Days after Jen Hatmaker sat down for what would become an infamous interview with Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service, LifeWay bookstores have decided to pull her titles from their shelves.
In that interview, Hatmaker articulated her changing view of same-sex marriage. She said she believed a same-sex marriage could be holy and that we as the church “have to do better” at treating the LGBT community like family.
The interview with Merritt was published on October 25, 2016. Two days later, LifeWay spokesman Marty King spoke to Baptist Press, saying, “In a recent interview, [Hatmaker] voiced significant changes in her theology of human sexuality and the meaning and definition of marriage—changes which contradict LifeWay’s doctrinal guidelines.” The Christian bookstore chain has decided to discontinue selling Hatmaker’s resources as a result of the interview.
This is not the first time Hatmaker has said something on the topic of homosexuality that has caused waves in the Christian community, but the new statement about same-sex marriage being “holy” takes her views to a new place.
Lifeway traces its roots back to 1891, when the Southern Baptist Convention gave its approval to start the company under the leadership of a pastor. Today, there are over 186 LifeWay stores throughout the U.S. It is also the umbrella to other ministry ventures, including B&H Publishing Group, which published Hatmaker’s best-selling book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess in 2012.
Hatmaker has worked with a handful of publishers to get her books out there; her most recent title is called For the Love and is a New York Times bestseller, published with Thomas Nelson. Her books are well-known, and so is her name after she and her family appeared on the HGTV show My Big Family Renovation in 2014.
The fact that LifeWay has pulled Hatmaker’s books from their shelves speaks to the polarizing effect her words have had on Christians in the U.S. and abroad.