Saturday, October 29, 2016

Two divorce cases: Summer White and Melissa Moore

Many Christians have a sin or an issue which they have a particular affinity against or former involvement with. Children of alcoholics tend to have an interest in the Christian discussion of teetotaling. People who had been deceived by charismatic doctrine tend to be focused on deception/purity in the church. And so on.

Mine is divorce.

Growing up in the sexual revolution 1960s and swinging 70s, monogamous marriage as an ordination from God suffered terribly as new sexual mores came into the American culture. No-fault divorce came about and as a result throughout the 1970s divorce rapidly began losing its stigma. Divorce as a "completely off the table" concept to "divorce is everywhere" fact occurred at a bewildering rate to my young eyes.

I'm not exaggerating about the rapid rate divorce took over. In this article by Meghan Kruger from the Roger Williams Law Review,
Between 1970 and 1985, the United States experienced an overhaul in divorce legislation. During that time, nearly every state either replaced or supplemented its fault-based system with some form of no-fault divorce
Divorce laws that had been instituted in the US for hundreds of years were were overhauled from coast to coast within just 15. That's whiplash speed.

My parents divorced when I was 14. My father moved in with his much younger girlfriend and my mother continued seeing her older married gentlemen friend. Long lasting marriages were something that seemed to belong in a museum. I was very interested in what made a marriage work and hungry for its stability. I had no understanding of God's view of marriage, because I was not saved until I was 43, but I knew it was very important.

Unfortunately I married early and unwisely. He fell in love with someone else and left, despite my interest in staying together. The second time I married, I was the one who chose divorce, for abandonment reasons. Both times I married and divorced the reasons were biblically allowable but it was moot, because I was unsaved. Divorce is very hurtful whether you're saved or unsaved.
Novelist Pat Conroy said of his own marriage break-up, "Each divorce is the death of a small civilization."
God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:16). As a saved person, I know that now. He hates it for all the reasons. He only sanctions divorce in two circumstances, if absolutely necessary: adultery and abandonment. (Matthew 19:7-9, 1 Corinthians 7:15-17). Even then, He discourages it.

Just as much as we love to see good marriages, we are heartened when people divorce well (when necessary and are biblically allowed). More on that below.

An overseer must manage his own household well and keep his children under control, with complete dignity. 5For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for the church of God? (1 Timothy 3:4-5).

For example, John Piper had an issue with his young adult son Abraham being a prodigal for a while. Piper has spoken of it publicly in interviews and has written about it publicly. In this Christianity Today article the statement was made, "There's nothing we fallible parents can do to ensure our kids will keep the faith." The church did the right thing and excommunicated Abraham. Eventually Abraham came back to the fold. However, the article goes on to note,
there has been some controversy about whether or not he [Pastor John Piper] should've stepped down from the pastoral role according to the scriptural guidelines set forth in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and Titus 1:6, 
If the adult children or the wife of a leader sins, does that mean the leader falls below biblical standard for acceptable leadership? When the children are minors and living under the leader's roof, certainly there is no doubt since the scripture is clear. But what if the child is 22 years old? 32 years old? 42 years old? Certainly if the sinning adult child is involved in the parent's ministry then that adult child should be asked to step away. When it was revealed that RC Sproul Jr. had been involved in the Ashley Madison adultery site, he was temporarily suspended from the ministry that was founded and is led by his father, RC Sproul Sr.

The actions (sins) of the adult child do impact the ministry of the elder, especially if the younger is involved in the ministry. I've come across two situations where adult children of a leading Bible teacher have divorced: James R. White's daughter Summer and Beth Moore's daughter Melissa. Remember, divorce is a sin. It bears mentioning because Christians often focus on other 'big sins' to the exclusion of divorce.

Both Summer and Melissa are involved in ministries. Here are two case studies of divorces of well-known leaders' children, and how each of their divorces were handled. I don't point to these specifics in order to hurt the people involved. As I said, I know how much divorce hurts. However, it is an ordinance established by God, there are biblical rules regarding marriage, and as leaders who desire to teach the scriptures, the way they handle or view divorce in their own family speaks volumes as to whether said leader retains any credibility according to the above mentioned scriptures, never mind if the adult divorced child is also in ministry. The same would be true.

The information about these divorces is publicly available. White issued the information herself. Her church did also, in order to specifically answer the questions raised by her name change. It isn't secret nor it is private. Moore's information is also publicly available online.

White's public Facebook profile pic
Summer Pinch White is the adult daughter of well-known and respected apologist James R. White. White's radio program The Dividing Line and his ministry Alpha & Omega is a Reformed-oriented apologetic ministry that's as solid as it is interesting. White's daughter Summer recently underwent a name change and many people were curious about that.

On Summer's Facebook page, she addressed the issue by posting a statement from her church elders at Apologia church. Sadly, her husband had used drugs for many years, and successive rehab stints had failed to turn him from the addiction. He had also engaged in serial adultery. The couple had undergone counseling, and had submitted to church leadership throughout. The two divorced. The leaders of Summer's church issued the following statement:
After almost 1-year of counseling (individual and as a couple) and after consideration of consistent patterns of egregious sin (over the course of several years) and repeated instances of marital infidelity, we, the elders of Apologia Church with delegated authority under the Lord Jesus Christ, have officially issued our unanimous and unqualified recommendation of divorce upon biblical grounds," Durbin and discipleship pastor Luke Pierson wrote. ... The two stated that they believe God hates divorce, and that they counsel that even in instances of adultery healing should be sought in a marriage, but advised that they "are also under the conviction that a pattern of consistent and unrepentant adultery provides Biblical grounds for a righteous divorce." (source)
This is important because Ms White co-hosts a podcast which centers on theology. Wondering about the circumstances of her divorce is not a moot or tangential question. It's directly relevant on her ministry and indirectly relevant on her father's. If one does not submit to the scriptures, then does one have the credibility to teach the scriptures? No. However in this case, from the public statement, it would seem that the entire issue was handled biblically. The participant was submissive to husband and leadership, the divorce was biblically allowable according to church leaders, and the issue was put before the public for transparency's sake. This is the way to handle it.

Actually I found the treatment of her sensitive issue edifying. The process worked. It's encouraging. We celebrate when there is a successful marriage, and though we are loath to use the word celebrate in conjunction with divorce, (because divorce is a tragedy) when it's biblical and handled well, we celebrate that the scriptures once again provide us with comfort, boundaries, and well-being in His word and in His processes. I have no credibility issues any more with Ms White nor with James R. White. This is because I've been given pertinent biblical information from those involved in order to formulate my own decisions and testings against scripture. I will listen to Ms White's theology program with confidence due to knowing the facts and that those facts align with the Bible.

From Moore's public Twitter profile pic
Beth Moore's daughter Melissa Fitzpatrick Moore is another story. Beth Moore is a well-known Bible teacher and speaker and preacher. She founded and is President of her own multi-million dollar ministry corporation Living Proof Ministries, which also employs her husband, both daughters, and son-in-law. Beth has preached at the Sunday pulpits of Louie Giglio, Joel Osteen, and Hillsong churches, which is rebellious against scripture. (1 Timothy 2:12). Beth's daughter Melissa is not only an employee at Living Proof Ministry, she is contributor to several of the Bible studies Beth has written. (e.g. Entrusted, James: Mercy Triumphs). Melissa also writes on theological topics at Beth's Living Proof blog. Therefore, Melissa is involved with the scriptures as a teacher of God's word along with her mother.

Below, Beth Moore describes her own marriage environment in which Melissa had grown up.
Keith and I came as close to divorcing as you can and not divorce. We married when I was only 21, and I discovered I was pregnant with Amanda only eight weeks after our wedding. We each entered marriage carrying a deluxe, five-piece set of emotional baggage. We used to fight like cats and dogs! We're an odd mix, but we've always been very attracted to each other. We've laughed repeatedly over how we saved the courts and us so much money, because we would have kept remarrying! source
To begin with, it shows a massive misunderstanding of God's ordination for couples in marriage. By the way, though sexual attraction might enhance a marriage, it is not the glue that should hold the marriage together. God's command is.

I was surprised when surfing the web one day, I saw one offhand comment regarding "Melissa's divorce". Both Beth and Melissa are Christian leaders teaching the word of God. Divorce is an immense sin. It is something God has flatly states He hates. Would not a Christian leader want to be transparent about this issue since it impacts not only their ministry but their perceived relationship with God? Piper did. White did. Sproul did. Did Moore? No. There is no explanation, no discussion, no smoothing the concerns of followers as to the biblical stance regarding this divorce and credibility on their ministry. I have searched and found nothing. If there is an explanation out there which I missed, I apologize.

I know court records are public so I found the public divorce documents. The reason for Melissa Moore's 2013 divorce was... "Personality Conflict". Melissa initiated it.



Personality conflict is NOT one of the allowable exclusions for escaping the marital covenant. Unless further revelations are shared in the good faith transparency, one must sorrowfully conclude that Melissa Moore is sinfully divorced and falls below any standard of being able to teach scripture. Her mother's continued support of her daughter and her continued partnership with Melissa in spiritual endeavors also casts Beth in a negative light.

Readers who follow Bible teachers must assess their biblical credibility. We have the scriptures to follow foremost, and then we have their lifestyle. We look at what they say, and what they do. Unbiblical divorce speaks volumes as to whether the leader is qualified or not for service in teaching and leading. If the leader teaching the scriptures is actively rebelling against them, how much can a follower hope to learn from that leader? Not much. (Luke 6:40).

In 2 Timothy 2:15 we read

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Neither Beth Moore or Melissa Moore handle truth rightly in many other, well-documented cases, and now we add one more instance in which they do not rightly divide scripture according to truth. John Piper and the White family did, for which I am extremely encouraged and grateful. When God's plan is followed, even in the sad cases of divorce in the case of White, or sin & restoration, as in the case of Piper and Sproul, it is a joy to the brethren and a glory unto God.


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Further reading

A note: Though Summer White had posted the statement regarding her divorce on her public Facebook page, which I read in its entirety, it has since been taken down. I cannot find it on Apologia Church's page now either. If they are still there and I overlooked them, I apologize. The quotes in my article were taken from the Christian News Network article reporting on the White's divorce, and their quotes and excerpts are accurate according to what I had initially read on Summer's FB page.

Other essays:

Divorce is a violent act

Biblical Divorce and Remarriage

What Does the Bible Teach About Divorce?



11 comments:

  1. I read an blog post which mentions that Melissa Moore posted on twitter that she was sad about being divorced. She gave no other comment or explanation, your article was interesting and I agree with your conclusions. The "No Fault" divorce has really broken our society.

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  2. I grieve in particular, for most divorced women that are in my sphere of influence, become angry and vindictive in trying to destroy other marriages within God's church. They become busybodies, loaded down in sin, seeking to malign the happiness, peace and contentment of those of us women who do not become a part of their gossipy busy body group.

    We hate homosexuality, but have embraced divorce/adultery quite well within the church.

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  3. I have to confess that at first I thought that while you were clearly troubled (and not unjustly so) about some things with the LP ministry, I kind of thought you were a bit obsessed with it. Recently, I have discovered first hand the unwillingness of the entire (female) Moore family to simply respond to differences or concern. Since that time, it is like a floodgate opened, and I am seeing extremely troubling things that I had not seen before. The the level of secrecy and circling of the wagons is spiritually unhealthy to say the least and more likely a huge neon sign flashing False Prophet.

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    Replies
    1. That's always an answer to my prayers. May the Spirit continue to open your eyes and lead you into all truth. Thank you.

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  4. Seems most of the televangelists never practice what the preach. All fake.

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  5. I am extremely saddened although not surprised at this article. It is proof of what I have experienced this last few years: people who call themselves God's people hurting other Christians. You need to ask yourself why you feel the need to know about Melissa Moore's divorce. When were you given the power to decree it biblical or non-biblical? When have we ever been given that power? It is a power left to God alone because He knows the heart of each person involved and only He knows what happened. I have seen such ugliness from people who are trying to stamp others with "biblical" or "unbiblical". God is the one who will decide not you! We cannot know the hearts of men. You do not know who is innocent - but God does. My daughter is pursuing a divorce right now. She was saved at an early age, has lived a life trying to follow the ways of the Lord. She wouldn't date anyone who she felt didn't put the Lord first. She saved herself for marriage. She finally meet this man and married at age 25. He was involved in all kinds of ministry. He was humble, kind and helpful. We truly thought God had brought him as a blessing to her faithfulness. Within a month a long term lie was uncovered. They went weekly to counseling. The counselor said he was a model client. Five months after marriage he cocked and loaded a gun held it to his head and then dropped the gun toward her. She ran for her life. Blessedly, he eventually dropped the gun. This was all because he wanted to leave the youth group event they were helping with at 8:30 instead of 9. My daughter had to be scooped away into privacy for safety. We have not told all the world for fear of repercussions from a sick individual. This trauma has been torturous. She was "all in". We do not have divorce in our family. She knows God hates divorce but her safety and his well being is dependent on them not being together. Funny, when you quote your 2 reasons for biblical divorce- you think you can cleanly put others lives in a category. Does it make you feel powerful to decide? It saddens me - because what about a father who may molest his child - but that's not adultery or abandonment soooo you can't divorce. This whole article shows a lack of knowledge of the Lord and uncovers a Pharisee. How do you know that Melissa Moore didn't marry someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder? They appear one way, but uncovered you find a wolf in sheeps clothing. How do you know that they are remaining silent in order to protect people? Why do you spend your time not believing the best in your fellow Christians and praying for them? Instead you spend your time tearing them down. I pray you will ask God to show you how you have been so wrong in this article. This is sad proof of a lot of what I have seen out of Christians. My prayer for myself is that I spend my energy working on being pleasing unto Him - and that keeps me busy enough.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lori,

      You asked: "You need to ask yourself why you feel the need to know about Melissa Moore's divorce."

      Here is the answer: because she teaches the Bible and she writes Bible studies. Anyone claiming to be a teacher of the word or leader of the faith has to adhere to standards and qualifications. There are benchmarks for being a qualified Bible teacher that include behavioral standards and ability-based standards. I 'feel the need' to look up qualifications for Bible teachers because it is the most important job on the planet. Failing to do so puts my soul in jeopardy and reveals my ignorance about what the Bible says about people to whom we submit and whose teaching we absorb. Divorce is serious business with God and so it should be with us.

      A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40.

      "When were you given the power to decree it biblical or non-biblical?"

      I wasn't. But if you read your Bible you realize that God decreed only two allowable circumstances for divorce and only in extreme cases- sexual immorality (Matthew 5:32; 19:9) and (2) abandonment by an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:15). He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and it is not to be entered into disobediently nor casually.

      If a person teaching the Bible has disobeyed the very text she teaches, how high can the student rise? Not far. What she is doing is leading her own 'children' into rebellion. (Example: Rev 2:21-23).

      "people who call themselves God's people hurting other Christians."

      How is comparing a public Bible teacher's qualifications to the Bible hurting other Christians? You perplexed me there.

      Delete
  6. Hi Luke,

    This blog is my "home." I can choose to publish or not publish comments as I desire. You are not automatically entitled to be published here just because you write a comment.

    Censorship is defined: the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security

    Your does not meet the criteria for the definition of censorship.

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  7. I am aware of Beth Moore not handling truth well. Priscilla Schirer has a Bible study about Sabbath for Christians in which Moore was fully involved with. In it Priscilla Schirer said that "Busyness is worse than pornography ever was". No comment about that from Beth Moore. That says volumes about Beth Moore. I agree about this divorce thing. It is not in harmony with God's word. With all the hinting around Beth Moore does about her sexual sin past and talking about herself ad nasi um, she's being very inconsistent.

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  8. God says He hates divorce but He permits it because of the hardness of our hearts so if you go strictly by what Jesus states even adultery is NOT grounds for divorce. But I believe the whole bible is to be taken into context. The bible states DO not keep company with a violent man, I believe that is where abuse falls under the it is okay to divorce.

    Also 2 Corintihans 7:11 clearly states If a woman leaves (divorces) her husband, let her remain unmarried unless she reconciles with her husband otherwise she commits adultery. So she can leave, as long as she remains single and NOT remarry. So as of now, Ms Moore is biblical. If she left we don't know the real reasons, court documents don't reveal everything. I can explain that later if necessary. So as long as she isn't remarried she is still in line with the biblical word.

    Having said all that. ALL sin is forgivable even divorce. If we repent God is JUST to forgive. Repentance is between God and the person not a public forum.
    You probably won't post this as I have noticed a trend about you. You tend not to publish statements that disagree especially if they have legitimate scriptures to back it up. Perhaps take your own advice and apply the scriptures appropriately as WE ALL will give an account before God.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. God hates divorce. We must look carefully at what God expressly said He hates. Not make excuses.

      2. Adultery is a basis though not necessarily a reason for divorce. Personality clash is NOT.

      3. Taking into account God's high standard for marriage, its foundation of society, its institution as an ordinance, splitting due to personality differences reveals a disobedient heart in Ms Moore.

      4. She initiated it. She went thru with it. 1 Cor 7:10 clearly states: To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband.

      5. No one is saying divorce isn't forgivable. That is not the point of the essay.

      6. Why would you want to study from a woman who rebels against scripture she purports to love? A student goes no higher than her teacher.

      7. You seem REAL invested in defending unbiblical divorce. Any reason?

      Delete

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