A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Ellie’s Translation of TVC pastor Matt Younger’s letter to Karen (Root) Hinkley

Translation of TVC pastor Matt Younger’s letter to Karen (Root) Hinkley is a must read. Yes, we promise that we’d not be publishing another post till Wednesday 27th, but Ellie’s third post at her new blog is so terrific (and so are her first and second posts) that we feel we must promote it as widely as possible while the Village Church story is hot. Have a feast here. And some good belly laughs if you like black humor. But trigger warning for those who’ve been spiritually abused by church leaders:–  steel yourselves to read the initial part of the post which is the letter from Village Church Pastor Matt Younger. We encourage our readers to follow TranslationsbyEllie. Well done Ellie, and congratulations!  🙂

July 17, 2016 update:  Unfortunately translationsbyellie.com is not a functioning website at this time.

* * *

Backstory and Summary for those who haven’t yet heard about the Village Church debacle: Jordan Root, of Village Church Texas, has confessed longterm use of child porn, and Village Church has responded with all the typical errors: believing the ‘confession’ of the pedophile, not expelling him from the church, not even putting him under discipline; but putting Karen (his now ex- non- wife) under discipline for getting an annullment without consulting the Church Elders.

40 Comments

  1. Brenda R

    I have already been telling people to visit Ellie for some letters and emails sent by spouses for translation. I will be turning them on to her new site. Congrats Ellie!! You rock.

    • Thank you for the kind compliment. I hope I can help.

  2. StrongerNow

    Excellent translation! This reminds me so much of what happened when I spoke to the pastor of the last church I was attending with my abuser, the day before I was leaving the area.

    He had been “counseling” with my husband and had been completely buffaloed. When I told him how things REALLY were, and about my husband’s porn habit, and routine practice of raping me, he confessed that my husband had not revealed these things during “counseling.” But I must say, his reaction was downright bland. He was not shocked, outraged or incensed. And when he asked me if I enjoyed sex while being raped, I was dumbfounded. In retrospect, I realize it was a telltale sign that he himself was a consumer of porn and had been programmed to believe that women actually want to be raped.

    In spite of the porn addiction, the pastor contended that my husband was not guilty of adultery (??? – what Bible is he reading??? — but as an obvious porn consumer himself, of course he wouldn’t see habitual porn consumption as adultery!) and he could not agree to a divorce. He told me multiple times, as I revealed more and more of the abusive behaviors I had been subjected to, that he was “not comfortable with” me seeking a divorce.

    Yeah, well, guess what? I’m not asking you for permission! Why? Because I don’t need it. This is a matter between me and God.

    Something church leaders need to get a grip on.

    • 7stelle

      That pastor(?) is surely perverted.

    • He told me multiple times, as I revealed more and more of the abusive behaviors I had been subjected to, that he was “not comfortable with” me seeking a divorce.

      Yeah, well, guess what? I’m not asking you for permission! Why? Because I don’t need it. This is a matter between me and God.

      amen!

      And for people who may have stumbled across this thread, and wonder why we at At Cry For Justice say that the decision to get a divorce is between the abuse victim and God, and church elders are wrong to assume they have the right to control that, here is a link to a post which will explain:

      Church Discipline and Church Permission for Divorce: How My Mind Has Changed (by Barbara Roberts)

    • Another post that rebuts the idea that a Christian must obtain permission from the elders before deciding to divorce —
      Abuse and Divorce: A Disagreement with the Westminster Confession of Faith

  3. Babylove

    pastor’s and church elders need education about abuse; the lack of understanding is deep and so misinformed

    • 7stelle

      And also they may be abusive themselves and don’t want to be found out.

  4. I just put this on the thread at our FB page, so I’m adding it here as well.

    In my reading around this topic, and particularly the WatchKeep article by Amy Smith which published the documentation about it from church officials and Karen’s replies to them, I haven’t read anything to suggest that the church expected Karen and Jason to continue living together like a married couple normally do. So I caution readers from jumping to that conclusion.

    It is possible that the church would have been okay with Jason and Karen being separated; it is even possible that the church MIGHT eventually have given their (“pope-like”) permission to Karen to divorce Jason. But what we know for sure is that, ignoring the fact that she had already resigned her church membership, the church leaders have put Karen under church discipline for NOT SEEKING THEIR COUNSEL AND PERMISSION before she got the (fraudulent) marriage annulled.

    She acted ON HER OWN. She went to the court and got her marriage declared annulled ON HER OWN – without consulting the elders. That’s what they are disciplining her for.

    It shows how much they are tin-pot spiritual tyrants. They exert power and control over the sheep. In my opinion, the TVC leaders who have done this are haughty, foolish, biblically sub-literate, arrogant, Pharisiaic bullies.

    • Charis

      This is eerily familiar (in some ways) to my own membership resignation story.

      Although one of the elders DID say that I had grounds for divorce, as in: “Yes, you CAN divorce your husband but the question here is SHOULD you…we’d rather you didn’t if the marriage can at ALL be saved.” The pastor; however, was against divorce at all cost.

      When I tendered my resignation from membership, I used the formal letter found at ACFJ as a template and mailed it to the church. Several months later, I received an email from the same elder I had previously counseled with, it was to the effect of: “We received your resignation but have chosen not to act upon it. Is it still your intention to resign membership?”

      I was floored. I felt they were treating me like a child or worse, like I had simply had a knee-jerk reaction and spur-of-the-moment sent them my letter of resignation. Maybe now I was having regrets and second thoughts. NOPE. Why not act upon the missive when it was sent and treat me like the responsible adult I am.

      So I took the opportunity to explain (briefly) why I was resigning, including their own offenses, abuses and manipulations against me. All I received in reply was a short reply (“We have acted upon your request”) and a signature line of: “May God have mercy on our souls.”

      Um. Nice. Thanks for the doom and gloom.

      I have always been suspicious of their actions (or lack thereof) and the resultant email asking if I “really” desired to end my membership. It wouldn’t have surprised me if, like Karen, I would have ended up in discipline.

    • standsfortruth

      I am so glad that Karen stood up against the bad advice of the controlling church leadership and did for herself what they failed to recognize, and assist her with.

      Otherwise had she not taken the initiative, to free herself from the oppressive situtation, this church surely would have added its own hurtful serving of spiritual abuse on top of what she had already suffered.

      Good for you Karen, for demonstrating how victims don’t need approval from church leaders to do what God would have them do.

    • Barnabasintraining

      But what we know for sure is that, ignoring the fact that she had already resigned her church membership, the church leaders have put Karen under church discipline for NOT SEEKING THEIR COUNSEL AND PERMISSION before she got the (fraudulent) marriage annulled.

      She acted ON HER OWN. She went to the court and got her marriage declared annulled ON HER OWN – without consulting the elders. That’s what they are disciplining her for.

      Thank you for saying this, Barbara. It is easy for this to get buried under the egregious child abuse matter, but the importance and centrality of this cannot be overstated.

      I have seen some places where what they are disciplining her for is wrongly said to be because she sought annulment. It is really her independent actions regarding both annulling her “marriage” and resigning her church membership. What the leaders at The Village Church are really disciplining her for is failure to submit to them: contumacy. She acted like an independent adult who is responsible for her own life and they think it is correct to take action against this.

      I find the fact that they think this is reasonable and appropriate to be highly disturbing. And as far as I know, they have yet to repent of it.

      • Brenda R

        BIT,

        “I have seen some places where what they are disciplining her for is wrongly said to be because she sought annulment. It is really her independent actions regarding both annulling her “marriage” and resigning her church membership. What the leaders at The Village Church are really disciplining her for is failure to submit to them: contumacy. She acted like an independent adult who is responsible for her own life and they think it is correct to take action against this.
        I find the fact that they think this is reasonable and appropriate to be highly disturbing. And as far as I know, they have yet to repent of it.”

        Amen, to all of this. When I read what the elders had said to Karen what I thought was, “said the spider to the fly.” Why are these men allowed to ask her to repent for not going to them first. They are NOT God. We have no other intercessors, except Jesus.

        I do agree Barb, that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but can also see how it is easy to do, while seeing such scenarios play out before and it is usually not pretty. My friend, who is legally separated, has been shunned by her prior church and the abuser remains in good fellowship. UGH!! These people do not seem like friends. If they had sent one message saying they believed she was justified in what she did and would hate for you to leave, that might have made a difference in my mind. They would have still been giving the choice to her. But they seem to be stalking her and that is just wrong. Your description of what they are really showing us: “It shows how much they are tin-pot spiritual tyrants. They exert power and control over the sheep. In my opinion, the TVC leaders who have done this are haughty, foolish, biblically sub-literate, arrogant, Pharisiaic bullies.” seems very accurate to me Thank you so much for clearing my mind of the fog that I was in for so many years.

        Brenda

      • Barnabasintraining

        Brenda,

        (Having just read the quote at the end of my comment, it occurs to me that a TRIGGER WARNING should be in effect here.)

        It appears these arrogant Pharisaic bullies also put the squeeze on SIM in an almost hostage-like situation involving other SIM missionaries sent by TVC. They threatened to cut off their partnership with SIM on the grounds of a sort of breach of contract, which would have left these other missionaries in the lurch.

        I had a new sending church in place and a job description approved by SIM field leadership prior to arriving at SIM USA headquarters in Charlotte for meetings beginning March 10th. There I was informed that The Village Church had threatened that if SIM kept me on active status, they would consider it a breach of the Partnership Agreement between SIM and TVC and TVC could no longer partner with SIM. This had significant implications, because there are several other SIM missionaries who are supported by The Village Church. As a result, SIM decided that I would not resume work on behalf of my team from Dallas after all. – See more at: http://watchkeep.blogspot.com/2015/05/karen-hinkleys-response-to-village.html#sthash.i0NWh1rH.dpuf

        http://watchkeep.blogspot.com/2015/05/karen-hinkleys-response-to-village.html

        Unfortunately, they got what they were after. They also said to Karen:

        I told [Matt Younger] that I was in the process of seeking counsel from a large number of believers who included friends, family, mentors, SIM leadership, and my Christian counselor. He told me that “they are not your spiritual authority, we are. We are the most important voice at the table, and you need to wait until we decide how you should proceed.” – See more at: http://watchkeep.blogspot.com/2015/05/karen-hinkleys-response-to-village.html#sthash.i0NWh1rH.dpuf

        Jaw –> floor.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Jesus would make a whip, bust into their cozy board room, and drive them out!!

      • contumacy — good word. And for my own sake, I’m doing a dictionary check to remind myself of its definition, so I’ll share it with you all:

        Contumacy (noun) (link)
        1. obstinate and wilful rebelliousness or resistance to authority; insubordination; disobedience
        2. the wilful refusal of a person to appear before a court or to comply with a court order

        Word Origin
        C14: from Latin contumācia, from contumāx obstinate; related to tumēre to swell, be proud

      • Brenda R

        Karen isn’t guilty of contumacy. If she were, she wouldn’t have sent a letter or resignation of membership. She could have just walked as a free citizen of the United States. I don’t know of any churches bringing suit of a parishioner and won. She did the right thing and in no way is she being rebellious. She doesn’t believe what these folks are handing to her with a plate and fork. I think she is both brave and wise.

        Church leaders really need to get over themselves and realize they are sheep just like everyone sitting in the pews.

  5. Not Too Late

    The Village Church leadership felt that they had to believe and support the perpetrator, and discipline (aka “care for”) his wife. Doesn’t this ring true for most church leadership and domestic abuse cases? Caring for perpetrators means believing and validating them, caring for the victim means disciplining them when they make themselves visible.

  6. bright sunshinin' day

    Brenda R said, “We have no other intercessors, except Jesus.” Amen!!!

  7. Innoscent

    Thank you Ellie and Barb for bringing this case to our attention. I am very much encouraged by Karen’s brave stand not only for herself but also for the children.

    This story also shows how abuse perpetrated subtly can go on for long and deceiving even the other spouse.

    I can’t help wondering if Karen had been the culprit, would the “bosses” have been that lenient toward her as they were toward Jordan? I’ve noticed in my own story that most men sided by default with my narc H without even have heard my version first…

  8. This post by Wade Burleson, written in the wake of the TVC fiasco, highlights the dangers of signing church covenants.

    Five Reasons to say No to a Church Covenant

    • Innoscent

      Excellent points in that post! I especially like this –
      I have sought to explain how pastors/elders “twist the Scriptures” and demand “obedience and submission” to this alleged authority. Jesus tells us that that true ‘spiritual leaders’ are only servants, never masters. Yet, evangelical leaders seem not to be listening to Jesus.

      Evangelical church leaders are increasingly becoming like despotic kings and CEO’s instead of humble ministers and shepherds of the flock 😦

    • Barnabasintraining

      Wade is a strong advocate against church authoritarianism, for which I applaud him.

      Unfortunately, he also posted an acceptance of TVC’s recent communication intended for their congregation that looks like an apology but is not. Wade said it was and has accepted it. I have to disagree with him on that as strongly as I agree with him on church covenants.

      Not going to post the link, but it’s at his blog.

      • Thanks BIT. Yes, I felt disquiet about some of Wade Burleson’s response to the way TVC are handling this.

      • Innoscent

        Thanks BIT for this. Wade is blowing hot and cold. That’s no good. 😦

  9. a prodigal daughter returns

    I was in disquiet too about Wade, whose original post I thought brilliant, commented to a reader “Their intentions are good”. Its precisely because their intentions are about power and control as are the intentions of rapist and abusers that their subsequent actions are so diabolical. I’m standing on this passage at the moment and I wrote my own blog about abuse enablers too because the church is begging for a major clean up. Proverbs 17:15 Isaiah 59:15 Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.

    • I just wrote What the Village Church’s Apology should have said.

      This is such a disaster. The lust for power blinds people to common sense.

      • I was thinking this morning of writing a ‘what they should have said’ piece. Thanks for this, Ellie! 🙂

      • and btw, I think that one of the ways we victims (targets of abuse) resist being oppressed, is by creating alternative narratives in our heads. “This is what I wish they had said” narratives. . . like alternative endings.

        By creating those narratives, we remind ourselves what JUSTICE would really look like.

      • YES! Being in a healthy church around healthy couples has helped me see the difference. Learning what normal is helped me know how very NOTnormal my marriage was. When we see the truth, lies lose their power.

      • a prodigal daughter returns

        that is a true gift you have…. it turns tables over….

      • Innoscent

        Ellie, thanks for contrasting true and counterfeit!
        The TVC leaders have Psalm 51 missing from their bibles… 😦

        Barb, alternative narratives! Yes I often do that and that helps me a lot. And when I was with my narc H I’d tell him some hoping he’d see the better way and make changes. But he’d persist with the counterfeit options anyway.

      • Me too: I created lots of alternative conversation endings in my head. I think that was one of the ways my longing for justice could get an outlet, even if only in my head.

        And it helped me think of myself as sane rather than crazy. In the alternative conversations, I made responses to his imaginary responses, and my responses were high in qualities like negotiation, reasoned and calm compassion mixed with courteous assertiveness . . . qualities I had no chance of displaying to him in real life because he railroaded all my attempts at reasonable discussion.

    • the church is begging for a major clean up.

      Yes. As Jeff wrote some time ago, a major system flush is needed in the church

      • a prodigal daughter returns

        Thank you for sharing both these articles, I’m completely overwhelmed and humbled by the truth of it, and got a good chuckle to. Perhaps these scandals are the beginning of the flush….

  10. bright sunshinin' day

    Brenda R said: “Church leaders really need to get over themselves and realize they are sheep just like everyone sitting in the pews.”

    Many pastors/elders choose OVERauthority entitlement tactics…rather than HUMBLE servant-leadership (Philippians 2). There is only ONE True Shepherd and His Name is J.E.S.U.S…may we hear HIS VOICE and follow Him.

  11. a prodigal daughter returns

    Seeing the list of what the home group was supposed to say to the Roots, a script of sorts approved by church leadership was the most heavy handed pile of manure and it reminded me of a women’s bible study I visited. It was an older group, 2 in their 70’s had spent a life in oversees missions. We were studying a ladies bible study book approved by the 30 year old pastor that gave us a list of questions we were allowed to ask. I asked one of the missionary woman about how they choose their books and she replied “we don’t, the pastor does all the choosing because he doesn’t want any ladies to get out of order”… Gobsmacked, and I never came back.

  12. Christy Thomas has written a good post about TVC’s *apology*

    http://christythomas.com/2015/05/29/the-village-church-apology/

  13. April

    So funny…literally laughing out loud. Love the illustrations too.
    The nerve of his arrogance…you can’t resign.. wow!
    Clearly a cultic, totalist church. Your husband is a sex offender….but we’re going crush you…with pious words.
    TVC people….run….

    So nice how they load their lack of empathy on her precisely when she needs it the most…

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