Thursday, January 26, 2012

Andrew's Brother, Stephen, on Rigid Doctrines and Real-life People

I wrote yesterday about Andrew’s experience with church “discipline” at Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church, which has been a prominent topic of discussion throughout the Internet over the past few days. On Matthew Paul Turner’s site, there is an excellent piece by Andrew’s brother Stephen. Stephen makes a point that, in my opinion, is important and poignant:

“One reason I count Lars von Trier’s 2003 film Dogville, starring Nicole Kidman and Paul Bettany, as one of my favorite films, one I’m constantly recommending, is because I see a part of myself in the character played by Bettany, someone more interested in hypothetical situations and ideas than in how they affect the real flesh-and-blood people surrounding him, with the tragic consequences playing out on the stage over the three hours von Trier takes to tell the story. It is one of my biggest regrets today, when I look back at the years I was a fundamentalist, that when my mother was struggling with the idea of divorce from my father – an action she had been counseled to take by multiple sources for legal purposes, partly so that his inevitable future financial troubles would not destroy the new life she was trying to piece together – that I was for a long time strongly opposed to it, because, I was sure, ‘the Bible is clear.’ It didn’t matter that this course of action was only considered after God, my father said, had told him to kill her and us kids, or that a judge had already issued a permanent restraining order. The Bible was still clear. Sin was still sin. Divorce was wrong. I was, it should be noted, being faithful to the ideas I had learned growing up in church, convinced that principles are always more important than people, that everything is always black and white, ambiguity be damned.”

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