Pro baseball player Ben Zobrist and his wife, Julianna, appeared together during a celebratory parade in 2016, in Chicago; the couple is now divorcing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Social Influencer Julianna Zobrist Responds to Estranged Husband’s Accusations

By Bob Smietana

Julianna Zobrist, a Christian author, singer and Instagram influencer, says she is focusing on raising her children and won’t discuss her acrimonious divorce from a former baseball star and World Series MVP.

Zobrist’s estranged husband, Ben Zobrist, has sued the couple’s former pastor, alleging the pastor had a sexual relationship with Zobrist’s wife and claiming the pastor had abused his spiritual influence.

Julianna Zobrist said in a statement Tuesday that she would not address those claims, saying she refused to “divert my energy to slinging mud and publicly reveal personal details of my previous relationship in order to score sympathy points.”

Instead, she said she would focus her attention on the couple’s three children.

“It’s tempting to retaliate or seek revenge when someone decides to hurt, slander, or lie about you,” she wrote in the statement posted on Instagram. “Especially in public. It’s difficult to remember that those who harm us are acting out of their own pain. Wounded people need healing, and that’s what I pray finds every person who is so lost in their pain that they resort to inflicting harm on others.”

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Zobrist is the host of the “Read with Jules” book club, a subscription discussion club for women; author of “Pull It Off,” a book on faith and embracing “your authentic self”; and a Christian singer. She is also co-author, with Ben Zobrist, of “Double Play,” a book on family and faith.

She and her husband have both filed for divorce in Tennessee. Their former pastor has been subpoenaed as part of the divorce proceedings, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. 

Ben Zobrist’s lawsuit against the couple’s former pastor includes copies of text messages, in which the former major leaguer says his wife accused him of “emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse,” a claim he denied.

“Can’t be 2,000 miles away from her and kids while she’s thinking that about me. I have owned every bit of my sin, but I will not own the abuse angle,” Ben Zobrist told the couple’s former pastor in a text message. 

The former major leaguer, who played baseball at two Christian colleges, was named MVP of the 2016 World Series after helping the Chicago Cubs break their long-standing championship drought.

Bob SmietanaBob Smietana is a national reporter for Religion News Service.

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30 thoughts on “Social Influencer Julianna Zobrist Responds to Estranged Husband’s Accusations”

  1. Kenin Richard stuurman

    Typical modern woman. Run to social media to make yourself look good. Never address the facts. Always play the victim and blame the actual victim. She tried to be the traditional woman but the harlot in her came out. When Julia got the tattoo, Ben should’ve gotten the divorce papers ready. If a woman gets a tattoo, she is declaring that she wants out. This is a red flag. Ben should’ve been alert. He should do a paternity test on all three kids, especially the youngest. There’s a good chance he’s not the father. If I’m not mistaken, that child was conceived within the time period of the affair.

    1. This is terrible journalism. The title alone tries to paint Julianna as the victim. Ben has been silent in the media. He left his career to work on his marriage. She on the other hand continued to play the victim in social media. All she has to do is deny the claims but I have some respect that she isn’t willing to lie. She is playing the moral high ground when putting the kids first would be saving your marriage. There is forgiveness and restoration with God but you have to admit your sin.

  2. 1. What is a “social influencer”?
    2. She’s wise to stay out of Ben’s lawsuit, else she may lose what little credibility she has left.

  3. Correction: I believe she filed in IL, not TN. He filed in TN.
    I don’t buy her innuendo and posturing. There is forgiveness, but first she needs to be honest and own her sin. And she ought to have thought of the kids before she broke her marriage covenant and got sinfully involved with the pastor. Ugh.

  4. Think their story says it all!

    It’s about a narcisstic couple that simply deserves each other . Thank God they didn’t marry God fearing spouse that would have been their sheep slave .

    It’s ironic that both are airing out the others dirty laundry with a trio which includes a corrupt ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing

    They idolize themselves even in the midst of their sin thinking they actually have earned and campaigned for them affection of their worshipers

    They have not even come close to realize it is God who has exposed all of them for the fakes they all are!

    Glorified Narcissists all 3 of them …

    1. Agreed. Makes me think of

      “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 1 Cor. 1:26-30

      It is human carnality that looks for social influencers and believes that God is as impressed with them as we are. Yet God chooses the weak, lowly, despised and humble, those who are “losers,” to shame the fake religiosity of our Superstar Celebrities.

    2. Gordon Hackman

      I think that’s unfair. Ben seems like a good guy who tried to save his marriage and got a raw deal to me. Julianna and the pastor not so much.

    1. Ron,
      Any pastor having sex with the wife of a couple who is coming to him for marriage counseling IS committing clergy sex abuse. PERIOD.

  5. Assuming that there isn’t a pre-nup it sounds like her lawyer told her to keep her mouth shut until they squeeze as much out of the divorce settlement as possible. in addition to alimony she will fight for child custody so that she can take advantage of the huge child support she will be requesting especially now that her career is probably down the drain.

  6. Kenin Richard stuurman

    Julianna Zobrist pretended to be traditional woman. In the end her true nature was revealed. Now she is playing the victim. Ben should have been alert. A red flag he missed was the tattoo his ex-wife got. When she did that she was declaring her independence. Ben should also have a paternity test. The youngest child was born during the time period of the affair his ex-wife had if I’m not mistaken. No one should take their former cheating spouse at their word.

  7. Note she doesn’t accuse him of actually slandering and lying, but she draws you into the conclusion he has done so. She’s a manipulator. Hope she doesn’t get the children. Now she makes it all about them. She should have thought of her kids as well as others, God included, before secretly carrying on with a married man (whose wife outed the relationship).

  8. Marin Heiskell

    I can’t tell what is sadder – the impact of this divorce on the children, all of the circumstances around this divorce playing out in public, or the condescending, judgmental accusations from the very Christian community that should be providing refuge, loving correction, and compassion.

    1. Yawn, you’re guilty of the very thing you accuse others with this post.

      You need to repent for the post, or, repent for your judgmentalism, and lack of compassion and provide loving correction in ;)

  9. Larry Shackley

    Ben Zobrist is a world-class athlete known for being a witness for Christ in every situation. He was not a grandstander, but was beloved by his teammates for being an inspiration on the field and off. He put a stop to his multi-million dollar career in order to try to preserve his marriage. He is a preacher’s kid who learned about Christ from his dad, and who used his “influence” to help others. He was betrayed by his wife and by a pastor he thought he could trust, who not only stole his wife but also bilked him out of a lot of money. I just hope he can get on with his life and move away from this toxic situation.

  10. This is a very sad and messy situation and, as Christians, we should be careful as to how we choose to comment and engage. With that said, if one reads this statement by Julianna Zobrist, it should be taken for what it is, or rather what it’s not – And it is not the taking of the higher road as she tries to make it out to be. Whether a genuinely misguided attempt or a purposefully deceitful effort, this statement is a back-handed slap at her husband accusing and blaming him of making things public and of inflicting harm and of supposed lies and slander. It is anything but taking the higher road and caring only about her children.

    The limited information we have in this case have come from two sources: 1) Info dug up by reporters from the divorce filings and the lawsuit Ben Zobrist filed against his former pastor who became involved with Julianna and also was involved with their charity, and, 2) Statements made by Julianna on social media. Ben has made no public statements of any consequence regarding details of their separation and coming divorce.

    I rarely enter the fray in discussions like these, but choose to do so this time for two reasons: 1) I have serious concerns about the hypocrisy and corruption that popular Christianity has become significantly ensnared within over the years, especially the last several, and, 2) I am a big baseball fan and very much knew of Ben Zobrist, both as a baseball player and also his Christian faith.

    Very few of us have substantial knowledge of what all went on in this marriage, and for the most part, much of it is not even our business, even as both of these people have some level of fame and celebrity. However, due to the circumstances that occurred in the disintegration of this relationship, some things were bound to become public and gain attention. As Christians, we should now be concerned with dealing with and speaking truth, while at the same time maintaining care and compassion.

    If any real abuse of any kind was manifested by any involved parties, it would be important for this to be clarified and brought to light as such situations are increasingly being revealed to be rampant and covered-up in Christian circles and the Christian culture needs to be more aware of such and better learn how to respond to such situations. If this pastor used his power and influence of spiritual position to manipulate and take advantage of and/or abuse Julianna and the marriage, then this should be brought to light so that the Christian community has the opportunity to respond appropriately. The same if physical or legitimate verbal or emotional abuse was conducted by any of the parties.

    Outside of some sick twisted lying ploy by the pastor, the existence of an affair between the pastor and Julianna is pretty much validated by the pastor’s admittance in legal documents that the relationship was sexual and the corresponding divorce of his own marriage. If the affair with her pastor was in any manner consensual on Julianna’s part, then she would be far better off taking responsibility for it and repenting of it than putting out statements like this feigning to take the high road and seeking duped support through it.

  11. My take here is that it’s telling that she’s not specifically denying cheating on him, but is rather giving unspecified references to “slanders”. She’s speaking pretty carefully here, IMO, not explicitly denying things where she knows there is clear evidence, and is relying on her soon to be ex-spouse’s anger to provide her with “ammunition” of some kind or other for some purpose that may or may not serve her well in the divorce proceedings.

    If I were Ben Zobrist’s lawyer (and I am not a lawyer, just a guy who’s watched family law from the sidelines), I’d encourage him to hold his fire, not say anything that he cannot specifically prove, and to aim for joint custody with zero alimony or child support. I don’t know if that’s possible where he/she filed, but that’s the most just thing I can think of here.

  12. David Peterson

    It’s probably just me, but it’d be nice if the wider Christian community were concerned with the lack of any public response to the alleged wolf. Byron Forrest Yahn, by his former church. They say he’s “no longer associated with” them. That’s it? Any other victims? Any help for these victims?
    Then there are the well-known leaders like MacArthur and Challies who endorsed his books. When he decides to step back up to the plate (pulpit), will they say anything?

    1. David Peterson

      Sorry for the typo- the alleged wolf’s name is Byron Forrest Yawn. His victims include Mrs Yawn, Mr Zobrist, the children, and likely Mrs Zobrist. But there may many others.

    2. Agreed. Scripture makes it clear that the highest accountability here is for the pastor, who rightfully should receive “the greater judgment”.

  13. Igor Stravinsky

    She has sold her soul to world. Look at her Instagram posts…provocative bikini pics, pro-LGBTQ messages, “down with men, up with women” tone. Classic example of a believer who has gone astray and chosen self and the approval of others over obedience and faith in the Lord and His commandments. We need to pray for this girl that she comes home. Total prodigal.

      1. Gordon Hackman

        She’s a woman who is capable of knowing right from wrong and truth from lies, and she doesn’t get a free pass because the person she cheated with is a pastor. She’s responsible for the choices she made. And Igor is 100% correct that she is spiritually lost.

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