Mourning has broken. Hearts are heavy with the news that the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church has broken covenant with the wife of his youth. Assuredly, there are those from the spectator seats of the world cheering and jeering. But I suspect there are also those within the larger church who are entertaining a secret delight, whether it be out of envy or an “I told you so” attitude fueled by theological differences.
Here’s the statement released by the pastor to the Washington Post.
“I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign. Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm. We are amazingly grateful for the team of men and women who are committed to walking this difficult path with us. Please pray for the healing of deep wounds and we kindly ask that you respect our privacy.”
I have a mixed reaction to his statement. I laud the pastor outing himself in his adultery, but I cannot say the same about him outing his wife. It smacks of “The woman you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Confession, however, is biblical, appropriate and necessary. David, a man after God’s own heart, found forgiveness for his adultery, compounded as it was by deceit and murder. Jesus came not for the righteous but the sinner. Confession owns up to being a sinner and an absolute need for the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.
David speaks of coming out in Psalm 32. “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). The gospel invites us to out ourselves, to be honest about our sin, to find forgiveness and healing.
I am not so naïve to think I understand much of anything from a press release, and that by one party. Only God knows whether the expression of regret proceeds from godly sorrow or the mourning of being caught. But I know that the gospel is not at stake and that it remains God’s remedy for sin’s guilt and power. I also know that we as the body of Christ need to pray against the efforts of the evil one to do harm to Christ’s sheep and the witness of His church.
No one who knows his own heart will be surprised at the sin of others. While we should not sin that grace might abound, we do want to hear Jesus’ grace-infused words to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).
As for what happens next in the life of this pastor, let us pray, remembering for whose kingdom we contend.