We live in convoluted times, where we’re supposed to believe what is up is down, what is black is white, and where the only thing we can say is wrong are people who say things are wrong. This is especially true when it comes to the issues of sexuality in Western culture. Here we’re supposed to believe that something called “sexual orientation” is hard wired into our DNA and can never change, but that our sex (or gender in a less than helpful modern term) is malleable. Whatever you do, you are encouraged to be “true to yourself,” unless of course that means claiming such assertions are lies. If you do that, the dominant secular liberal culture will declare you a hater and a bigot.
Unfortunately it seems some Christians are hopping on the secular cultural bandwagon because they believe the tripe that to oppose homosexuality, or stand with God’s created order of male and female, is somehow unjust or unloving. One such Christian is popular Christian author and speaker Jen Hatmaker. The following comes from an interview with Religious New Service:
You took a stand last fall saying LGBT relationships can be holy, and it got your books banned from LifeWay stores. Why was that important to you?
I just sort of have this dream for the church where it is safe and it is wide and it is generous and it includes all of our voices. For the longest time, the church has essentially had one voice — sort of the white, male voice. I’m starting to realize how much the church is missing when we silence whole people groups, like you’re either not welcome at all, or you’re welcome but not your voice, not your experience, not your life, and I saw that with the LGBTQ community.
When you see that much pain in a people group at the hands of the church, just my fundamental spiritual sensibility says something is wrong here simply because this is not the way God designed his community. In God’s community when you read Scripture he says these are the things you’re going to see in a healthy spiritual space: You’re going to see love, you’re going to see joy, you’re going to see peace and patience and kindness and generosity and unity and community. So when, in any scenario with any people group, we see the exact opposite — we see pain and harm and self-harm and broken families and rejection and loss in mass capacity, not as an exception, but as a rule — at some point, we just have to ask questions.
And so that was enough for me — of course, it’s a much longer story than that— to at least to begin to ask those questions and to say, “As far as it depends on me, I hope what I am doing not just in my leadership capacity, but just in my faith, my life, my obedience as a believer, is that I am always trying to widen the table and bring people in as opposed to shrinking the table and keeping people out.”
It really is difficult to be generous with such unorthodox, unbiblical false empathy, which is what happens when instead of God’s word being your guide (along with 2000 years of Church history) feelings become authoritative. Let me be clear in case Ms. Hatmaker ever stumbles across this blog post, or anyone who believes or is tempted to believe like her: You do not “widen the table and bring people in” by affirming their sin. We would no more “widen the table” to allow in unrepentant adulterers, or rapists, or liars, or cheats, than allowing in unrepentant and active homosexuals.
Do we want to bring people in who struggle with their sexuality? Of course! And every church I’ve ever attended has been willing to do that. But we do not call evil good, and pretend someone can live any old way they please, and still be considered a faithful Christian. Everyone struggles with something, or many things, but we don’t pretend what is wrong is right because of our struggle!
And while I don’t know anything about Ms. Hatmaker’s experience with LGBT people, I have a feeling she’s been far more influenced by the dominant secular culture narrative about the Church, than actual experiences where LGBT people have been treated horribly. According to that narrative, Christians are narrow-minded, judgmental, hypocrites, who look down on people who are not like them, including homosexuals. I’ve met and interacted with lots of Christians in almost four decades in the Church, and very few, if any, have ever fit this stereotype. But cultural stereotypes are powerful reality generators, and it seems Ms. Hatmaker has bought into this one.