An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. – 1 Timothy 3:2-7
J D Hall of Pulpit and Pen broke a tragic revelation* last week, which the rest of the media quickly grabbed up in their own headlines. Satan had brought down yet another high-profile evangelical pastor, using head-slander against his own one-flesh wife and the allure of another man’s wife. Satan had successfully attacked not just one, but two covenant families– and a church congregation in the process.
(*Small silver lining: J D Hall “gets it” when it comes to the perverse relationship between “family courts” and the evangelical churches, and doesn’t mind using his microphone to enlighten his evangelical listeners. Don’t miss the excellent listening between 8:38 and 10:08 minutes into the linked Pulpit & Pen podcast, January 12, 2018 about the dissipated moral authority of the church which prefaces the description of Hall’s phone conversations with Locke.)
The social media report last week was, that outspoken (some would say, angry-spirited) neo-conservative Pastor Greg Locke had accused his wife of 20 years of being mentally-ill, had filed for divorce and had sent her away on a bus without their two natural and two adopted children, who will be in the joint custody of himself and his mother. Further, he had recently installed his wife Melissa’s “best friend” as an administrative assistant at Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee (suburb of populous and affluent Nashville) which Locke founded in 2006, and Locke was allegedly dating this woman who had also filed a recent divorce petition against her own husband.
If this scenario is beginning to sound like deja vu to the readers, there’s good reason it does. The Locke cult-following (some even within the circle of covenant marriage standers) were indignant, unable to believe it could possibly be true, and were chiding the re-posted reports as “shameful gossip”. Meanwhile, many standers who have been down this infidelity road with their own spouse were finding it hard to overlook all of the telltale signs in this sorry story, and the familiar narcissism in Locke’s video statement from January 11, (which Locke has apparently had the common sense to take down in the days since he posted it). Evidently, the podcast link in the first paragraph above is the only place to get back to at least the Pen & Pulpit audio of the video that was taken down this week from Locke’s public figure facebook page, the relevant portion starting at approx. 17:30 minutes.
Locke, of course, fancied that “damage-control” was possible (and probably necessary) with his 1 million+ facebook following, so he posted this now-removed video to his wall late last Thursday, implying that his wife (not he) had filed the divorce, while giving various conflicting time frames for her departure. He blamed his “haters” and in a tearful plea, insisted “I’m not an adulterer.” Not even in his heart, apparently. He said his church was “fully aware” of his relationship with the other woman (we suppose so, since they had “agreed” to put her on staff), and said the church was “walking beside him” in his “brokenness” (as opposed to taking the biblical step of asking Locke to step away from ministry for the season needed to attend to his family). According to the podcast audio recounting Hall’s very recent phone interview with Locke, Pulpit & Pen challenged Locke’s statement that the divorce was final, as Locke strongly implied in the video. It is very disturbing indeed that Locke tearfully concluded the now-removed video as follows (approximately 26:30):
“I told them [his GVBC congregation], ‘I’ve gotta move forward with MY kids, and with MY life’….and people are, like, are you going to reconcile, are you going to work on it? Do you understand if you’ve ever been divorced, that divorce is the finality of what you’ve been working on. It’s not the beginning and the cause of it.” – Locke, January 11, 2018
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. – Matthew 19:8
A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
– 1 Cor. 7:39
Approximately 23:25 into the Pulpit & Pen podcast, there is discussion of the counsel Greg Locke said (to J D Hall and Locke’s facebook audience) that he had sought from Charles Stanley’s ministry in Atlanta, GA. Stanley’s wife Anna (deceased since 2014) obtained a civil divorce from Charles in 2000 after 42 years of marriage, and about seven years of legal separation. Unlike Greg Locke, Stanley is accountable to a church board, and Stanley’s church board voted that he not step down so long as Stanley remain unmarried (per the biblical instruction in 1 Cor. 7:11). To-date, there has been no evidence at all that Stanley has not done so. Presumably, he has also honored the Lord by remaining celibate.
In other words, unlike Greg Locke, Charles Stanley is a covenant marriage “stander”, and unlike Greg Locke, Charles Stanley is now eligible to remarry if the Lord should so lead. “Standerinfamilycourt” takes exception, in this age of unilateral divorce, to the notion that a celibate, standing pastor whose children are grown and gone, raised orderly, should step down. (SIFC has full respect for those who reasonably disagree on the basis that such a pastor failed to properly care for his wife according to Ephesian 5.) In our humble opinion, at any rate, the board of First Baptist Church in Atlanta seems to have handled Mrs. Stanley’s prodigal departure in a way the Apostle Paul would have approved.
By contrast, Locke’s Global Vision Bible Church is independent, and similar to the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) denominational background Locke first pastored in before founding his present church, there appears to be no church board to be accountable to, according to our search of the church’s website. Any comparison Locke makes of himself with Charles Stanley is totally spurious, therefore. According to accounts that various church members gave to J D Hall, Locke issued an ultimatum one autumn 2017 Sunday to his congregation (last 15 minutes of the link) after Melissa’s departure, and he has no intention of stepping back or stepping down, despite the fact that his young family is not well-governed as the qualification scripture for pastors (1 Timothy 3:2-7) requires. If he “marries” the adulteress Tai McGee to keep his position, he will no longer be “the husband of one wife”. All of the above is the classic scenario of how so many legalized adulterers come to replace chaste, biblically-qualified pastors behind our evangelical pulpits in the harlot church. Is there any wonder why God’s judgment is falling so heavily on His church?
Another pastor, Stephen Anderson, of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ (another Independent Fundamental Baptist church, denominational membership, about 8 million) is a marriage permanence pastor who has done videos criticizing fallen, high-profile pastors who refuse to repent from their adultery and also refuse to step down from ministry, most notably Kent Hovind, whose adulterous remarriage in early 2016 to divorcee Mary Trocco is already in divorce proceedings (mercifully). In this video, Anderson echoes what Hall said about pastor qualifications, and the need for Locke to step down.
Anderson had been critical of Locke in an early 2016 video for a reason we don’t concur with, namely Locke’s backing away from the extreme Calvinist doctrine, “once saved, always saved” in Global Vision’s doctrine statement. Our position on the nature of justification and sanctification can be read here, and also here. Anderson goes so far as to question whether Locke has had a genuine born-again experience, due to this theology difference and Locke’s public persona, which we probably should not be judging until Mr. Locke has had an opportunity to “finish the race”, though we know the evangelical church in general is full of false converts. The theological criticism and Anderson’s questioning of the social media / political route Locke took to gather his following all arose before there were indications of marriage problems between the Lockes. Although we disagree with that aspect of Anderson’s criticism, his biblical observations about putting away Melissa, taking up with another man’s wife, and the condition of Locke’s family calling for him to step away from ministry at this time are all spot-on, echoing J D Hall.
In looking at accounts of Locke’s upbringing, divorce and adulterous remarriage is an unresolved generational issue in his family, and the trademark angry spirit with which Locke tears into liberals and the gay community, he apparently came by as a result of the divorce and remarriage-related family strife in his young years. Locke’s mother “divorced” his father after her true husband was sent to prison, and “married” another man when Locke was only five years old. Understandably, this usurper and his “step-son” did not get along. Before his conversion experience outside the family, Locke had various brushes with the law. But nobody ever went back and taught Locke that his mother’s soul was endangered because she was living in ongoing adultery, or that this “stepfather” was an immoral fixture in his childhood home. Perhaps if this had occurred, it would have helped dissipate some of the anger and self-focus that it’s clear he carried over into his “ministry”. The wicked example of unrebuked remarriage adultery is almost always self-perpetuating in the next generation. Whatever “standing” Locke felt like he had done for his own allegedly difficult marriage,
“divorce is the finality of what you’ve been working on. It’s not the beginning and the cause of it.”
…before looking around to replace his wife and “move forward” with “HIS” kids and “HIS” life, is likely to have been done out of a legalistic spirit, if the holy concepts of supernatural inseverable one-flesh (sarx mia) and unconditional covenant have never been biblically explained to him. This kind of an upbringing which normalizes Christ-defined immorality even in church also tends to lead to narcissism, feeling “owed” by God, out of the sharp sense of deprivation that years spent in an immoral home can foster in the heart of a kid who wasn’t properly discipled after coming to faith. Somebody in that family needs to draw the kingdom line with the devil!
A visit to the website of Global Vision Bible Church describe an element of the church’s “DNA” as “Loud where God is loud and silent where God is silent.” What an ironic statement for the (reputed) LGBT(xyz) community’s “worst nightmare”! Jesus didn’t feel the need to say much of anything for that which was no threat to the Jews or Gentiles of the 1st century, but repeatedly forbid and warned against precisely what Locke is in the process of doing now, and for which he is apparently receiving no discipline, or even rebuke, at all from the other leadership of that church.
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, SO THAT HIS SPIRIT MAY BE SAVED in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—NOT TO EVEN EAT WITH SUCH A ONE. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
– 1 Corinthians 5
Who remembers the Ashley Madison scandal from 2015 that rocked more than 400 U.S. evangelical pastors exposed in that scandal– for who they are, when they think no one is watching? From the mouth of one who’s so “important” that he doesn’t feel it matters who is watching:
SIFC (1/30/2018) – Sorry folks, it seems Locke has taken this video down as well since publication of this blog post. It was priceless, as one can just imagine.
Even if Locke is not yet sleeping with this woman until he can obtain the sham civil and church paperwork (doubtful, since his judgment is already so clouded), are there any obvious and recorded signs of this man being a reviler? Or covetous? As King David was sent a prophet named Nathan a year or more after his illicit wedding to Bathsheba, to tell him “you are the man!” he was not allowed by God to use his empire and an unlawful “marriage” to cover up his sin, neither will Greg Locke.
Since Locke independently established his non-denominational church, it is likely he personally wrote the Statement of Beliefs for that church, with only limited input or external ratification. These are brief, and they read as follows:
“WHAT WE BELIEVE (GLOBAL VISION BIBLE CHURCH):
- We believe the Bible is the perfect Word of God. It is without error from beginning to end. The Bible is our sole Authority for faith and practice. (2 Tim 3:13-17)
- We believe that salvation is provided by Jesus Christ and Him alone. It is through his death, burial and resurrection that men are saved from sin. It is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin. Works and religion cannot save in anyway. The Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation. Furthermore, we believe that Christ died for all men and upon the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the REPENTANCE OF THE HEART and the confession of the mouth men are Born-Again of God’s Spirit. (Rom 1:16, 1 Cor 15:1-4, Eph 2:8-9)
- We believe in the eternal salvation of all believers. Once a person trusts in Christ, they are forever kept by the power of God and CAN NEVER BE LOST. Salvation is truly everlasting life. However, those who have trusted Christ are His and will obey Him and His Word. We do not believe a person can live any way they so desire and be saved. The Bible DOGMATICALLY DECLARES that a person will be a new creature in Christ. (2 Cor 5:17, Jn 10:27-30)
- We believe in the Bible doctrine of the Trinity. We believe in one God, co-existing in three persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is the father who planned our salvation, his Son Jesus who provided our forgiveness and the Spirit of God who SEALS OUR STATE before God. Furthermore, at the moment of SALVATION we receive all of God’s Spirit. We do not get more of God, rather we must surrender more of ourselves to him on a daily basis. (1 Jn 5:7)
- We believe that the local New Testament Church is God’s ordained institution. It is through individual bodies of believers that the Great Commission is carried on throughout the world. (Acts 2:41-47, Matt 28:18-20)” “Standerinfamilycourt” has highlighted some phrases in three of these GVBC tenets that could be contributing to Greg Locke’s spiritual confusion, and therefore, could be specifically leading him down the wrong path. The joke, in places like Tennessee, is that if you’re an evangelical, you’re going to be a Baptist (therefore, a Calvinist) — it’s just a matter of which of the 57 varieties of Baptist (Southern, Freewill, Regular, Fundamental, etc., etc.) one chooses. Hence, we have an Independent Fundamental Baptist taking to YouTube to rebuke an nondemoninational independent Baptist over the degree of toxic Calvinism practiced (i.e. who has the worst “salvation by works” doctrine in the other’s eyes). (1) “Repentance of the heart” is not repentance at all unless the feet are doing a physical U-turn at the same time. People in this mindset confuse “salvation” with either sanctification or justification, and dismissively label obedience to Christ’s commandments “salvation by works” or “legalism”. New Testament scripture makes it clear that we can fall away, even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, if we persistently and habitually choose not to obey the commandments of Christ. We are warned in the book of Hebrews that this process hardens a believer’s heart, and that there is a point of no-return once the Holy Spirit becomes so grieved and quenched that He cannot do His convicting work in us any longer. Toxic Calvinists will claim that this constitutes, “not being born again to begin with” (as Anderson does toward Locke). Anderson may legitimately do so only if he can conclusively demonstrate that the wandering soul in question was never indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This is a tall order for we humans who lack omniscience. If we know a person well and we are Spirit-filled, we only know the point at which the Holy Spirit did indwell someone else, from the degree of transformation in their life and consistent heart attitudes thereafter for a long season. We have no way of knowing conclusively that He did not indwell someone specific at some point, unless perhaps it’s one of our functional gifts. Unfortunately, the first person someone with the spirit of adultery (a self-worshipper) lies to is himself or herself, and equally unfortunately, “repentance in the heart” can be premediated in Calvinist environments because of the “once-saved, always saved” (OSAS) heresy. This is mocking God, which Paul repeatedly warns cannot be done without eternal consequences if not genuinely (and physically) repented. (2) “Dogmatically declares” (that a person will be a new creation in Christ) pretends that our free will “goes away” and will no longer be exercised. God has endless ways to persuade us from our free will before it destroys our eternity, but unfortunately, He doesn’t ever override it. We indeed are a new creation in Christ from the moment we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, but it’s an error to claim we will never backslide. We should know this instinctively from the experience of the believers who surround us. The fact that we are no longer able to be controlled by sin does not mean for a moment that we are prevented from willfully resubmitting ourselves to that control at a later point. Someone deceived with a spirit of adultery who genuinely believes he and his intended adultery partner are born again very commonly reasons that,“since I am doing this, and God is ‘blessing’ it, it must be His will, otherwise the Holy Spirit (Who is, in reality, both grieved and quenched) would not allow it. I must have not been doing God’s will in my marriage, since that wasn’t so blessed.”One can just imagine how tempting this reasoning is if Greg’s characterization of Melissa being mentally ill is true. If there’s a way to lay down one’s cross that men will allow other men to get away with, it becomes very hard to resist. The IBF denomination Locke formerly belonged to teaches strongly against divorce and remarriage, but does so legalistically, with the Calvinistic spectre of “not being born again to begin with” hanging over a prodigal’s head. Contrast this legalistic obedience with what the Church Father, Origen said: “If we love this neighbor, we are fulfilling the entire law and all the commandments by his love.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe.
” It is absolutely impossible for one who loves Christ with his whole heart and with all his inner being to do anything displeasing to Christ.
“For the one who loves him not only does not commit murder, which is prohibited by the law, but he does not become angry with his brother because he whom he loves takes delight in this.
“And not only does he not commit adultery, but he does not look at a woman in order to desire her. But instead he says to him, “My soul desires and faints for the living God.
”When would one who loves Christ, who has even abandoned everything he owns to follow Christ, think about stealing [someone else’s one-flesh]?
“On what occasion does the one who loves Christ bear false testimony, when he knows that the one he loves was betrayed by false testimony?
“He who loves Christ inevitably loves his neighbor [including his one-flesh] as well. For a disciple is marked as belonging to Christ by this proof alone, if he loves his neighbors. For it is certain that he who does not love his neighbor does not know Christ.
–Origen, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
Someone who believes that “salvation” cannot be lost, regardless of whether they make choices that evade their ongoing sanctification (obtaining the wedding garments and the oiled lamp needed for admission to the future marriage supper), can easily rationalize that God will “grade them on a curve”, come Judgment Day, and in fact, they will only have their “rewards” reduced (1 Cor 3:11-15). Hence, for the same reason, they don’t feel it’s necessary to exclude legalized adulterers from their pews and church coffers, they feel “their right to be happy” in this life is worth the gamble they’ve taken with the Most High. (3) The Spirit of God “Seals our state” and Holy Spirit indwells upon “salvation“. Examined closely, these two statements are mutually exclusive due to timing factors. The Holy Spirit indwells, as a deposit (not a guarantee, as one unfortunate translation renders it) upon our justification. Our salvation is not complete and conferred until we arrive and are admitted to the marriage supper of the Lamb. See How Good is the Pledge of Being Sealed? for the detailed hermeneutic support for this doctrine correction. The effect of this error on a Greg Locke-style prodigal is a combination of the two deceits discussed in (1) and (2). The reference in (2) that “We do not believe a person can live any way they so desire and be saved” (limited to drinking, smoking, dipping, chewing, dancing, fist-fighting, sodomizing, tongues-speaking, cussing, sleeping with someone else’s wife without the proper paperwork) most likely refers to someone who “was never saved to begin with”. Greg Locke has a searchable sermon file, as many Baptist pastors do, on SermonAudio. Using the search terms, “marriage” “divorce”, or “remarriage”, SIFC was unable to bring up any sermons at all on those topics, despite GVBC having been in existence for ten years. This could be because M D R (marriage, divorce and remarriage) is a deliberately silent topic in his church, which is not at all unusual. Nor is that necessarily a bad thing if the pastor does not believe in the no-excuses indissolubility of God-joined holy matrimony. Greg Locke is no Stephen Anderson.
Before wrapping up, a quick look at Tennessee divorce law indicates that, based on the longest of the many conflicting time frames Locke mentioned in the now-deleted facebook video, the very soonest this “dissolution” can be final is July, 2018, based on a combination of no-fault and 1 year desertion grounds, unless there is a mutual petition, in which case, the parents must still attend a parenting class before anything can be finalized, since there are minors in the home. Other grounds require a trial and evidence, if contested, and that can take considerable time to get docketed. Divorce petitions are public records, so the filing date is searchable in their county, and the petitioner can be known. Locke insisted in the video that he didn’t file, and perhaps that’s true, but it’s also a matter of public record. Melissa could have filed on either no-fault or adultery or banning from the home grounds, if it’s true that Greg didn’t file. He stated that Melissa was sent, and is living out of state, so any divorce proceeding will entail delays and continuances, especially where children are involved. The timing, therefore could not have been sufficient for a finalized decree, as Locke implied to the contrary, and Hall astutely disputed last week. We all know that there are no “ex” wives in the kingdom of God, only ex-adultery partners, so Locke was lying to himself and to God by deliberately calling Melissa his “ex” wife. There is still time for the compassionate to pray for this family.
(1) irreconcilable differences if: [a] there has been no denial of this ground; [b] the spouses submit a properly signed marital dissolution agreement (see below under Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures); or [c] this grounds for divorce is combined with a general fault-based grounds or (2) living separate and apart without cohabitation for 2 years when there are no minor children. Fault:
(1) impotence; (2) adultery; (3) conviction of a felony and imprisonment; (4) alcoholism and/or drug addiction; (5) wife is pregnant by another at the time of marriage without husband’s knowledge; (6) willful desertion for 1 year; (7) bigamy; (8) endangering the life of the spouse; (9) conviction of an infamous crime; (10) refusing to move to Tennessee with a spouse and willfully absenting oneself from a new residence for 2 years; (11) cruel and inhuman treatment or unsafe and improper marital conduct; (12) indignities that make the spouse’s life intolerable; and (13) abandonment, neglect, or banning the spouse from the home.
If the court feels as though there is a possible chance of reconciliation, it will postpone any trial or hearing date and request the parties to attend mediation or counseling. In cases involving minor children, the court requires the parents to attend a parenting education class prior to the divorce being finalized.
Pastor Locke, you have the Other Woman’s children and four of your own, plus your entire congregation watching you turn your back on the Lord’s commandment. The word of God says that we are a “kingdom of priests”, and God does not continue in fellowship with treacherous and violent priests.
“This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring. Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.”
– Malachi 2:13-15
UPDATE 1/21/2018: Pulpit & Pen continues to be contacted by members of Locke’s church and by family members of the parties involved, so they have continued to report on the situation. They pulled the public record of the divorce filing, dated November 13, 2017, Melissa as Plaintiff. They also reportedly located Melissa living in a women’s protective shelter. The earliest an uncontested divorce can be final in the eyes of the State of Tennessee based on the filing date is mid-February, so Locke was clearly being untruthful in his January 11 video where he claimed to the public to be already “divorced”. In the eyes of God, Greg and Melissa Locke, and this Tai McGee and her rightful husband, will be married until one of each couple passes out of this life, and hence, it would have been so much better for everyone concerned if Melissa had taken her complaint to Criminal Court, instead of “family court”.
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!