In the recent swirl of bathroom controversy and LGBT rights, Jen Hatmaker takes a bold stance on her Facebook page:
“Here are my arms open wide. So wide that every last one of you can jump inside. … There is nothing ‘wrong with you,’ or in any case, nothing more right or wrong than any of us, which is to say we are all hopelessly screwed up but Jesus still loves us beyond all reason and lives to make us all new, restored, whole. Yay for Jesus!”
Many are concerned that sentiments like these might be enabling someone to stay in their sin—which would not, in fact, be very loving to the person in the long run.
In response to the World Vision decision in 2014 to allow employees in same-sex marriages to be eligible for employment, Hatmaker wrote:
“Godly, respectable leaders have exegeted the Bible and there is absolutely not unanimity on its interpretation. There never has been. Historically, Christian theology has always been contextually bound and often inconsistent with itself; an inconvenient truth we prefer to selectively explain.”
This comment evoked a lot of pushback from the Christian community. Many believe there has been a united consensus about homosexuality among Christians throughout history. Furthermore, this stance can do nothing but add confusion to the issue if we can’t rely on theology or proper exegesis to explain what God means.
In light of the controversial World Vision article and her more recent post on Facebook, many may not know where she personally stands on the issue of homosexuality. Hatmaker wrote the blog post “Where I Stand” a couple years ago that is once again rising to the top of seemingly endless content on the issue available on the Internet.
In this article, Hatmaker seemed to make a firmer, more conservative stance on the issue of same-sex marriage by saying, “I land on the side of traditional marriage as God’s first and clear design.” She explained that she and her husband, Brandon, have “held this position forever,” yet she shied away from making it known because the conversation about homosexuality is best done “in true relationships, around dinner tables, over coffee, in real life,” and not in “the toxic public sphere.”
The post points to the story of the Good Samaritan and compares the injured man lying in the ditch to the homosexuals in our culture who have been bruised, beaten and passed over by self-righteous religious people. Her main point with this story is that the Good Samaritan (also a religious outcast) is good because he doesn’t ask the man 20 questions about sin and where he stands with God, but rather picks the man up and cares for him—judgement aside. Jesus says this is exercising the commandment of loving your neighbor. Hatmaker concludes, “We need more outliers willing to pick up the bloodied and beaten gay community and bind up their wounds with oil and wine, religious approval aside.”
Hatmaker is working to strike a balance between what seems to many like opposite and opposing goals: showing homosexuals the love of Christ, yet sticking to their convictions that marriage should be between a man and woman—and nothing else. The debate and divisiveness that Jen’s article stirs up centers itself around this idea: “As a faith community, it is time we relearn what ‘speaking the truth in love’ means. Something that actually feels like love is a start. If the beginning and end of love is simply pointing out sin, then we are doomed.”
She goes on to insist that if we are really speaking the truth in love, we would do well not to exclude the “the hundreds and hundreds of verses that call us toward mercy, peace, kindness, hospitality and patience while leaving judgment to God, the only One able to judge fairly and correctly (James 4: 11-12).” Furthermore, if we were seriously committed to speaking the truth in love, we do so about every single sin, every single time. We wouldn’t just call out homosexuality so frequently and exhaustively.
Many Christians find themselves in one of two camps on this issue: “Camp A” believes that loving people means telling them the truth about their sin. This is the greatest form of love—this is what Jesus would do and did with the people he came into contact with. The idea being it’s more loving in the long run to help people get out of their sin than to coddle them all the while they are walking down a path toward hell. “Camp B,” on the other hand, says that we have to first start by loving people by making them feel loved first and foremost. This might mean that we avoid or delay conversations about sin and what God disapproves of until we have gained a homosexual as a friend and earned their trust. As Jen puts it, we attend to the bruised and beaten homosexual’s wounds first, then trust God to convict about life choices later. It is, after all, “God’s kindness [that] leads us to repentance.”
What do you think of Jen’s proposition to relearn the concept of speaking the truth in love? What is going to be more beneficial in the long run and save more people?