In the stats aftermath of my posts yesterday(almost 400 hits), I kept returning to this issue of Randy and Paula White, modern Christianity, truth and doubt.
Truth is a tricky thing. It can be a demanding task master, laying bare all the things which we clumsily try to hide.
Trying to figure out exactly what's going through the minds of those who stop by here, isn't really difficult. They want to know what happened. They want to know the details of this story. That may seem like Christian sensationalism and, to be sure, there certainly is that element. But more than anything, people just want to know how to piece things like this together. They want to understand. They want it to make sense. They want to know what to believe.
In some ways, our own Christian principles work against us in these situations. We are not to gossip. We are not to hold grudges. We are to forgive. We are to speak only what is beneficial to others. When a scandal like this occurs, those thoughts rush into our minds and we suppress our urge to understand because it seems impolite and unseemly to probe deeply into someone's personal problems. We put on kid gloves and try to be gracious and compassionate.
We should definitely be gracious, but there is a balance that the church needs to have in dealing with fallen leadership.
What I wish that the Whites and other leaders knew is how desperately people need the truth. So often, in an effort to be diplomatic or not fuel gossip, leaders will make vague statements that don't really lay out what's going on. Sometimes they're being outright manipulative, at others they are simply trying to be cautious. It's the wrong decision to make.
In explanation of their "amicable" divorce, Randy White was quoted as saying that the divorce is 100% his fault. He went on to praise Paula. The article also stated that the divorce was not caused by any third parties, a polite way of saying no one had an affair, but that they their lives had simply started heading in different directions.
That synopsis will not ease the confusion that their congregation and followers will have. Why? Simply, because it doesn't make any sense. There are countless people in America who have divorced because they felt they were no longer in love with each other, or because they drifted apart, but for two Christians who have built an empire trying to lead others, the answer is unsatisfying.
It's unsatisfying because if their statement is true, it shows a very poor understanding of the covenant of marriage before God and the place of honor in which it is held. It's unsatisfying because that excuse just isn't good enough. If nothing dramatic has happened, and no trust violated, then there is no Scripturally valid reason for the divorce.
Their followers will have to make a judgement call about what that means for their pastors, for the teachings they have received, and for how they perceive their relationship with God. Many of them will be overwhelmed by the doubt that they have been duped. It will make them distrust people more easily and be a stumbling block in their faith.
I wish all of you well as you try to piece things together.
(this is my last post on the subject)