I am saddened by the news out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida that my once-pastor Tullian Tchividjian has resigned his position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church; he admitted this past week to marital infidelity. He is not the first pastor of a mega-church to do so, and he won’t be the last, but it saddens me all the same.
I began attending Coral Ridge in 2009 and became a member in 2010. I was a member there until 2013, when I was offered an artist residency position at CityChurch Fort Lauderdale and changed churches. I love CityChurch and what it stands for, but at the time of transition I missed Coral Ridge and I missed Tchividjian’s preaching. My time at Coral Ridge was one of healing; I grew in my understanding of myself and in Christianity’s understanding of God. Tchividjian (grandson of the famed Billy Graham) consistently preached about grace, about humanity’s inability to measure up to the standards set by God’s law, about Christ’s unconditional love for and rescue of a dying people. Many criticized Tchividjian for his messages, but many others like myself soaked up his words, enthralled by the story of an astounding, extravagant grace that we had never before heard or understood.
I still stand by his message. I am saddened by Tchividjian’s actions and, frankly, by his handling of the situation. I am disappointed that his released statement announcing his resignation portrayed him as a victim and threw his wife under the bus; I thought it was immature and unwise. Tchividjian’s infidelity was not surprising — not because I ever witnessed any indiscretion on his part — but because having an affair is apparently a damned easy thing to do, and Tchividjian only acted the same way millions of others act, and because I know enough about my own heart and brain to know that I, too, would be capable of infidelity if I found myself in the right (wrong) place at the right (wrong) time.
I don’t stand by Tullian — how can I when I don’t know him personally? But I pray for God’s mercy on his soul and on the souls of those of us who have been changed by the message he preached, those of us who know that our hearts are as tarnished and as in need of grace as his.
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