Toward Love: In Support of Jen Hatmaker, LGBTQI People, & Christian Allies Everywhere

Toward Love: In Support of Jen Hatmaker, LGBTQI People, & Christian Allies Everywhere October 29, 2016

If you hang in Christian circles and have been able to wade through the latest email-scandal-that-wasn’t in these last few days before the election, you may be aware of the scandalous news that Jen Hatmaker, beloved Bible teacher-slash-church planter, came out in support of (among other things) gay marriage, and the capital-E Evangelicals imploded.

 

I don’t know Jen Hatmaker personally, but when I was in Jordan a few weeks ago, I was hanging out with some people who do, and it was their Facebook feeds that first alerted me to the fray. I wasn’t going to jump in and add to the internet fire — when you’ve got people like Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey on your side, you don’t need a tiny little blogger like me to come alongside and hold you up.

 

Except maybe you do.

 

As I was perusing Facebook last night while watching television (a good reason to order Jen’s book called 7), I came across an interview with the oft-quoted-by-my-pastor theological big shot Tony Campolo, who practically parted the Red Sea a while back when he came out in support of same sex marriage. In it, he said, But I do have to say it’s been painful for me to step back and make this statement, because I’ve lost my community, I feel alone. I feel stranded out there.”

 

If the likes of Tony Campolo can feel abandoned by his tribe of Christians, then I’m guessing Jen is feeling the same way, even with the love of her BFFs.

 

I traveled to Jordan on a press tour with a large group of writers that was split up into smaller groups; there were the Catholics, the Episcopalians, etc. Then there was us — the Progressives. The back of the bus gang, the snarky rebels who have been called into offices, kicked out of churches, spiritually abused in one form or another.

 

More than once, one of our fellow travelers came up to us and asked, not unkindly or in so many words, “So what the heck is a Progressive Christian, anyway?

 

We’d look at each other, shrug, and say, “I dunno.”

 

But then, of course, we’d keep going. “I’d say we’re marked by discontent with the status quo,” I said once, looking at one of my new friends for help.

 

“Disenfranchised,” my friend finished for me. Then we started listing some markers: LGBTQI affirming. Oriented toward social justice. Radical about following Jesus and loving people, not so radical about casting judgement or shunning others. So when I read Tony’s words, when I found out that he was lonely, and I remembered those moments in Jordan, and I thought about Jen, I realized that for as small as my voice may be, it’s still a voice.

 

In this time when LifeWay has pulled Jen’s materials out of its lineup, maybe my voice matters.

 

Because some asshat with no college degree, Bible or otherwise, condescendingly implies that Jen, who is trained in Biblical studies, came to her conclusion based solely on feelings (you know, because us women are incapable of using our brains to make decisions), maybe its important that even I add my voice to the choir singing Jen’s praises for her bravery.

 

I add my voice to this chamber choir because I know what it’s like, albeit on a smaller scale. Back in 2011, I wrote a pretty public blog post on NJ.com in support of same-sex marriage. It felt scary and dangerous to finally put my thoughts out into the world, because I knew I was (and still am) immersed in an Evangelical world. It didn’t take long before I was called into offices, reprimanded, silenced. Because of my “leadership” position, I should not “engage in controversial conversations online.”

 

Worst of all was knowing that someone — and their identity was kept from me — had turned me in, because the authorities in my life at the time surely didn’t read NJ.com. So it turned into this uncomfortable feeling that I was being spied on, in a way, even though I’d put it out there for all to see. This bothered me because look — I’m from Jersey. We deal straight up in Jersey. You got a problem with my views? Come talk to me. Let’s have coffee. Don’t run to my boss-daddy and turn my ass in. Zero respect, whoever you are.

 

Anyway, part of me didn’t want to know who it was, because I was afraid they were someone I considered a friend. So it’s probably better off that I don’t know.

 

My desire to respect the people I cared about (even though I disagreed whole-heartedly), a lack of confidence in my own blossoming knowledge of theology, and — let’s face it — a need to keep my paycheck kept me quiet for some time. Until none of that mattered more than stepping up as the warrior-girl I believe God has called me to be. I can’t help it — I’m an under-dog-sticker-upper-for, and always have been. This is how Jesus works out his crazy Jesus love in my life and through it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

And trust me when I tell you (asshats may want to listen up here) — it’s not just because I feel like it. People way smarter and better educated than me are coming to the same conclusions, and I actually know how to read their work and process it with my very own logical brain. And because of what I learned, I believe supporting LGBTQI people is not only just and right, but a responsibility to God.

 

I know a young man who came out as gay to his pastor. He was promptly removed from the worship team, because God forbid a gay man should lead worship. A few weeks later, I saw a video of him singing his heart out as he led worship at a new church, and all I could think of was this: God forgive us if we ever try to keep a person from praising God.

 

So I’m officially throwing my hat in Jen’s ring, supporting her from my tiny little platform way over here. I’m loving her from here, I’m encouraging her from here. I’m saying, “You go, girl,” from here. You go.

 

That day way back when, when I got called into offices and reprimands were heaped on my head — that was the first day I self-identified as a Progressive Christian. The Authority in Question — who I will say I still love dearly, though we disagree — said, “Yes, but the question there is progressing toward what?”

 

I thought about that long and hard, and I’ve come to a conclusion.

 

Toward love, my friends. Toward love.

 

Eshet Chayil.

 

 

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • rumpledtulip

    Love this. We all need to stick up for each other, because the backlash is brutal and powerful.

  • Anne Gull

    Progressivism is akin to fascism and communism.

    • Meredith Indermaur

      Nah – that’d be Trump. 😉

    • So then Jesus was a fascist and a communist, because he was pretty progressive by history’s standards. #FaultyLogic

      Jesus loves people. That’s what progressive Christians seek to do. There is nothing fascist about love, nor is love an economic system.

      • Code blue

        Jesus loved people and told them to turn from their sin, because he knew that their sin lead to death. The same way you would tell a drug addicted to repent from the poison that was killing him. THAT is what love does.

        If our identity is in Christ, and he is the Word, then we are obligated to do what his word says, even – especially – the parts we struggle with. My children do not understand why I won’t let them have unfiltered access to the internet. But I am wiser than them, and most of all, I love them more than anyone else. I want them to obey me because the consequences would be dire. But I also want them to obey me because they love me & respect my authority and trust that my rules are made out of love, even when they think my rules are stupid.

        The verses on homosexuality & lots of other things may be hard for us to understand in 2016. But God is timeless, he is wise, and he is FOR us.

        When we say “Did God really say xyz?” Surely that’s not what he meant” we are verbatim repeating what the serpent said to Eve.

        Eve did not trust God. So she was persuaded by the world that her rationale was better.

        Jen is doing the same thing.

        God *really* did say homosexuality is a sin. He really, really did. Several times, and in several different way, so that there could be no confusion.

        If we love him and trust him, we have to believe that. And if we love and trust our friends who are struggling with sin – any sin – we tell them that Christ is their refuge. He is good, he is wise, he loves them, and he has forbidden their temptation to sin out of that love.

        To encourage my children in the way that leads to death would make me a horrible parent.

        To encourage my gay friends (of which I have many, whom I love dearly) in the way that God says – not me – God says leads to death would make me a horrible friend.

        • Well, a few thoughts. First, thank you for your dialogue. It’s thoughtful and respectful, and while we might not agree, I appreciate the manner in which you commented

          I’ll won’t say much (I talk ad nauseum on the point in my blog posts) but I will say that first, many scholars and theologians who really, really, really love Jesus and the Bible have also come to understand the scriptures differently. It simply may not say what we’ve thought it says all this time.

          Second, IF what we know as homosexuality today is indeed the sin the Bible is talking about, the modern church has sinned by elevating this one above all others in some really twisted sense of idol worship that causes us to keep our gay brothers and sisters from fully participating in the body of Christ. Divorced people can lead in churches and attend fully accepted into the body of Christ, but someone comes out as gay and all of a sudden, they can’t sing on the worship team or teach Sunday School.

          Third, I think it’s very important to speak truth to our friends. And the truth I think we are responsible for conveying is God’s love for each and every person. Let God do the convicting. I’d really rather not participate in causing the potential suicides of young gay teens, or ostracize same-sex families, If Jesus wants to, I’ll let HIM tell them not to sin anymore. And I’ll focus on working on myself — because Lord knows there’s a lot here to work on.

        • Then you need to admit God *really* did say kill all the women and children in the Canaan conquest. God *really* did say for jealous husbands to give their wives abortions if they suspected adultry (Numbers 5). God *really* did say to wipe out entire people groups and steal their land. God *really* did say happy/blessed is the man who dashes toddlers heads against stones (Ps 137) or that God punishes Samaria by allowing pregnant women to have their wombs slashed open (Hos 13).

          The Bible says a lot of things. Some of it unethical, much of it culturally bound. Learn to recognize both, and save that which is worthy of the Kingdom.

    • Actually those are on opposite poles politically. One is conservative, one liberal. Progressivism can be associated with communism, just as Fundamentalism can be associated with fascism. Fascism opposes liberalism. See…
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

  • Which of her books have you read? We can compare notes — I just bought 3 of her books to show my support for her.

    • I suspect we’ll have a new book from Jen similar to “Searching for Sunday” by Rachael Held Evans, that chronicles her and her husbands journey to get to this point. I too will support her.

  • Frank

    How sad another Christian denying Gods plan for sexuality and marriage.

  • Randi S

    calling someone an “asshat” is not loving either. I love Jen Hatmaker, although I disagree with her on this completely, but calling names to the people who called her out is no more love than the snarky way Matt Walsh called her out. There is a gentler way to do life, Christians.

    • If the hat fits…

    • Randi, there is nothing gentle about how Gays have been treated by the church historically, nor how the Religious Right has dealt with them over the last 50 years. There is a trend recently, due partly to guilt feelings, partly to appear “more loving,” among Evangelicals like Preston Sprinkle to couch their unloving attitudes in gentler terms than “abomination,” but the intent is the same.

      If one is to assume somehow that out of all the Laws of Leviticus the one law pertaining to SS activity is to be retained and that in Romans 1 Paul is describing SS activity today then there is no need to sugarcoat things, as Paul certainly did not. All Evangelicals should then, to be consistent, join Westboro Baptist and carry God Hates Fags signs. Then all would be apparent as to the true nature of the conservative war against the LGBTQ community.

      • Randi S

        It is not only the one law out of Leviticus that is to be retained. I don’t believe any sin should be sugarcoated but the Bible clearly tells us to speak with love and gentleness. And to look at our own planks first!
        However, just because the collective church historically has treated any people group poorly does not mean there should be hatred for all Christians! I think all human beings should have the ability to speak with love which is not what I’ve seen on Jen or Brandon’s websites the past few days. It’s been awful how people talk to one another (those for her and against her!). All I was trying to point out was that basically people need to put on their grown up pants and talk as if they are speaking with people who are image bearers of God rather than just spewing whatever vomits out.
        I know you don’t know me, but may I please say that Wesboro Baptist and their actions against SO many people, gays included, is an abomination. No one should be treated like that and I hope you believe that I would never. NEVER. I think all people need to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry. I’m still working on that but I am trying.
        And I do understand the hate that has come from the church toward gays. My uncle is gay and I know he’s been hurt – by churchgoers and family. And that does hurt me because I dearly love him.

        • Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I am afraid the church has forgotten how to listen. A great deal of the problem stems from Fundamentalist roots of absolute certitude. The church needs to be ok with saying maybe they dont know all the answers, that its time to hear from those they’ve hurt and not give pat answers. Conservativism by its own nature finds the thought of change troubling. It clings to past solutions like glue. But change is coming and the church may find that change and growth involves a certain amount of messiness. God help us all get through this and somehow bless others in the process.

  • John Gills

    If there is the one the true the only interpretation, why are there 43,000 differing Christian denominations?

    http://churchrelevance.com/qa-list-of-all-christian-denominations-and-their-beliefs/