[TVC Lead Pastors Matt Chandler and Josh Patterson] told me that they felt awful about how I had been treated. They said I had biblical grounds for annulment or divorce, that I should have been granted my withdrawal from membership immediately, and that I never should have been put under discipline. They wanted to hear anything I was willing to say about what had happened, and they promised to do everything they could to make it right and make sure that what happened to me never happened to anyone again. I thanked them for their obvious sincerity and forgave them.
– from “Statement from Karen Hinkley“
Matt and Josh specifically told Karen, after further review of her situation, that she did have biblical grounds for divorce or annulment, that she should have been released from Covenant Membership as she requested and that she should not have been put under church discipline.
A blog, The Warburg Watch, has broken the story about reconciliation between The Village Church and Karen Hinkley in a post today entitled, “An Apology from Matt Chandler/Elders of The Village Church and a Statement of Forgiveness from Karen Hinkley.” Reading what has transpired in this last exchange literally brought tears to my eyes.
As I have been raised criticism in the past on this blog about how this situation was handled (see here, here, here, here, etc.), I wanted to give credit to Pastor Matt Chandler and TVC leadership in seeing repentance through in this matter. Not only did they correct the issues directly with Karen (who found it to her satisfaction and forgave them), but they also made things right by publicly correcting the matters in a statement to their membership. As can be seen from the above quotations, they made it clear that Karen’s marriage annulment was Biblical, her withdrawal of membership ought to have been accepted immediately, and she never ought to have been put under church discipline. From the fuller statements, the reader will see they took steps to repair their relationship with SIM listening to their counsel regarding Jordan Root.
All these steps take a lot of humility and courage on the part of TVC leadership, and I applaud them for doing the right and godly thing.
This situation gives me hope. It gives me hope that God is at work in evangelical church leadership including celebrity leadership. It is a win for God’s Kingdom and for survivors of sexual infidelity. My heart rejoices.
And I weep.
I had almost given up hope they would respond this well. My former denomination leadership certainly did not respond this way. Specifically, I weep as I read Karen’s statement, “they promised to do everything they could to make it right and make sure that what happened to me never happened to anyone again.” My tears speak to how this is not the normal response to these matters. It is moving to see a counterexample to church leaders refusing to repent over spiritually abusive practices. If such repentance and corrections were usual, I would not be writing this blog about taking adultery seriously and supporting infidelity/divorce survivors.