Jen Hatmaker recently shared her views, and how they’ve changed, on same-sex marriage, pro-life, race and equality, and even Donald Trump, in an interview with Jonathan Merritt for Religion News Service.
When asked by Merritt if she believed a same-sex union could be holy, Hatmaker said, “I do.” She went on to say, “And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting.”
The majority of mainline evangelical leaders are still conservative on the issue of same-sex marriage, but Hatmaker’s statement reflects a wider shift in culture. Over the last decade, we’ve seen prominent voices depart from traditional biblical views on same-sex marriage (Tony Campolo, Rob Bell, Rachel Held-Evans, to name just a few)—as well as a steady increase among Christians who’ve shifted their support in favor.
According to a Pew Research, the acceptance of same-sex marriage has been on the rise since 2001, both in the general public and within the church.
*Roughly 6 in 10 Catholics (58 percent) now support same-sex marriage, as do nearly two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (64 percent).
*Support for same-sex marriage among black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants remains lower than it is among other religious groups. Both groups, however, have become somewhat more accepting of same-sex marriage over the last decade. (Read more)
In fact, we’ve seen a 13 percent increase in same-sex marriage approval within the evangelical community since 2005.
What’s changing the conversation? Why are evangelical leaders shifting their support?
You could list many of issues—some theological, some cultural—but if we can learn something from the Hatmaker interview, it seems like the pain between the LGBT community and the church has been the harbinger of change. “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,” Hatmaker said.
That pain point drove her to soften her views on the LGBT community to the point of acceptance—with a focus on relationships over biblical truth.
Will she lose her influence in the Christian community for this stance?
Likely not. Jen’s platform of influence has been expanding over the last five years—with new books like For the Love and her HGTV special—and it’s likely most of her fans will take her views with a grain of salt and focus more on areas they agree.
In other words, no one is saying, “Farewell, Jen,” like they did to Rob Bell.
However, the discussion surrounding same-sex unions is not going away anytime soon, and the increasing acceptance—both in the general society and within the church—means we can’t afford to ignore the issue.
Will the church continue to hurdle over biblical truth toward cultural acceptance, in one giant leap, or will it find ways to increase the relevance of love and Gospel witness without affirming homosexuality as something…holy?
One thing is certain—our witness is on the line, but the needle is moving.