Monday, June 26, 2017

An Open Letter to Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries

Dear Lysa TerKeurst,

On June 13th you wrote a blog post stating that you are ending your marriage of 25 years. I am deeply saddened by the news of this broken family and the pain and betrayal you are feeling. My sadness goes deeper than you may believe and the reason may come as a surprise to you and a surprise to the many who should read this. In fact, it is your decision to divorce in this letter which heightens my sadness.

 First, I must tell you that the sin surrounding your decision should never be overlooked. Infidelity is a serious offense and is often neglected and ignored; even in the church. Therefore, it is my understanding this sin was overlooked in many ways, and was not properly handled by you, or the local church in which you call home. At least this is the impression I am getting from your blog post…Rejection, Heartache, and a Faithful God

It must be noted that there are other believers who question your decision in your post from a perspective which considers the truth surrounding covenant one-flesh marriage. There is a concern in whether your marriage is a covenant one-flesh marriage from the start, and rightly so. We all must more than consider the thought that civil divorce and civil "remarriage" papers are not what God has in mind concerning one-flesh covenant marriage. The following post  from standerinfamilycourt does such a service to the Kingdom of God and is a champion for marriage as God defines marriage. "The Proverbs 31 Woman Marches into “Family Court".


I challenge your post from a different, but equally concerning angle. What your post tells me is that your husband’s infidelity and substance abuse issues are now exposed to the church. Since I too call Jesus Christ Lord, it is imperative that I respond to this post as a means of exhortation and love so that the word of God is not mishandled. In this case we have a one-sided letter from a wife which exposes the sin of an unfaithful husband. I am referring to what is commonly known as “Church Discipline (Matthew18:15-17), and in this case, a lack there of.

"My husband, life partner and father of my children, Art TerKeurst, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 25 years. For the past couple of years, his life has sadly been defined by his affection for this other woman and substance abuse. I don’t share this to harm or embarrass him, but to help explain why I have decided to separate from him and pursue a divorce. God has now revealed to me that I have done all I can do and I must release him to the Savior."

The reader must assume or at least consider that church discipline was enacted in this situation prior to your writing a public declaration of your divorce intentions. Your husband sins against you, you confront him so that he would repent. (Mt 18:15) if this does not work, you take one or two others so that EVERY WORD IS ESTABLISHED. (Mt 18:16) Have you done this? If this was done, and he still did not repent, then you are take it up to the church. If he refuses the church, then he is to be excommunicated so that he would repent.

It appears to this reader that your decision to divorce is based on following emotions and feelings rather than obeying the truth of God's word. If this post is the last step of church discipline, then why were your readers not informed of his sin until you have decided to file for divorce? The truth is that Art needs to be embarrassed for his sins! He needs to be exposed as an unrepentant sinner who is excommunicated from the body of Christ. The Bible demands it. (1 Cor 5) Yet, in all this he WILL be your husband until death (Romans 7:2-4) 

 I have questions for you. You wrote in your post:

"When I first found out about Art’s infidelity 18 months ago, I made the decision not to divorce him."

Was church discipline enacted at this time? (Matthew18:15-17) Did you tell him to repent? This is very important. If you are writing a letter telling your followers and readers that you are divorcing your husband, then it needs to be clear that he has been, and is currently excommunicated from the body of Christ. Is he excommunicated? Because if he is not excommunicated, you have no right to publicly write a letter without all the facts surrounding his sin.  

 I want to be clear, even if he is excommunicated, this does not give you the option to divorce. Why did you not write a post telling us he was excommunicated so that everyone of your followers and readers would pray that he would repent knowing he is no longer in fellowship with the Lord?

"I had just finished fasting and praying for 28 days and really felt led by the Lord that I was to love Art in my reaction to this shocking news and trust God for every step moving forward. I was still committed to doing everything I could think of to make our story one of restoration, even in the face of the worst kind of betrayal imaginable. I prayed continually."

Praying is what you should have done and this is respectable. However,it appears those who read this post never knew about this until you publicly write in your post that you are filling for divorce. Would it not be more of a witness to Christ to hand your husband over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit would be saved on the day of the Lord? (1 Cor 5) Why not write a post telling your readers that you have enacted church discipline through the Elders of your church and that your husband is currently excommunicated?

"I sought counsel from family and other wise friends."

What did they tell you? Did they tell you to enact church discipline or did they tell you to divorce? Who are the friends?  

"And Art and I even made repeated trips across the country together for intensive counseling especially designed for marriages in crisis."

Who were the counselors? What advice do they give you? There is much to answer here.

"But sadly, though I have repeatedly forgiven and accepted him back, he has continued to abuse substances, be unfaithful, and refused to be truthful to me and our family."

The Lord says we are to forgive how many times? (Matthew 18:22) If he stumbles and falls, what has your local body of Christ done as far as his accountability? Was, and is he accountable to any men or Elders in the church? If not, why or why not? There are far too many questions here that need to be answered for any believer to just hastily agree that you made the right decision.

"I believe I have the capacity to love Art and to forgive him, but his steadfast refusal to end the infidelity has led me to make the hardest decision of my life."

Your decision to write a public letter telling other Christians that divorce is an option is not very wise and nor is it what you are commanded to do. (1 Cor 7:10,11) I am not telling you that you are to tolerate his sin, but I am telling you that your decision to divorce is not your option. To be fair, we have your side of the story and not his. I am not defending him, but I am defending the definition of marriage and I am defending YOUR marriage, and it is obvious to this reader that you have not considered the options the Lord gives us...  1 Cor 7:10,11 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

"After much prayer and consultation with wise, biblically-minded people, I have decided that Art has abandoned our marriage."

What did they tell you? Who were these wise, biblically-minded people? You have named your husband but have not named your counsel. Did they tell you that a divorce ends a one-flesh covenant marriage when the Bible speaks otherwise? These are important questions which need to be answered. Art is going to Hell if he does not repent of his sins against you. Is he fully aware of this? Are you aware of this? 

Also, you are filing for divorce by claiming that it was determined he abandoned the marriage. What verse tells you to divorce if he abandons the marriage? There are none.

In a past blog I wrote: Taking 1 Cor 7:15  out of context places this interpretation on contradicting grounds to other verses in the chapter. Abandonment is not grounds for divorce, and neither does it permit the believer to “remarry” another. In context, the verse is calling the believer to “peace” knowing that he or she was not at fault for the abandonment of the departing spouse. The believer is not to feel guilt or shame for the abandonment of an unequally yoked spouse who decided to leave the marriage. However, even though he or she abandoned the believer, they are still bonded in the covenant marriage until death do they part. Thus, remarriage is not an option since divorce is not applicable to severing a one-flesh marriage covenant. This correct interpretation corroborates with the bookends of Paul’s teaching on the one-flesh marriage covenant. (1 Cor 7:10,11 and 1 Cor 7:39)

"Yet, the Lord has been so faithful to help me at every step of this very painful journey and has now assured me I’ve done all I can do."

He has? What verses do you rely on to tell you that this was in your power? Can you save your husband? The truth is Lysa, the Lord works when we obey and submit to His ways and not our own ways. There are no verses which support your position, and 1 Peter 3:1-7 and Eph 5 call you to a higher responsibility, especially since your husband is fallen away. Art needs to see Christ in you. The Bible calls us to take up the cross and follow Christ. In this case, you are to enact church discipline so that your husband would repent and be saved. If he does not repent, you are to wait until he does…even until death. Divorce is not the answer.

 Certainly separation is the right choice here if it is determined by the body of Christ of your local church that Art remains unrepentant. If that is the case, Art would be excommunicated and treated as a heathen. That does not equate to shunning him, it equates to loving him. There should be Elders in your church who speak truth into his life so that he would repent.

The truth is that if he becomes truly repentant, he will feel incredible guilt for what he has done to you and your children. Will you forgive him? Your divorce just frees him to continue in his sin since it is likely he would remarry someone else. This divorce is also a terrible witness to others as they too would follow Lysa Terkheurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries since she is a prominent figure in the Christian culture and a highly successful "Christian" author. 

I understand the pain and betrayal. It breaks my heart. But I also understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. Divorce is not the option for believers. Anyone who agrees with your decision to divorce without considering the options in this letter have not considered the words of Christ.

There is support to stand for your marriage. There are many who have been betrayed like you and yet remain in singleness, praying for their prodigal to come home. They have been betrayed by their spouse and some of these prodigals have gone and “remarried”, yet they stand knowing that no civil paperwork (divorce or remarriage) can end what the Lord has bonded in Heaven. They stand for the truth of marriage, not for their benefit, but for God's glory. I would be very willing to offer you support by the many believers who remain true to their covenant of marriage.

The real tragedy is the church has failed in enacting church discipline. Everybody wants to attend a wedding, but when married couples are attacked by the enemy, no one wants to save the marriage when sin enters the picture. Elders are afraid of convicting and approaching broken marriages, and often those who divorce would have never divorced if the church properly handled the sin.

"What can you do for us? I’d simply ask you to pray. Pray for my precious children and grandchildren. Pray for me. Pray for our team at Proverbs 31. And yes, please, please pray for Art."
I pray that churches would enact church discipline so the unrepentant sinners like your husband would have the fear of God and come to genuine repentance. I pray that churches would consider the truth of marriage and teach and preach that all marriages can only end in death. Please consider reading the post I have written on how the body of Christ SHOULD handle marriage, divorce, and remarriage.

How the Church SHOULD Handle Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage?

It is also my prayer that you Lysa would revise your post, your decision to divorce and follow and obey the word of God. God does love you and he loves your children...He also loves Art. You need to trust the Lord in this. Do what he commands, and do not follow the ways of the world, and please do not follow the cultural Christianity of divorce and remarriage. I agree with UDIU who seeks the very best for you and those who read your posts...

"In that spirit, we pray that Lysa reconsiders her civil lawsuit against her husband, but and if she does depart, she will remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband, if he is her covenant husband.    If he has a prior estranged wife, we pray that Lysa will accept a season of being a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of God, until she has the Lord’s direction for the future of her family."- UDIU
Please consider the trust the word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in standing fast for your marriage. You will never able to stand on your own in this. The Lord is able and willing to bear all your burdens if you let Him. Let Him take control of your thoughts and actions so that your children will see the lasting love of the Lord Jesus Christ through a woman who remained true to the vow...until death do you part. And finally, let your husband feel the hot coals as you love him even when he does not deserve it...just as Christ loved us. God bless you!

In Christ's love,


(The second part to this post is here Compassion for Those Who Think Divorce)


Carol Dorothy said...

Excellent. Well written. ~ Carol

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately your open letter comes across as snide and condescending. As a public person, she had to provide some measure of information to her followers and she did a great job of not going into sordid details. Simply stating there was infidelity and substance abuse is appropriate.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

Neil Novotnak said...

Thank you for replying, anonymous. Do you believe marriage is one man and one woman for life?

Ralph said...

Being a part of a public ministry does NOT exempt anyone of doing that which is contrary to scripture. Her actions as well as her words indicate she is acting on ways that seem right to her, and that way leads to death.