Divorce, Remarriage, and Consequences
I originally prepared this post on September 19th, but decided not to publish it. At that time, after praying, I felt that since Tullian had not engaged (to my knowledge) in public teaching, writing, or anything else that seemed to represent a desire to continue to be a public personality, that I should treat him like I would any other Christian for whom I was aware of a sin issue. However, on September 27th Tullian posted to a site called Expastors, thrusting himself back into the spotlight.
I have been relatively silent regarding Tullian Tchavidjian lately. However, recent events have caused me to regretfully break that silence.
In July of 2015, Tullian resigned his appointment as the Sr Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA) after it came to light that he had committed adultery. He originally presented a scenario where he had learned that his then wife Kim had first committed adultery and that in the ensuing difficulty Tullian engaged an inappropriate emotional relationship, which led to adultery. On August 17th he was deposed of his credentials as a minister of the Gospel. Shortly thereafter Tullian filed for divorce. In September of 2015, Tullian was hired as the Director of Ministry At Willow Creek Church (PCA).
In March of 2016, Tullian was engaged in an event at Spring Hills Community Church in California. Shortly after (also in March) it was revealed that Tullian had not only committed adultery after Kim’s affair but had in fact been involved in a sexual adulterous relationship prior to his awareness of Kim’s transgression. This lead to his termination from the staff at Willow Creek, as well as revelations that elders at Coral Ridge and Tullian’s long-term confidant and mentor Steve Brown were aware of the affair. At that time the Liberate organization which Tullian founded was disincorporated, and a statement was released —by Tullian’s publicist— that Tullian would no longer be offering public statement on the subject.
On September 6th, 2016, Warren Throckmorton reported that he had become aware of the fact that Tullian had remarried over the weekend of August 26th. How exactly he came upon this information is unclear, but having no real verification I declined to comment. However, several pieces of evidence have come to my attention that presents a compelling argument of the veracity of Throckmorton’s statements.
First, Kim Tchividjian (Tullian’s former wife) commented on August 25th via Twitter “Tonight is hard. Tomorrow will be harder. But God.” Far from corroboration, this comment does line up with the timeline of Tullian marrying on August 26th.
Second, there were reports of a woman named Stacie Phillips announcing via Twitter that she and Tullian had married. Shortly after her account became private.
Third, Throckmorton’s piece was published. Although Throckmorton did not make reference to any specific evidence, it is unusual for Throckmorton to publish something that he has not substantiated.
Fourth, in the same article, Throckmorton reported that Tullian has been in Texas working on a book.
Fifth, and most significant, Stacie Phillips has now changed both her Facebook her Twitter name to Stacie Tchividjian. Now, if Tullian’s last name was Johnson… then maybe this wouldn’t mean anything. But Tchividjian isn’t exactly a common surname.
Now, some have asked, and I have answered in the past… why do I care? There are any number of reasons. I care about Tullian, I care about his family, I care about the peace and purity of God’s church, and I care about the instructions which God has given to the Church regarding church discipline.
Update: After I published this, I was directed to Stacie’s Facebook for the following status. I think it speaks for itself.
Update: I was forwarded a photo which comes from Stacie’s Facebook page, dated November 8th. Again, speaks for itself.
The PCA position on divorce and remarriage is pretty clear. The Westminster Confession of Faith states:
Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract. In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce: and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead. (24.5)
What this means is that a person whose spouse has committed adultery may seek a divorce, and once that divorce is finalized they are able to remarry in good conscience and standing. The key is that the former party must be innocent. Tullian, having committed adultery both before and after Kim’s adultery, is not innocent, and therefore has no standing to sue out a divorce.
The PCA also allows for a person who has divorced on unbiblical grounds, as Tullian clearly has, to remarry if the first spouse dies or remarries. This is confirmed in a PCA Position paper on Divorce and Remarriage from 1979 that is available on the PCA website.
Under chapter 3, heading B, item 3 it states:
Where the Session or its representatives has determined that the divorce had occurred on Scriptural grounds, remarriage is permitted for the party sinned against.
Under chapter 3, heading B, item 5 states:
Where a Christian causes his or her marriage to end in divorce on non-biblical grounds, remarriage may be permitted only if the former spouse has remarried or has died, and the future spouse is born-again.
It is clear that Tullian does not meet these criteria, so his remarriage is in explicit contradiction to the PCA position on the subject.
Granted, if Tullian is no longer a member of a PCA church, then the appropriate ecclesiastical body should seek discipline according to their own doctrinal standards. However, if he is still a member of a PCA church, then the PCA ought to immediately move to excommunicate him until such a time as genuine repentance has been demonstrated. The same is true if Stacie is a member of a PCA church. If the officiating pastor was a PCA pastor, the PCA ought to immediately move to revoke his credentials, as well as the credentials of any other PCA elder who was aware of this travesty of ecclesiastical negligence.
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.