When I read the recent interview with Jen Hatmaker,I knew immediately this was not a wise move on her part. I knew there would be repercussions by some Christians and LifeWay. I also knew I needed to respond to several things she said. While I do not personally know Jen Hatmaker, I have found her to be extremely funny. As a Bible Study teacher, author, and speaker she has a platform and women love her. Setting all of that aside, I want to gently speak truth to her and you, my readers. With love, as instructed in Ephesians 4:14-15, I want to unpack her responses to the questions asked in the interview. While we are called to live life balancing Grace and Truth, we are never to compromise either one for cultural relevance.
Politically speaking, do you (Jen Hatmaker) support gay marriage?
From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends. From a spiritual perspective, since gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, our communities have plenty of gay couples who, just like the rest of us, need marriage support and parenting help and Christian community. They are either going to find those resources in the church or they are not. Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family. We have to do better.
– “…any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love…” My response (to Jen) is that is not true. This is where a slippery slope begins. I do understand the context of the question, but I do not agree with her answer. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where some will take that too far and “choose” to love a minor inappropriately or anything thing else all under the argument of their rights. This line of thinking opens us up to more what-ifs than we could process. As far as having the “right to choose” this does not mean the choice is good or holy or honoring. One could argue that Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 had the “right to choose” the fruit off of the tree and because she had the right to choose then she should have been afforded legal protection. That is not what had been put in place by our Creator. Instead of offering protection of their right to choose, God knew Adam and Eve needed a sacrifice that would offer forgiveness. He also is a God of order and there were consequences to the choices that Adam and Eve made. The consequences were never to shame them. In fact, he covered their sin and their shame. Part of balancing Truth and Grace is not confusing consequences with shame. Shame is a direct result of sin. Shame did not enter the world until sin entered the world.
– “If an LGBT friend of yours got married, would you attend that wedding?”
I would attend that wedding with gladness, and I would drink champagne. I want the very best for my gay friends. I want love and happiness and faithfulness and commitment and community. Yes. That’s an easy answer.
While she might want the very best for them, the bigger question is does she desire God’s best for them. Two women come to mind and Jesus wanted the same thing for them as well: The woman at the well (John 4) and the woman caught in adultery (John 8). I think it is safe to say that each of these women was looking to be loved, desiring happiness, the commitment of a relationship, and hoping that the man she was with would choose to be faithful to her. However, Jesus offered not only His forgiveness for their sins and the lifestyles they were living; He gave them the choice to follow Him. This would mean forsaking the life they had chosen and choosing holiness. If Jen truly wants the very best for her gay friends then she would not celebrate what can never be honoring before the Lord. We cannot celebrate what God has clearly said in scripture (Colossians 3) is not good. We should pursue those in the gay lifestyle with the love of Jesus (Luke 15), desiring holiness over happiness (Romans 6:19, Romans 6:22, Ephesians 4:20-24), being a faithful follower of Jesus forsaking the ways of the world (Hebrews 12:1-2, I Peter 2:11), a commitment to Jesus through salvation (Romans 1:16), and offering a community that is safe as they work to break the strongholds of the sin and shame through counseling and discipleship (Proverbs 11:14).
– And how would you respond if one of your children were gay?
I think we would parent that child exactly the same as the rest of them. Which is to say, we would always be on their side and in their corner and for them and with them. We want for all of our kids the same thing: faithful, committed marriage and a beautiful family that is committed to God and the church. I would have the same standard across the board, no matter what.
I think it is naive to say that you would “parent that child exactly the same as the rest of them… even being in their corner and on their side and for them and with them”. The gay lifestyle brings issues to the table that are different than a heterosexual lifestyle brings. (that’s a blog for another day) As a mom, I completely agree with Jen when she says she wants for her kids a faithful, committed marriage and a beautiful family that is committed to God and the church. In this particular context of the question, this can’t be. Two people cannot enter into a marriage, by their definition, that is not recognized by the One who designed marriage with a purpose for a purpose (Matthew 19:4-5). God does not recognize gay marriage. Marriage was designed to be between a man and a woman. While Jen might think that gay marriage can be committed to God and the church, it simply cannot happen because a commitment to God requires dying to self. Intentionally choosing to live in a sinful lifestyle is in direct conflict with intentionally choosing to live a life committed to God. A house divided cannot stand. One cannot indulge in the ways of the world and live the abundant life in Christ.
-You mention faithfulness and God. Do you think an LGBT relationship can be holy?
I do. And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting. I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here.
Believers in Christ must always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within them and believers must give the truth of Jesus with love. Unfortunately, we can fall short and do fall short of this. Rejection is powerful and the pain that comes with rejection can be paralyzing. Again, we are not to make emotional needs a priority over the need of the soul. If the church gives cheap grace that will only provide temporary relief to emotional pain and does not give the inexhaustible grace through Jesus Christ then we are guilty of redefining what real, saving grace is and what it will accomplish: a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a transformed life by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1-2), and a life that is crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). Sin cannot now and will not ever be able to live in the holy. God is holy. Sin cannot enter in that holiness. As a believer, I am holy because He is holy. He covers me in His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Holy Spirit quickens my heart and convicts me of my sin. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross; I can go before God’s throne with boldness. He is faithful to forgive me my sins when I confess my sins. When I choose to not confess my sins and I choose to walk in my ways, He will discipline me as my loving, Heavenly Father. Whether it is the gay lifestyle or any other sinful choices, it cannot be deemed holy.
The Bible speaks ever so clearly to the homosexual lifestyle in Romans 1:24-27, I Corinthians 6:9-11. More than this, an almighty, loving God made a way for ALL sin to be forgiven and all lives to be restored. All that is needed is belief. Jesus gave freely salvation to the thief on the cross (Luke 23). Jesus is the way, the life, and the truth and the truth will set you free! (John 8) Unfortunately, Jen missed a great opportunity to gently lead others to the truth of Jesus and the fact that we are sinners in great need of a Savior. Jesus made a way for all sinners to receive eternal life. Jesus also made a way for strongholds to be broken. Jesus did not support the lifestyle of the Woman at the Well, instead He offered her living water of a relationship with Him. He did not support the choice of the woman caught in adultery, instead He sent her on her way to leave that lifestyle and be free of that sin. It is not Jen Hatmaker’s place nor is it our place to support sinful choices. It is our calling to go into all the world and lead people to Jesus. It is our responsibility to walk humbly alongside those seeking to be free in Jesus. If we, in any way, call something holy that is sinful, we cheapen the grace that was offered to us at so great a price. The cross of Jesus is offensive because if shines boldly on our hearts and reveals our sin. The cross makes us aware of our great need of a Savior. The cross speaks into our soul and validates the void that we try to fill with all things that are our own version of god. While you and I can never talk over what the cross clearly says, if we get in the way of the truth of the cross then we can make if difficult for the lost to hear the Savior calling. Let us speak truth with love, even in the hard places in the most difficult situations. Culture changes. God’s truth remains unchangeable.