January 23, 2021

Matthew B. Redmond: Some Thoughts on What Is Happening at The Village Church


Note from CM: Sin rules this world through the unholy trinity of money, sex, and power. Most of the scandals with which the church has to deal have something to do with one or more of these three areas. And often, the original transgression ends up being but a small part of the problem. As we have learned well, the cover-up is usually more significant in the long run than the crime itself. It only compounds the original error, adds sin to sin exponentially, and creates a multitude of problems that go far beyond embezzlement, adultery, or abuse of power.

Last week was not a good week of publicity in this regard for Christians, especially evangelicals. There was the Duggar affair, for example. We’re not going to talk about that one, because frankly, I have no interest in that little corner of celebrity religiosity. I’m not sure anyone will ever be able to unravel all the strands of money, sex, and power that are in play there.

The situation that gets my attention, and that sparked interest in today’s author, has to do with The Village Church, whose lead pastor, Matt Chandler, has been a respected preacher, and one for whom this blog has at times expressed appreciation.

My friend Matthew B. Redmond, who blogs at Echoes and Stars, has been following their story and today we present some of his thoughts about it. If you don’t know the situation, follow the link in his first sentence and review it first.

• • •

Some Thoughts on What Is Happening at The Village Church
by Matthew B. Redmond

If you do not know what is going on, you need to go read the documentation.

1. At this point, there are very few facts to debate. The story comes from official documentation from The Village Church and the missions agency, SIM. To ask for another side of the story is to simply bury your head in the sand and not want to deal with the uncomfortable facts of the actual story.

2. A church (and its leaders) that places itself in the position of teaching and instructing men and women all over the world through conferences and resources will not be and should not be able to enjoy the luxury of avoiding criticism in its practice of discipline, especially when some of that instruction is on the subject of discipline itself.

3. One question The Village Church and its defenders will have to answer is, “Why is this not a biblical grounds for divorce if they do in fact have the biblical grounds to remove him from ministry indefinitely and feel the need to warn the parents of the church about this man and his exposure to children?”

4. If the use of child pornography is in fact pedophilia, then Karen, the wife has the biblical grounds to divorce/annul the marriage according to most evangelical position papers. The job of the elders is not to validate that decision but to support her.

5. The Lead Pastor of The Village Church is Matt Chandler, is also the President of Acts 29. To assume this kind of thinking has not and will not be exported to other Acts 29 churches is naive. If you support what The Village Church is doing to Karen, then you will think it is a good thing. If you do not, then this should worry you.

6. What I cannot understand is why they would be so clear in their communication about the pedophile husband not being under discipline and how the wife emphatically is under discipline.This would have to assume the best about his repentance and then assume the worst about her motives.

7. There will be many voices calling for “grace” for the husband caught in his sin. I agree with those voices. But I do not agree with all the addendum to that call for grace that would deprive the same for the wife/victim. Grace for him does not mean she, the church, and law enforcement have no recourse for action against him.

8. In the end, I cannot imagine anyone at The Village Church admitting they blew it. I hope I am wrong. I want to believe the best about them. But they have no real outside accountability since they are a SBC church and they are now the flagship of Acts 29. Matt Chandler is among the elite of the celebrity preachers in the Evangelical Industrial Complex. He and his fellow pastors will not have to worry about being marked by this. That is, until it happens again.

9. And it will happen again. And again and again. The dude-bro will get a pass and his wife will be expected to fall in line. This is exactly what happened with SGM. The wife was expected to stay with the pedophile husband and if they did not, the wife was disciplined. And it kept happening.

10. There is no place on the Scriptures saying the leaders of a church must give permission for a divorce if there are biblical grounds. A church cannot and must not discipline where no sin has occurred.

11. I think it is a good thing when husbands and wives can reconcile after adultery. But the most cynical part of me thinks the desire of churches to see husbands and wives reconcile in situations like this is marketing. I may need to repent of that but I fear also I may be right.

12. Many will ask, “Why do you care?” The short is answer is that I was once on staff at an Acts 29 church.


  1. Christiane says

    how are observers supposed to mesh the ‘teachings’ of patriarchy and ‘headship of the male’ over ‘submissive wives and daughters’
    together with the status of the victims of these teachings in recent times?

    is it ‘biblical’ to shield predators and malign their victims ?

    is it true that in such cults, when a male acts in a sexually aggressive manner towards a female or a child victim, the powers-that-be look for reasons to blame the victim for lack of modesty which unfairly ‘tempted’ the perpetrator?

    at the heart of this way of life what do we find? pride? or is it something even worse . . . idolatry of the ‘male’ gender ?

    questions, questions . . . ‘unraveling’ these hideous messes will take a very long time, but the victims of abuse need help NOW . . . they need to be shielded from those who would ‘discipline’ and blame them for what they have endured . . . they need to be brought out of bondage in systems that thrive on power, control, and fear

    Patriarchy as a ‘biblical’ model ?
    horse feathers, I say!

  2. Mike, so many of these scandals and other types of embarrassments come from systems of thought that came very close to me and my family. In our days at neo-Calvinist churches, we were exposed to a number of these things:

    Mark Driscoll, child rearing teachings of the Pearls, the Duggars TV show, Acts 29, patriarchy, complementarianism, authoritarian church membership schemes, Joshua Harris dating/courtship, 9 Marks.

    Somehow we avoided full-blown disasters from these things (although other things were problematic), except from the Joshua Harris courtship nonsense, mostly due to not having enough time to read all the materials and become groupies. We do, however, occasionally watch the Duggar show, but only as a human interest story.

    As much c*** as we’ve been through, it seems God has protected us from quite a bit of stuff even worse.

  3. Burro [Mule] says

    I am wondering if an entire generation of men have not been rendered unmarriageable by the ubiquity of pornography of the most graphic and degrading sort on the Internet. It would not take long for anybody with a predisposition to paedophilia or hebephilia to end up in Joshua Root’s predicament, and my guess is that his case is only the tip of the iceberg, and extends even to “egalitarian” churches and marriages.

    If the use of child pornography == paedophilia, then let’s come out and say it, the use of pornography == adultery and, according to the most conservative polls I have read, somewhere between one-third and one-half of the pastors in North America should not mount to their pulpits next Sunday.

    I don’t think Karen needs to be “brought into line”. If she doesn’t want to live with a man who disgusts her, she shouldn’t have to. The icon has been shattered. If it doesn’t heal itself spontaneously, no amount of glue that men apply to it will make it an icon again.

    But be ye not deceived. The enemy here is not “patriarchy” or “dude-bros” and their wilting wives, any more than the issue with the Catholic sex scandals is due to priestly celibacy. We are up against something far more primal and vicious, an iconoclastic demon that wants to shatter the image of God in man as male-and-female-reconciled.

    • Robert F says

      The problem is that patriarchal attitudes in a church like this one prevent the wife from getting out, and heap responsibilities on her that do not belong to her. If she seeks to separate or divorce to protect herself (and her children, where this applies), she is punished/disciplined by a community that she should rightly be able to look to for support instead of censure. The patriarchal habit of laying unfair responsibilities on wives compounds the suffering and evil of the situation, and, if given its druthers, would deliver vulnerable wives and children back into the hands of predatory husbands.

      • Robert F says

        Let’s be clear about one thing: What is at issue here is not whether or not Christianity allows divorce on the basis of porneia. To view child pornography is to be involved in crime of violence against children. The issue is the right of a woman to put as much distance as she deems necessary between herself (and her children) and a man who has participated in a violent crime against children. To make it this about porneia is to distract from the main issue.

        • Yes, and no. For here the issue is her right for safety. For TVC, the issue is porneia. That’s why there’s such a disconnect, I believe. While both porn and child porn are adultery, and yet different from the line that gets crossed with a flesh-and-blood affair, there is one tremendously significant difference: One of them crosses the line of consent. Adult porn stars are free to make whatever bad decisions they want with their lives for profit, though the stories range far and wide as to how the industry treats them and how easy it is to get out. Children, on the other hand, have not only not reached the legal age of consent, but would not consent given the choice anyway. So yes, as you say, it is an issue of violent crime against children, rape and kidnaping, in addition to the kind of lust that Jesus says is adulterous. That TVC is not able to make this distinction is rather disturbing.

    • To be frank, I’m not sure which is more damaging in the long-run for us – pornography, or the kind of unrealistic expectations that the purity culture you seem to follow lays on men and women.

      • Burro [Mule] says

        How about we try to deal with both?

      • Robert F says

        It’s not just that women are expected to fulfill the unrealistic expectations of purity culture; it’s also that in patriarchal set-ups women are expected to shoulder the burden of fixing the men in their lives who are malfunctioning. As evidenced by Mule’s comment above, it’s commonly believed that the poor guys just can’t help themselves, so little self-control do they have, the poor boys (which is really a disguised compliment that patriarchy pays to the implied sexual vitality of maleness).

        • Robert, I don’t read in Mule’s above comment that he’s asserting that “guys just can’t help themselves”. However, I do understand him to say that pornography (in all its forms) may be “rendering an entire generation of men unmarriageable.”

          • Robert F says

            I’ll assume that what I got from Mule’s comment regarding “guys just can’t…” was incorrect on my part, and issue an apology to Mule for my words.

            However, child pornography and pornography are two different subjects. There is no moral equivalence between either producing or viewing adult pornography and producing or viewing child pornography. To conflate the two obscures the distinctive crime of violence against children that is involved in viewing and producing child pornography, and muddies the discussion about the particular case this blog is discussing today. I think confusing the two is an example of how patriarchy routinely diverts us from the real issue at hand.

          • I think confusing the two is an example of how patriarchy routinely diverts us from the real issue at hand.

            Agreed, Robert. It’s almost a Godwin’s law, just invoke it and watch things shut down.

          • Yeah, I have problems with Mule’s assertions.

            As for further commentary – including Karen Root’s story in her own words – please see The Wartburg Watch. They began reporting on this situation last week and will be following it all of this week as well.

        • It’s not just that women are expected to fulfill the unrealistic expectations of purity culture;

          In one corner, ‘unrealistic’ portrayals and depictions of ready and willing and always beautiful women in porn.

          In the other corner, ‘unrealistic’ portrayals and depictions of ready and willing and always beautiful women in purity culture/patriarchy/complementarian marriages.

          What’s the difference?

          Ladies, you are expected to always be there for your man at the end of the day, because “anyone can cook him a meal, but only you can provide what he needs”. You are to be beautiful at all times, open, and never complain. A woman receives, a man conquers.

          What’s the difference between porn and this type of thinking again? Seems subtle.

          • StuartB, part of me wants to tell you “Don’t go there,” but I think I’m glad you did.

          • It’s their rhetoric, Ted. It needs to be called out and confronted, and maybe we can have some real conversations without programmed thought stoppers.

          • Stuart, thank you. It’s true.

            Indeed, one of the reasons some men cite for going down to Brazil on sex trips (because prostitution is legal there) is that they want All.The.Sex. + women cooking steaks for them and what not, like submissive little fantasy ’50s wives.

          • Stuart, I don’t think there’s really any difference between that and outright porn – it is a form of porn, all gussied up for the patriarchal set.

            nd yes, Mule, I’m looking at you and the whole patrio/”men’s rights” crowd.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            “Just like Porn, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

            * Mark Driscoll’s Visions (“I SEE Things…”) and his interest in both ends of the alimentary canal.
            * Cee Jay Mahaney forcing his pregnant wife to service him while she’s hurling from morning sickness (HUMBLY, of course — chuckle chuckle).
            * Doug Wilson with “The Man Penetrates! Colonizes! Conquers! Plants! The woman lies back and Accepts!” (a la Ramsey Bolton & Sansa Stark?)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        To be frank, I’m not sure which is more damaging in the long-run for us – pornography, or the kind of unrealistic expectations that the purity culture you seem to follow lays on men and women.

        The two are One and the Same, just with different/opposite coats of paint. Funhouse mirror reflections of each other, just like Communism and Objecxtivism. The World(TM) goes crazy to one extreme, Christians(TM) HAVE to go just as crazy to the opposite extreme.

      • To be frank, I’m not sure which is more damaging in the long-run for us – pornography, or the kind of unrealistic expectations that the purity culture you seem to follow lays on men and women.

        Just look at Utah.

      • Patrick Kyle says

        ” the kind of unrealistic expectations that the purity culture you seem to follow lays on men and women.” or the unrealistic expectations the porn cultures lays on the sexual performance of both sexes.

        • Same reason I don’t watch pro sports. I may be tempted to actually play basketball, soccer, football, etc, lol.

          I’ll stick with weightlifting. I’m regularly shown up my everyone else around me, including the women, lol.

    • Robert F says

      Mule, Viewing child pornography implicates one in the violence of pedophilia that is required to produce the material. That’s why it’s illegal to view child pornography. Viewing adult pornography is a completely different matter, however detrimental its affects may be on a relationship or the people who view it. There is no moral equivalence between viewing child pornography and viewing adult pornography.

      • Burro [Mule] says

        I agree with you, Robert. Child pornography is far worse than adult pornography, and a child molester is worse than an adulterer. Nobody takes issue with you on that. Ball one.

        If I were a mathematician, I would point out to you that the relationship I was describing was one of congruence rather than identity. IFF child pornography == child rape, THEN adult pornography == porneia. Neither is excusable, and I am not waving my hand dismissing either, or all four, as inevitable or due to “the implied sexual vitality of maleness”. Ball two.

        I also said that the use of pornography is widespread among men, maybe even close to universal. That doesn’t excuse anything. If “all men” do it, then “all men” have a problem. I don’t think that’s a problem of “purity culture”, that’s just the opinion of a very bad sinner who doesn’t want the rules changed so he gets off the hook. So, ball three. I had a parish priest of blessed memory confess in a sermon that his eyes once lingered on the lingerie ads in the Sunday supplements longer than they should have. That took guts. Naturally, it made me more forthcoming in my confessions, and I found more relief in the sacrament than hithertofore.

        Now, lets get to some particulars. According to the material provided by Mr. Redmond on his blog as “the facts”

        1) Joshua was ‘involved’ in ‘child pornography’. That is so vague as to be practically useless. Was he masturbating to snapshots of fifth grade pool parties posted on Pintarest [which is bad enough, and definitely something my confessor would put me under some heavy penance for], or was he involved in the production of the industrial grade stuff? Answer: we don’t know.

        2) Whatever it was, Joshua’s ruling elders decided it wasn’t serious enough to place him under discipline. Boy, howdy! I think his ruling elders were wrong, but I don’t have that responsibility. If there is a pattern of winking at this kind of sin in the Acts 29 communion, I can see where it would become a popular place for men, but I wouldn’t expect to find my salvation there.

        3) Whatever Joshua’s involvement, Karen decided she no longer wanted to be married to him. Last I checked, Acts 29 is not the state church of the state Joshua and Karen are living in. People these days can divorce their spouses for whatever reason they wish, and there is little or nothing the spouse can do about it. Karen doesn’t have to stay in the marriage and if I were her, I wouldn’t worry one fig about Acts 29 “putting her under discipline”. Of course, i don’t know what the legal ramifications of their “membership covenants” are, but anybody would be a fool for signing anything legally binding to join a church. Salvation isn’t a contract.

        When I became Orthodox, I gave the Orthodox church, in the person of my bishop, full control of my spiritual life. If they need money, they can ask for it, although they never have. If I disregard their instructions, I may get the point where I am barred from the sacraments. By that time, I doubt it would matter to me.

        My guess is that Mr. Root and Ms. Hinckley had prior issues, but that is just a guess. What I take issue to is the pornography == porneia argument, which in the legalistic mindset governing marriage these days, amounts to a Get Out Of Jail Free card handed to (mostly) women because of the greater prevalence of the abuse of pornography among men as opposed to women. If you have a husband who is looking at pornography at 3:00 in the morning, you probably have as many problems in your marriage as if he were sleeping with another woman. Do you want to be honest and work them out? That’s your choice. It’s your choice to leave as well.

        Finally, what are we going to do with all these no-good men? Why are they having so many problems? Remember what I said about the majority of men being unmarriageable these days? I have a daughter, so I know that of which I speak. My guess is that we don’t know, really don’t know, the answer to the problem. But I don’t think the answer is to give all the macho men a scoop of saltpeter.

        • Robert F says

          I don’t have time to respond to all your points, so I won’t try. And my response will not be methodical.

          I think the element of violence involved in child pornography makes it impossible to establish the congruence you assert. And couples, even Christian couples, may have different criteria for determining the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the use of erotica/pornography in their marriages, but that cannot be so for the use of child pornography. I also disagree with the idea that the easy availability of pornography in the contemporary world necessarily means that all or most men are regulars users of it, and that such problems did not exist at a comparable rate among the male population before the advent of the internet. In fact, I’m inclined to think that pedophilia was even more of a problem in former times, when male privilege was taken for granted and unquestioned. That means that I believe that the even more men were unsuited for marriage in earlier times than today; that doesn’t mean they didn’t get married, only that their wives were locked in an unbreakable embrace with whatever pathologies their men carried into the marriage. You are right about the fact that we don’t know a number of the particulars about this case; but you are wrong in thinking that this is substantially an internal matter of the church involved, and not something we have much right to determine: this blog is partly about the universality of responsibility we all have for things done in the name of Christ, and about bringing those things to light when needed. Victimized individuals are doubly victimized when their church turns against them, and it is good to say as much in this forum.

          • Robert — You say, “I think the element of violence involved in child pornography makes it impossible to establish the congruence you assert.” Mule is not asserting the congruence of effect, but the congruence of cause. Adultery may seem a milder manifestation of sexual sin than child abuse and is perhaps more forgiveable (but that’s in God’s hands). The point is that the root cause is the same in both cases, if you dig deeply enough — our flawed nature and the attacks of the evil one.

          • Robert F says

            Damaris, Pedophilia is a crime of violence and power, not sexuality. The cause of pediophilia is not the same as the cause of sexual sin.

          • Robert F says

            That is, I don’t think there is a congruence of cause, because sexual sin is a result of indulging inordinate sexual desires, but pedophilia as a crime is the result of the exercise of power along with sexual violence against children.

          • The point is that the root cause is the same in both cases, if you dig deeply enough — our flawed nature and the attacks of the evil one.
            Except this is true of every sin – which ultimately makes the congruence irrelevant. The fact (scientific and medical, as well as ethical and theological) is that peadophilia is nothing at all like adultery. It is violent predation, and has more in common psychologically with murder and gang rape than adultery. Comparing them is actually quite odd to the point of absurdity to anyone with a decent education in psychology.

        • Dana Ames says


          I’m with Damaris. I think you grasp a lot of what the issues are. I wish to say, though, that this statement:

          “If you have a husband who is looking at pornography at 3:00 in the morning, you probably have as many problems in your marriage as if he were sleeping with another woman.”

          is way too generalized. Yes, in such a situation there are underlying problems, but it is not “the marriage” that has problems – it is the people in it. And there are a lot of variations with people. In such a situation, a husband choosing to view pornography would be piling up the onus on his side of the scale, big time – nearly as much as if he were to do the deed. It is not always the case that the problems each person in a marriage has translates to bearing an equal amount of blame.


      • You know, half an idea here, but if we all wanted to be truly biblical and give the Duggars and patriarchy and the quiverfulls what they wanted…we’d lower the age of consent to 13, the marriage age to 13, and redefine child pornography as anything under the age of 12.

        I mean, it’s Biblical, right? This is how God intended it. We wouldn’t have people like Josh acting out if they’d just gotten married to their father appointed spouses at age 13 as God intended.

        Look at what we’ve sown for not having obeyed God. We’ll reap the whirlwind of His judgement for having late age marriages.

        • StuartB, I know you’ve got you tongue in cheek here, and it’s a good parody of literalism.

          But lowering the age of consent to 13 won’t help the grossest cases of child abuse. The law does distinguish between cases involving pre-pubescent children and those from puberty to 18.

          I have a friend doing a 16-year prison term for photographing body parts of 5-year old girls (it’s a federal crime because the camera was not manufactured within his state, therefore considered “production of child pornography” and subject to minimum 15-year sentence).

          Now, that’s merely what he pleaded guilty to. Had he not pleaded, the prosecutor would have used as evidence the porn on his computer as well, and placed the little girls on the witness stand. All of this for what may have seemed to him a “victimless crime.” After all, there was no physical contact. Yet.

          Compounding the tragedy was his position as kindergarten teacher, and therefore it’s also an abuse of authority. Many, if not most child abusers have some means of regular contact with children, and enjoy the trust of the children and their parents—until the truth comes out. Let’s make sure we have safeguards against abuse in our churches and schools.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Why not drop the Age of Consent and/or Arranged Marriage to NINE like you get in some Islamic Extremists? (Based on Mohammed arranging a marriage with a nine-year-old in the Hadiths; I have read in Muslim commentary that more likely the age was at betrothal/arrangement but the marriage was not consummated until the bride had reached whatever was legal age in 7th Century Arab culture.)

        • Final Anonymous says

          Stuart’s comment may be tongue-in-cheek but it has been suggested in many patriarchal circles in this country, from fundamentalists to MRA.

    • Burro — Preach it. You have seen beneath the surface on this issue, I think.

    • Oh boy.

      an entire generation of men have not been rendered unmarriageable by the ubiquity of pornography of the most graphic and degrading sort on the Internet

      Maybe. If most people had a clue the online habits of people under 30, even under 21, they’d be scared. Porn is largely just “meh” to so many now, because it’s everywhere. HUG can explain Rule 34, for instance.

      the use of pornography == adultery False. Utterly false. We could get into definitions, we could talk about the difference between physical and mental, we could talk about the health and mental components…but after it all, this is completely false.

      one-third and one-half of the pastors in North America should not mount to their pulpits next Sunday Thank God for grace. We’ll need it when anyone under the age of 21 goes into ministry. This doesn’t disqualify at all. No more than having an angry thought disqualifies you because you are a de facto murderer according to some.

      The enemy here is not “patriarchy” or “dude-bros” and their wilting wives, any more than the issue with the Catholic sex scandals is due to priestly celibacy.

      Oh, it largely is, though. Patriarchy has set the table, and here are the results. Dude-bros thrive in it, otherwise we wouldn’t have this rape culture we live in, although whether how big or small it is is up to debate. But patriarchy, purity culture, puritan values and so much more are definitely in play. They are what informs Mule to say that porn viewing is adultery, or disqualifies someone from ministry…or, when all such things are forbidden and hidden, lets a teenager fondle his own sisters in their sleep. Multiple times. Over many years.

      The fact is, the more forbidden and restricted these items are, the more acting out and perversions come out. The opposite is true as well; when not forbidden, when not restricted…people are normal and healthy.

      Why is that? I don’t fully know yet.

      • You bet that the so-called “dude bros” have set things up so they can have it all.their.way.

      • “the use of pornography == adultery False. Utterly false. We could get into definitions, we could talk about the difference between physical and mental, we could talk about the health and mental components…but after it all, this is completely false.”

        Stuart, the main definition I am concerned with comes from Christ. And when he says a man who lusts has committed adultery in his heart, I take that pretty seriously. I’m not sure how one gets around that teaching, which, like the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, is incredibly pointed and convicting. Your comment below regarding evidence of marriages falling apart due to pornography as just “sob stories” shows a callousness about the destructive effects of pornography that, in my humble opinion, undermines your points about the destructive nature of patriarchal environments. They are not mutually exclusive, and often actually go hand-in-hand.

        I do find it amusing (of sorts) when a bunch of men try to discuss the effects of pornography and adultery in marriage. Not sure we’re getting the whole picture here, and to be honest, it strikes me as rather arrogant, almost as much as the pride and arrogance that we are accusing others of.

        All I know is what my wife and daughters tell me, and they are pretty adamant about how pornography makes them *feel*. It is the exact same feeling as bona-fide, physical adultery. I don’t think that’s coincidence.

        • And when he says a man who lusts has committed adultery in his heart, I take that pretty seriously.

          Jerry…I don’t. Because I know I’m filtering through my own interpretation. I’m ignoring context, I’m ignoring intent of statement, I’m ignoring audience, I’m ignoring subsequent theological development, I’m ignoring prior understanding of law, I’m ignoring culture…ignoring my own biases.

          It is reported that Jesus said it, yes. Now I need to understand what he meant. There’s lots of he things he didn’t mean by saying that. There may be more than one thing he did mean as well.

          I know Jesus did not create a new law. He didn’t make it even that much more impossible to attain and live up to. I know literalism isn’t a great way of interpreting his words or much of the Bible.

          And I also know, with all due respect to your wife and daughters, that they probably grew up thinking in certain ways about porn and it’s effects. It plays into the larger purity culture/Patriachy narrative. In many ways, they may be conditioned to respond the way they have responded to you.

          Thanks for the pushback, but no, I don’t think it shows a callousness or undermines my points. Not talking about and through such things from every angle would be callous; the “surface of things”.

          I do find it amusing (of sorts) when a bunch of men try to discuss the effects of pornography and adultery in marriage.

          Amen. I wholeheartedly agree with this. So let’s get more women and others involved in the discussion. Let’s get pro and con people talking. Let’s get marrieds and singles and divorcees and celibate for Christ types talking about this. The discussion cannot continue in the echo chamber, which selecting and inviting certain individuals to contribute to would be, such as asking Driscoll’s wife or Doug Phillip’s church’s men/women what they think.

          Everyone needs to talk about this. And, as we’ve said repeatedly on this blog over many weeks, middle class white older heterosexual boomer manly male men must NOT approach it from the perspective of “why aren’t my opinions being respected as FACT ™”.

        • Jerry, some of the people commenting here are women. There’s Damarmis, Christiane, Dana Ames, me, and I’m not sure who all else on this thread.

          So, not just a bunch of guys opining about how women feel, though there definitely are times that i feel like a gitls who sneaked into the Seekrit Club in disguise.

        • Jerry, I think you are misunderstanding Jesus. His point was not that the sins were the same or that the consequences were the same; only that the wicked heart wants hot, sweaty (imaginary) sex, even if one has the willpower not to act on it. In other words, the legalism of the Pharisees was irrelevant. So I think it is irresponsible to say that using porn==adultery. It is not equal. In any way. Only the heart is “equal” in its wickedness.

      • Patrick Kyle says

        “otherwise we wouldn’t have this rape culture we live in” Oh bullshit… Go to Africa or the Middle East and come back and instruct us all on how the US has a ‘rape culture.’ This and your direct contradiction of Jesus’ words make it hard for me to take your argument seriously.

        • You’re welcome to disagree, but I’d hope you disagree while discussing.

          • Although mentioning Africa and the Middle East sorta makes my point about the theological aspect of all this, and it’s fruit in how people live and perform and act in their lives.

            And look at what’s fixing Africa: liberal values, medicine, education, drugs, science…

            (and look at who is one of the driving factors in this change, both locally and governmently: an Irish Protestant/Catholic singer who lives the ‘secular life’ and walks the words of Christ more strongly than anyone else I know.)

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            You referring to Bono of U2?

          • Would I ever not be? lol

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Rule 34: If it exists at all, someone HAS done porn of it.

        (Not to be confused with something you also run into a lot in fanart: Rule 63; character genderflip. “I am me and she is he and we are all Rule Sixty-threed.”)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I am wondering if an entire generation of men have not been rendered unmarriageable by the ubiquity of pornography of the most graphic and degrading sort on the Internet.

      In such an erotically-saturated culture, I’d be surprised if someone got past puberty without developing some sort of paraphilia. These days, the best you can hope for is that your paraphilia is just embarrassing instead of actually destructive.

      And Christianese Purity Culture just develops its own, different set of paraphiliae.

      • Christiane says

        and I suppose shielding ‘precious Josh’ was a huge part of that ‘purity culture’ . . . while still exposing his younger sisters to his presence in the family . . . if this is ‘purity’, I think someone is manipulating word play . . .

        WHY didn’t shielding the little girls matter, too ????

        WHY weren’t they ‘precious’, too ????

        nothing ‘pure’ about this whole business, no

        • You ever meet someone who is an adult who doesn’t know how to boil water or hold a knife? Some things need to be introduced and taught at a young age so they are internalized and experienced.

    • Is there a lot of evidence of marriages not happening or falling apart due to pornography? Like, this is being put in divorce proceedings or something?

      • Clay Crouch says

        That’s a good question. I’d guess probably not. Good question, by the way.

        • Thanks. I ask because it seems to me that loose talk about ‘unmarriageable’ men looking at porn seems wayward. If we’re going to talk about people who are not good marriage prospects, I would zero right in on video game obsession as being 50 times the problem of interest in porn.

          Seems to me that naked ladies (or, while we’re on the topic, heartthrob vampires or BDSM millionaires) will only occupy the mind for maybe 30 minutes at a time. Call of Duty, Halo or World of Warcraft, though? That’s a recipe for a person who is mentally Checked Out for hours each day.

          (And I say this as someone who has struggled with my own Civilization V problem from time to time…)

          • What’s the difference between looking at a naked woman that is your wife and looking at a naked woman that is not your wife?

            Property value? Your’s or (potentially) another man’s?

            Did God not create both and call them good?

          • Pornography can become quite a problem for people and interfere with their relationships, so yes, pornography can cause problems in marriages. Here is a link to a short video “The Science of Pornography”. It is SFW.


          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            That’s part of a generic term called “Internet Addicion” (now epitomized by statues staring at smartphones). It’s the RL version of the Cyberpunk term “cyberpsychosis” or “whitesiding” where the whitesider checks out of Meatspace permanently and lives only in Cyberspace.

          • @StuartB:

            *Property value? Your’s or (potentially) another man’s?*

            You’re clearly making some sort of point here but I’m not smart enough to know what it is.

            *Did God not create both and call them good?*

            I believe that god created neither one of them.


            *Pornography can become quite a problem for people and interfere with their relationships, so yes, pornography can cause problems in marriages.*

            All marriages? Or just some? Because that’s the falling-down point for the idea of ‘porn addiction’: If you want to posit that addiction to porn is just like addiction to, say, alcohol, then you have to admit* that a lot of people are able to drink alcohol without being addicted to it.

            Likewise, a lot of people seem to be able to ‘handle’ porn without it impacting their relationships with other people. Yes, really. I mean, the 12-step-type criterion for ‘am I addicted?’ is to have other people identify what negative effects your behavior has had on them. No identifiable effects = not an actual addiction.

            *Unless, I suppose, you are certain flavors of baptist. Or, as Fred Clark (Slacktivist) noted, certain recovering alcoholics with long-time AA tokens who are pretty sure that there’s no such thing as healthy drinking.

          • “Pornography can become quite a problem for people and interfere with their relationships, so yes, pornography can cause problems in marriages”

            I’m not sure where I said that pornography causes problems in all marriages.

            I’m also not sure where I stated that viewing pornography always becomes an addiction.

            I don’t see where I said one’s addiction should be identified by other people.

            I am not and have never been any flavor of Baptist.

      • Is there a lot of evidence of marriages not happening or falling apart due to pornography?

        Just sob stories. It becomes part of someone’s testimony, or you see it emulated over and over again like a meme. I’m sure some would have it become part of law that you could do this, but it’s not there yet.

        • Yeah, I’ve read enough of those sob stories to believe that there’s far more to those marriages falling apart than porn use. I don’t wish to minimize the effect of that, but there are, as Stuart says, repetitive memes on this in evangelical-land, and I don’t think they’re anything more than superficial, almost scripted. Not saying that *some* people don’t experience heartache and damaged relationships, only that there is a very, very superficial kind of “conversation” going on on sites like XXX Church (or whatever it’s called).

          • Superficial, yes. I’d love to have more conversations about this, but you HAVE to get past the surface and thought stoppers. The church needs these discussions. But when one group is willing to talk but can only defend/think about maintaining the status quo…nothing happens.

            I have no sympathy for “porn dissolved my marriage” stories. (Caveat – clearly this topic today is a bit different) That’s screwed up, messed up thinking from the get go. It starts with bad teaching when boys and girls are children, and grows from there. It manifests in courting and purity culture, that everyone somehow deserves a pure spouse because they themselves are pure. It automatically equates any type of lust with de facto adultery, which is bs and a blasphemous reading of Jesus (but I guess is consistent with a hyper flat inerrancy reading). It denies any sanctification that occurs in favor of some twisted version of Christian perfectionism.

            How is this not patriarchy? How is this not purity culture?

            Go up a level…

            How is this not related to inerrancy? How is this not related to anti-intellectualism? I’m sure there is another level or two you can go up as well. Which is where part of the conversation needs to be.

            And it is. Internet Monk talks about all these things all the time. Yet we, like many, don’t go far enough, or connect the dots well enough.

            We’re getting there, and that gives me hope. We may be seeing the dissolution of current evangelicalism, but maybe, perhaps by 2020, we’ll be in a much better place, even if it looks radically different than it currently is. But I guess I’m more liberal than conservative, as I’d rather not preserve the status quo, since I’ve seen how corrupt and worthless it is.

          • I’d hesitate to call the work of XXX church “superficial.” In addition to debating the effects of porn on society with Ron Jeremy, founder Craig Gross leads their non-profit in helping people break addictions, reaching out to industry insiders with the Gospel and helping them get out when they need it, and providing accountability software that has helped tons of people. One church I served used it, it was very practical and effective.

            …until the interim pastor called me into his office, shortly before my wedding. “It says here, Miguel, that you’ve been visiting some inappropriate websites. Does the phrase “Bed, Bath, and Beyond” mean anything to you?” True story! 😛

          • xxx church isn’t superficial, but their effect on the actual christian community can be devastating. I’m definitely against any ministry that harms believers, even if just through purity culture type rhetoric.

            Where they get it right: Jesus does love porn stars. Where they get it wrong at times: how that plays out.

            I admire the relationship and friendship Craig and Ron have. Two men who utterly disagree, but are very good friends. And walk the walk, involved in each other’s lives, even with Ron playing with Craig’s kids. I admire that and respect that a lot. Reminds me of friendships that CS Lewis and Chesterton had.

            Craig and Don and I actually have a mutual friend, Donny Pauling. Never met him in person, but we’ve talked often online. If I ever have the chance, I’d ask either of them how he’s doing, as he’s gone quiet online lately.

            And ditto about that purity software (lol) stuff. It creates fun situations like wikipedia showing up on reports, or Bob Jones University’s website being blocked while Playboy’s isn’t, lol.

          • Ohmygosh, Miguel! That’s right up there with the South African government in the early seventies banning “Black Beauty” — another true story!

          • StuartB, I’m not quite sure how xxx church does devastating harm. They’re not necessarily the same things as “purity culture” with their “I kissed dating goodbye” and purity balls. It’s just simple behavioral modification.

            Damaris, I don’t know if I’d go that far, “Black Beauty” was another situation entirely. In my case, the interim Pastor was just joking. The site was included in the email, but we both thought that it was rather hilarious, and, it showed that the software appears to be working. It wasn’t a filter, I was still able to complete my registry.

          • Miguel, I agree, that was a little harsh and I should clarify. Apologies.

            Where I find it to be devastating is in the comments and testimonies of those who frequent the ministry the most. At it’s most basic, they provide tools and reasons to help people who want to get help in dealing with their issue.

            What ends up happening at times, and I’ve seen it in numerous lives, both personal and online, is that those people who can’t find freedom end up trapped in loops of condemnation, never finding the victory, convinced they need one and they are worthless and lost without their freedom, etc. It can ruin lives. It ruined mine, for many years.

            So these people, mostly men, some women…never find peace. They bash themselves day and night to find peace and relief. Maybe they can get their crap together long enough to be pure long enough to get married, which I’m sure helps some but is still probably going to lead to an unhealthy marriage. Their lives, mind, soul, spirit, sancitification…gets arrested.

            It’s pure Law. The grace is the carrot. The tools are good, I’m sure the intentions are good…but the culture that builds up around it can be toxic.

            Read the comments and stories sometimes. They make you want to hug the people and tell them it’ll be ok, and to get them away from those who tell them to resist to the point of spilling blood.

            Because if you just try hard enough…you’ll be free of your “addiction”. Why not just stop? Just stop. Just stop. Just stop. If you don’t…clearly you don’t want to, and love your sin. Are you even saved?

            It’s devastating. And breaks my heart seeing people in bondage to it.

  4. I’m going to bring the Duggar affair into this, just because it is relevant.

    A lot of my circle seems to follow them. My peer group is all having kids (I have two toddlers under 3); and I guess a lot of the mommies viewed them as wholesome entertainment. Me, I tolerated them – there was something off-putting about this clan lecturing us about side-hugs and courtship versus dating, etc.

    When the news broke, however, I watched in horror as the wagons circled around the offender and his family. My friends defended the accused, saying we needed to show him “grace” and that the family acted “reasonably.” But here’s why I’m aghast: I work as a prosecutor. I’ve handled sex crimes for the military. I’ve watched as victims get isolated, because the unit believes the Accused would never have done such a thing. I’ve watched Battalion commanders express concern that the strain of a trial would have on a Defendant, all while a victim – who also was in his unit – was hospitalized due to a massive panic attack. He didnt even have a thought for her.

    Because of my work, I know more than a few other prosecutors in other jurisdictions. They were astounded to see my friends defending the offender because of their religious sensibilities. But I also know victims. They were aghast too. I’ve had a few express disgust – some privately, some publicly.

    I’m sorry – you don’t get to side with the abuser, not the abused, and still get to think of yourself as a decent human being. You are a part of the problem if you do that.

    • Thank you for stating this. I’ve seen the same behavior – excusing the perpetrator and not paying any attention at all to the victims – in people who I think should know better.

    • I have seen the same cover up mentality among individual pastors and judicatories when it comes to substance abuse. It’s all about showing “grace” to the person with the issue (sometimes just moving them around) while the victims are barely acknowledged, if at all.

    • Honestly the Duggar issue is a bigger issue to the majority of my friends and acquaintances, the Chandler thing just affects those who are more mental, mostly guys, and mostly neo-reformed. They’ve also gotten burned by Driscoll, but are still Piper and in some cases Mahaney fanboys, so they are watching this with shocked horror and some measure of denial.

      The Duggars…well, they are like family, they teach truth, this is God’s way of raising kids, look how godly they are, you don’t have kids you don’t know how hard it is, we never had peace until we found God’s way of raising kids, etc. Even if people don’t watch the actual show (cable costs money, after all, and not all are self made men like the Duggars), they are still a poster family for truth and God’s way. Criticizing them is criticizing us. Why do you hate our family? Why do you hate God? Let’s agree to disagree, but we may not invite you over anymore.

      The Duggars thing could be huge. If people with eyes to see look past the surface, and don’t use “sin” as an excuse. No, their teachings and the teachings they follow are corrupt to the core. Here’s the fruit. Keep watching for another 10-15-20 years, and you’ll see even more fruit from the Quiverfull movement.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Me, I tolerated them – there was something off-putting about this clan lecturing us about side-hugs and courtship versus dating, etc.

      Years ago, one of those online dictionaries of contemporary slang defined “Christian Side Hug” as meaning “non-genital sex done to preserve technical virginity”. Wonder how that definition got started?

      • Really getting off-topic here, but I compare the “Christian Side Hug” with “leaning-to-one-side-while-sitting-in-order-to-fart-silently.”


        • ROFL. I still have “side-hug” tendencies from my Fundagelical past where the youth pastor would chew you out for molesting a girls boobies if you hugged too closely (though it was probably true in some cases).

          That just don’t fly with all these Italians in our congregation. If I side hug someone ’round here I get a lecture. It really is sort of an upside-down experience for me.

          It’s not that I’m still a Puritan, it’s just an old habit that dies hard. I still think there’s some use to it, but now I’ll be thinking about the fart every time I do it. I’ll never be able to side-hug with a straight face again. Thanks.

    • I saw a lot of similar wagon circling on social media re: the Duggars, too. I was too angry/disgusted to post anything coherent at the time. But it really occupied my thoughts over the weekend, and I came to a couple of interrelated thoughts.

      1) People are too quick to see themselves in the accused, and too slow to see Christ in the victim. Who’s the Accuser in Scripture? Satan. If the image we use is the accuser/accused dichotomy, then that makes the accuser Satan, and the accused me. And if the accused is actually guilty, well guess what: so am I. Should I be denied mercy, too? One of the Facebook wagon-circlers said something to the effect of, what if everyone knew my sins? (Let’s set aside the fact that yes, I would look at you differently if I knew you had molested several people including your siblings.) This train of thought leads to more support being shown to the abuser than the abused.

      I think there is a much better image to keep in mind in these scenarios: that of the innocent Victim, who is punished because of the sins of others. Except there’s no larger redemptive purpose, and the victim isn’t freely offering him/herself. Think of “whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.” If we are to see the poor, naked, jailed, hungry, etc. as an alter Christus, how much more should we see Him in the face of a person is suffering, through no fault of their own, for the sins of another?

      2) To me, when you hear an abuse story and you circle the wagons for the abuser, it’s like hearing the story of the Good Samaritan, and saying that Jesus really ought to show a bit more grace to that poor Levite who crossed the road to avoid the beaten and bloodied man.

      3) In these situations, there is always a period of “repentance,” followed by full restoration as though nothing had ever happened. If you say it wasn’t enough, there’s some passive aggressive response that more or less asks how much repentance they need to show before you’ll forgive them. As though forgiveness equals full restoration to previous status. My response is this: how much repentance should an alcoholic show before you’ll let them have a glass of wine? Point being, just because you’ve forgiven them, doesn’t mean things can, or should, just go back to the way they were before. Even after the One Ring was destroyed and its power broken, Frodo still was never able to fully heal from the wound of the Nazgul’s blade without going to the Undying Lands.

      • that of the innocent Victim, who is punished because of the sins of others.

        The sleight of hand here, that utterly disgusts me, is when people respond with “well no one’s innocent”. No one’s not guilty. No one’s not a sinner.

        Yeah? So? Guy should be in jail. Quit using “sin” and “sin nature” as an excuse.

      • See that image floating around from Gothard’s training about how this thinking comes out. No one’s a victim. Everyone is guilt.

        Have you repented of the role you played in your own rape? Remove the log from your own eye first.

      • 2) To me, when you hear an abuse story and you circle the wagons for the abuser, it’s like hearing the story of the Good Samaritan, and saying that Jesus really ought to show a bit more grace to that poor Levite who crossed the road to avoid the beaten and bloodied man.

        This is so good, Michael.

        And my mind wants to fill in Jesus’ response to that type of thinking with him saying “what the eff is wrong with you??”

      • This. Excellent points, every one.

        …the Tolkien illustration really sealed the deal, and not even because of its point. 😛

      • “People are too quick to see themselves in the accused, and too slow to see Christ in the victim. ”

        This. Michael, thanks for articulating. I don’t know if others have this problem, but I certainly do. My wife has been a godsend in opening my eyes to this sort of thinking. It started when we were dating, and she pointed out every single “anti-woman” joke told from the pulpit. You think it’s just all wink-wink, nudge-nudge, until someone starts to expose it for you.

        When the news broke about the Duggars, all she could say is, “What about those poor little girls, what about those poor little girls?”

        • I hope there is freedom for them eventually. As well as faith still. It could end up looking like all the Westboro kids who got out.

          This is partly why I talk and discuss about these things. I’ve been that kid and seen many others. I don’t want them to destroy their lives. So the kids need protecting from their parents well intentions almost. I hope and pray for freedom.

        • Yeah I had to train myself–it’s not natural to me either. It comes primarily from converting to Catholicism after the abuse scandal, going back and reading reactions as they broke, and asking, “How do I avoid being one of those average laypeople who wound up defending a monster?” That, and watching the ugly response of a Baptist church in a situation kind of close to me, where Reverend McTouchy turned out to be guilty.

          When the news broke about the Duggars, all she could say is, “What about those poor little girls, what about those poor little girls?”

          Yup. This is the missing perspective–from all sides. The media gets excited because nothing gets them off like a good scandal (and it sure doesn’t hurt that he represents a lot of things that media types tend to be quite opposed to), and it’s all “Josh did it Josh did it everyone look at Josh!” The wagon circlers get defensive (at least a little bit because they sense that the media are enjoying seeing one of their tribe take such an icky, public fall), and it’s all “Jesus died for the worst, nothing Josh did is unforgivable, what about grace for Josh?” Either way, the focus is JOSH JOSH JOSH JOSH. (Which, BTW, feeds the sort of narcissistic tendencies to which reality TV stars and serial abusers are prone).

          In the meantime, no one can spare a thought for the victims.

          • Christiane says

            “In the meantime, no one can spare a thought for the victims.”

            looking out at the blogosphere, there is a lot of the anger over on SBCvoices is directed towards the ‘media’ and towards the ‘gays’ who are seen as feigning ‘outrage’ towards ‘precious JOSH’
            . . . no real surprise there, and the one woman who came to speak for the true victims was lectured by the powers that be . . . well, God bless her, she tried against deaf ears and closed minds, but still she tried

            then, when you go to Wade Burleson’s blog ‘Istoria’, there you will find some real compassion for the true victims

            not all Southern Baptists are circling the wagons around ‘precious Josh’ at the expense of the victims
            . . . and I thank God for this, as it is a sign of some members surviving within that denomination who have not have fallen into that darkness out of which crawls misogyny and ‘male-gender’ worship

    • Tim, thank you for sharing that. I’ve noticed that a lot of the prosecutors for such crimes in my area are women, and they’re very aggressive in their work, thank God. They’ve seen what you’ve seen, and I think some have experienced it themselves.

  5. I have a particular opinion about all this.

  6. ” To view child pornography is to be involved in crime of violence against children.”

    I would agree with Robert on this one. In these scandals, the issue isn’t celibacy or not being sexually fulfilled. I mean a monk or priest could sleep with a prostitute or a lay member. An adult could do likewise. There is some type of twisted lust for power involved. A power that can corrupt the innocent or deform somebody permanently. A lust to control someone like a puppet. Why & how they link sex to this, I don’t know.

    In Ballarat Australia, the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse has uncovered horrific abuse by Catholic clergy. It is probably the worst in the country. The result is that over 40 people have committed suicide. You can read about it here: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/churchs-suicide-victims-20120412-1wwox.html

    Not sure how annulment would fit in with this. Maybe in “being unequally yoked”. I mean it says somewhere that if you don’t love the brother you see, then you don’t love God. So this person’s Christianity is a farce.

  7. Clay Crouch says

    This makes the shepherding movement that flourished in charismatic circles during the 70’s and early 80’s look like amateur hour. It left in its wake shipwrecked marriages and believers.

    What appears to be happening now in this vocal and not so small subset of American evangelicalism is a convergence of dogmas that is proving to be a lethal cocktail. These winsome dogmas, to name a few, include worship of the bible, no external oversight, membership covenants, church discipline, and patriarchal complementarianism. These churches are beginning to look like feudal kingdoms with kings (pastors), nobles (elders), knights (deacons) and peasants (you and me).

    Maybe this is what the collapse of American evangellicalism looks like.

    • What encourages me is that, in this internet age, churches are not going to be able to get away with this stuff.

      • Clay Crouch says

        Let’s hope so. But the men involved in this movement are not “flakes”. They are articulate, educated products of the most prestigious evangelical seminaries (many affiliated with the SBC) with large followings; not self-taught pastors of strip-mall “bible churches”. It almost makes the recent “troubles” in our respective denominations seem trivial.

      • I want to believe you on this, I really do. Yet I can go watch Jimmy Swaggart on TV and hear him on the radio still. Benny Hinn is out there (and inexplicably has the otherwise respected Canon Andrew White on his show and other events now and then). Todd Bentley and Mark Driscoll laid low for a little while and resurfaced.

        I guess my concern isn’t that it won’t be exposed, my concern is that no one will care, and the partisans (on every side) will simply findeasier ways explain away abuses of power and trust.

        • What you say is true. Online opinionating doesn’t necessarily translate into change. However, we might want to ask Mark Driscoll about that.

        • You can fool some of the people all of the time…

        • Benny Hinn is out there (and inexplicably has the otherwise respected Canon Andrew White on his show and other events now and then).

          My mother was a big fan of his (and other nutty TV preachers) up till her death last year. She gave them $1000s over the last decade or so. In her mind they were just suffering attacks of Satan by those wish to attack the message of Christ.

          Think of someone with hands over their ears yelling “la la la la la” .

      • We hear about this incident because it is at a megachurch, so the discussion gets a megaphone to amplify awareness of it. If it happened at a median church of say 100-300 people, there probably would not be any real visibility. And the next family thinking about going to that church almost certainly would not hear of it.

        • Clay Crouch says

          You are absolutely right. The Village Church is also affiliated with the 9Marks organization. They are on the leading edge of the patriarchal, membership covenants, and church discipline dogmas that are spreading in evangelical churches. While 9Marks disclaims the assumption of endorsement, there are over 3000 churches listed in their “Find A Church” database. Most of which I’m sure are small to medium sized.

          • The Wartburg Watch has been covering these topics in depth for several years now. Just my rec; i have tremendous respect for the women who run that blog, as well as for the work they do. Their research is nothing if not thorough.

      • What encourages me is that, in this internet age, churches are not going to be able to get away with this stuff.

        Amen. But when you block the Internet from kids and steadily control and inform the adults in a church what is “true” and “righteous” compared to “liberal” and “attacks from Satan meant to deceive”…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      This makes the shepherding movement that flourished in charismatic circles during the 70’s and early 80’s look like amateur hour. It left in its wake shipwrecked marriages and believers.

      I was on the fringe of the Shepherding Movement, and I can attest it is a control freak’s wet dream.

      • Clay Crouch says

        As was I in my early 20’s. A scary nightmare for the rest of us.

        • Ditto, early to mid 20’s. It’s still around. Just doesn’t have the name attached anymore.

          And it’s more destructive than ever.

          • I’m not sure about it being more destructive, only that it’s bringing more destruction because it’s more widespread.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            “Just doesn’t have the name attached anymore.”

            And so ChEKA renames itself OGPU which renames itself NKVD which renames itself KGB.
            But whatever the name, they never miss their liquidation quotas in GULAG.

    • Did the shepherding movement ever stop? Maybe in name, but did the majority of believers in it actually repent and correct themselves?

      We’re in Shepherding 2.0 currently. Nothing truly goes away, it just morphs and evolves. I’m sure there is a huge correlation between patriarchy/quiverfull/purity culture, all of this…and leadership that either started the Shepherding Movement or were greatly influenced/converted by the Sheperding leadership.

      • No, it just keeps undergoing name changes, and the people pushing it change. I lived through it during the 70s and early 80s.

      • Clay Crouch says

        Perhaps it did morph. In the past it was a fringe movement relegated to either charismatics looking for a “deeper life in the spirit” club or hardshell fundamentalist. Now a lot of these churches, The Village Church for example, are associated with the SBC and their pastors have been trained at major evangelical seminaries.

        • Get them young while they are in high school and college, and when they depart they will bring their teachings with them.

          Campus ministries are rarely about conversions. It’s all about indoctrination.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            “Give me your children for five years and I will make them mine. You will pass away, but they will remain Mine.”
            — A.Hitler, cult leader

          • @Headless Unicorn

            I can find no source for that quote. In about 3 places I can find online–none of them particularly trustworthy–it’s attributed to Lenin.

        • 9Marks is repackaged discipleship,with some Gothardism and Calvinism thrown in…

  8. I found, as I read through the documents, that the language of the the church leaders was really starting to bother me. It seemed all like a smoke screen, designed to soften edges and obscure things rather than make them clear. They need to be asked what specifically does “binding up wounds” mean, for example? Walking alongside? Supporting in their time of trial? These are cliches, empty, unconsidered noises meant to create feelings but not communicate any real information.

    I’m not just editing: I believe that language both expresses thought and makes thought possible. What kind of deep, particular insight can a person have who speaks and thinks in cliches?

    • Clay Crouch says


    • Damaris, this is a most pertinent point. It’s also why we spend so much time here on IM demythologizing Christian-speak and focusing on the importance of language.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “The language of the church leaders” read like a parody of Christianese Buzzword Bingo. To the point it is literally impossible to parody them, their Christianese is so thick and dense. You could program a bot with nothing but Christianese buzzwords and phrases and it’d be more understandable.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I found, as I read through the documents, that the language of the the church leaders was really starting to bother me.

      You mean the exercises in Who Hath the Densest Christianese?

      Wartburg Watch has been on this for at least a week.

      • Yes, thanks HUG. Wartburg Watch is on our links list on the right hand column of the page. I encourage readers who are interested to follow their more in-depth coverage of this story.

        • maybe in this case, a link somewhere in your post would be a good thing… just a suggestions. I mean, people aren’t going to be able to figure out that a particular blog is covering something unless they either already know or click *all the links* in you link list. That’s a heckofa lotta sites.

          • Another good resource:

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            You can get to Spiritual Sounding Board through a link from Wartburg Watch, but their pages load kind of slow.

          • I’ve noticed that it’s slow too, but thought it was my connection, somewhere down east in Maine. Yours in Southern Cal should be fast enough.

            Julie Anne? Are you reading this? Please fix.

            Another good resource is Jeri Massi’s Blog on the Way, although she’s more about independent fundamental churches. She wrote an article on May 23rd about the Duggar affair.

          • I’ve noticed that it’s slow too, but thought it was my connection, somewhere down east in Maine. Yours in Southern Cal should be fast enough. Julie Anne? Are you reading this? Please fix.

            Seems fine for me just now.

            Most likely due to hosting loads of her provider.

      • This.

        When a church gets too involved in its own language that it largely made up, run.

        • The churches that borrowed the corporate model of “leadership” (top-down BoD/CEO dictatorship) are now borrowing the corporate model of Orwell-speak.

          Surprised, you should not be.

    • Damaris, I think you have some insight here. Also, when I rearrange the communications from TVC in Chronological order, something stands out. The first chronologically is the email from Steve Hardin where he said “Have we tried to help push her under our care?” That was quickly written (thirteen minutes from her prior email) and reflects an off the cuff remark – it is also one that apparently was not intended for her to see.

      What sticks out to me in that sentence is the phrase “push her under”. Both “push” and “under” are problems. Pushing someone who is hurting is not caring for them. “Under” is the reverse of “over”. So it reveals a power relationship in the mind of the pastors, in which the pastors are seen to have power and she is denied power.

      This keeps coming back to me as an indication of what has gone wrong here. In all later communications from the church, the phrasing is cleaned up to become “care for” her. But I believe the meaning of “care for” in all the later communications is revealed by this unguarded initial sentence.

    • This is such an important point; something that Orwell knew well.

  9. I may not fully understand the idea of being in a covenant relationship with an organization or church, but the mentality that says “you’re bound to us, and we have to power to decide when, if and why you can ever resign…that’s an odd concept to me. If I was Karen, I would keep walking and not look back.

    • Rick Ro. says

      +1. This is when a church and leaders drift from it being about Jesus to it being about power and control.

  10. Both cases are pertinent because they show the ongoing pattern we have seen with Gothard, SGM, Bob Jones U, etc. These institutions/churches/families have shown that the actual victims are not their main concern. What is most important is their reputation, or their theological system, or perhaps their means of income. To the point that the victims are treated like they are the perpetrators. How in the world have we gotten things so backwards?

    It honestly scares me to think how much stuff like this is going on that never reaches the public eye.

  11. One flaw I see in the coverage is that so many (not just here) are commenting – and TVC is speaking – as if this was a divorce. The link for the documents page says “after a recent annulment was finalized”. Annulments are not divorces. One site describing Texas law summarizes it this way: “a divorce ends a valid marriage, while an annulment ends a marriage that should not have been valid to begin with.” It seems pretty obvious that the grounds for annulment was fraud “Fraud – one spouse lied about or hid something essential to the marriage”, which has the additional requirement that the spouses stop living together as soon as the fraud is discovered.

    I don’t see anything to show that TVC has yet realized that Jordan sinned in even pursuing the marriage on a fraudulent basis, and that they are seeking to reward his fraud.

    • Yes, excellent point.

    • I was really wondering about that. I thought “annulment” was like some sort of Catholic thing, which I thought really odd to hear coming from a neo-Puritain congregation.

      • Apparently it’s a legal thing, too, Miguel, which I did not know.

        • Richard Hershberger says

          Annulment is most certainly a civil law thing, and has been since forever. I suspect that it comes from canon law originally, but don’t know that for sure. My somewhat dated edition of Black’s Law Dictionary says “An annulment differs conceptually from a divorce in that a divorce terminates a legal status, whereas an annulment establishes that a marital status never existed.”

          A classic basis for an annulment might be that one of the persons is already married. This is, by the way, the point of the bit with the priest inviting the assembly to speak now or forever keep your mouth shut. The idea is not that someone will protest that the couple is all wrong for each other, but that if anyone knows of a previous marriage that has somehow now previously arisen in conversation, now is the time to mention it. In any case, since a person cannot be lawfully married to two people at once, it follows that the second marriage was no marriage at all, and an annulment is the sorting out of paperwork.

          Another classic ground for annulment is that the marriage was never consummated, that being the final step to perfecting the legal status of the marriage. For high stakes marriages, where a lot of property was one the line, this could lead to witnesses in the bedchamber, or at least listening outside the door. I am skeptical of the stories about bed sheets and chicken blood, which in any case or more about the virginity of the bride than the act of consummation, but you never know.

          A more modern example of annulment would be the couple that wake up in Vegas with no idea how they got there, and finds some awkward paperwork from the wedding chapel. In a rom-com the two will, after various wacky happenings taking about an hour and a half of film time, come to the realization that they are in fact soulmates, and will live happily ever after. In real life they are more likely to rapidly–perhaps before the coffee is ready–realize what a bad idea this was, and file for an annulment. The ground is of consent, that being another necessary element for a lawful marriage, and the impossibility of consenting while inebriated.

          • Thanks for the background. It’s starting to make sense why she might want an annulment rather than a divorce. Wouldn’t this have the affect of eliminating her claim on alimony and possibly restricting some of his parental rights? Perhaps it allows for a cleaner break than “split it all 50-50.”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            For high stakes marriages, where a lot of property was one the line, this could lead to witnesses in the bedchamber, or at least listening outside the door.

            Pre-Revolutionary French Royal marriages (when political power and entire countries were inherited as per any other personal property) required eyewitnesses and written records.

  12. I am most certainly disturbed by these proceedings, and though Chandler claims there is more to the story, I cannot imagine what sort of “more” would justify their actions. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it does seem tremendously unlikely.

    But something I’m missing here is how this is connected to Patriarchy. I know many have a lot of disdain for the neo-cals and would relegate Chandler tot he Driscoll/Wilson/Piper/Mahaney good-ol-boys club, a member in good standing with the CBMW insiders, but there’s a lot missing there aside form guilty by association. I tuned most of these guys out long ago, but I listened to Chandler for years and don’t recall constant harping on gender roles or “Biblical Womenhood.” Chandler, for the most part, seemed to go after men and hold their feet to the fire for the proper treatment of women. He would often, from the pulpit, confess his own failures to be a gentle, loving husband.

    May I remind you of a case where they excommunicated a man for leaving his wife and bringing his girlfriend to church where she would have to watch. I believe they even projected his photo so that others could “mark and avoid.”

    A misogynist pig and chauvinist bigot Chandler is not. You can pin that on many neo-Cals, but I am missing the elements of this story (haven’t looked too closely yet) that show any misogyny beyond that the victim happens to be female.

    This is not me defending their actions, as far as I can determine they have crossed several lines. But I have a sneaking suspicion that 1. Their decisions would not have changed if the genders of the couple were reversed, and 2. To them this is about the sanctity of marriage and not permitting divorce as an institution. Oddly enough, they’d probably have had an easier time getting their marriage annulled by the Catholic church, and when neo-Puritans become more stringent than that, it’s time to reconsider a few things.

    I remain convinced (but open to more evidence) that their decisions in this matter have nothing to do with the fact that the victim is a woman, and those claiming otherwise need to bring forth more substantiation than “Look! He’s friends with Driscoll!” Bear in mind, Chandler also excommunicated Driscoll. You can not equate the two just because they are from the same tradition. There is a marked difference in character. I don’t see how anybody could listen to their preaching and not see a huge divide between the two guys.

    Here is why I believe TVC has decided thus: As a mark of neo-Puritan discipleship, the church leadership always assumes a heavy handed “third use of the law.” Members are accountable to elders for their behavior, and the elders are responsible to make sure certain sins are not permitted in the assembly. Those caught in the sin are given the option to repent or leave. Really standard stuff, it’s just a continuation of Paul’s “expel the immoral brother” that most churches these days are too impotent to consider seriously. My own congregation has, in it’s history, excommunicated one or two couples for cohabitation before marriage.

    But the neo-Cals go too far with this by making one of the primary responsibilities of the clergy, and giving them far too much authority in matters of the law. Their “third use of the law” goes wild with far too many detailed prescriptions as the iron-tight control of church leadership, like the ecclesial version of big government, begins to micromanage too many aspects of the members’ lives, to the exclusion of Christian freedom.

    In this particular instance, I can see how their reasoning goes, “he did not have sexual relations with another person, therefore we cannot condone the divorce.” I think they are operating out of fear that if they allow divorce for this reason, they may begin to have an ever growing list of exceptions to “for better or worse, till death do us part,” to the point that, like most everywhere else, those words never really mean much.

    However, because of the coercion involved, child porn does cross that line, I believe. Rather than flying in with their cape to rescue and restore this marriage, I believe the right thing for the elders to do is to simply recognize their limitations. Be sympathetic with what this poor woman is going through. Realize that no amount of church pressure is going to change her mind. If they REALLY want the marriage to be healed and restored, that can only happen if she is first allowed to confront her pain, even if this includes acting out of it by terminating the relationship. If they cannot allow room for this to happen, they are essentially telling her that her feelings do not matter and she is responsible to stuff them down and soldier on. There are times in marriage where we will all have to bear the burdens of our spouses shortcomings. This simply is not one of them.

    I understand the consequence of saying that men who look at regular porn are guilty of adultery and their wives are free to leave. I don’t know if I would go that far, but I don’t think I would judge a woman who found that too hard to live with or reconcile. I feel like this is kind of a grey area. I know there are tons of marriages who have survived that issue, but it has to be grace which keeps them together, not the power of the law saying “you’re stuck here, work it out.”

    • Another thing is that Chandler himself has been open and forthcoming about having struggled with porn in his past. I don’t remember whether this was prior to or during his marriage, but unlike most preachers, he admitted that it was while he was a Christian. Perhaps there is some lingering guilt on the part of the church leadership that factors into this equation. Perhaps some are concerned that if divorced is permitted for this reason then they’re all hung. Perhaps this fear is preventing them from seeing clearly to make some important distinctions here.

    • Chandler, for the most part, seemed to go after men and hold their feet to the fire for the proper treatment of women. He would often, from the pulpit, confess his own failures to be a gentle, loving husband.

      Definitions here, more than likely. Failure to properly treat women as patriarchy/complementarian desires? Failure to be the “spiritual leader”, etc? Maybe that’s it.

      Disclaimer – I’ve also been a Chandler fanboy for years, although I quit listening to him regularly a while back.

      A misogynist pig and chauvinist bigot Chandler is not.

      No, he’s not. He’s one of the good ones, truly. But that doesn’t change his thinking or theology. Just means he’s actually a decent person, one that maybe God is working on, through, with.

      In many ways, I’m willing to give Chandler the benefit of the doubt and wait and see for things. BUT…the theology and underlining thinking is still problematic. Chandler may be decent despite it.

      With him…I’m hoping for the best.

      • Exactly. My issues with his theology have increased over the years (especially since I’ve heard him pushing certain Charismatic things). But when it comes to definitions, they were fairly generous. He basically said that the husband has to let the wife have her way. There were very few things he was willing to let the husband use his authority for, things such as “We will be a Christian household and raise our children in the church.” But according to him, Lauren picks all the music when they drive in the car. He views even the smaller details like that as part of his responsibility as husbands to lay down their lives for their wives. So as far as complimentarians go, these guys are really the softest extreme where problems of that sort rarely crop up.

        I remember when he was chewing out the guy who left his wife and came to church with his girlfriend. From the pulpit. His very words were, “You’re not welcome here. This church is a safe place for her. Not for you.” He just tends to be much more hard on men.

        • I applaud his doing that. Shows so much of who he is. Amen.

        • Robert F says

          “So as far as complimentarians go, these guys are really the softest extreme where problems of that sort rarely crop up.”

          A boatload of repressed and resentful religious authoritarianism can grow in the shadows of soft complementarianism. Benevolent dictatorships are still dictatorships, and may flip to their darker side at any moment.

    • Robert F says

      The longstanding habits of patriarchy, and a church controlled by patriarchal thinking, is why the wife is being disciplined in this case. The patriarchal set-up of the church involved invites the kind of abuse of religious power that has been exhibited in this case. The substantiation is this: if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it most likely is a duck.

      • Robert F, the Village Church would call itself complementarian, not patriarchal. No church calls itself patriarchal—in fact, I’m sitting in these days on a “Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood” class (based on material by Piper and Grudem) that goes out of its way to proclaim that this stuff is not patriarchy.

        But I suspect otherwise. So I’m with you on this:

        “if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it most likely is a duck.”

      • Sorry Robert, if you want to accuse them of being unfair to women, you have to demonstrate why her being a woman is what caused this decision. I don’t think you can, unless you care to prove me wrong. In some churches, you could. There’s enough gone wrong in this situation without making it a gender issue. It’s a control issue, it’s a legalism issue, and it’s an authority issue. Read the rest of my comments: TVC is an equal opportunity law applier, they do not hesitate to throw the husband under the bus in other cases.

    • I think complementarianism does come in play here. But probably not as directly as in some other neo-cal settings. What seems to me to be the issue is that of authority. Karen Hinckley was a “covenant member” of TVC and had agreed to(signed?) some document saying so. TVC seems to follow some kind of 9 Marks teaching on the authority of the local church in the lives of believers. Which basically boils down to the elders feel like they have a lot of say in the spiritual areas of her life. Even to the point of not “releasing” her to join another church because she broke covenant with TVC. And even if they did they would have to approve of the church.

      In this case they say she has to come before the church to work out resolution in her marriage first. But then she goes and leaves anyway. For what I think are good reasons but, in my opinion, are probably more galling because she is a woman.

      It’s hard to explain the whole authority thing. Read some of the statements put out by TVC in relation to Ms Hinckley and you begin to get a picture.

      • Exactly. This all about their church polity, not their gender ideology. Given how I’ve seen them treat men, I remain unconvinced their decision would be changed if the genders were reversed. I’m sure it’s possible, but it would have to be demonstrated beyond “look, these guys are against woman pastors, so everything they do is against women.”

        And who frankly gives a damn if the elders “release you” to join another church. Do it anyways, they have no legal recourse (unless you’ve given it to them by signing some sort of legally binding contract). If they have to approve the church, they’re seeking far too much control to ever be Pastoral. The authority of the Pastor is ONLY in the Gospel. The king wields the authority of the law.

        • Robert F says

          What kind of legally binding contract could keep you in a church? It would have to invalidate the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religion; I can’t see how that could be possible.

          • Dana Ames says


            Wartburg Watch has done some articles on membership covenants. To some extent, they are legally binding, as in one is voluntarily signing it to be part of a voluntary organization. That’s why they should not be signed. See WW for more than enough info on this.


          • Robert F says

            Thanks, Dana.

            This is scary stuff on top of scary stuff.

          • Robert F says

            I went to WW and read a couple of the pertinent articles. This is nightmarish stuff. There is nothing remotely Christ-like in any of it.

          • Robert, I thought that too. What can they possibly do if you walk away? But apparently there are some congregations out there, usually either Reformed or cults, that actually require a membership covenant with some tricky legal language to it, and too often people are clueless enough to sign them! I don’t know if this is the case with TVC, but I wager we’re all about to find out soon.

          • and too often people are clueless enough to sign them!

            Do you read your software license agreements when they pop up on your computer? Or do you just click through them?

            We’ve become inured to such things. Well most of us. 🙂

    • Men who regularly look at porn are actually rewiring their brains so that they eventually may not respond physically to a live woman, I.e the wife. They often develop ED. They pull away, abandon the wife emotionally and then resent her “just because”. They destroy all trust. They prefer pictures or videos because they can fulfill their sexual fantasy with a picture where a real woman might not fill that bill. They tend to lie. And lie some more to cover up. They do blame shifting , destroying a woman’s self esteem I order to keep their addiction going. The wife becomes an object and has little value. Her needs are not taken seriously because after all, she is only an object. So I can guarantee you that the wife of a porn addict. Is a neglected, abused, shamed, resented woman. And she did not cause her husband to do porn.

      And that’s for srtarters. It’s proven medically regarding the rewiring of the brain and the ED. And the rest is all known by people who deal with porn addicts.

      So, if the church is really going to look at the fact that about 50% of Christian men are porn addicts, they will have to get serious about the mountains of damage heaped upon their families. Wives, children, extended family.

      To date, I have yet to hear of any church that will take this on openly. I suppose too many lives can be ruined. But, maybe it’s time that we at least acknowledged that this is marriage and family destroying stuff and stop pretending as some have here that is it not quite as serious as it is.

      Having lived this nightmare, I speak from experience. I don’t sugar coat it or make light of it. It is a life destroying addiction that, with the grace of God, and a LOT of time, can be overcome. But to repair a marriage that’s had many years of this garbage at it’s center, is extremely difficult. Without God, I don’t know how it’s possible.

      I can’t speak for TVC. Time will tell, won’t it? I find all of this incredibly sad and wonder if it has come to light partly to
      bring the topic of porn in Christianity to light –to get some people free. To heal families. To reveal God’s heart.

      Men in power who are religious is an old story. The Pharisees were not a lot different in Jesus’s day than many of these in the corporate church culture. We seem to focus a lot of time on them and less on those they hurt. Sad stuff.


      • Thanks for your openness. I hope your journey has had some sun after the rain.

        TVC does take porn addiction seriously. If anything, they take it more seriously than most by far. The lead pastor confessed his struggles with it, is accountable to others to stay clean, and they run numerous recovery programs to help men walk in freedom from it. They are fighting that battle head on. They frequently address the issue and makes no compromise about it.

        The science you refer to is legit, but not universal. I think that porn addiction is not nearly as common as porn use. I think some people are predisposed to it. The comparison was made to alcohol, but many neuroscientists liken it more to heroin. We’re dealing with serious stuff, and I don’t think it is being reactionary to call it epidemic. However, every individual is unique, and it hooks some far more than others.

        Honestly, the women hurt by men using is the untold story of this all. There’s so much focus on getting the men clean, you rarely hear of programs to help the wives find healing. Then again, half the women I know don’t mind their husband/boyfriend using, so there’s a little naiveté on the other side there too.

        But one thing I think you’re really missing here:

        They prefer pictures or videos because they can fulfill their sexual fantasy with a picture where a real woman might not fill that bill.

        I understand what you mean, but this is untrue in some ways. The porn world promises a fulfillment it can never deliver. It isn’t how God designed to meet that need (trying not to lean to hard on natural law here), but ultimately, there is never a picture naked enough to satisfy the craving for intimacy. That men turn to porn to satisfy this is like the compulsive gambler who knows he’ll never win. They bet the farm because they’ve lost all hope in the appropriate venues.

        I’m not saying the wife is to blame, often these issues predate the marriage, or arise in spite of a caring spouse. But there is much more to it than simple stimulation and satisfaction. Sex is not like a hamburger, it goes much deeper.

  13. Rick Ro. says

    Lots of good comments on a really disgusting situation.

    After I move beyond my disgust, I’m left with a deep sadness. Look at how Christ is being presented here. He’s either NOT being presented, or he’s being presented as a savior more interested in appearance than hurt and pain and compassion. And once again we have a situation that, if I were a non-believer or an outsider, I’d think, “Why would I want to follow the savior THEY believe in?”

    Oh, Jesus…have mercy, and somehow let YOUR light shine through this.

    • I do wonder if the increasing secularization of America is influenced by decade after decade of scandal in so many parts of the Church, coupled with the general view that evangelical Christians and their positions = all Christians. When I look around my anecdotalsphere, I see a lot of Nones who wouldn’t touch the faith with a 10-foot pole, and an increasing number of Dones who have witnessed these things on a personal basis and eventually lost hope.

      • I’m sure some of it does. I still recall the televangelist scandals of the 80s. I’m sure the Catholic Church lost a lot of nominal members, and a lesser fraction of regular attenders, through their scandals of a decade ago.

  14. Has anyone else noticed or thought through the similarities between porn and alcohol? What occurs when prohibition is enforced? What occurs when a healthy, reasonable view and use is encouraged and taught early?

    Why are there so many similarities?

    • Stuart, i think it’s nevessary to have a reasonably vlear definition of what porn is – and isn’t – before trying to make comparisons.

      I think ofmporn as what is produced by the porn industry plus “amateurs,” while others think the use ofmthe nude figuremin art is porn. (I got slammed while,in undergrad figure drawing classes by people who had that view, since we worked from nude models, male and female.)

      • Apologies for all the typos! Stupid tablet (grumble grumble grumble).

      • Fully agreed, numo!

      • It may depend on whether it’s a legal definition, or a personal / moral / Church definition. Some would consider nude art to be pornography, others would not. [Side note: I sent two of my daughters to a Christian college, my alma mater. One of them studied evolution in her bio classes, the other drew nude models in her art classes—so I guess it can be subjective.]

        A legal definition of child pornography however, revolves around the age of the subject (under 18 technically, with additional weight if the subject/victim is pre-pubescent); and either a “lascivious” display of the minor’s genitalia, or an image of sexual acts performed upon the minor. I’m sure this varies among states, and may be changing—likely becoming more strict if anything.

        A key word is “lascivious” display—otherwise medical journals could not include illustrations. Bare bottoms don’t count in a display, although a teacher or church worker (or anyone else) photographing children in this manner could certainly get fired although not arrested. But bare bottoms may become included, and you’ll notice that the Coppertone Girl no longer advertises.

        The sexual exploitation of children is also key, so even if genitalia are not visible in the image it’s still prosecutable if there’s an act going on.

  15. Clay Crouch says

    I don’t really think that the problem at The Village Church has anything to do per se, with porn, pedophilia or even marriage and divorce, for that matter. From this outsider looking in, the problem is a church whose leadership is consumed with managing the most intimate details of an adult believer’s life. Either through “owner’s manual” style preaching and teaching or, if that fails, through “church discipline”. I’d bet their motives are far from fiendish but nonetheless, the story playing out is exactly what you hope to see when a member engages her brain and says enough is enough. Now, that might really scare the leadership.

  16. Radagast says

    I find the article intriguing and also many of the comments as I am a Catholic and have gone through the changes iain the Church first hand since the Priest Pedophilia scandals hit over 10 years ago.

    ” There will be many voices calling for “grace” for the husband caught in his sin. I agree with those voices. But I do not agree with all the addendum to that call for grace that would deprive the same for the wife/victim. Grace for him does not mean she, the church, and law enforcement have no recourse for action against him.”

    The Catholic Church fell down trying to “fix” priests caught up in this activity. They sent them for psychological counseling, retreats, moved them to different parishes etc and over time found this did not cure the problem. These days if there is an accusation the Priest is pulled from active ministry until an investigation is done by civil authorities. If there is credible evidence the priest is banned indefinitely and the civil authorities continue with prosecution.

    There is no rehabilitation. The person in question has maneuvered themselves into a position close to children. They are forever tempted until they cross the line.

    Every Church, and secular group dealing with children should be held to the same standard. The relationship of wife, and of congregation is ancillary. In the end though it is the job of the church to have compassion and to help those who seek forgiveness. But that also means the church has the responsibility of making sure he is never alone with children.

    Many came out hard against the Catholic Church on this issue (and rightly so)…. it should be continued anywhere there are holes in the system… including those churches without any hierarchal structure.

  17. I just want to say that I haven’t been here in awhile (job change has led to less reading time); when I saw the headline I came straight here. I figured that if there was a place to find a discerning, balanced and civil discussion it would be at IM. Sure enough, that’s just what I found. Thanks to all, Michael would be proud.

    P.S. Not saying it’s not this way normally here– just that on this issue it’s the only place I’ve felt a civil tone dominating the comments.

  18. Robert F says

    The story being discussed here is about the abuse of power; it’s not about pornography. Pedophilia is a crime of power, not sexuality; and the disciplining of the wife for leaving her husband in the wake of his alleged pedophile behavior is an abuse of ecclesial power. Yet somehow much of the discussion has been around the subject of pornography. I think that diverts us from the true nature of the problem here.

    • Yes, I agree.

    • But isn’t it interesting and revealing how the conversation went almost immediately to the subject.

      • Robert F says

        The third comment down from the top started the thread down that path; I tried to adjust back to issues of power with my comments, but the other subject was just too…sexy….to compete with.

      • It’s an important topic, and clearly related.

        Abuse of power is the greater sin, for sure.

    • Agreed, Robert. Thanks for bringing us back on topic.

    • What I don’t understand is how the church thinks it has authority here. I have read the church’s (ridiculous, unbiblical, verbose, and despicable) covenant, and I’m not sure the church has a case. The bottom line is that in the eyes of Texas law, Karen was never married. Now the church has essentially broadcast her business to 6,000 strangers. I believe she has strong grounds for a lawsuit, and hope she pursues it.

      • ” The bottom line is that in the eyes of Texas law, Karen was never married. Now the church has essentially broadcast her business to 6,000 strangers. I believe she has strong grounds for a lawsuit, and hope she pursues it.”

        Excellent point.

    • Robert, what do you have against talking about porn? You don’t like to discuss porn? It’s a great topic. We should discuss it more often!


  19. Patrick Kyle says

    Having been down the road of Internet lynchings and witch hunts in the past (Read my public retraction of comments during the Mars Hill Church Discipline case a couple years ago on the NRP blog) I am hesitant to stoke the fires of righteous indignation. I greatly respect Mr. Redmond and think he is probably the best blogger in the Christian Blogosphere. However, I have several questions.

    1. His wife has accused him of viewing and possessing child pornography and of being a pedophile.

    2.. Possession of, or viewing of child pornography is a felony federal offense in every State in the Union. Where are the police reports? Is there an investigation pending?

    3. If there are no police reports, how come she has not reported him to the police? How come the Missionary agency did not report him to the police?

    4. Have any victims or parents of victims come forward? If he is a pedophile, there ARE victims.

    5.Has Mr. Root made any public statements regarding this situation?

    My intent is not to defend this guy or make light of the charges against him, but to urge caution in our rush to judgement, and to avoid a situation where we all are confidently asserting ‘truths’ that aren’t.

    The fact is, we all exercise monumental faith in things that we have no primary source material for. We fall prey to the words and images we find most convincing that pour into our homes and cars via the internet, satellite TV, and the radio. We are forced to believe the newspapers and TVs because for the most part, we have no direct knowledge of the people and events we hear about or watch on an electronic screen. We believe it because someone we don’t even know has told us it happened. This is why I put less and less stock in the internet and none whatsoever in TV and radio.

    • Robert F says

      These are all good points and questions. Right now these are just allegations, and not even legal allegations at that. Thanks for calling my attention to what should be obvious to me, but that I lost sight of in the heat of discussion.

      • Exactly. They appear to be solid enough to be granted a divorce/annulment for the wife and some kind of disciplinary and restorative process for Mr. Root, but given the gravity of the charges, where are the police?

    • Robert F says

      I think the question of whether or not any of this has been reported to the police is a very important one. If child pornography was in fact intentionally sought out and viewed, the federal law prohibiting pedophilia has been violated, and it’s incumbent on anyone who has evidence and suspects that this crime was committed to report it to the authorities. Does anyone know if law enforcement authorities have been made aware of this situation?

    • So you clearly have not actually read the story…

      • Robert F says

        I confess that I did not read the information on the link carefully. The international dimension of this escaped me completely.

      • Patrick Kyle says

        I did. As Erp has noted, it’s still breaking US Sex Tourism laws. Also, did this tendency just appear while overseas? Neither the wife nor the Missions Agency had absolutely any clue before his stay abroad? There is no evidence from his extensive contact with children here in the states? No complaints or reports? Zero computer evidence?

        If this guy is guilty he needs to be in jail. I have a friend who is a psychologist who worked with sex offenders for a county in SoCal. He told me that, as far as he was able to tell, and the studies seemed to indicate, pedophilia is incurable ( an ‘orientation’ if you will). He said that adult pedophiles have long histories of using child porn, and usually a trail of suspicion, complaints, and even reports and accusations in their wake. He said they do not change, and are highly skilled manipulators and liars. ( This friend later switched to working with substance abuse offenders. He said it was less depressing.)

        All that being said, given my own past experience with ‘open and shut cases’ and the recent debacle in Rolling Stone Magazine and the guy in New York who’s accuser carried around the mattress on which he ‘raped’ her, I am more than a little wary of playing judge, jury and executioner on the internet. These people were stone cold guilty…until law enforcement authorities (in the case of the latter two examples) found out they had been falsely accused.

        I will not further belabor the point. It is my hope, that if the guy is guilty, he goes directly to jail. However, let’s be absolutely positive the charges are everything they appear to be before we whip up into a self righteous frenzy.

        • Patrick, Jordan confessed. Are you implying that he might have been lying? In a lot of ways that is more disturbing than the alternative. I really don’t know what you are trying to say here. It isn’t as if Jordan is protesting his innocence. And please refrain from projecting on your audience.

          • Patrick Kyle says

            ” It isn’t as if Jordan is protesting his innocence. .” Do we know this for sure?

            Here is the red flag for me, why hasn’t the wife, the Missionary Agency, or the Village Church filed a police report? How are they any different from the Duggars, SGM, or any other organization that has not involved law enforcement when something like this comes to light? Are they going to handle it ‘in house’ too? If they have a confession witnessed by at least two people, that should get some traction with Law Enforcement. If the guy has confessed, they should be able to obtain a search warrant and tear apart his computer to see what he has been viewing.

            Pastor’s and Helping professionals are bound by law to report this kind of abuse. Given his long history of contact with children I find it troubling that there has been no mention of notifying the proper authorities or of any investigation. It’s not enough to kick him off the Mission Field, for his wife to leave him, and for the church to engage in some kind of restorative process, this is also a matter of law. This is the same thing we criticize the RCC and places like SGM for.

          • Robert F says

            Patrick Kyle, According to Karen’s testimony in this link,


            the authorities were alerted by the TVC, but because of the particular situation and the absence of complainants, the police cannot bring charges. At issue is that, though Jordan has acknowledged what he’s done, he possesses no illegal materials, and none of his foreign victims has lodged a complaint. So the fact that this happened internationally probably is going to prevent justice from being served in this case, despite his confession.

        • Robert F says

          I think there is a long history of so-called civilized people enacting horrible personal outrages of sexual coercion and violence against indigenous peoples in colonial outposts, outrages that they would never act out back home. Let’s call it “The Heart of Darkness” Syndrome.

  20. Late to the porn party here, but here’s one old lady’s take on it: Men love technology and men love pornography, so we can expect huge portions of the internet to be devoted to pornography of all sorts. IMO, if men view “consenting adults” porn, it’s not a legal issue, and I’m not sure to what extent it is a moral issue. Also IMO, it is sad and degrading to view such porn, but if it gets ya through the night, I’m not sure how immoral it is. Now in the case of married men, they need to make sure their wives are OK with it, and that it’s kept away from the kids.

    In the case of women, we tend to like our porn a bit more soft-core, hence the huge popularity of the “bodice-ripper” novels with the half-naked woman and the tight-clad men on the front cover. Again IMO, many a woman in a dull, grim marriage has passed some pleasant hours with such reading fare, so, oh well. It’s *not* the same as committing adultery (again IMNSHO), but it probably *is* like gorging on junk food to kill the pain (of whatever). Is gorging on junk food immoral? Probably, but we’ve all done it.

    *Anything* to do with child pornography is evil beyond excuse.

    Now for the duller stuff: Abuse of power. Karen Hinckley is a fine example of a strong woman fighting back against a patriarchal church that wants to silence her. Trying to keep their greasy little paws all over her, under the guise of “discipline,” is disgusting, but it’s typical of that type of church “leader.” I hope she sues the hell out of them for harassment. Money loss would be the only thing those good old boys could ever understand.

    • Sure explains both Magic Mike and the Tim Tebow phenomenons.

      Because women aren’t visual creatures, lol.

    • Let me get this straight: Something can be both degrading AND moral? What is morality then?
      I’m sorry, but even consenting adult porn is not a victimless crime. Read what this neurologist has to say about it:


      A shot of heroin will get you through the night. It is neither good for you nor for society.
      Don’t hate just ’cause he’s mormon. 😛

  21. Here is an example of child abuse in the extreme:


    The abuse of power can end in horrific extremes. It should be opposed and perpetrators need some sort of security placed around them so they don’t abuse again. However, the society has double standards itself, where it slams the church for this evil but allows child pornography, in the name of art. In Sydney last year, a guy was exhibiting this stuff and when confronted, the “artistic elite” came out in his defense.

    Christianity is all the poorer for not owning up to all the crap that has gone on. It has lost its voice on the issue of sexuality, and it’s my bet that these thousands of cases have assisted in the warped understanding of sexuality within the church happening in modern times (as some of these victims may have lost a correct sexual identity) . A pendulum swing to the opposite extreme. (A different kind of warped reality compared to medieval times…)

  22. Robert F says

    That apology is not the real thing. Until they are willing to give up those Church of Scientology-worthy covenants, it will be impossible for me to believe in the sincerity of any apology they might make.

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