Okay people, it’s time for another one of these. This is an all-skate, so that means you cannot just sit there and idly read the words on your computer screen. I want to see some good discussion here!
Toward that end, I am posting something that I know will get your juices flowing and make you want to speak your mind on one side or the other of this issue.
A couple of months back, a piece appeared in Patrol Magazine in which Matthew Paul Turner reminisced about an interview that he did with Amy Grant back in 2002, in connection with her then-upcoming hymns album. At the time, he was the editor of CCM Magazine. His boss Gerald wanted him to extricate an apology from Amy Grant for her divorce, by hook or by crook if necessary.
The backstory: In 2000 Amy Grant divorced her then-husband Gary Chapman and married Vince Gill. The perception in Christian media of how it went down was this: Amy Grant met Vince Gill, decided that Gary Chapman couldn’t hold a candle to him, kicked Gary Chapman to the curb and hooked up with Vince Gill. There may have been some illicit hanky-panky along the way, if the rumors floating around tabloids, gossip columns, and internet chat rooms back during the 90s are to be believed.
But if you read this interview from CCM back in 2001, in which Amy Grant speaks candidly about her marriage with Gary Chapman and subsequent divorce, you will see that there is more to this than meets the eye. Here is a sample quote: “I didn’t get a divorce because I had a great marriage and then along came Vince Gill. Gary and I had a rocky road from day one. I think what was so hard—and this is [what] one of our counselors said—sometimes an innocent party can come into a situation, and they’re like a big spotlight. What they do is reveal, by comparison, the painful dynamics that are already in existence.”
It was this interview that Gerald had in mind when he called Turner into his office. God has clear rules which stipulate that a person who marries is to stay married for the duration of his/her life. Amy Grant sinned against God by violating this rule; therefore she needed to publicly repent and apologize to all her fans and CCM. Gerald was upset that this did not happen, and he wanted to make sure that it did happen when Turner did his interview.
So Turner did the interview. Gerald was not satisfied with the results; the article that ran in CCM was a heavily doctored piece in which several quotes from Amy Grant were taken out of context and twisted into an expression of public contrition that would pass muster.
Turner sums up his reaction as follows:
Amy’s face still graced the cover of CCM that month, but the story printed only loosely resembled the one I wrote. Gerald [the publisher] forced my editorial director to rewrite the story. The new story featured Amy miraculously apologizing. Her quotes were fabricated and molded into something that didn’t represent her story or my story, but rather a story that reflected the moral absolutes Gerald believed CCM hadn’t upheld until he was in charge.
According to Gerald, the truth about Amy just wasn’t Christian enough to be put in the pages of his magazine. I’m not sure anybody’s truth was worthy of Gerald’s CCM.
Read the story in its entirety here, then check back with me.
So what do you think? Was Turner too soft on Amy Grant, or was Gerald out of line for insisting on an apology from Amy Grant?
Now I know that the subject of divorce is a very contentious one among Christians, especially those of the evangelical variety. So I will put in my two cents’ worth, and then I will open the floor for discussion.
Let’s start with this: Divorce is contrary to the will of God. The clear teaching of Scripture is that the Lord hates divorce.
However, we live in a fallen world. Marriages fail. Even among Christians who seek to honor God and take His word seriously.
There are many reasons why marriages fail. Sometimes they fail because of selfishness on the part of one or both of the people involved. Sometimes they fail because of reasons that are much more graphic and poignant, i. e. adultery, abandonment, emotional or even physical abuse.
And sometimes marriages fail because the people involved are mismatched personality-wise. They are just not a good fit for each other. They may try to make such a marriage work, and even succeed for a limited time. But eventually it becomes clear that such a marriage cannot continue without doing serious violence, emotionally and/or spiritually, to one or both of the people involved.
From the CCM piece that I linked earlier, it seems that Amy Grant and Gary Chapman were a mismatched couple. They tried to make it work, but things eventually reached a point where Amy could not continue any longer without doing serious violence to herself. Perhaps Gary was in a similar place himself; the article doesn’t say. There may have been other factors as well. Emotional or physical abuse may have been part of the equation. We don’t know; Amy chose not to mention this in the interview. If there was emotional or physical abuse, I can understand Amy’s decision to not mention it in an article that would be read by millions of her fans.
Amy Grant made a very bad choice in divorcing Gary Chapman. But from what she says in the CCM piece that I linked, it seems that her relationship with Gary Chapman had deteriorated to the point where there were no good choices left for her to make. In our fallen world, sometimes that’s how it is. Sometimes there just aren’t any good choices; sometimes one is forced to choose the “least worst” alternative.
But whatever the case may be, God’s grace and redemptive power is big enough to cover all of it. This is the big idea in Turner’s piece, that Amy Grant had found redemption for her failure to fulfill her marriage vows to Gary Chapman by leaning hard into the Gospel. Too bad that his boss was blinded to this by his concern for upholding what he understood to be God’s moral absolutes.
So what do you think?
Do you believe that God’s moral absolutes concerning marriage and divorce need to be upheld, and that the attitudes expressed in Turner’s piece and the CCM piece come dangerously close to condoning divorce and/or disparaging the sanctity of marriage? Or is Amy Grant right to lean into the Gospel and cling to the redemption that she has found on the other side of her divorce?
A larger question: An unnamed counselor told Amy Grant that “God made marriage for people. He didn’t make people for marriage. He didn’t create this institution so He could just plug people into it. He provided this so that people could enjoy each other to the fullest.’ Do you believe this? Why? Or is it the other way around, that people were made for the institution of marriage? If so, why?
The floor is open. Keep it civil. But I want to see some discussion!