Sex sells. It might be hard to imagine a church harnessing this popular marketing technique for church growth, but that’s exactly what Mark Driscoll did in Seattle in the early 2000s. Whether condemning the Western erosion of manhood or elevating women as Christian pornographic ideals, preaching from the Mars Hill pulpit mixed toxic cultural messages with biblical theology in the name of forming men, women, and families for God. And, like Mark’s campaign against diminished manhood, when sex sold in church, both men and women came up short.
In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper addresses the femininity, fear, and fantasy that fueled conversations around gender and womanhood at Mars Hill. With delicate care, he unpacks the reactionary stream of sexuality that emerged at Mars Hill and exposes the struggle for authority and power beneath Mark Driscoll’s classic sermons on womanhood and sex. Cosper explores what happens when words meant to protect women end up hurting them and how theology about headship and submission can create fear and shame when wielded by the wrong hands. If you’ve seen Mark’s famous viral videos or heard the sermon sound bites, tune in to this episode for the fuller story.
“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today
Executive Producer: Erik Petrik
Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper
Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith
Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker
Graphic Design: Bryan Todd
Social Media: Nicole Shanks
Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley
Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple
Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope
Closing song: “Woman” by Jackie Hill Perry
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more