Jen Hatmaker’s Millstone: Evangelical Reality Star Favors Gay ‘Marriage,’ But Former Lesbian Objects
“If I were still in the thick of the battle over the indwelling sin of lesbian desire, Jen’s words would have put a millstone around my neck.” So says Rosaria Butterfield, speaking about evangelical reality TV star Jen Hatmaker. Hatmaker recently told Religion News Service that she supported same-sex marriage because “any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love.”
This was true, she said, “from a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side.” She added that such couples “should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends.”
Hatmaker, author of a Christian bestseller titled For the Love, starred with her husband in an HGTV reality show called My Big Family Renovation. She is currently on a “Belong” tour and writes a blog that her Amazon author profile describes as “a tightly knit online community where she reaches millions of people each week.”
With same-sex marriage legal in every state, she adds, churches “have plenty of gay couples who, just like the rest of us, need marriage support and parenting help and Christian community.” These couples are “brothers and sisters in Christ,” she said, adding that she would attend a same-sex wedding “with gladness” and believed such relationships could be holy.
Reaction in her circles came quickly. Many criticized her while some friends publicly explained that they still held to the traditional teaching.
LifeWay Christian Resources, a Southern Baptist agency that’s published her books, immediately pulled her material from their stores. In the interview, she “voiced significant changes in her theology of human sexuality and the meaning and definition of marriage — changes which contradict LifeWay’s doctrinal guidelines,” said the agency’s spokesman. The agency had previously stopped stocking authors like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer and pulled Mark Driscoll’s books for doctrinal reasons.
Hatmaker defended herself in her official Facebook page, headed with a picture of the products in her “New Jen Hatmaker Collection.” She came to her position, she wrote, through “deep discussions with people we trust and respect, with prayer and careful study and deliberation moved into this space. We wrestled with and through Scripture, not around it. Our view of the Word is still very high.” She warned her critics that the “LGBTQ community” is “watching how we respond, how we talk about them, how we actually feel about them in our churches.”
Rosaria Butterfield’s Response: Love Your Neighbor Enough to Seek the Truth
She would once have felt Hatmaker’s words were “a balm of Gilead,” writes Butterfield, a one-time lesbian and leftwing professor. Writing on The Gospel Coalition website, the author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert explains that she would have loved to have someone like Hatmaker make her think, “Yes, I can have Jesus and my girlfriend.”
But the Gospel says something very different. When she met Christ, she says, “I didn’t swap out a lifestyle. I died to a life I loved.” She found that even though her lesbian life felt “right and good and real and necessary,” that only revealed how “our sin natures deceive us.”
How I feel does not tell me who I am. Only God can tell me who I am, because he made me and takes care of me. He tells me that we are all born as male and female image bearers with souls that will last forever and gendered bodies that will either suffer eternally in hell or be glorified in the New Jerusalem. Genesis 1:27 tells me that there are ethical consequences and boundaries to being born male and female.
We still struggle with what she calls our “choice sins,” she writes, as Paul describes in Galatians 5:17. “Victory over sin means we have Christ’s company in the battle, not that we are lobotomized. My choice sins know my name and address. And the same is true for you.”
Christians have failed homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people in two ways, she concludes. “We have all failed miserably at loving fellow image bearers who identify as part of the LGBT community,” she writes. “We have failedto offer loving relationships and open doors to our homes and hearts, openness so unhindered that we are as strong in loving relationship as we are in the words we wield.”
But that’s not the only failure in loving them, she continued. “A hateful world applies the category mistake of sexual orientation identity like a noose,” telling LGBT people that how they feel tells them who they are. Christians had failed by not telling them “that sin and Christ cannot abide together, for the cross never makes itself an ally with the sin. … We also have failed to discern the true nature of the Christian doctrine of sin. For when we advocate for laws and policies that bless the relationships that God calls sin, we are acting as though we think ourselves more merciful than God is.”