I recently read about the difficulties that you and your wife have brought upon your family, church, and by extension the Church catholic. I’m deeply sorry, and cannot imagine the hurt that you must have felt when you discovered your wife’s affair. The purpose of this letter is not to rehearse your sins, or to pummel you for them. There will be lots of that coming your way, and honestly I think it is justified. However, that is not the purpose of this letter. Instead I want to share with you some thoughts that I think you need to hear.
Your public statement contains two concerning elements that I want to address.
First, I will not say that it was your intention, because I cannot know that. However, the way your statement was phrased, stating that your affair was the result of turning to a friend for comfort in response to your wife’s prior affair… it really feels like you are trying to shift the blame to her. If she had not done what she did, you wouldn’t have done what you did. While that may be true… it does not appear to be genuine repentance when couched in that context. It sounds very familiar to another high profile public statement… “the woman you gave me, she gave me and I ate…” What I would like to see from you is full ownership of the fact that you sinned. What your wife did is bad, but your sin is your sin.
Second, the fact that you said that after you turned to a friend for comfort, that friendship developed into an inappropriate relationship is troublesome on two levels. First… when you turned to a woman for comfort, it was already inappropriate. The only woman a married man should turn to for comfort is his wife. Second, your relationship was not just inappropriate, it was sinful. While I don’t necessarily think that you are not understanding what you did as sin… I’m concerned that you have thus far not publicly called it for what it is. It wasn’t (just) inappropriate, it wasn’t (just) an indiscretion, it wasn’t (just) a mistake… it was sin. It was, as many have said, something that Jesus bled and died for… and to call it less than a sin is an insult to your God. You now have two things to repent of.
With that out of the way, I wanted to say something else. I don’t think you’re an Antinomian… at least not technically. I do, however, think that you have demonstrated a concerning attitude toward sin and God’s moral law that I think has directly brought you to this place.
In your various work, both written and oral, you have again and again used the phrase “free to fail.” Now, in the best possible construction, this means that we are free to fail because our justification is not on the line. I agree 100%. However, the examples you frequently use are in relationship to sanctification issues (becoming a better husband is the most applicable here). We are not free to fail in sanctification. We, as Christians, have an obligation to strive for holiness. We have an obligation to engage our will to war against sin. We have an obligation to become sanctified. We are blessed by the Holy Spirit’s presence who makes that a reality in our lives… but that does not change the fact that we are obligated to strive. Your concern to battle performance driven Christianity is commendable. However, I think it has led you to a place where you have lost sight of the fact that Christ doesn’t just say “your sins are forgiven.” He also commands us to “go and sin no more.”
You see, when you were released from TGC a little over a year ago, I immediately purchased One Way Love. I went home and listened to every audio recording on the Liberate website. And I was troubled to say the least. Again and again I saw a man who treats sin like a dead foe, rather than a defeated one. While I fully affirm that there is a definitive and permanent destruction of sin’s power in our life upon our union with Christ… I recognize that sin does not go down without a fight. Because of that reality we have to constantly war against it. I have documented in the past ways that you confuse justification and sanctification, and unfortunately I think your confusion between the two has led you to treat sin as though it is a past tense reality. You have treated it as though it has no hold in your life, and at this point you have very painfully learned that this is not the case.
Finally, you have demonstrated in the past what I think is an open contempt for God’s law. You have relegated its role to only that of death, rather than one of guidance. You claim that you don’t deny the third use of the law, but you say that the only thing the law can do is bring death. While this is certainly the case for those who are not in Christ… for those of us who are in Christ the law is a lamp unto our feet. It is the way we know what God is like and what he expects of us. It is the path that the Holy Spirit leads us on.
I have spoken strong words to you today, and I’m 99% sure you will never read them. I hope you do. I hope you take this letter as an exhortation from a brother who wishes you well. I hope it spurs you to publicly own your sin and name it for what it is, and I hope it serves as a catalyst in helping you to understand that theology has consequences. Please know that I will be praying for you and your family. Our God is a God who loves to fix broken people, he loves to put families back together again, and he seeks to make us not just a legally righteous people… but a holy and royal priesthood.
For a thorough timeline of events regarding Tullian Tchividjian’s history, please see Resource Bibliography on System Issues Related to the Tullian Tchividjian Situation. By linking to this site I am not endorsing the site as a whole, nor testifying to the veracity of the information present. However, the timeline presented does appear to be accurate to the best of my knowledge and research.