I first heard about Jen Hatmaker years ago when I was invited to be a part of a small group study of her book, “Interrupted”. As I began reading the book, I was struck by her uncanny ability to write like most of us think and talk. She has a disarming quality that makes her readers feel comfortable, as though they are a part of her life. Her Facebook posts read like a text from a best friend who “gets you” like no one else and shares your struggles and sense of humor. I have no doubt this is why, with a wildly successful book career and over half a million followers on facebook, she is so beloved.
This is why I was especially saddened to read about her recent statements regarding gay marriage. I'm not sad for the reasons one may expect. I have no beef with Jen Hatmaker. She's a big girl, and I respect her for being open about her beliefs, despite what it may cost her personally. Although I have never been a follower or fan of hers, it's clear she's been going in this direction for a few years now. This announcement is no surprise.
My concern is for the hundreds of thousands of people who are confused, isolated, and misled by her statements. To demonstrate that, take a quick glance at her Facebook page. One woman wrote, "Aching for HER response. Maybe she'll clear it up." Another asked a sincere question about how to know which parts of the Bible apply to us and which ones don't. Others are shouting "hate!" and "bigotry!" at anyone who would dare question her. It's a mess.
Recently on Facebook, Hatmaker wrote:
I made Jesus complicated for so long. So many rules and hierarchies. I somehow forgot
how he said, 'Here is my whole kingdom: Love God and love people. Also, come to me
for rest because I am gentle.' I got Jesus wrong for so long. He is every dream come
He IS every dream come true, but following Him is sometimes a hard and lonely road. Much like my first impression of Jen's book years ago, she seems to be leaving out some important things, like the other things Jesus said:
Jesus taught repentance. In fact, the first message He spoke when He began His ministry was, "Repent!"(5) It was His first demand. None of us get a free pass.
The heart of the gospel is this: Jesus came to save us from our sins and bring us into relationship with God. If we redefine sin, we redefine repentance. If we redefine sin and repentance, we redefine salvation. In other words, redefining sin redefines the gospel, which strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian.
I dearly love my friends who are gay. They, like me, have been made in the image of God, and we are all offered the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It's because of my love for them that I cannot change the gospel for them. I cannot change it for myself either. Sometimes I wish I could, but I can't.
Would you want someone to change the gospel for you?
Sam Alberry is a Pastor in the UK who answers this last question with a no. Recently he wrote a book called, Is God Anti-Gay? I highly recommend his book. His heart for gay people and the gospel shines through every word. He has a unique perspective because he himself experiences same sex attraction, yet he has chosen to live a life faithful to Biblical teaching. People have told him that the gospel must be harder for him than it is for the rest of us, as if he has more to give up than other Christians. In response to that, he writes:
The fact is that the gospel demands everything of all of us. If someone thinks the
gospel has somehow slotted into their life quite easily, without causing any major
adjustments to their lifestyle or aspirations, it is likely that they have not really started
following Jesus at all.
That's a hard word for all of us. As my friend Teasi recently wrote on Facebook:
Jesus does not bend to our desires. He bends our desires to Him. That's the true
gospel. That's the good news.
We all have to let Jesus bend our desires to Him. We don't have the option to change what He taught about homosexuality.
In the first century, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a young pastor named Timothy, who was facing a similar situation as we are today. His church was located in Ephesus, the center of pagan worship, and some leaders had begun to teach things that were different from what they had been taught by Jesus and the Apostles. Paul writes:
Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and
encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not
tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for
themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. (6)
Paul also wrote:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create
obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (7)
We all have a choice about whom we let speak into our lives. When a teacher has publicly denied essential teachings of Christianity, it's time to unfollow. No matter how smart they are. No matter how many good things they may have to say in other areas. No matter how funny they are. It's time. Love them. Pray for them. But don't follow them. We cannot agree to disagree when it comes to the core of what Christianity is.
Want great Christian women to follow on social media? Follow Nancy Pearcey, Rosaria Butterfield, Melissa Cain Travis, Mary Jo Sharp and Natasha Crain.
(1) Matthew 4:17
(2) Luke 5:32
(3) Luke 13:3,5
(4) Luke 9:23
(5) Matthew 4:1-17
(6) 2 Timothy 4:3
(7) Romans 16:17
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