Domestic Violence: A Call to the Church – Re-evaluate Your Beliefs

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Beliefs

purple ribbons

-by Kathi


I am pausing our Sunday Gatherings for the rest of October. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and I would like to take this time to talk about how the church can effectively respond to domestic violence.

 

The church can be incredibly helpful to victims of domestic violence, or, it can be incredibly damaging to victims. The way in which a church responds to a victim depends upon the beliefs that the church has about domestic violence. This is an open challenge to the church to re-evaluate a few beliefs which may keep victims within abusive relationships.

Suffering

The Bible never promises that life will be easy. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Suffering can make a person stronger, or cause physical and emotional reactions that may take years for a victim to recover.  The church can offer a victim of domestic abuse empathy and compassion. Faith can play an important part of healing for a victim when those within the spiritual community offer support and encouragement.

However, some churches teach that suffering is ordained by God, is a part of God’s will, and insist that Christians need to respond to suffering with joy. One only needs to go to The Gospel Coalition or Desiring God to see titles such as: 4 Reasons God Ordains Suffering for His People,  Don’t Waste Your Suffering, Seven Reasons You Owe Everything to Suffering, or Suffering Exposes Our Sin.

It is important to remember that abuse is about power and control. A victim of abuse experiences suffering involuntarily. Victims do not ask to be beaten, stalked, verbally assaulted, or sexually assaulted. The belief that a victim experiences suffering because it is God’s will makes God out to be cruel. Furthermore, a victim may choose to stay in an abusive relationship because they think that there is no other option or way out.

Marriage

The church places high value on the marriage relationship – almost to the point of making an idol out of marriage. Marriage idolatry is dangerous because divorce will never be never an option for a victim of domestic abuse. The marriage must be saved at all costs. (Lori Alexander is a fine example of this belief.)

When scripture from Ephesians, Corinthians, and Colossians is taught from the pulpit, a pastor may focus more on a wife’s role in the marriage than the husband’s. If a pastor misinterprets scripture and teaches that a wife must submit in all things, he is sending a message that abuse must be endured. This teaching also validates the abuser and arms him with verses that support his authority in the marriage.

Scripture never provides husbands with power and control over the marriage relationship. God does not condone abuse.

Confession and Forgiveness

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

When an abuser confesses his sin of abuse to a pastor, the pastor may think that he is humble and contrite, and will offer forgiveness. The pastor may then ask the victim to forgive her abuser, and then the matter is taken care of. The pastor with a mindset of forgive and forget does a disservice to the victim. Abuse will never be forgotten. It stays with a person forever.

The problem with “simple forgiveness” is that abusers are highly manipulative. An abuser will say what a pastor wants to hear, but the confession may not be true repentance. After the confession there may be a pause in the abuse, but it will start up again at some point. Repentance involves a change in behavior. An abuser must show that he is willing to seek assistance to change his thoughts, actions, and attitudes about power and control. Pastors can play an important role in making sure that abusers stay true to their word that they are willing to seek change.

A pastor must also be open to a victim expressing forgiveness at her own timing. Forgiveness must neither be assumed to aid in healing, nor be forced. A victim’s ability to forgive should not be based upon a pastor’s expectation, but upon her own timing which must be respected.

Role of Secular Resources

The church must recognize when it is not capable of helping a victim and should use community resources when available.

A church that thinks that leadership must investigate all cases of domestic abuse may place additional trauma or harm by the perpetrator on the victim. Pastors must understand that domestic abuse is a crime which must be investigated by proper authorities. If cases of domestic abuse are solely handled within the church, the abuse may never cease.

Unfortunately, there are many churches that refuse to refer victims of abuse to trauma-informed counseling. Churches which focus on a Biblical approach to counseling may add trauma by focusing on the sin of the victim. There is no sin that a victim can commit that justifies abuse. The sin is on the abuser, not the victim. Churches may also refer victims to marriage counseling. It is widely known that marriage counseling is not an appropriate form of counseling for abusive relationships because of the focus on mutual  contribution to the problem.

Churches must be aware of professionally trained resources within the community in which to refer a victim. These may include abuse advocacy, treatment, and intervention resources. Churches need not be afraid of community resources which aid victims, but should find value in partnering with resources for a victim’s best interest.

Church leaders, please take time to re-evaluate your beliefs about marriage, gender roles within marriage, suffering, confession and forgiveness, and the use of outside resources. The way you respond to a victim of domestic abuse may mean life or death.

 

 

“Taking marriage seriously” – what does that mean for a Christian?

Christian Marriage, divorce, domestic violence, abuse, marital counseling, extramarital affairs


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-Taking marriage seriously- means taking the vows seriously and having real consequences for breaking them. The idealists and perfectionists who are trying to turn -marriage- into a protected space for all man.png

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My friend, Valerie Jacobsen posted this statement on her Facebook page and I asked permission to share it. I found it powerful, and yet, so contrary to the way marriage is handled in the church – especially when abuse is involved. I’m sick and tired of women being forced by their pastors/elders to bear the brunt of evil in their marriages by staying in their evil and harmful marriages.

I do not believe for a second that it is godly advice for pastors tell abused wives to remain married to their chronically evil and reviling spouses. If marriage is supposed to be representative of Christ and the church, an abusive marriage is a mockery to Christ. It seems that pastors would want to help rid the church of the blot of evil when there is an abuser clinging to his marriage and refusing to change his evil ways.

Women who leave their chronically cheating and/or abusive husbands are saying NO to evil. It is their husbands who abandoned the marriage long ago when they started their evil ways.

We need to stand beside these women and tell them they are free to go when pastors tell them otherwise. Pastors who give this bad advice are not living with this evil. And I’ll bet that they would not say this kind of thing if it were their daughter living with an abuser. Let’s stop this crazy business!

 

 

 

h/t Hannah Smith for image (taken in Hawaii)

 

 

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 5

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story: Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ Note: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice. Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 1

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story:  Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

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An Introduction, from Julie Anne Smith and Brad Sargent

Several of those who have alleged victimization by Tullian Tchividjian have contacted me (Julie Anne) over the past year and a half. Rachel (which is her real first name) was one of them. She is the survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s clergy sexual misconduct in the spring and summer of 2015. She’s also named as “Woman #2” in our recent Partial Timeline post. Discovery of their sexual relationship by staff at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) led to Tchividjian being asked to resign as Senior Pastor there, and his being “deposed” by the South Florida presbytery (i.e., having his ministry credentials removed).

Rachel’s story is critically important to consider, in part because she tried to inform multiple Christian leaders – mostly men who were supposedly responsible for overseeing or counseling Tchividjian – about what she experienced as his patterns of lies, seduction, and spiritual abuse. She herself admits, she didn’t always do this in the best way, with rants and emotional comments on posts. But she and her family had been harmed, and she was also trying to get Tchividjian to follow through in repaying over $11,000 he had borrowed from Rachel and her husband to hire a private investigator.

So, it turns out that her personal story intersects with the three main ministries that have been parts of Tchividjian’s platform during the past several years: Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Willow Creek (Presbyterian) Church (Winter Springs, FL), and the Liberate Network. At this point, we know of no other survivor whose actions connect with all three. We are grateful she has agreed to share her story so that others can be warned about wolves in the Body of Christ, and also learn about what real repentance and recovery can look like. Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 2

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story:  Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ note: This is Part 2, a continuation of Rachel’s story which began here. The remaining parts of the series will be posted soon.

Edited to add 11/30/16: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice.  ~ja Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 3

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story:  Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ Note: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice. Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 4

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story: Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ Note: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice. Continue reading

Tullian Tchividjian – Partial Timeline of Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse and Spiritual Abuse

Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sex Abuse, Spiritual Abuse

Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sex Abuse, scandal, spiritual abuse

Facebook profile photo

This is a partial timeline of the situation involving Tullian Tchividjian. It focuses on his various publications since 2007 (if a book title appears twice, the first is a hardcover version and the second is paperback), his church ministry roles since 2009, and his publicly revealed illicit sexual involvements. We’re limiting the timeline to these topics and key events, to help focus attention on the overlaps between his ministries and publication writing periods that were paralleled by emotional and sexual grooming of women who were in some way within his sphere of influence. Continue reading

Ex-Pastor Tullian Tchividjian Speaks Out at Website for Ex-Pastors

Tullian Tchividjian article at ExPastors.com, clergy sex abuse, suicide, repentance, restoration


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Only one month after Tullian Tchividjian remarried, he has publicly released a new article at a site for former pastors, ExPastors.com. In the article, The Freedom in Losing it All, Tchividjian shares lessons he has learned about himself since his sexual scandal.

 

The following is an excerpt from the article: Continue reading

A Challenge to Abused Christian Women Regarding Teachings on Divorce

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Pastors Tullian Tchividjian + Bob Coy + Sexual Sin + Church Leaders Who Protect Immoral Pastors = A Broken Church

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Tullian Tchividjian and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Discussion: “He demanded that people be loyal to him.”

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Domestic Violence is NOT a Marriage Issue, but an Abuse Issue

Domestic Violence, Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini, Divorce, Marriage, Abuse, Church Response to Abuse

Continue reading

Three Pastors Challenge Dr. James Dobson’s Advice on Domestic Violence Which Could Put Victims in Harm’s Way

Continue reading

Blogger Claims Because of our Culture of Death, Our Children Need a Belt and the Bible

Culture, Spanking, Bible, Lori Alexander, Abortion, Feminism, Divorce

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Domestic Violence, Jim and Doug Wilson, and Damaging Pastoral Response to Abuse in Marriages

Continue reading

Concerns about Tullian Tchividjian’s Ministry Comeback as Director of Ministry Development at Willow Creek Church

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Tullian Tchividjian has a new pastor, Kevin Labby at Willow Creek Church, and a new job there as Director of Ministry Development only weeks after stripped of minister credentials


Tullian Tchividjian has a new job at Willow Creek Church. While some are applauding this new development, many are not. Here is his new job listing at Willow Creek website:

Tullian Tchividjian
Director of Ministry Development

tullian_bioWe’re so delighted to welcome Tullian Tchividjian to the staff of Willow Creek Church. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (M.Div.), Tullian is a best-selling author, having written seven books on the gospel of Jesus Christ and its liberating implications. Most recently, Tullian served as the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and founded Liberate, a ministry devoted to connecting God’s inexhaustible grace to an exhausted world. He loves the beach, loves to exercise, and when he has time, he loves to surf. He’s also a huge fan of both the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Heat. (Source)

My observation is that people are having great difficulties with Tullian Tchividjian for a few reasons:

  • he has not stepped away from a public platform for a season of reflection and repentance since he was confronted about his adultery
  • he snubbed his former elders’ accountability and restoration process by seeking refuge with a friend and his church
  • he is now in a ministry position too soon after being confronted about his adulterous affair while serving as senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

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Kevin Labby is the senior pastor at Willow Creek, a Presbyterian church, in Winter Springs, Florida. Here is part of his bio where you can see Pastor Labby’s favorite people (I bolded key names):

Some influential voices in Kevin’s life include Martin Luther, John Calvin, Tim Keller, Steve Brown, Tullian Tchividjian, Nancy Pearcey, Steve Childers, R.C. Sproul, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Jerry Bridges, Francis Schaeffer, Robert Farrar Capon, Brennan Manning, Abraham Kuyper, Paul Tripp, and others. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys spending time with his family, reading, plunking around on his guitar, finding a reason to have lunch at Four Rivers Smokehouse, or cheering for the Buffalo Bills and the Orlando City Lions. (Source)

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For the first time, Tchividjian publicly announces Kevin Labby as his pastor:

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Friends who Give Close Friends Grace

Doesn’t it make sense why Tullian Tchividjian would find shelter at Willow Creek with a pastor who has been his friend? I know of another celebrity pastor who took shelter at his friend’s church when he was going through his own personal sin. It must be okay for celebrity pastors to do this, but common folk aren’t afforded that kind of “grace.” They stay at their church during the restoration process.

Let’s look at more important connections: Paul Tripp, who is Tchividjian’s close friend and personal counselor during his marital crisis, is scheduled to speak at Willow Creek in February 2016 (Source). It’s like one big happy family at Willow Creek.

It’s clear that Tullian Tchividjian is also well-loved by the folks at Key Life ministry. In fact, the founder, Steve Brown had a lot to say about Tullian and their relationship in an article describing his thoughts since the scandal went public:

You see, I love Tullian…I love him a lot. I’ve known him since he was six years old and have prayed for him daily for most of his life. He is a former seminary student of mine, and I have known and loved his family (both on the Tchividjian and Graham side) for much of my adult life. Tullian’s late father, who I miss very much, was a close friend.

At the Steve Brown’s ministry website, KeyLife.org, all three men, Tchividjian, Paul Tripp, and his new pastor, Kevin Labby, have articles published or participate in interviews. These three men minister in the same circles. Key Life organization and Steve Brown also participate with Tchivijian’s Liberate conferences, the most recent called Key Life Pastors Pre-Conference at Liberate 2015.

One interesting note, Tullian Tchividjian is listed under the Guest Author category at the Key Life website. I stopped counting at 15 articles/interviews for Tullian Tchividjian. But Paul Tripp is listed as a Key Author, and he has only one article listed. I searched the Wayback Machine and found a screenshot from March of 2015 which lists Tchividjian under the heading of “Authors,” so obviously they have since revised their website to differentiate between “Key Authors” and “Guest Authors.” But what’s interesting is Tchividjian’s name is now under the less prominent “Guest Author” heading even though he is one of the most prolific contributors at the site. Also, since the March 2015, they have added Paul Tripp to the new Key Author lineup (he was not listed at all previously).

Why are these connections a noteworthy? Because these folks are good friends with Tchividjian. There’s nothing wrong with having good friends, but there is something wrong when the same friends are also in business ministry with Tchividjian. And it is a problem when they can use their celebrity platforms to speak out publicly and defend Tchividjian and his image (Steve Brown: here, Paul Tripp: here), but do not give an ear and a public platform to Tullian’s wife, Kim Tchividjian. Emergent leader/pastor Tony Jones also did this with his ex-wife. He was able to get his prominent Emergent leader friends to publicly vouch for him, while his ex-wife, Julie, was publicly scorned.

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Pastoral Vows and Presbytery Church Order

Yesterday, after news was broken about Tchividjian’s new job at Willow Creek, T.L. Arsenal wrote An Open Letter to the South Florida Presbytery:

It appears as though Tullian has not only joined another PCA church in the area, but is now listed as a staff member at Willow Creek Church.

I cannot fathom a circumstance where the Presbytery that was “committed to continuing to offer him pastoral care” has advised or sanctioned him being on staff in a church two weeks to the day of having deposed him.

In an article by Carl Trueman, Trueman reminds us of vows Presbyterian pastors take:

Tchividjian is, or at least was, a Presbyterian pastor. That binds him by solemn vow not simply to teach certain doctrines and to live in a certain way but also to act relative to his sin according to certain principles and processes. When he finds himself delinquent in doctrine or life, he should report himself to his Presbytery and place himself under its discipline and pastoral care.

There are safety checks for pastors within PCA. These processes are designed to help come along side those who have fallen in sin and need to come to restoration:

The elders at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, where Tullian Tchividjian previously served as senior pastor, released a public statement in which they clearly said they are going to be coming alongside Mr. Tchividjian:

Several days ago, Pastor Tullian admitted to moral failure, acknowledging his actions disqualify him from continuing to serve as senior pastor or preach from the pulpit, and resigned – effective immediately.

We are saddened by this news, but are working with and assisting Pastor Tullian and his family to help them through this difficult time, and asking people to join us in praying that God will bring restoration through this process and healing to all involved.

Tullian Tchividjian, when he made a vow to become a pastor, knew the guidelines, yet it appears he has abandoned those whom he had previously submitted, and has left Coral Ridge entirely and moved to Willow Creek, his friend, Kevin Labby’s church.

Do you suppose Kevin Labby has contacted the elders at Coral Ridge to discuss this important church discipline issue?
Do you suppose Kevin Labby has contacted Tullian’s wife, Kim to talk with her to hear her side?
Spiritual Response vs Business Response

When we look at this case in a spiritual sense of a church and its elders at Coral Ridge making efforts to bring restoration to a fallen leader, we see that Mr. Tchividjian has completely prevented that from happening. He has interfered and usurped the Biblical process of accountability by elders, a process by which he took a vow when he became a pastor, and sought shelter from a friend.

However, when we look at this case in a business sense, it makes perfect sense. Do you see how many followers Tullian Tchividjian has on Twitter?

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Tullian Tchividjian scandal, Willow Creek, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, moral failure, adultery

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Many people will freely give grace and disregard a Biblical restoration process in order to see and hear from their favorite celebrity pastor.  (Since Tchividjian is no longer a pastor, he might want to change his Twitter handle: @pastortullian.)  But regardless, whether Mr. Tchividjian was stripped of his credentials or not, people have already forgiven him and still see him as pastor without making sure he has fully repented and properly restored.

Willow Creek, by the way, made a video announcing Tchividjian’s new job and Warren Throckmorton has posted an update on his article that they have since removed it:

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Willow Creek shows poor discretion in how they have handled this. If they wanted to give Tullian Tchividjian a job in a non-ministerial position, fine. They could have done it without any fanfare. But by promoting Tullian publicly, now his fan base knows where to find him: at Willow Creek church.  There are benefits to hiring Mr. Tchividjian with his fan base, but I’m not sure those benefits are spiritual – – at least right now, so soon after his fall.

Here’s a bit of related satire I found on Twitter. Click on the image to enlarge:

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Narcissistic attention whore finds a pimp to prop him back up and they turn the house of God into a spiritual brothel. Jesus wept. ~Michael Newnham (after hearing about TT’s new job at Willow Creek)


Update: Sept 2, 2015 – Warren Throckmorton updated his link to say that the video at Willow Creek was removed because it was someone’s family account.

Related articles (must read!): Anatomy of an Evangelical Scandal, by Janet Mefferd

Update 3/24/16:  For some reason, I found this blog post in draft mode when it had previously released.  Because of the ongoing case with Tullian Tchividjian, I thought it was important to release it again in case people are searching for more info on this story. Sorry for any confusion.  ~ja