The divorce of popular musicians Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken has rocked the Christian music industry. The couple announced earlier this year that their marriage of over 13 years was ending due to Webb's engaging in an extramarital affair.
"While we both acknowledge our own human sinfulness, Derek has taken full responsibility for the events which led to this decision," the divorce statement said.
While the pair's separation has received far less scrutiny than it would have a decade ago, (Christian artist Amy Grant's divorce in 1999 threatened to destroy her career) Christian leaders are nonetheless saddened, particularly by the charges of infidelity leading to the breakup.
Founding pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif. Jack Hayford told CBN that the church is "at a point of crisis," citing "failure... evident across the spectrum, from renowned evangelical Bible preachers to charismatic evangelists, and from noted national youth leaders to ascending Christian TV superstars."
Hayford says that while the level of breakdown of Christian marriage is certainly unfortunate, it is "amplified" when it involves leaders in the Christian community. "Sheep follow shepherds and multitudes mimic the more visible," he writes, citing "confused and biblically unfocused thinking."
Webb and McCracken are popular in the Christian music scene, with Webb receiving three GMA Dove Awards and releasing eight solo albums. Webb started out with the Christian contemporary band Caedmon's Call and later found success as a solo artist. The pair often toured together, frequently performing at churches and Christian colleges across the country.
Webb has reportedly been unfaithful since last August-the same time his latest album, I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You, was released. Webb informed the Christian Broadcasting Network he made the album for the broader Christian church.
Matthew Smith, a Nashville musician who has been friends with both McCracken and Webb, told Charisma Magazine that he hopes the Christian community will be respectful of the issue, and McCracken in particular.
"What bothers me is that among conservative Christian circles, people would think that maybe Sandra didn't try hard enough for her marriage or that she is somehow at fault," Smith said. "Sadly, I think sometimes women get treated poorly in situations like this in the public eye."
While approval for divorce within the church has increased within the past few decades, 90% of evangelicals remain opposed to extramarital affairs.
Hayford says that while the issue of divorce is touchy and fallen leaders ought not to be judged, Christians need to take the issue of infidelity very seriously.
"We permit a casual treatment of their tragedy, for God's Word is never to be lightly regarded on these points," he told Charisma Magazine. "How a believer lives unto Christ is measured in terms of marital fidelity, and how a leader leads in His name is to be judged the same."