1. August

      No problem with wine at all. Just pour yourself a glass of water and wait for God to change it into wine. If you’re impatient, you might just go and buy some.

    2. Ahab

      Heck, we’ll share some. Red, white, rose, or fruit wine?

    3. Angiep

      Of course there is biblical confusion surrounding wine. When I was in a fundy church that held that all forms of alcohol were forbidden, at one point the pastor had to deal with the story about the last supper or some such occasion where Jesus and the disciples were drinking wine. He said they didn’t actually drink wine, but fresh-squeezed grape juice, because they had no refrigeration in those days and the juice would go bad if they didn’t drink it right away. (So nobody drank wine before the days of refrigerators? I thought one reason wine was the drink of choice for so long BEFORE refrigeration was because it could keep at room temperature???!!!) This was one of the last straws that I remember that really pushed me over the edge in my deconversion. I remember this thought just sort of screaming in my head, “WHY IS HE LYING TO US???!!!” And I had to admit that this was just one of many lies I had caught various pastors and religious leaders trying to pass off as truth.

  2. Daniel Wilcox

    What is Rick Warren’s view on this since about 7 years ago he came out as Reformed–claimed that humans have no choice, TULIP, etc.)
    5 months ago his son committed suicide.

    Do you know if Warren agrees or disagrees with Driscoll?

    It would appear that if one commits suicide then one hasn’t “persevered” and if one hasn’t, then according to all the Calvinists I know, then that one was never saved.

    But Warren says his son was a Christian.

    All these sort of ethical topics show how Christians tie themselves in tragic destructive knots with their ethical views.

    I remember the days when we teens were told we should go to Vietnam to kill for Christ!

  3. NeverAgainV

    Thanks for posting this Bruce! I also really appreciated your quote from Ahab, so true what he wrote!

    The pretzel logic is amusing! These guys are the competitors in the Olympics of Mental gymnastics! Driscoll and those like him are hopelessly brainwashed. And unfortunately doing the same to others.

    The terrible thing about xianity, especially this type – is it kills natural human emotions, compassion and empathy. All they focus on are -words- written by who knows who- from an outdated and cruel book. They want the world to line up with this barbaric worldview when life is so much more complicated! Their world is so small.

    They are sad little men…..

    PS I know it’s probably not right for me to say that, but these guys spend their lives cutting everyone else down, that I don’t feel too bad saying that. :)

  4. NeverAgainV

    Oh yeah, to fully show his dogma for what it is, he should have added that murdering people of color or different religions really isn’t murder either….. :(
    The righteous xians had no trouble mowing down natives and enslaving those of different races & religions.

    Oh gawd….it makes me sick how these people justify the insanity that is their religion.
    Of course I understand the disease being a droid follower for years.

    I just can’t say how happy I am to be out of that mind fuck!

    1. August

      I can’t help but be sorry for people like that. To go through life lacking any nuance of thought seems like hell to me.

  5. Ahab

    Thanks for the shout-out!

    Fundamentalism oversimplifies a lot of things, but when it oversimplifies people’s mental health, tragedy results. People like Driscoll, who provide pastoral care to congregants and have thousands of followers, need to do basic research on mental health so that they don’t inflict harm.

    “Telling a depressed person that God will never give them more than they can bear only deepens their pain and depression.”

    I want to rip my hair out whenever I hear this! Trite little sayings such as “God will never give you more than you can bear” are lies that do untold damage. Look at the world around us. People have nervous breakdowns, end up in psych wards, or even kill themselves because they can’t cope with what life has thrown at them. If I believed in a God, I’d have to conclude that God FREQUENTLY gives people more than they can handle!

  6. Virgil T. Morant

    The equation of murder to suicide is woefully inaccurate and actually devoid of Scriptural support, but, what may be more important–and as you and Ahab note well–it’s kind of heartless. It can also lead to a great deal of unrighteous pain for those who are left living. I know, albeit not intimately, for instance, one priest whose son’s suicide has driven the man to an obsessive quest to find anything he can hold onto in Patristics and exegesis to rid himself of any doctrine that would automatically condemn his son to hell. As a member of the same Church this priest belongs to, I find his quest sad and troubling, among other reasons, because there is in Orthodoxy actually no doctrine that all suicides go to hell. I would regard with suspicion or contempt anyone who made a claim as to the eternal state of someone who killed himself out of depression or some other despair. And yet this insidious “certainty” invades even some people in my beloved Church. One young man was in such pain that he killed himself, and then on top of the enormous pain of the loss, a fallacious understanding of dogma leads those who remain to suffer even more on account of the fear of hellfire for the boy.

    Another priest’s son (and this priest one of some prominence in his archdiocese), a young man of about thirty years’ age, died about a week ago, and there is some talk that it too may have been a depression related suicide. I pray that this priest does not go far down the path that the other one I mentioned has gone down, obsessing over whether his son is eternally condemned. We’re all a bunch of damned fools, people of all stripes and convictions, and we can fall prey to a number of lousy ideas. This one is especially pernicious, and Mark Driscoll presents (as he seems to do in all matters of doctrine) about the most odious example of its perniciousness. Being in extreme pain from physical infirmity or mental illness and contemplating or committing suicide on that account is not the same as killing another independent human being. Those who suffer such grievous misery that death seems their best option deserve a level of compassion that someone like Mark Driscoll shows all evidence of being incapable of.

  7. Pingback: Mark Driscoll Tweet on Thou Shalt Not Kill

  8. Lynn

    Wasn’t suicide illegal? Is it still? Maybe the idea that suicide is a sin is meant to reinforce the great value of human life, that this life we have is to be respected. Maybe seeing suicide as a sin has stopped some people from killing themselves. I think fear of hell and fear of God does do some good in the world.

    But, given all that, where is the compassion for suicidal people? I know the human mind can get scarily dark to where it simply cannot see things correctly, or people can certainly have problems that truly become unbearable. Why would you see these people as murderers instead of crying out to them in great compassion for the pain they are in?

    Also, a point, which strikes me as funny for some reason, is that thousands (?) are actually looking to Driscoll to give them a little list of what murder means. These people aren’t turning to law schools or university professors for their definitions-they are hanging on every word of a guy who claims to know what God considers murder. Of course they can’t get this from God himself (because he never says anything,) so Driscoll must explain what God thinks. It’s just humorous to me. It’s like if a group of people gathered around me and said, “Lynn, could you explain to us what God says is murder and what is not murder?” Then I’d say, “Sure, be glad ta!” So ridiculous. Why does Driscoll’s opinion on these weighty matters carry more weight than anybody else’s opinion??

    And, does Driscoll stay consistent by quoting all the verses that Bruce mentioned when he’s talking with the suicidal person’s wife, sister, mother, father, brother, friends? Does he stay biblical (being biblical is a big deal to many Christians) and tell them that their loved one is now burning in hell? If he can’t bring himself to be that cruel, he’s not speaking truth to them, is he?

  9. Lynn

    Bruce, when you were a pastor and people came to you with deep questions, did you ever think, “Good Lord, I’m just a man. You think I know all this stuff?!” Did it ever scare you how easily you could have so much power over other people?

  10. NeverAgainV

    Lynn, just chiming in….

    I have wondered the same thing. How can these ordinary men, which a penchant for speaking & telling stories, get people to follow them and hang on to their every word? I had big issues w/ what my xpastor taught, yet everyone was terrified to speak out.

    One lady had a daughter who was excommunicated and I asked her some pertinent questions after church one day…she looked around to see where pastor was and whispered that she was not supposed to talk about it to anyone…but pastor! I could tell, she was scared..everyone was & still is scared.

    It is upsetting that these guys put themselves up by saying they were “called by God” to preach and because *they* say they’ve been supposedly called by god that makes them some friggen prophet? People definitely need to wake up!

  11. Jada

    “God never gives you more than you can bear”

    Yes, he does. Every stinkin’ day, all over the world. That’s how I ended up in rehab, because the Ativan I was dependent upon was what had initially brought me the “peace” I was asking god for in the first place. So, epic fail on that one.

    “It could have been worse”

    It WAS worse. When it finally happens to you, it is most definitely frackin’ worse.

  12. Righteously Angry

    im actually with driscoll on most of what he supports. killing innocents is wrong. not because there is a god (i do not believe in the christian god and probably no god) but because taking an innocent life is something that no person has the right to do as simple natural law. you own yourself, you do not own any other innocent person’s life and must not take it, bottom line.
    i do believe that the govt has not just a right but a duty to kill guilty, dangerous criminals. this should only be done if 100 percent sure, there should be a very high burden of proof to execute a rapist or murderer. if by just war you mean you have been attacked, then yes the country has a right to defend itself. for instance, iraq had a right to defend itself from our invasion. pretty sure that is not what driscoll meant though.
    as to suicide, i disagree with driscoll too. you own yourself and if you want to take yourself out, you have that absolute right.


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