First we must begin with the beginning of the public coverage. Matthew Paul Turner’s blog is obviously where we have to start.
January 23, 2012
… Shortly after graduating from high school (he was homeschooled), Andrew wanted a change in scenery. The then Tennessee resident says he needed a change in scenery. He needed to get away. He needed to grow up. He needed to figure out what he was going to do with the rest of his life.
So when he turned 20, Andrew moved away from his quaint life in America’s Bible belt, and he moved to Seattle, and yes, in hopes of finding himself.
Once he was settled into life in the great Northwest, Andrew took the advice of an older sibling and visited Mars Hill Church, the congregational home of Mark Driscoll.
According to Andrew, joining Mars Hill was a good move for him. While he didn’t agree with every theological declaration that came out Mark Driscoll‘s mouth, he loved his community, a devoted group of believers who seemed to love, support, and value him the way Jesus commanded. Over the next couple of years, Andrew became well connected. He volunteered. He became active in a community group. He even volunteered on Sundays as church security.
Toward the beginning of 2011, Andrew met and eventually began dating the daughter of a church elder at Mars Hill. The two fell in love quickly. Last fall, they were engaged to be married.
But shortly after becoming engaged, Andrew made a costly choice, one that involved hanging out alone with a female friend he knew from the community college he attended. Andrew and his college friend messed around. They didn’t have sex. But they got close. But what they did and didn’t do isn’t the issue. He cheated on the woman he was planning to marry. On the following morning, Andrew felt devastated, his brain flashing memories of what he’d done the night before, his heart full of shame, guilt, and hindsight’s remorse.
That evening, Andrew met his fiancée at community group. As soon as she saw his face, she knew something was wrong. After the meeting was finished, they walked outside to his car (he was planning to give her a ride home). A long hard conversation ensued, but at some point in the middle, Andrew confessed.
For obvious reasons, she was devastated, lost. They parted ways: She returned inside and he got in his car sped off. But again, his conscience screamed: You can’t run away from this. So as he turned around, he called one of the small group members and asked, “Can we talk?” He agreed, and when Andrew pulled back into the driveway of house where his community group meets, he confessed to his friend (and fellow community group member) what he’d done the night before.
As so often is the case with church drama like this, the following month was, for Andrew, filled up with meetings. A meeting with his old community group leader (he was forced to join a new community group). A meeting with his new community group leader. A meeting with his fiancée’s step-father. A meeting with his trusted friend who also happened to be the leader of his mens small group. So many meetings. And some of those meetings required second meetings.
There are two details that are critical here that never got discussed in blogging or coverage:
1) Andrew, while at Mars Hill Ballard, was engaged to the daughter of a pastor.
2) The woman is a stepdaughter.
Keep these two apparently small but important details in mind as we proceed.