This past summer I began practicing yoga. Not just any yoga, it is hot yoga, the kind that opens the sweat glands so fast you’re swimming in your own smelly pool before you ever reach the downward dog stage.
It has had, though, some pretty positive effects for me: I’m more flexible and stronger than before and because of the need for hydration, I drink more water and consume less caffeine. Too, I enjoy the routine of entering a hot room, anticipating the workout by letting my mind focus on and then release the tension of the day. My concentration has sharpened because of my yoga practice.
So, it was with great interest that I watched Mark Driscoll’s Q and A session where he addressed a viewer’s question about the compatibility of being a Christian and practicing yoga. Predictably, he dismissed yoga as dangerous paganism because it is based on Hinduism and its rituals. He did concede, however, that a little stretching is fine, but Christians really shouldn’t do anything more yoga-like than that.
I am not surprised by the fear some Christians assign to yoga, after all, my mother’s response when I told her about my new found fitness routine, was to ask me if I had found a church home yet. What does continue to amaze me is the sometimes unabashed authority that pastors, usually men, assert, even when they have little to no knowledge on the subject.
It is abundantly clear Driscoll has never practiced yoga if he thinks it is merely about a little stretching and meditation. And yet, how many people who need exercise and a way to release stress, will forgo an excellent avenue to better health, all because of his misinformed assertions?
Is there something within the Christian environment that magnifies such an over-reach of power? I see it so often in churches and other organizations tied to a Christian worldview. How do we begin to address this unabashed wielding of power—male power—and the broader pattern where men are rewarded for being in charge and women are reprimanded if they question it.