Quick recap: The Village Church, led by the evangelical superstar Matt Chandler, put the wife of an admitted pedophile under church discipline when she arranged for the annulment of her unquestionably invalid marriage without first getting permission from the church elders.
By the virtue of the membership covenant, members of that church do indeed give the church elders, all male, full authority to make decisions about intimate husband/wife decisions including whether they may or may not divorce and under what specific circumstances a divorce may take place. These elders are not trained therapists and they tend to be young, essentially unproven men. They also operate under the contention that the man is the undisputed leader in the home under all circumstances.
However, after the media firestorm that tore The Village Church to pieces, Matt Chandler has issued an “apology” Full text of it may be found here, but it reads in part:
In receiving more information and considering the way we’ve ministered to Karen specifically, we believe that we owe her an apology. Specifically, as it pertains to her desire for an annulment, we know that it would have served her better to have a clearer understanding from us as to what we do and do not consider biblical grounds for divorce or what we understand the Scriptures to define as divorce. In hindsight, we wish that we would have provided clarity to Karen in an immediate fashion and are saddened by our unpreparedness.
In other words, they wish they had told her immediately that she had to stay married to him since they had no evidence of his sexual infidelity to his wife. After all, just because this man has a clear sexual predilection for four-year old children doesn’t mean he actually acted on it.
God help us all.
I know that Chandler and the men who run The Village Church believe that the Bible says they have the right to insist that a woman who is a member of their church stay married to such a despicable human being. The core of their theology essentially says that they, as church elders, and they alone, have the power to discern God’s will in an objective, eternal truth manner. And their discernment says that men get the final call in what happens in the house.
This link will take you to a few of the stories of women who have been abused by that exercise in “biblical” authority.
My guess is this: because Karen Hinkley (formerly Karen Root), suspecting that something was wrong, insisted that her husband Jordan Root ‘fess up, she was actually out of God’s will. She was not acting in a properly submissive role as a wife. Thus of course she should be condemned. She has no right to be free. She must stay married to a man whose very presence would cause her flesh to curl in revulsion.
In the meantime, Jordan Root is free to do what he wants because he’s said the right words to the elders. He has convinced them that he is really sorry for this situation and will never do it again. His sin is totally covered by God’s grace and the proper congregational response is to forgive him and “love on him.”
But not so for the woman who properly said, “No.” Nope. She’s in trouble.
So, yes, The Village Church owes an apology to Karen Root. But it won’t be the kind of apology that will actually change one single thing.
Oh, by the way, they have finally agreed that she can resign her membership in the church. Wow.
Is this really God’s will for humanity? That half of those created in the image of God have no voice, no ears of their own to hear and discern the will of God? Does God indeed speak only to men? Are these elders the only people in the world who are so utterly free of self-deception that they can claim they clearly hear God without any distortion, or any cultural or gender issues coloring their interpretations?
I don’t think so.