shocked last week after learning that Benny and Suzanne Hinn are
ministers owe us an explanation for their failures?
Judging by the calls and e-mails I received last week, charismatic
Christians were confused and dismayed when the Los Angeles Times
the news that healing evangelist Benny Hinn and his wife, Suzanne, are
divorced. The comments I heard were mostly sympathetic: "I am so
"This is a wake-up call." "This is heartbreaking." "I'm praying for the
And a few people were angry: "What is happening?" "Here we go
again." "This is why the secular world looks at us and laughs!"
to God's mercy when he makes mistakes. But a leader is held
to a higher
standard of accountability and disclosure.""
Hinn's ministry, based in Texas, eventually posted an official
statement online to quell the public outcry. It says:
Pastor Benny Hinn and his immediate
shocked and saddened to learn of this news on February 17 without any
notice. The couple has been married for more than 30 years, and although
Hinn has faithfully endeavored to bring healing to their relationship,
efforts failed and were met with the petition for divorce that was filed
Both Pastor Hinn and the board of
directors of the church ask for the
prayers of ministry partners and friends as the Hinn family walks
difficult season. Pastor Hinn also wants everyone to know that he
firmly and unquestionably committed to God's calling—as he continues in
thirty-sixth year of ministry—to take the life-saving and
of Jesus Christ to the nations through crusades, broadcasts, and mission
I'm grateful that
Hinn released this statement, but I hope he plans to say more soon. He
influenced far too many people around the world to keep us wondering why
marriage is ending.
segment of the church has endured a long string of divorces, moral
embarrassing scandals among high-profile ministers. The most recent wave
in 2006 with Ted Haggard's fall (which did not end in divorce, thanks to
Haggard's tough decision to forgive Ted). Megachurch pastors Randy and
White of Tampa, Fla., announced their break-up in 2007; then came
news from Juanita Bynum and Thomas Weeks III in Atlanta, followed by
and his wife, Gizelle, of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore. And on and on
Part of the fallout
of these scandals was the widespread disillusionment among people who
these leaders. We naturally expect ministers to be models of Christ-like
and they have a solemn charge to do so. When shepherds fail, the sheep
We've even seen
this in the secular world. When politicians or celebrity athletes
personal failure, the public wants an explanation. Tiger Woods, for
waited three long months before finally hosting a press conference last
admit what he called "irresponsible
and selfish behavior."
Of course no
minister is perfect, and every Christian has access to God's mercy when
makes mistakes. But a spiritual leader is held to a higher standard of
accountability and disclosure. Those who assume a public ministerial
a "stricter judgment," according to James
3:1. That means a leader
can't have a
moral or ethical breakdown and then just hide it, ignore it or laugh it
It also means he
can't spin the statement to his advantage. The church, of all places,
a No Spin Zone. We must take full responsibility, and that includes
owning up to our failures—and stepping down from the pulpit, if
however long it takes to find healing.
that I am not attacking a brother in Christ. I honor Benny Hinn for the
that many people have come to the Lord in his evangelistic events around
world. I also know that leaders often are hit with the worst spiritual
because they are on the front lines. I believe we owe it to Benny and
to pray that their marriage can be restored.
Yet in this season
of moral and spiritual crisis we must appeal to all those in public
handle their charge with care. Of all people on earth, those who preach
Gospel of Truth must tell the truth.
Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years and is now
contributing editor. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady.