A Dangerous Posting
August 30, 2015
Paul Tripp felt it necessary to comment on the breakdown in the marriage between Tullian Tchvidjian and his wife, Kim.
I understand that Tripp is a counselor with a lot of experience, and a sort of expert that many look to for advice and daily spiritual counsel.
However, ever since the news broke out about Tchividjian's affair, there's something that has caused me some consternation. After reading Tullian's note in the Washington Post, as well as Tripp's short brief, I can't help but feel that Tullian's wife, Kim, has not been served well (note her own response).
People may find troubling the fact that Tripp came to the conclusion that the marriage is irreparable, especially as they are both still married and professing Christians. And others may find troubling that Tripp, who is an ordained Presbyterian minister, is making a public statement, when in fact if anyone should be saying something publicly - and I think there are good reasons not to say anything at all - it should be Tullian's Presbytery.
Personally, I believe Tripp's statement was not only unnecessary, but also unwise in the way that Kim Tchividjian has been portrayed.
Tripp says that Tullian has confessed and repented, and has also been "committed to dealing with the issues of his heart and to restoring his marriage." We may be forgiven for coming to the conclusion, based on Tripp's words, that Tullian's wife did not wish to continue in the marriage, but that Tullian was nonetheless willing. From the beginning, I believe Tullian's words in the Washington Post showed a certain lack of chivalry; or, to put it another way, it appeared he 'threw his wife under the bus.' I certainly don't think the statement made by Tullian was something that his children needed to read. Why he felt the need to tell the world his wife had been in an affair is beyond me.
This statement from Tripp certainly doesn't contradict the narrative offered by Tullian in his initial statement in the Washington Post. One certainly hopes that Kim Tchividjian gave Tripp permission to make this statement since she comes out it looking like she's unwilling to be reconciled to a repentant husband. Whatever the case, I can't help but feel there are so many details that we are unaware of, which makes these types of statements quite dangerous. And, make no mistake, the ones with the platform are usually in the position to control the narrative.
What we have here is the ascent of "relational Presbyterianism" instead of actual Presbyterianism where the various courts make decisions, and aim to proceed carefully and cautiously based upon all the facts they have available to make their decision. In this case, Tullian was deposed by his Presbytery.
Some might object that Tripp is free to make whatever statement he wishes. But I wonder whether these types of statements really help the church. All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. For ordained PCA ministers, perhaps it's best we let sessions and Presbyteries do the talking, just so we don't give the impression that we're somehow above or acting apart from the government of the church we belong to.
Quite frankly, I don't know who is to blame in the marriage break-up of the Tchividjian's. And, quite frankly, it isn't my business. The Presbytery has acted. And in the case of a divorce where adultery has occurred, we should probably avoid making statements, such as Tripp's, where people may be led to make uninformed conclusions about the persons involved in the break-up or who is to blame. Based upon the Tullian's words to the Washington Post and Tripp's own comments, it isn't unreasonable to think that, reading between the lines, Kim is being smeared and blamed. Maybe she is to blame. Maybe she isn't. But I don't know if Tullian or Tripp are wise to tell us what they did.
This is a sad, sad story. Not only because of what has happened, is happening, and will happen, but also because public statements have been made by those who should have perhaps remained silent. If Tullian hadn't made this so public, there would be little need to comment. But, alas, he and his friend have spoken by giving readers a narrative that may be a little jaundiced.