Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham and the man who replaced the late D. James Kennedy as the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida, has resigned after admitting to having an affair. He released this statement to the Washington Post:
“I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign. Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm. We are amazingly grateful for the team of men and women who are committed to walking this difficult path with us. Please pray for the healing of deep wounds and we kindly ask that you respect our privacy.”
What I find notable about this is not the affair; we’ve seen more than enough of that from high-profile evangelical preachers to possibly be surprised by it. But Tchividjian was not your average evangelical pastor. He’s the guy who made a very explicit break from his predecessor Kennedy, who was one of the old lions of the Christian right, by stepping away from politics and culture war issues and just sticking to theology.
He’s also the guy who created, with his brother Boz, the Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment, an organization that is dedicated to rooting out the sexual abuse of children by leaders of evangelical Protestant churches. They have long argued that the pedophilia problem is just as bad, perhaps even worse, in Protestant churches than in Catholic churches, but it is more easily covered up.
Tchividjia was actually doing some good in his work in holding other churches accountable for abusive and criminal behavior. This will certainly impede his ability to do so, which will lead to more cover ups and abuse.