Christian Megachurch Punishes Woman for Seeking Divorce from Her Child-Porn-Watching Husband June 1, 2015

Christian Megachurch Punishes Woman for Seeking Divorce from Her Child-Porn-Watching Husband

Matthew Paul Turner, writing at The Daily Beast, has a disturbing story about a woman who was encouraged by her church elders to stay with her kiddie-porn-watching husband or face disciplinary action.

Karen Hinkley belonged to The Village Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch in Dallas. This is one of those churches that makes you sign a contract for the privilege of being associated with them. Among other things, the contract stipulates that you must be abstinent until marriage, your marriage must be “heterosexual and monogamous,” and that you can’t watch porn.

Then there’s this:

I will seek to preserve the gift of marriage and agree to walk through the steps of marriage reconciliation at The Village Church before pursuing divorce from my spouse.

Hinkley thought that was harmless enough — she was already married to Jordan Root at this time — so the couple had no problem signing the contract.

She later discovered Root was watching porn. While most of us wouldn’t consider that a real problem, Hinkley later found out it was a genuinely serious problem:

That night [my husband] admitted to almost ten years of child pornography use,” she says, “[a habit] that began while he was in college and continued throughout his seminary studies and into our dating and engagement.”

But that was just the beginning. According to Karen, “[Jordan] confessed that he preferred prepubescent girls beginning at age four but that he had viewed child pornography involving [kids that were] infants and teenagers as well.”

That’s messed up. It wasn’t something from his past either; Root was still viewing child porn. And:

On a couple of occasions, Jordan allegedly told Karen that he’d masturbated to the thoughts of children who were once under his care.

Yikes.

You can understand, then, why Hinkley soon filed for annulment.

That’s when her problems with the church began. It seemed that they were more upset over Hinkley’s request for an annulment without first going through the church than they were with anything Root had done.

… the pastor writes, “we have been perplexed by your decision to file for an annulment of your marriage without first abiding by your covenant obligations to submit to the care and direction of your elders… this decision violates your covenant with us — and places you under discipline.

Another pastor later reached out to her:

“He wanted to tell me that the elders were instructing me not to separate our finances,” she says, “[that according to him] it ‘felt too much like a step toward divorce’ and they were ‘not ready to approve any steps that would bring further separation to our marriage.’

At that point, Hinkley just resigned from the church… but it wasn’t that simple:

This prompted another email exchange with Pastor [Matt] Younger, who denied Karen’s resignation, citing the church’s bylaws which prohibited members who were under church discipline from resigning their membership.

There’s no legal issue here. Hinkley could do whatever she wanted. It’s a contract that’s binding only in your imagination. But ultimately, church leaders deemed Root fully repentant to the entire congregation… while encouraging everyone to essentially shun Hinkley by telling them she wasn’t submitting to church discipline.

She’s now divorced and in exile from her former Christian community. The whole story just reeks of the sort of control certain church leaders want over the lives of their congregation members — and the completely misguided priorities in a faith where supposedly repentant criminals like Josh Duggar are held in higher esteem than the people who turn them in, want nothing to do with them, or are their victims.

Because that’s how Jesus likes it.

By the way, Pastor Matt Chandler, the figurehead at the top of The Village Church, attempted to do damage control, speaking to his church yesterday about the situation. According to blogger Christy Thomas,

… The Village Church has issued an apology and agreed to release Hinckley from membership. The full text of the email sent to their members can be found here. As several have noted, it looks like it was written by a PR firm trying to do damage control. It actually admits to no wrongdoing against Ms. Hinckley, only to having not communicated more clearly to her their own standards and expectations.

Matthew Paul Turner has more thoughts on the apology here.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Richard for the link)

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