Rick Joyner, a highly respected charismatic leader who joined with Peter Wagner, Bill Johnson, John Arnott and Che Ahn in commissioning Todd Bentley at Lakeland in June (but for some reason was omitted from some of the lists of those involved), gives a different take on Todd’s marriage problems in the second half of this article, dated 17th August. I presume that he has Todd’s permission to write what he writes.
Many people have been alleging that Todd left his wife for another woman, and calling this “adultery”. The official statements have only said that they have separated, with nothing said about who initiated this, and that Todd “has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff”.
But according to Rick it was Todd’s wife who initiated the separation:
I still do not know all of the details of his separation, but I did ask him if there had been any immorality on his part, or if he had affections for someone else that was causing this. He assured me that he had never committed adultery, and that there was no “other woman” that caused his separation. Some of his leaders who I talked to also confirmed that Todd had not been in any immoral relationship, though they were all grieving over Todd’s marital problems.
The problems Todd and his wife have had getting along have been public knowledge for several years. I don’t know enough of the details to blame anyone, but I know Todd quite well, and being married to him has got to be like being hand-cuffed to a hurricane. …
When I was in Lakeland a few months ago, I was told that Todd had been making a real effort to patch things up and heal their relationship, but in June she had left and refused any contact. Todd has now lost hope that it will be worked out, especially now that she has made it clear that she will not even see him. Todd is obviously frustrated and just wants to resolve this situation that has been so hard for so long. …
When God got a divorce, was it His fault? Of course not! He was the most perfect Husband there could ever be, but He had a wayward wife that He finally gave up on.
Now I accept that there is some tension between these different accounts, but agreement on the basic facts. Presumably the “immoral relationship” denied is one involving physical adultery, and so distinguished from “an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level”. Without wanting to justify Todd, for a man who has been deserted by his wife to find emotional solace with another woman, while unhealthy, is a rather different matter from a man deserting his wife for the other woman. It is certainly not “adultery”. I note that Rick’s words are carefully chosen to show that Todd is not denying a non-adulterous relationship with another woman after the separation.
We don’t know what stresses led Shonnah to leave Todd, but “being hand-cuffed to a hurricane” through the daily meetings at Lakeland may be too much for any woman to take, so we should not blame her either.
Perhaps, and I am speculating here, we can now guess the real reason for Todd leaving Lakeland in July and then returning rather quickly: he could have been trying to mend his relationship with Shonnah by returning home, and found himself rebuffed.
So where should we go from here? Rick is more upbeat about Todd being restored to ministry that John Arnott, perhaps because he seems to have a closer personal relationship with Todd. He writes (his own emphasis):
The world will never believe our gospel of redemption and restoration until we learn to redeem and restore. Let’s take a worst case scenario here and say that Todd was guilty of terrible things and is the one at fault in the separation—what should our response be? We are told in Galatians 6:1:
Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.
So, if anyone has been “caught in any trespass,” those who are “spiritual” must restore them. Those who are truly spiritual approach every situation with that goal—redemption and restoration. This is more than just forgiving them—it is getting them back to the place they were. The next verse says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). …
This is a real opportunity for the church to show some maturity and Christian love. This does not mean compromise, but it does mean addressing this situation in an almost opposite way that we have tended to do in the past. We will all reap what we sow, and if we want to reap grace, we must learn to sow grace every chance we get. If we want to receive mercy, we need to learn to sow mercy every chance we get. Here’s a good chance!