Could a minister actually murder his wife? It's happened before, and there are instances I am very familiar with that bear on this question. More than a dozen years ago here in Grand Rapids David Duyst, an upstanding church deacon and Christian school board member, murdered his wife Sandy. Her parents and brother are members of my church and I also knew his cousin very well. Duyst was having an affair with another woman, took out a large life insurance policy on his wife and then shot her twice point blank in the back of the head. He denied it and is continuing to appeal his murder conviction. Read about it here.
My ex-husband repeatedly beat me and threatened to kill me until I escaped. What was his profession? Bible Church minister. Is Ron Carpenter capable of any such thing? Who knows. No one would have suspected my ex-husband.
The way Carpenter has handled this situation, however, is unprecedented. Dozens of ministers and prominent individuals have had multiple affairs in recent years. To name a few: Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Tiger Woods, President Clinton. I could keep going with lesser known senators and congressmen---and preachers. So the claim that Hope Carpenter had multiple affairs, if true, should simply be added to this list since she herself was prominently involved in ministry.
But her case, I insist, is unprecedented. In every other instance the accused person wept into the cameras (initially denying) or agreed to submit to "restoration" or spiritual advisors, or continued to proclaim innocence. Never once did the aggrieved spouse make public the accusations and then claim the sinner was in an undisclosed location to be confined for a year. Seriously.
Let me say right here that I have no dog in the fight over this matter. Whether Hope is guilty or innocent is not my problem. If it were church practice to put such a woman in stocks or brand a letter "A" on her bosom, it is not my business, as long as she is accorded her constitutional rights (though it obviously would be very sexist since men are not so punished). But right now there seems to be no hard evidence that she is free to make her own decisions---or that she is even alive.
Yes, I am aware of today's article published on the Christian Post reporting that 40 ministers stood at Carpenter's side in church yesterday morning as he spoke of the matter again. And I am aware of his denials:
Carpenter also referred to criticism that there was perhaps another side of the story. "There is no other side of the story," he stressed. "And she can pick up a form right now… and leave tomorrow… She asked me to represent her. She asked me to speak on her behalf. What has happened this week would have crushed her… Anything else is just a lie."
This case really upsets me. I say again, it is unprecedented. People should know positively that she is alive and well and speaking for herself and being treated like any other person who is (or may be) guilty of committing adultery. Why aren't other people screaming about this? I'm completely bewildered.