Has Mary Winkler court case put Churches of Christ on trial?
Perceived male dominance in worship and homes of members played a prominent part in Farese’s lines of questioning on Thursday, the opening day of testimony in the trial.
“In the Church of Christ, who is the head of the household?” Farese asked Dan Winkler, father of Matthew Winkler and minister of the Huntingdon, Tenn., church.
“The Bible says the husband is,” Dan Winkler replied.
“But is he the boss of the household?” Farese asked moments later.
When Dan Winkler replied with scriptural references to husbands cherishing their wives and setting direction for the household, Farese asked then: “Do you have women preachers in the Church of Christ?”
Farese also criticized the elder Winklers’ choice of a therapist for their granddaughters by choosing counselor Diana Crawford, who is part of the AGAPE Counseling Network. Farese said that because AGAPE accepts donations from individual Churches of Christ and that the Winklers were following Crawford’s recommendations regarding visitation limits and contact between Mary Winkler and her children, that “it seems like Mary is in a cycle here that she can’t get out of.”
Ballin later questioned Dr. Drew Eason, an elder at the Fourth Street congregation and family physician. Eason said he had treated at least some of the Winkler family members and was a friend of Matthew Winkler.
Ballin asked: “If I belong to the Church of Christ and I wanted to get a divorce, what would be the acceptable grounds to get a divorce for?”
Eason replied, “Adultery.”
“That’s pretty much it, isn’t it,” Ballin said, to which Eason said, “That’s pretty much it, yes.”
“We don’t expect people to live under certain situations, but in order to … the Church of Christ does believe to have an acceptable divorce so that someone can get remarried, that would be adultery,” Eason said.
Mary Winkler maintains her ties with Churches of Christ in many ways, living with a family she first met while Matthew served as youth minister for the Central church in McMinnville and worshipping at that church. According to a report published earlier this year by The Tennessean, members of the Central church have given her money and other items since she posted bond on Aug. 15, 2006.
April 13, 2007