Thomas W. Weeks III and evangelist Juanita Bynum said they are moving on with their lives after their public and turbulent marriage ended June 20, roughly a month before the couple’s sixth wedding anniversary.
Bynum and Weeks married in July 2002, nine months prior to a ceremony televised on the Trinity Broadcasting Network that included an 80-member wedding party and 10-piece orchestra. They separated in June 2007, but their troubles burst into national headlines Aug. 21 after Weeks was arrested for attacking his estranged wife in the parking lot of Atlanta’s Renaissance Concourse Hotel.
Although Weeks maintained his innocence of spousal abuse, in mid-March he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. Weeks, who received three years’ probation and 200 hours of community service, said he wanted to protect his wife from further scrutiny. “I wanted to bring closure [to the trial] so that she wouldn’t feel that I was trying to make this just a public matter to publicize a whole lot of negative things that would have come out,” Weeks told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
During the criminal trial, Weeks hinted that the couple was discussing reconciliation. But when those discussions broke down, Weeks re-released a tell-all book about his marriage titled What Love Taught Me. In it he includes chapters with titles such as “I’d Rather Push You Now Than Punch You Later” and “She Wanted to Be the Next Oprah at Any Cost.”
Bynum said she has been hired as a regular adviser on Divorce Court and was permanently added to the cast of the ABC Family series Lincoln Heights, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The case follows the split of another well-known pastoral couple, Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Fla. Last summer, the Whites announced they were ending their 18-year marriage.
Jimmy Evans, founder of the Dallas-based ministry Marriage Today, said both couples’ divorces are damaging to the body of Christ because people look to their leaders as examples and base a lot of their actions on what leaders do. “It’s just like what a parent does or does not [do] is a model for their child and gives them permission to do the same thing,” Evans said.
“There’s a culture of this among high-profile, charismatic ministers, and they get away with it,” said Evans, former senior pastor and now senior elder of Trinity Fellowship Church in Amarillo, Texas. “They don’t stop in ministry and don’t submit themselves to counseling for reconciliation or restoration. It’s devastating to the institution of marriage and the ability of ministers to uphold a standard to their flock.”
Atlanta-area minister Cynthia Hale agreed high-profile divorces make her job tougher, but doesn’t expect these two to have much impact on churches there. The real blow came last August when both incidents made headlines the same week, she said.
Any time there is a scandal involving a minister it makes her job more challenging because people outside the church question what is different about being in Christ, she said. It also forces introspection among pastors, who must examine themselves and ask how they can live out the gospel when they have feet of clay, Hale added.
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