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