December 8, 1999

Amy Grant speaks on
divorce, relationship with Gill

___NASHVILLE, Tenn. (ABP)--Gospel recording artist Amy Grant says she felt like a failure for getting a divorce in March but believes God "released" her from her 16-year marriage to Gary Chapman. She acknowledges she is now dating country music star Vince Gill but denies tabloid rumors that they were having an affair while she was married.
___Grant, 39, spoke at length on her divorce for a cover story in the November Christian
music magazine CCM. The exclusive interview with the magazine's managing editor, Gregory Rumburg, contains her first comments on the topic in a national media setting.
___People who knew the couple personally were not surprised by the divorce, Grant said, adding they had been in counseling for years.
___Grant said she was taught as a child that divorce is wrong. She never expected to become a divorce statistic, she said, and felt like a failure for not keeping her wedding vows.
___"I stood up in front of a packed-out church and made a vow before God about--as best I could--how I would lead my life. And I failed in that," she said. "Failure's incredibly humbling."
___Grant said she has learned failed marriages often are "not so much about good and bad people, but about good and bad combinations." She worked hard at making her marriage work, she said, but her personal life "kept spiraling downward." She declined to elaborate, saying it was too private to discuss.
___Grant said she believes God hates divorce but not the people involved.
___"I know why God hates divorce," she said, "because it rips you from stem to stem, and children are the total innocent recipients of a torn and shattered life."
___"There's not a week that doesn't go by that I don't really cry out from the soles of my feet and just say, 'God, let me go back. How could this have worked out differently?'" she said.
___Yet, "as a functioning, somewhat intelligent woman," Grant said she also got to the point of asking how many times she must "duct-tape" herself and pretend everything was OK.
___"At some point, you see the path ahead of you, and you say, 'I have to walk this path because I believe it's the path that I have to walk,' regardless of anybody's opinion."
___Though the divorce has been "unbelievably humbling" it also has been healing, she said. "It makes me incredibly thankful that God is a God of second chances."
___Grant denied rumors that she was having an affair with country singer Vince Gill and that their friendship broke up the marriage.
___"I didn't get a divorce because I had a great marriage and then along came Vince Gill. Gary and I had a rocky road from day one. I think what was so hard--and this is (what) one of our counselors said--sometimes an innocent party can come into a situation, and they're like a big spotlight. What they do is reveal, by comparison, the painful dynamics that are already in existence."
___Gill was a friend to her through her tough times, she said. The relationship was "not adulterous" but was "messy" because Gill and Chapman already were friends. Grant also said she was not a confidant to Gill when he went through a divorce in 1997.
___In the past, Christian music fans and retailers have pulled support from divorced artists. Grant, who is releasing a new Christmas album and preparing for a 21-city tour, understands that may happen to her. She said she has no argument against such decisions because her music is a product she is offering for sale. But she warned against being too judgmental.
___"I guess I would say, judgment is usually exercised from a distance, but in more than one instance the thing that has brought about change (in people) is compassion," she said. "Jesus led by compassion. No one is ever changed because of judgment. No one's ever healed through judgment."


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